Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Verdict Says...Delicious!

I've been hesitant to try some of the Candida Diet approved recipes that I've been finding online, but this is a really, really, REALLY boring diet if you don't try new recipes and be a bit adventurous. The recipes I have posted below are so good in fact, I would make them even if I wasn't depriving myself of all the normal delicious foods in the world.

The first one I made up after feeling sad about not being able to have tomatoes. No tomatoes means no madras which is a staple in this house. I love curry with madras being my favourite (until now perhaps?) I'm going off the top of my head with this one but I think I remember what I put in.
Adrienne's Anti-Candida Curry
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 chicken breasts, boneless skinless and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 large handfuls of fresh spinach
- 2-3 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 black pepper
- 1/2-1 full can coconut milk (unsweetened!)
Method: Cook the chicken in the coconut oil. Remove the chicken from the pan and saute the onions and garlic until a bit softened (about 5 minutes). Add all of the spices and cook another 2 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan and pour in the coconut milk, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the spinach and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve with some quinoa or brown rice. ENJOY!

The next one I found on a website all about the Candida Diet and it is called Quinoa Meatloaf.  I'll admit that it seemed strange and I was hugely skeptical on this one, but when I looked at the ingredients, it's really not all that different from a regular meatloaf apart from using quinoa in place of breadcrumbs or some other binder. I used ground turkey in place of ground beef because I don't eat beef and I altered a few ingredients based on what I had on my pantry.
Quinoa Meatloaf
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1-2 chilies, depending on what kind of spice you like
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Method: Grease a loaf pan with the olive oil. Place the onion, garlic and chili in a food processor and chop very finely (or do it by hand). Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place into the loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 75 minutes or until cooked through. To make sure it's done, an internal reading should be at 71degrees when using a thermometer. (71 and it's done!) This recipe would be really good with some kind of tomato based sauce poured over top of it. YUM! I am going to make it again when I can have tomatoes and reap the benefits of it's goodness.

I hope some of you try one of these recipes and become convinced that even though I am in dietary hell, there is hope for those like me when it comes to flavour and good food.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weight Loss Counselor Conundrum

Today, since Rachelle is out of town for the week, in her place I taught a 6-Week Workplace Weight Loss Group. Basically, she goes to places of business in the area and does 6-week weight loss groups with employees while they are on their lunch breaks. Doing this today in her place really got me thinking and I am confused with how I am feeling.

(WARNING! Upcoming rant about feelings and random disheveled thoughts!)

I am not overweight and have no inspirational or emotional weight-loss story to share with the world. I put on some weight working at a bakery for nearly 4 years, and over the past few years I worked really hard and lost the weight. Whooptie Do! So my question is, what do these weight loss group people think of someone like me coming in there and telling them what to do? This goes not only for groups, but also the individual clients in the office. I can't say, "I know how you feel cause I've been there." Cause I don't and I haven't. I have no idea what it's like to be picked on for being the fat kid and I have never lost 50lbs only to gain 60 back. I keep having these flood of thoughts of what clients could be thinking when I am counseling them on a subject as important as weight loss.
- "What does she know? She's never been fat! She doesn't know how hard it is."
- "Well, she's not fat. Maybe I should listen to her."
- "She has a degree in Nutrition. So what? Life experience outweighs education in this situation."
- "She has a degree in Nutrition. She must know what she's talking about."
- "She's just an employee and not the one who did the hard work to create this program."

I find myself feeling this sense of anxiety when meeting clients because I fear that they won't want to open up to me since I'm new at this and lack their personal experiences in weight loss struggle. And then I start to over-think my answers to their questions if they do ask me about my weight. I pretty much just say that I work really hard to maintain my weight and for most of the population, weight-loss and/or maintenance is difficult no matter who you are (apart from the genetically blessed who "eat whatever they want and never gain weight"...you know who you are... Chris). I also point out that a lot of thin people aren't healthy because they take their lower body weight for granted and have been eating bad foods their whole lives thinking they're invincible. Being overweight, filling your plate with healthy food and being physically active is a much healthier way of living then being naturally thin and living life as a couch potato while eating horribly.

