Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top 5 reasons why we snack

Top 5 reasons why we snack

By Katherine Vankoughnet

Food provides us with the fuel we need to survive and thrive, but there are plenty of other reasons why we find ourselves at the trough, and these triggers are often the culprits behind a derailed diet or
excessive weight gain. Read on for the most common temptation scenarios and tips on how to successfully work through them.

We snack because: We're stressed"People use food to soothe and comfort themselves when they're experiencing an emotion that they either don't want to or don't know how to deal with at the time," explains Susan Wnuk, a Toronto-based clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and weight-related problems. That's why a looming deadline, an overbooked schedule or apprehension about an upcoming event can have us making a beeline for the pantry, whether we realize it or not.

Fight the urge: Be mindful. "Some of my patients have found it helpful to put 'Stop' signs on the door of the cupboard or fridge to help them reconsider why they want to eat," Wnuk says. "If you're not actually hungry, it helps to take a moment to evaluate any pressures or problems affecting you at the moment."

Healthy alternatives: Avoid stimulants like caffeine or refined sugar, which can cause a brief spike in energy followed soon after by an extended crash. Try foods rich in B vitamins, such as bananas, beans and lentils, which have been known to
combat stress.

We snack because: We're sadIt's practically a cliche now -- gorging on buckets of ice cream after a bad breakup or a piece of cake after an unsuccessful job interview. Depression, from its most temporary to its most severe forms, has many of us indulging in the fleeting pleasures of food to fill the void.

Fight the urge: If you're constantly coping by taking comfort in food, Wnuk recommends writing in a journal to help you sort through your feelings and become more aware of your habits. "It's important to remember that food doesn't solve any problems besides hunger," Wnuk advises.

Healthy alternatives: Healthy carbohydrates should be your go-to snack for any pity party you plan to throw. Stick to whole grain pastas and breads to increase your body's production of serotonin: a neurotransmitter that naturally elevates your mood and increases calmness and happiness.

We snack because: We're celebratingWhether it's a steak dinner to mark your big promotion or a bag of chips to reward yourself for doing the laundry, positively reinforcing good behaviour with tasty treats is a dangerous business.

Fight the urge: Keep your rewards restricted to inedible items. Going for a well-deserved
massage or purchasing a much-coveted pair of shoes can bring you satisfaction without sacrificing your waistline.

Healthy alternatives: To honour life's smaller victories grab a piece of fruit. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and help you feel "treated" with the added bonus of upping your intake of fibre and essential vitamins. Try something new and exotic, or a type of fruit that you rarely buy for an added sense of occasion.

We snack because: We're boredEating is a convenient and affordable (and legal!) pleasure-inducing activity that we can literally engage in anytime, anywhere, so it's no wonder that so many of us turn to food -- and more often than not, junk food -- for entertainment or to break up the monotony of our day-to-day lives.

Fight the urge: Get moving. If you're mindlessly grazing by your desk or working your way through a bowl of popcorn in front of the TV, a little change of scenery might help. Go for a
brisk walk around the block or do as many pushups as you can during the commercial breaks to keep your mind from wandering over to your secret candy stash.

Healthy alternatives: Replace your sugary or salty go-tos with
healthier options, such as fruit and nuts, veggies and hummus or low-fat cheese in the places you're most likely to offend.

We snack because: We're procrastinating"I will finish this report, right after I go grab a cookie from the coffee shop down the street." Sound familiar? Food is an easily accessible diversion for those of us who have a tendency to put things off until the very last minute.

Fight the urge: "Eat healthfully and regularly," Wnuk recommends. Frequent well-rounded meals will stave off hunger pangs and sluggishness-inducing dips in blood sugar, and will remove food from the list of tempting distractions.

Healthy alternatives: Lean protein such as fish, poultry or low-fat dairy help increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine: two naturally occurring brain chemicals that promote alertness and our ability to concentrate on the task at hand.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to sleep away the pounds

