7 Natural Ways To Deal With Bloating

Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal or a little “gassy?” Are you tired of carrying your “food baby?”

Well, bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly (that’s 1 in 3)! It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.

There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Maybe because of a serious condition (disease), or a food allergy or intolerance. It can also result from how you eat. If you have a serious digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you eat accordingly. Same goes if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.

If you’re already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.

1 – Don’t overeat

If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re forcing your digestive system to work overtime (and you’d be grumpy too if you were forced to take on all that extra work!). It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.

2 – Avoid sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.

3 – Avoid swallowing air

Seems like a no-brainer right? Think of a baby gulping on the breast or at the bottle…for sure, you’re gonna end up with a gassy baby. Same is true of adults, and things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.

You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…

4 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed

Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favours. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and s-l-o-w-i-n-g down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savour them.

The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing (but not while you’re eating). 🙂

5 – Try peppermint

Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try diluting peppermint oil in water (ensuring it is certified therapeutic grade), steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.

6 – Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements

There are certain over-the-counter products that can be useful.  This includes supplemental enzymes that can help break down indigestible carbohydrates. Have you heard of or tried Beano? It contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down indigestible carbohydrates from various foods. And for many people these types of supplements can provide almost immediate relief.

7 –  Take Probiotics

Gas produced by the bacteria in the intestine is a major contributor to bloating. And we know that including probiotics as part of your daily routine can help to populate the good bacteria and also have a positive impact on digestion and immune health. It would reason then, that including a probiotic in your diet will help to reduce gas production and bloating. They can take a while to start working though, so be patient.

As you can see, there are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.

First, avoid it by not eating things that you know give you gas or aggravate a known digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, enjoy a cup of peppermint tea.

If you try all of these suggestions, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance/sensitivity or allergy. If you have a major concern, then please see your doctor. They can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.

Recipe (peppermint): Peppermint Mocha Creamer

hands holding coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract or 2 drops peppermint essential oil (certified therapeutic, food grade and safe for internal use)
  • 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.
  2. Store in a sealed container in your fridge.
  3. You can pour into your morning coffee & enjoy or you can enjoy it on it’s own. Either way, you’ll be in heaven!

Apple Pie For Breakfast

With the cold weather officially here (meh), it’s also time for those meals that warm the body and feed the soul!

Like you, I follow a breakfast plan for every day of the week, and right on (weather changing) cue, my kids have been telling me that they’re bored with their current oatmeal. So last week, I switched it up and BAM, it.was.a.hit!

Incredibly easy and super delicious, let me introduce you to Breakfast Apple Pie Oatmeal!

Recipe: Breakfast Apple Pie Oatmeal

*I’m feeding 4 kids so you’ll need to adjust accordingly

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium to large size apple (we like honey crisp)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups dry oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups of water
  • **wee bit of maple syrup…WEE

 

Directions:

  1. Add water and egg to the pot and stir.
  2. Add cinnamon.
  3. Peel and grate the apple. Add to the pot.
  4. Add oats. Stir.
  5. Add butter.
  6. Cook on low-medium heat and stir regularly to avoid sticking to the sides (cause it’s got the egg).
  7. You’re welcome.

9 Strategies To Build Your Child’s Immune System

Are your kids always picking up the latest ‘germ of the week’ and holding on to it for far too long? Yes, kids getting sick a few times is normal and having an immune system that is able to handle the offenders quickly and efficiently is important. I’ve created this guide to help you build your child’s immune system and tackle cold and flu season with a lot less snot(bleh) and a lot more fun.

Get Your FREE Copy HERE.

 

Copy of Immune Building For Kids - Balanced Plate Nutrition

 


How Much Sugar Is Too Much? (Less Than You Think…)

In case you didn’t know, one of my (many) pet peeves is the overabundance of sugar that we feed ourselves and our children. It gets me hot and bothered….and vocal!

Here’s the good news….Organizations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake. WHOOP WHOOOOOOOOOP! And while this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One – they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either.

We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health. Ever.

The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about EVERY PROCESSED FOOD there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it. Plain and simple.

So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.”

Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

Fruit and other healthy, whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases. You won’t get many people that will contest that.

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are extremely concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to diseases that were influenced by sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.

The “official” change is the new Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that in Canada and the USA, they declare the amount of sugar, but don’t give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they’ve never had a “benchmark” maximum daily value to use. They haven’t declared how much is too much. Now, both countries are implementing a %DV for sugar.