I've got a bit off topic here but I guess I am just wanting feedback on what people want in terms of a weight-loss counselor or lifestyle coach. Someone who has been there, walked in your shoes and empathetically struggled the struggle too? Or someone who has the education to back up their words and the desire to make the world a bit healthier?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Death to Candida!

Today's post is one of those posts where I hum and haw over whether or not I want to write about something very personal that is going on in my life, but I have thought about it and have decided to share my story in hopes that someone out there reads it and it ignites an epiphany within him/herself.

Where to begin. After years of feeling horrible with strange and seemingly untreatable symptoms (mostly involving the GI tract), I have come to the conclusion that I might have systemic candidiasis. Might is the word I stress here because I was not diagnosed by a doctor (he pushed me out of the walk-in clinic examination room faster than I could say, "I think there's something wrong with my mouth,") and have taken it upon myself to take matters into my own hands and try to cure my 18 years of pain and discomfort.

Candida is a type of yeast that is natural to all human and can be found on the skin and in various areas of our internal membranes. For some people, such as those who take a lot of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or who have diabetes, a stressful lifestyle or some kind of internal parasite, this yeast can grow out of control and produce toxic by-products that can make the host sick.  The problem with trying to diagnose yourself with a candida overgrowth is that a lot of the testing can come back as a false negative and the range of symptoms is so huge and various from one extreme to the other, that basically any person in this world could think that he/she has this.

For example, here is a list of some symptoms: acid reflux, bloating, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, indigestion, burping after meals, mucus in stool, hemorrhoids, acne, cysts, hives, night sweats, psoriasis, eczema, athlete's foot, body odor, swollen lower lip, metallic taste in mouth, bad breath, canker sores, bleeding gums, persistent cough, mucus in throat, sore throat, sinus congestion, chronic post-nasal drip, flu-like symptoms, hay fever symptoms, sinusitis, asthma, eye pain, blurred vision, ear infections, yeast infections, PMS, food sensitivities, weight loss, weight gain. headaches, chronic pain in the joints, inability to focus, poor memory, irritability, anger, dizziness, depression, crying spells, panic attacks, low libido, fatigue, hyperactivity, cravings for sweets and alcohol, insomnia, poor coordination...and the list goes on. As you can see, pretty much anyone can associate themselves with many of these symptoms at any point in their life.

I've heard about Candida Diets before since I work with a Holistic Nutritionist and she has worked with people with this problem before, but I never really looked into what they were all about. It took a fungal infection in my mouth to finally put it all together and start to really research what this problem involved and if I fit the mold for someone suffering with this. And yeah...I fit it pretty damn close.What really struck home with me is when I started to talk to Rachelle about this and she told me that one thing people really start to notice when they have a Candida overgrowth is that they get really moody and irritable when they're hungry. HELLO!! I wrote a post about that back in March, Spring in my Step, and blamed it on just getting old.

So after lots of research, planning, shopping and preparation, I began my Candida Diet last Thursday. Ugh. Take a look at my "Foods to Completely Avoid" list.

- Sugar honey, syrup, lactose, sucrose, fructose, chocolate, molasses, rice syrup, artificial sweeteners (e.g. Asulfame, Nutra-Sweet), agave nectar, coconut sugar
- Fruit - Yep...all of it, including tomatoes
- Vegetables – potatoes, carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, peas, parsnips, all squash (except zucchini)
- Beans - beans and other legumes, tofu, soy cheese, soy milk, all soy products, carob powder, cocoa powder
- Yeast
- Foods Containing Gluten - Anything made with wheat, rye, oats or barley, e.g. white bread, rye bread, pasta, spelt products, corn and corn byproducts
- Vinegar - Includes all types of vinegar, such as white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, and any food made with vinegar, such as mayonnaise, commercial salad dressings, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, shrimp sauce, soy sauce, mustard, pickles, pickled vegetables, green olives, relishes, horseradish, mincemeat, and chili sauce.
- Mushrooms
- Peanuts, Peanut Butter, and Pistachios
- Alcohol
- Coffee, Black Tea, Cider, Root beer
- Aged, Moldy and Processed Cheeses
- Processed, Dried, Smoked, and Pickled Meats
- Packaged, Processed, and Refined Foods
- Dairy - except plain yogurt.

