Halloween is almost here. Costumes, trick-or-treaters and free candy galore! What’s not to love, right?!? Well, that constant bombardment of chocolate and goodies may not be a good thing for those of us trying to avoid added sugars or sticking to some nutrition or athletic goals. Don’t let the abundance of sweets spook you off your dietary choices. Approach these festivities armed with tactics to fend off the Halloween candy coma.
Think before you chew: Consider more than just the calories & fat per serving! Amount of sugar is an important consideration as this could impact your blood sugars leaving you to crave more after just one. Also ask your, can I stop myself after just one serving? One Swedish Fish package is lower in calories compared to others, leading many to believe they can have more. Before you know it you have 3 packages and you have consumed more than the Reese’s cup you actually wanted. Pick wisely and remember to enjoy Halloween! Remember, health is about finding a balance and sometimes that balance includes candies, the trick is to find that balance in your overall lifestyle choices. The treat is obviously the chocolate! Happy Halloween!
Alysha Coughler, RD, MHsC, PTS
Sports Dietitian with Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management
As the days are getting darker and colder as we move into the winter months, you may find it challenging to stick to a regular workout routine. Whether you’re lacking motivation due to the seemingly constant darkness that accompanies the winter months or you have difficulty staying active when the cold weather hits, we have tips that can help you stay on track.
1) Find an activity that you enjoy
First and foremost, find an activity that you will enjoy doing. Whether you want to transition indoors or brave the cold and continue with outdoor activities, you need to be happy with your choice(s). It is way more challenging to stick with a workout routine if you don’t enjoy what you are doing. Find something you love and you will find yourself looking forward to being active!
2) Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities
Don’t let the cold weather stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. Feel invigorated by the cool air as you skate, ski, or even snowshoe. If you choose to exercise outdoors, be sure to dress for the weather. Layers are extremely important to keep you warm and dry, and you can always remove a layer if you get too warm. Your bottom layer, the layer closest to your body, should wick away moisture. If you choose a bottom layer that traps moisture instead of wicking it away, such as cotton, it will stay wet and make you feel cold. Your middle layers can be used as insulation to keep you warm. Finally, choose a top layer that will block wind and rain to keep you warm and dry. Other considerations include wearing insulated footwear to keep feet warm and wearing a hat to trap body heat because the majority of heat can be lost through the head.
3) Move your workouts indoors
If you’re like me and can’t stand the cold, there are many indoor exercise options to keep you busy through the winter months. Joining a gym is a great way to stick with your workout routine during the winter. You can either work independently, with a personal trainer, or participate in group fitness classes. If joining a gym isn’t feasible for you, many community centers offer free drop in fitness classes that you can attend. Check online or go to your local community center to see if they offer any fitness classes that interest you. Finally, you can find a local pool and swim indoors during the winter.
4) Set goals and stick to a plan
The best way to stay on track with your workout is to have a plan. We’ve talked about workout options during the winter, but it’s up to you to find the one(s) that work for you and figure out how to work them into your life. One of the easiest ways to do this is to set SMART goals. SMART goals should be:
Specific – What will you be doing?
Measurable – How often or how much will you do?
Action-oriented – Your goal should be something that you can act upon
Realistic – You should have a confidence level of at least 7/10 that you can meet your goal. If not, consider setting a smaller, more realistic goal
Time frame – When will you start? When will you assess if you met your goal?
For example, “Starting Monday, I will run 3 km 5 days per week and I will check back in 2 weeks to reassess and consider increasing my distance”.
Goal setting is a great way to stay motivated because it gives you something concrete to work towards. Do you plan on running a marathon next summer? Use the winter as training and set goals to help you prepare for the event. For more information on goal setting and reaching your health and fitness goals, read this blog post by Emilie.
It may be more difficult to stick to your routine as we transition into the winter months, but you can do it! What strategies do you use to stay motivated and exercise during the winter months? Let us know in the comments below!
Danielle Boudreau, MHSc candidate, Dietetic Intern
Dietetic Intern at Ryerson's Nutrition Communications Program
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s all about quality time with family, friends, good food and some relaxation. In addition to this, there commonly comes the act of indulgence and overeating. Many people pull out the phrase “I’m on holidays” as a way to justify the excess intake of food they may not consume on a usual day. That being said, there are many ways to enjoy the holidays, including taking comfort in some of your mom’s traditional recipes. However, the idea is to make sure these occurrences don’t become a habit that lasts from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Here are some tricks you can try to help combat the stubborn “food baby” that often pops up after holiday meals.
Don’t skip meals.
As much as you may want to skip or have a smaller meal prior to the big celebration, this could actually do more harm than good. Saving your appetite and calories just to gorge at dinner-time will more likely than not result in overeating. If you deprive yourself of food for too long before a meal, once the food arrives, your self-control will be out the window. This could lead to a plate (or 2 or 3) full of foods high in fat, sugar and extra calories that wouldn’t have been added to your plate if you had been eating regularly throughout the day. Have you ever had an overwhelming sense of hunger and reached for a plate full of vegetables? Most likely not.
Plan your plate.
This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to make purposeful, healthy decisions during the holidays. First, wait until all of the food is set out before you begin loading up your plate. This will give you the opportunity to gage everything that is available and see what really appeals to you. Next, choose a smaller plate and utensils for your meal. A smaller plate will still provide you with enough room to fill you up and try your favourite holiday foods, but prevent you from overdoing the portions. Finally, start with your vegetables. How many family dinners have you been to where you get to the end of the table where the vegetables are and there’s hardly any room left on your plate? By choosing these items first, you will ensure that you’re getting your fibrous and nutrient-packed vegetables before the space on your plate runs out.
Divvy up dessert.
This is one of the best times of the year for dessert: pumpkin pie, apple crisp, mom’s famous homemade cookies; how can you resist?! But that’s the point- the longer you resist the harder it may be to say no, which could ultimately result in an overload of sugar when the craving gets too strong. The outcome of this rush of sweet treats to your system is a sudden increase of blood sugar and a quick crash soon after, leaving you tired, groggy and unable to participate in following holiday festivities. So instead of having a piece of pie, a scoop of apple crisp and some cookies on the side, try using the buddy system. Splitting dessert with a friend or family member will not only control the amount of added sugar you consume but also allow you to try more than one item, just in smaller amounts (because what’s Thanksgiving dinner without the pumpkin AND apple desserts?).
Mix in a water.
With celebrations and holidays often come alcohol and a lot of hidden calories from these drinks. And although you’re consuming calories, the alcohol won’t keep you full and satisfied the way that turkey or potatoes would, for example. In addition to this, too much alcohol can lead to an over consumption of foods high in carbohydrates, fat and sugar and quite possible a striking headache the next morning. To prevent this, mix in a water. By alternating a glass of wine, beer or spirits with a cup of water, you will keep yourself hydrated and slow down the rate of which you drink the alcohol. Consuming water can also be a good way to make sure you’re not over eating out of thirst instead of hunger, which is quite common.
Bottom line, enjoy the holidays for what they are. Balancing the time spent with family and friends with the delicious food that accompanies that, will ensure a healthier and more comfortable celebration.
Ashlen Leonard, RD, Sports Dietitian
Sports Dietitian for Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management