How to sleep away the pounds

By Dr. Joey Shulman DC, RNCP

Have you ever noticed that you eat more when you're tired?
In addition to a healthy and
balanced diet and regular exercise, a restorative night's sleep can help with the battle of the bulge. According to recent studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Lancet, lack of sleep can slow down your metabolic function and make it harder to lose weight.
The hormones behind hungerScientists have demonstrated that you can help keep your hunger hormones in check by keeping a healthy sleep routine. Two hormones in particular –
ghrelin, which is responsible for making you feel hungry, and
leptin, which makes you feel full – are affected by your sleep patterns.
When you're
sleep deprived, ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels drop, making you feel hungry and increasing your cravings. When faced with cravings, our tendency is to grab highly processed sweet and starchy snacks, which are a one-way ticket to weight gain. And when you're sleep deprived, feelings of fullness are often delayed, which means you're more likely to keep eating even when you've had enough.
The hormone cortisol also appears to be linked to body weight. Stress or sleep deprivation can cause cortisol levels to rise, and your appetite and cravings will rise right along with it. Excessive cortisol has been linked to a surplus storage of fat, specifically around the mid-section – this is a dangerous place for extra pounds as it can put you at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer.
How much sleep do you need?   In order to keep your hormonal cycle in check, aim for seven to nine hours each night. Think you might be sleep deprived? Ask yourself these questions:
• Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
• Do you wake up a lot during the night?
• Do you wake up too early in the morning and then can't get back to sleep?
• When you wake up, do you not feel rested?
If you have answered 'yes' to any of these questions, it may be time to re-jig your sleep routine to help you
lose those extra pounds.
How to regulate your sleep cycle1. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day – even on weekends. Your body thrives on a natural rhythm. If you can
fall asleep within five to seven minutes of hitting the pillow and wake up each day at the same time without an alarm clock, that's a sign of good health.
2. Avoid watching TV, reading the newspaper or working out immediately before bed.
3. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. Darkness promotes the secretion of the anti-cancer hormone melatonin.
4. Don't go to bed angry! Make amends before heading to bed so you can fully relax.
5. Avoid coffee, tea or
alcohol before bed. Opt for a soothing cup of chamomile tea to lull you to sleep.
If you work in shifts or are caring for a newborn, it can be tricky to
regulate your sleep cycle. Instead, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains in your diet. Don't eat starchy or sugary refined foods in an effort to boost energy.
While a good night's sleep won't help you slim down without exercise and a healthy diet, sleep does appear to play an integral role.  Make sure to focus on your sleep habits and have a good night!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rankism: Bullying someone of a lower rank at work

Rankism: Bullying someone of a lower rank at work

By Diana Fisher

Racism. Sexism. These attitudes are no longer acceptable in today's enlightened society. And one day, hopefully, a new "ism" will be taboo in our society: Rankism.
Robert Fuller, author of
Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, coined the word "rankism", which is defined as "abusive, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour towards people who have less power because of their lower rank in a particular hierarchy." Basically,
rankism is bullying someone of a lower rank.Tammy, a 30-year-old executive assistant from Ottawa, says that the 18 months she spent working at an insurance firm left her feeling "worthless." "My boss told me that she wouldn't accept mistakes, and that if I was unsure of how to do something, I should ask questions before attempting to do the work," she says. "But when I approached her, she would act annoyed and irritated, and snap at me that the task was 'a no-brainer.' After months of this treatment, my self-esteem was gone. I felt I could do nothing right. In the end, I was breaking down in tears in the bathroom. I knew I had to leave for my own sanity. After quitting that job, I never wanted to work in an office setting again."
Victims of rankism often suffer long-lasting effects from their abusive situations. As a result of
lost confidence, many will have difficulty applying for and acquiring new jobs. Some will seek counselling, and others will require medication in order to pull themselves out of their depressed state.
In Ontario,
the Ontario Human Rights Commission protects against bullying and harassment. It says, "Every person who is an employee has a right to freedom from harassment in the workplace by the employer or agent of the employer or by another employee because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability." It also says ""Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability." Bullying or harassment of someone of lower rank, however, is not a violation of the Human Rights Code.
In order to protect employees from abuse by higher-ranked supervisors and managers, the Human Rights Code would have to change. And in order for that to happen, elected officials in each region would have to promote the issue.
The first step to recognizing rankism as a social problem, Fuller believes, is giving it a name. Sexism and racism went through the same processes before they were finally recognized as abusive, debilitating and unacceptable behaviours.
The growing
Dignitarian Movement,
a fairly large movement in the U.S. started about five years ago and gaining popularity in Canada, promotes that everyone has a purpose and a right to fulfill that purpose within a fair and supportive working environment. People in lower positions of rank have important jobs to do, and in their capacity as support staff, they enable those in higher positions to perform their roles more effectively.
Unfortunately, not everyone has this enlightened outlook. If you feel that you are a victim of
bullying, unfair treatment or harassment because of your lower rank on the employment totem pole, start looking for a new job. If there is a Human Resources person associated with your office, report the abusive behaviour so that the complaint is on record. Should you require employment insurance benefits, you will be asked to provide verification that you had no other recourse but to quit. If there is no HR department at your office, consider getting a note from your doctor. Once you have broken out of that suffocating, stressful atmosphere and
found a position in which you are treated fairly, you will be able to thrive and grow as an employee and a person.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Easy ways to save water at home