On top of the diet, I am taking a Candida cleansing kit from Advanced Naturals called Candida Therapy and am also taking a fibre supplement by Renew Life called FiberSmart and of course a strong probotic. The kit is supposed to detach the yeast from the mucous membranes and the fibre is to remove it from the body while the probiotic replenishes the good bacteria in my body which the evil yeast has taken over.  Not gonna lie, taking the fibre is the best part of my day because it has a sweetness to it which my body is craving for madly.

I'm on day 8 as of today and so far it's been...alright. The first few days were easy since I've done cleanses before so staying away from sugary things and wheat wasn't difficult at all. Not having any kind of beans, tomatoes or carrots have been definitely the hardest things to avoid since I eat an obscene amount of all three. Also, I am eating more meat now then I have eaten in years. I am vegetarian for most of my meals and really only eat meat if I go to someone's house for dinner or on the rare occasion I'll cook it at home. Now I am eating so much animal protein and I am finding it so time consuming! Beans and lentils are so quick and easy and cheap! But alas. No beans for me.

Around day 5 I hit a mental wall. I just felt horrible. I was irritable and chronically exhausted and my mind wandered so easily it was just ridiculous. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I was gapping out every 5 minutes and just disappearing mentally for minutes at a time. Productivity and upholding a personality was low on the priority list to say the least. But I woke up this morning feeling good. After 3 days of constant brain-fog, it felt good to wake up and feel a bit more like me. I was actually very productive at work today which I am sure my boss enjoyed. I am lucky to have a boss that 100% understands what I'm going through and it very understanding of my symptoms and dietary needs (she even cooked me some quinoa and brought it to work...what a doll). 

So this post is getting long so I will leave you all here. I will keep you updated on my journey through my Candida Diet and hopefully you'll learn a little something along the way.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nutella Lawsuit Nonsense?

I'm sure you've all heard about the lawsuit in California of a woman who sued Ferrero USA for creating advertisements for Nutella that made the product seem like a healthy choice to feed kids, when in actuality it is no better nutritionally then melting down a Snickers bar and spreading it on a piece of toast. And yeah, I totally agree that the advertising is definitely misleading. The commercials are always bright and cheery with a mom giving her kids a large serving of Nutella spread on a piece of toast for breakfast, with her saying something such as, "And I feel good knowing that I am making a good choice by giving my kids Nutella." Really, the only good thing about it is that it tastes good (really good).


I've read stories about the lawsuit and there is a lot of uproar since she won the lawsuit and the company shelled out $3.05 million (most of it to be divided amongst Nutella customers who can get a $4 refund). What people are saying is that this is a silly lawsuit because if she would have only stopped and read the Nutrition Facts label then she would have seen that a serving of the product contains 200 calories, 11grams of fat and 21grams of sugar, and she would have known that this was not a healthy breakfast choice for her daughter. What people don't realize is just how strong advertisements can be to the population and that we will buy products based on our memories of seeing the product on TV or a website ad. There is SO MUCH research that says that we make a lot of our purchasing choices based on what we see or hear in the media, whether it be a good or bad choice.

Case and point. A woman came into the office the other day and I sat down and talked to her about her weight loss journey. She's a new client of Rachelle's and was really struggling that week to keep her weight off, so I took a look over her food journal (all new clients write down everything that eat for the first 6 weeks of their program) to see how her eating was. After a quick glance I saw the word "Nutella" posted all over her weekly journal. I asked her about it and if she had been approved by Rachelle to eat the product, which of course she said no. She said that she bought it on a whim at Monday because she figured it was a good snacking choice to put on her rice cakes to up her protein. When I told her about the recent lawsuit against the company and that it was incredibly high in fat and sugar, she was shocked. Her response was, "I thought it was the same thing as peanut butter but with hazelnuts."