In Canada, the %DV is based on 100 g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendations of no more than 90 g of total sugars per day.

So, “Total sugars” = “Naturally occurring sugars” + “Added sugars.”

In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring “total” sugars but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.

In 2012, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 130 grams per day and in Canada, 90 grams per day! But, I’d argue that 100 g per day total sugar is still WAY too high. While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they’re not what I would recommend.

To start, I’d ditch as many processed foods as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. And, I wouldn’t recommend eating your “daily value” of sugar from sweetened processed foods. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.

Second, you don’t need to max out your daily sugar intake. I promise your pancreas will thank you! Try to reduce your sugar intake below these “official” amounts for an even better goal. The World Health Organization’s recommended maximum of 36g/day for men (7.5tsp), 20g/day for women (4tsp) and 10g/day for children (2tsp) should be your benchmark for daily added sugar.

I’m going to share my top recommendations to help you reduce your sugar intake:

  1. EAT MORE PROTEIN
    They provide satiety, help you feel full longer and help to keep your blood sugar stable. Try to have protein every time you eat.
  2. EAT MORE HEALTHY FAT
    Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat…..sugar does! Like protein it provides satiety and helps to keep blood sugar stable (and it’s essential to health).
  3. INCREASE YOUR FIBRE
    Low in calories, high in nutrition. Helps to balance blood sugar and its filling. Added bonus….it helps pull excess cholesterol out of the body.
  4. CONSUME FERMENTED FOODS & BEVERAGES
    Sour food helps naturally reduce sugar cravings AND provide probiotics, which support digestive health. Cultured veggies are easy to make at home and so is Kombucha!
  5. SUPPLEMENT
    Chromium: regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels and helps to reduce sugar cravings.
    Magnesium: studies show that sugar cravings may actually be a result of magnesium deficiency (especially if you crave chocolate).
    Zinc: needed for insulin and glucose utilization and a deficiency can lead to sugar cravings.
  6. REDUCE (OR ELIMINATE) SUGAR-SWEETENED BEVERAGES
    This includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead. Do it gradually…start by reducing your sugar by 1/3, then 1/2 and before you know it, you’ll be having your coffee sugar free. If you want the sweet, bubbly sensation of pop, try drinking Zevia instead. Zevia is a pop that is sweetened with stevia and doesn’t contain any artificial colour (all drinks are clear) or phosphorus. If you must drink pop, Zevia is the way to go.
  7. REDUCE (OR ELIMINATE) DAILY DESSERTS
    Choose one night per week when you will have dessert – and stick to that one night. Bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half and still have it taste delicious. Alternatively, try replacing the white sugar with coconut sugar. (Or try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.)
  8. REDUCE (OR ELIMINATE) CONSUMPTION OF BREAKFAST CEREALS
    They all have added sugar and for the majority of them, one serving would max out the recommended daily intake of 10g (2 tsp) for your kids. Instead, get a copy of 5 Breakfasts That Won’t Overload You on Sugar and Taste Delicious. 

Let me know in the comments your favourite tips to reduce your sugar intake!

Recipe (No added sugar): Frosty

Chocolate Frosty
photo credit: mynaturalfamily

Serves 1

  • ¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • ½ banana, frozen or ½ cup strawberries
  • Ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Add everything into a blender except ice. Blend.
  2. Add a handful of ice cubes and pulse until thick and ice is blended.
  3. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Double the recipe to share.


What’s Your Gut Saying To You?

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates 

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (a.k.a digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this.

  1. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  2. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body.
  3. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis“).
  4. And don’t forget the  friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut heal and overall health.

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out…kinda like a bouncer at your favourite club. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out. This seemingly simple role is super-complex, and it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can literally “leak.” Like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there. A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

DID YOU KNOW? About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut – and if you’re gut isn’t healthy, how do you expect to be?

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly, health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They also fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, how do you improve gut health?

There are lots of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s start there.

Try eliminating:

  1. Added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol! Ditch the junk for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.
  2. You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

Try incorporating:

  1. Nutrient-dense foods. When we allow tons of macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut, we maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.
  2. Probiotics: By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet. We make kombucha here at our house and the kids love it. They feel/think they are getting pop but I know that I’m supporting their health.

Can I have some Kombuuuuucha, please?