Easy ways to save water at home

By Craig Kielburger and Mark Kielburger

Where else in the world do people flood their backyards every winter day to make a hockey rink?
We're a nation of
water wasters, but our hockey-loving habits can be eco-friendly, too…We think of Canada as a world-class country, but half a million Aboriginal Canadians go without access to safe water.
Now compare that to the rest of the country, which uses an astonishing amount of water (an estimated 343 litres per day on average) all available with the easy turn of a tap. Only Americans use more water.
We use and abuse most of this water in our bathrooms. There is nothing like a hot, relaxing bath on a cold winter morning, and afternoon and evening and … you get the point. We love baths and showers. In fact, over 65 percent of the water used at
home is sucked down the bathroom drain.
We've tried to cut our watery ways by speeding up the sudsy soak. But there are better ways to reduce than jumping out with soap still behind our ears. Older toilet models can use as much as 20 litres per flush -- approximately the size of a water cooler jug! Ditch that H20 guzzler for a new and improved edition (some flush close to half a litre of water), which most provinces and municipalities will cover up to $150.
That beloved shower streams 15 to 20 litres a minute straight down the drain. A low-ï¬ow showerhead halves that amount with no noticeable difference in water pressure. Some models come with an easy shut-off button for sudsing. Knowing that you're not wasting water in the washroom? Now that's relaxing…


• Plant indigenous plants that need no watering.
• Make sure to water your lawn at dawn or dusk; the yard will evaporate less water and stay moist longer.

Avoid overwatering: a typical lawn requires only one water every four to five days.


• As if you needed another reason to load up the ol' washer and call it a day, now studies say we conserve more water with a dishwasher than handwashing.• Promise to never throw away water; pour leftover water on plants instead.• Keep your drinking water cold in the fridge, rather than running the faucet until it's cold.• Thaw frozen food overnight, rather than running under hot water.


• Turn off the tap while brushing teeth.• Troubleshoot your tank. Put a few drops of food colouring in the tank, wait a minute and see if the colour seeps into the bowl. If so, you've sprung a leak, matey!• Place a 2-litre bottle in your tank to displace the water, making sure it doesn't interfere with the pulleys and traps of the tank.Take a look at where we use most of the water in our homes. Where do you think you can cut back?

Excerpted from the book Living Me to We: The Guide for Socially Conscious Canadians © 2012 by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, published by Me to We. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

5 simple steps to a sleep-friendly bedroom

5 simple steps to a sleep-friendly bedroom

By Robin Heron

According to the Canadian Sleep Society, the average adult requires between six and nine hours of sleep per night, and the amount and quality of that sleep directly affects the level of health, memory and alertness we experience in our waking hours. But unless your bedroom is an inviting space where you can unwind away from daytime distractions, it can be difficult to get the rest you need when you need it.
Here are five easy ways to make your bedroom a sleep-friendly sanctuary.

1. UnplugThe first step in making your bedroom into
a positive sleep environment is to say goodbye to the television, computer, cell phone and any other electronics that might be a distraction or reminder of stressful daytime activities. The bedroom should be a place associated with sleep and intimacy, says Dr. Michael Breus, author of
Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, and by creating a physical and psychological separation between work space and sleep space,
 your bedroom becomes a more relaxing, sleep-focused environment.

2. De-clutterIn the same vein as above, by getting rid of clutter like stacks of magazines, books, paperwork, and knick-knacks you can create an
oasis of calm in your bedroom so that when you settle in for the night there is nothing to sidetrack you from drifting off. Also, organize closets and remove all unfinished to-do projects from the room to keep daytime distractions to a minimum.

3. Lights outNothing is worse than trying to unwind with bulbs blazing overhead, so work on creating some ambient lighting in your bedroom. You can do this by choosing warm, low-wattage bulbs or outfitting lighting with a dimmer switch so you can set the stage for sleep. Then tackle the light pollution that's seeping in through windows from street lamps and sunshine by hanging a set of heavy curtains or blackout shades. Remember to turn off distracting hall lights and move your digital alarm clock to face away from the bed.

4. Sound offNoise distractions big and small can keep even the most exhausted among us from our much-needed sleep, so for starters, a set of heavy curtains may help eliminate sounds from traffic and other outdoor distractions.
You can move a ticking alarm clock away from the bedside table and keep your bedroom door closed to muffle activity from the rest of the household. Also, consider investing in a white-noise maker, which can be particularly effective when dealing with a snoring partner or for shift-workers who sleep during the day.
5. Get comfyStudies say on average we will spend one third of our lives sleeping, so it makes sense to create a space that is as welcoming and as personalized as possible. You can start by choosing
a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillows, and bedding that has a pleasant texture and is seasonally appropriate. To create a calm atmosphere, consider painting your walls soothing colours such as soft blues, tans, yellows or greens, and introduce some sleep-friendly scents like jasmine and vanilla with linen sprays, sachets and scented candles. Also, be sure to keep your room at a cool but pleasant temperature that remains constant throughout the night