See, people don't know that this isn't a good choice for a healthy lifestyle. She saw the commercials, took it for granted that what she saw was a company promoting their healthy food by showing happy healthy active kids eating Nutella and their slim and beautiful mothers looking contently onward. Nope.

Now we just need moms to look at the Nutrition Facts labels of all those "whole grains cereals" that they are buying for their kids. Yeah they may have bumped up the fibre by a gram or two, but the content of the cereals are still packed to the max with lots of sugar. Oh the lawsuits to come in the near future!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Am I Being Unjust?

I'm sure that I might cause a bit of a stir with this blog post since it is being directed at a population that I have direct and very close contact and relationships with, but I just can't help it. It must be said.

Apart from the bad breath, smelly clothes/skin, hacking cough, yellowed fingers, premature aging, decreased lung capacity, fertility issues, stained teeth, increased chances of developing a serious and life threatening disease and large financial obligation....smokers have an unfair advantage. Smoke breaks.

I have worked in restaurants since I was 16 years old and in my experience it seems that at least 90% of kitchen/restaurant staff are smokers. Why I feel the need to have a good old fashioned rant right now is that so many smokers (and I am not saying all of them!) think that they have the right to leave their work duties to head outside to have a cigarette. Just yesterday we were stuck in a big lunch rush and I could not find my coworker anywhere, so I was running around like a mad person serving hers and my own customers. When I found out that she had stepped out to have a cigarette, my top nearly burst! Why does she get to go smoke because she's stressed out from the job while I have to stay and deal with it all by myself? If I were to just stop and go stand outside for 5 minutes, I would get in major shit from a boss, but since she has an addiction it's OK for her to do it? Plus since the majority of restaurant staff smoke, this generally includes the managers as well so they're not the first ones to come forward and say something. Where is the logic in all of this? Now obviously there are exceptions and I have worked with smokers who are very considerate and make sure that their smoke breaks are timed in a way that inconveniences no one. I always appreciate that.

One of my other coworkers has recently quit smoking (horray!) and he pointed out yesterday at the end of his busy shift that he didn't get a chance to have a break the entire shift while normally he would have taken lots of breaks to go smoke. He never realized that non-smokers generally don't get breaks during busy times in restaurants to recharge their batteries and take a breather. Sucks don't it!

Am I being unreasonable and can't really expect to understand because I am not a smoker? I understand that many people will read this and think, "well you should just take a break because it's your right as an employee." Have you ever worked a Mother's Day in any eating establishment in your life? I'm thinking not.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No Photos Please

I think I have uncovered not one, but two mysteries. Yeah I know what you're thinking. "Adrienne, how can you be so brilliant and find the answers to 2 perplexing mysteries?" Let me tell you how. The first reason is that I work way too much and most of my research happens while at work. The second reason is that I work too much and most of my research happens during my after-work calming hot yoga class when I have an hour to think. Lots of work = lots of yoga. Simple.

Mystery #1 - Why is hot yoga so addictive?  The reason for this one may vary from person to person but I think I have narrowed it down to one main cause for the reasoning as to why yoga-goers feel the need to attend as many hot yoga classes as possible. At first I thought it was because the intense sweating was so revitalizing and nourishing that we became accustomed to sweating profusely; therefore sweating any less than that while exercising just wasn't good enough anymore. But no, I think that is just the first taste of the addiction. At first I loved the sweating, but then I got to a point in which I started to find the sweating hugely distracting because I was concentrating so hard on getting the positions right and pushing my body more and more, and the sweat took away from that because it makes you slippery and runs into your nose in downward dog. Then I evolved to place in my practice in which I knew that the sweat is inevitable so I pushed myself to not only get the positions correct but also do it through the sweat. Now that I feel more comfortable with my form and dealing with the sweat, I concentrated super hard on getting the breathing right. Breathing is such a huge part of yoga and it has now become my #1 priority in the studio.

