New year, new me – part 2

Chia seeds, quinoa, almond milk, brown rice pasta, kale…what do these things have in common? Up until a month ago I had not eaten them (except for the quinoa…once) or had an inclination to even try them (again, except for the quinoa).

But then, through the magic  of television and Global’s Morning Show, I was introduced to the lovely Joy McCarthy. Joy is a registered holistic nutritionist with Joyous Health. Her blog is full of tips on how to become healthy, including recipes and videos. Joy believes that just because you don’t feel “sick” doesn’t mean you are healthy or living your best life. With her glowing skin and her thick shiny hair, Joy is a walking billboard of what healthy eating can do for you.

I was fortunate to be able to talk with Joy for about an hour about my own health concerns. Joy consults with clients in person, over the phone or via Skype. So even though she lives in Toronto, she can help you no matter where you live. Prior to our session, Joy had me fill out her wellness evaluation form which included a 7 day food journal. She went through the entire form with me and advised me of changes I could make in my diet to address my issues. I think I’m a fairly healthy person, but we all have nagging little things that we wish would go away. For me it’s the stuffy nose I’ve been waking up to every morning for about 10 years, sinus headaches, and of course the dreaded belly fat.

Joy determined that the stuffy nose could be caused by dairy or gluten, so after reading my food journal, Joy suggested I cut out a few wheat items but not necessarily go gluten free, and also change up my breakfast. I had been eating yogurt and oats every morning for about 10 months….which I love by the way, hence no change in 10 months, lol. I’ve been trying to be gluten free as best I can, but as I’ve discovered from reading Joy’s blog, gluten is in a lot more food than just pasta and bread. I’ve cut our bread altogether…and since I could quite possibly live on my homemade white bread, I thought it would kill me…but I haven’t missed it one little bit. I’ve also switched to almond milk…I love the vanilla flavour and so do my kids. I used to allow them 1 cup of juice per day, kind of like a treat. That has been replaced with the almond milk, and they actually like it better!

Joy believed that the “sinus” headaches could have been caused by the amount of caffeine I had been consuming. I thought 3 cups of coffee per day wasn’t that bad, but Joy thought I should cut that down to 1. Caffeine dehydrates your body (which causes really bad headaches) and apparently you have to drink 2 cups of water for every cup of coffee you drink so you don’t become dehydrated. I know now that the so called sinus headaches were really caffeine withdrawal. I would wake up with a headache most mornings and pop an advil liqui-gel. Now that I only have 1 cup of coffee per day, I  get that same headache at about 9 am, have my one cup of coffee and within about 5 minutes the headache is gone. I’m hoping that once my body adjusts to the decrease in caffeine consumption, the headaches will eventually disappear altogether.

Only 1 cup per day now. I really savour it and sometimes don't even finish the whole cup.

And finally, the belly fat. Even though I lost 40 lbs last year and have been doing strength training for 6 weeks, I still have a roll of fat (gross, sorry) around my belly. I guess my age…just turned 43…might have something to do with it. When I was younger, I would lose weight in my mid section with no trouble at all. Now it seems like the weight loss  starts at my head and feet,  moves towards my middle and then stops. Joy told me that to try and eliminate belly fat, insulin levels should be kept steady throughout the day. I’ve heard before that you should eat carbs, protein and fat at every meal. What I did not know, and learned from Joy, is that you should also do this with SNACKS. If you only eat a piece of fruit for a snack and nothing else, your blood sugar will spike. So I now have nuts or peanut butter along with fruit at snack time.

Here’s how a typical day would go:

First thing in the morning I have a glass of hot water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I use about a half a lemon. Lemon is very liver loving and helps to rid your body of toxins. Joy says you should start your day like this and drink the lemon water on an empty stomach.

See how dark this pic is? It was taken at 5:30 am...I'm a morning person for sure.

Breakfast would consist of either Joy’s Apple Maple Quinoa Porridge,  Ruth’s Hemp Food’s Chia Goodness cereal with a big bowl of blueberries, or a bowl of steel cut oats with berries.

Apple Maple Quinoa Porridge

My usual morning snack is a bowl of strawberries with a banana, almonds or walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I’ve also learned that cinnamon can help increase your metabolism.

No banana today, so I added extra strawberries.

I don’t have as much variety with my lunches, I love Joy’s Sunshine Quinoa Salad Bowl. It’s the best salad I’ve ever had…probably why I eat it about 5 times per week! I also like Joy’s Kale Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about gluten free pasta, but it tastes about the same as the whole wheat pasta I was eating before. I’ll also make up a big pot of Mairlyn Smith’s Spicy Red Lentil Soup. You can read more about how Mairlyn started all this here.

Sunshine Quinoa Salad Bowl

Kale Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

Afternoon snack is usually a sliced apple with some all natural peanut butter. Occasionally I will have a Green Monster Smoothie. While scanning the web for a recipe for steel cut oats,  I stumbled across the blog,  Oh She Glows and that’s when I discovered Green Monster smoothies and the green monster movement. My smoothie contains a tablespoon of chia seeds, one tablespoon of all natural peanut butter, a couple of handfuls of spinach, one cut up banana, and a cup of almond milk.

My first Green Monster.

Dinners haven’t changed much, except for the gluten free pasta. Joy was pretty satisfied with dinners I was eating. I always have basically the same thing…a lean protein, brown rice or sweet potatoes, and lots of veggies, usually broccoli (because both of my kids like it). The protein is mostly chicken, with pork a couple of times per week, and beef maybe once. Every once in a while we have white potatoes. As much as I love sweet potatoes, my kids hate them. I don’t eat a lot of fish, but we try to have salmon a couple of times per month. It’s not that we don’t like fish….I just need to learn how to cook it properly. There a few recipes in Mairlyn’s book that I will have to try.

It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve changed my eating habits and I have definitely noticed an improvement. As mentioned already, my early morning headaches are gone. My stuffed up nose disappeared as well…up until last Monday when we went out for lunch. I had a spinach salad that had a little bit of feta cheese. The next morning I was so stuffed up, I felt like I had a cold. It was gone the next day, though. Then last night I ate lasagna and you guessed it…all stuffed up again this morning. I’ve had mashed potatoes a couple of times, which contained milk, so I’m pretty sure it’s just the cheese that’s causing it. And that sucks, because I love cheese 😦

Now, I’m a newbie to all this healthy living stuff. I have ALOT to learn and that’s why I try to get as much information as I can. I follow nutritionists on Facebook and Twitter, like Joy and Julie Daniluk (I must get her book!), and homeopathic doctor Bryce Wylde. I have yet to step foot in a health food store, but that will be happening soon. There are so many recipes I’d like to try and the ingredients can only be found there. I know I’m going to be lost for sure, lol. Wish me luck 🙂


About Lisa

Canadian fine art photographer and lifelong knitter.
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