What I am getting at here is that hot yoga is so addictive because it makes you want to be better, and who doesn't want to be better at something they enjoy? Hot yoga takes so long to be truly great at and even though I am not near to even consider myself great at it, I know that every time I get in there that I get a bit better and a bit stronger and I am able to tap into myself differently than the time before. Right when I think I'm doing awesome, the instructor comes over and aligns me slightly which pulls me where I'm supposed to be. Right when you think you've mastered a move, you realize that you could make it so much better if you did this or that. The need to master the heat, positions, conditions, atmosphere, breathing...etc, is addictive.

That and the fact that we pay and arm and a leg for a membership so we want to get in as many classes as possible to make up for the depleted bank account.  Mystery solved!

Mystery #2 - Why do so many women on PEI have issues with a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism? I have been doing lots of research on iodine supplementation for work and I have stumbled upon a lot of information about people with thyroid problems. Sitting in Rachelle's office and listen to client after client talk about their sluggish thyroid or diagnosed hypothyroidism made me really think as to why these women all seem to have the same problem. A lot of women on PEI seem to end up with slightly faltered or burnt out thyroid glands which is a major reason for them having such a difficult time losing weight.

So without going into major scientific detail, here is my theory. These people have a lot of things going against them in terms of avoiding thyroid issues. The first one being that those who have children here seem to enjoy pro-creating because a lot of families consist of multiple children (highly religious background meant that couples years ago were having anywhere from 6-16 kids). So these women who are now in their 40's or 50's are dealing with altered hormones due to menopause but are also dealing with a faulty thyroid from having all of those kids. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on the gland because of the intense hormone changes and some women end up with a burnt out thyroid afterwards. The second issue that Islanders have against them is pesticides. Pesticides are a big issue on PEI and those exposed to pesticides for expanded periods of time are seen to have altered thyroid function. The third reason is linked again to the farming on PEI. Farming is huge here and there are certain vegetables that can inhibit the absorption of iodine (needed to stimulate the thyroid to produce important hormones), many of which are grown here and eaten in large quantities on a daily basis.  These foods include cauliflower, cabbage, corn, broccoli, turnips/rutabaga and soy.

Kids + pesticides + certain local crops = altered thyroid function

So now I will be hiding in my apartment for the next few weeks in hopes of avoiding all of the media attention this blog post will be stirring. My research is vast, professional and highly scientific so I am quite sure that I will be quite famous after revealing the truth behind these 2 mysteries. No photos please.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quinoa Carrot Muffins

While doing research on Ancient Grains for work (a topic I am a huge fan of because these grains are so delicious), I stumbled upon this recipe for Quinoa Carrot Muffins and decided to give them a try. I have never baked with quinoa flour before, had no idea what it tastes like or what the consistency in a recipe would be like, so I thought I would give it a go and try something new. Plus I am always interested in finding gluten-free recipes since people are always looking for good ones and I like being able to suggest them or how to alter their existing recipes to make them gluten-free.

I made a couple teeny alterations to the original recipe and I am very impressed with how they turned out! So good in fact I thought I would share them with everyone! I know that the past few blog posts have been consistently recipes but really, recipes are a great asset for everyone. And honestly, if I didn't know these were gluten-free, I would never have guessed that this wasn't made with good 'ol fashioned wheat flour. Plus they have zero added fat in them. Bonus! The next time I make them I am going to experiment...maybe make some flax gel and toss in some as substitution for eggs. Oh the possibilities! 

Quinoa Carrot Muffins
- 1 1/3 cup quinoa flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 2 1/4 cups grated carrots

1) Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Prepare a muffin pan with paper muffin liners and set aside.
2) Combine the flour, bp, bs, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. Mix in the raisins.
3) Mix together the eggs, brown sugar, yogurt and carrots in another bowl.
4) Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just combined. Divide evenly amongst the 12 muffin cups.
5) Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!