 

3. Increase fibre. Not eating enough fibre increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fibre plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fibre also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fibre? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

4. And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Veggies 

IMG_4731

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass quart jar with a plastic lid
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 cups filtered water (water MUST BE FILTERED as chlorine will affect the fermentation process)
  • 2-3 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1-2 cups grated carrots
  • 1-1.5 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • cabbage leaves for stuffing jar

 

***OPTION: You can also use a veggie culture starter (my preferred method) in place of the salt and this is the culture I like to use. If you use this veggie culture, follow the recipe provided at the link.

Directions:

  1. First dissolve your sea salt in water in a glass jar or 2-cup glass measure.
  2. Then place vegetables and herbs into a quart jar.
  3.  Make sure you leave about an inch from the top of the jar.
  4. Then cover with your salt brine, leaving about an inch to a half inch from the top.
  5. Fold a small cabbage leaf and press it into the brine so the water floats above it and the vegetables are completely submerged.
  6. Cover with a plastic lid (it is best not to use metal as the salt and acids can corrode it, though I have used them occasionally if that is all I have).
  7. Screw the lids on tightly.
  8. After day 2 or 3 begin to “burp” your jars once or twice daily to let excess gasses escape. You can do this by unscrewing the lid just enough to hear the gasses release and then quickly tightening it back up. You should see a bit of bubbling and some liquid possibly dripping out after about day three, depending on the heat level in your home. I like to place my jars into some sort of container, like a rectangular Pyrex dish, to catch any drips. Set your jars in an undisturbed place in your kitchen out of direct sunlight.
  9. You can taste the veggies after about five days to see how soured they are. I prefer to let mine ferment for about 7 to 8 days in the winter and 5 to 6 days in late summer.
  10. Experiment! There is no exact science with fermentation. After your veggies are soured to your liking, place the jar (or jars) into your refrigerator where they will store for months.

Do You Feed Your Kids Fake Food?

Let me ask you this: Have you looked at the ingredients on a food label lately? Like, really looked? Have you read the ingredients on popular brands of cookies, cereals, or junk/snack foods?

And if I came and rooted through you cupboards (don’t worry, I’ll turn a blind eye to your stash of chocolate…cause I’ve got one of those too #HandsOffTheChocolate),  do you have any of  those ingredients in your house? Do you even know what all/any of those ingredients are? #WhatAreWeEating

There are a ton of artificial, chemical, “junky” ingredients in foods these days.  If you see an ingredient called “artificial flavour,” what exactly is it? (And should you even be eating it?) This may surprise you (cause it did for me) – but for the most part, it’s a secret!  Big food companies don’t want their proprietary flavours to be known, so they’re allowed to say “artificial flavour” and leave the details out. Crazy right?!?

That alone gets me hot under the collar! But what makes me more upset is what artificial flavours represent when they’re in your food and the foods you may be feeding your kids.

Are you ready to get real?

When you make an apple muffin at home, what gives it the apple flavour? Apples of course! Like real, whole, chopped or shredded apples or applesauce. That’s a no brainer…

But, let’s say you’re a big food company and you’re making thousands of apple muffins every day. In a factory. On an assembly line. How would you process the huge amount of apples that are to be chopped, grated or made into applesauce? Would you have a separate “Apple Room” where all the apple processing happens? What if one batch is slightly riper, or tastes slightly different from the rest? Will your customers notice a different taste? And since apples are perishable – they go bad.  So how would you guarantee the apples won’t go bad?

And what if you can have an apple flavour that tastes better than using real apples? Something that makes people want to keep buying them every week.  Did you know that some of the artificial flavours are engineered to give an even better taste than the real food?  They spend millions of dollars on research and scientists to study the 3 pillars – salt, sugar and fat – and to also determine things like crunch, and how fast the ‘food’ dissolves in your mouth (to help trick the brain into thinking no calories have been ingested).  Their ultimate goal is the “bliss point”.

Wait. It gets better…to mask the bitterness or sourness that the formulations can cause, the companies will use flavour enhancers – invisible ingredients that trick the brain into tasting something that isn’t there, and not tasting something that is there. And  many ingredients in processed food have nothing to do with taste. They’re there to reproduce a certain texture, to control the moisture level, to keep the various ingredients from separating and spoiling during the months that they will sit on the shelves. Ingredients like that are bundled under what may seem like relatively innocuous labels like ‘natural flavours’ or ‘artificial flavours,’ –  tastes and smells that feel real but in reality are completely artificial.

And since we’re being real, let’s be perfectly clear. Artificial is just a fancy word for FAKE. Would you feed your kids fake food if that was listed on the label? I doubt it!

At the end of the day, companies will often opt for the easier and the more profitable – artificial flavours last longer and will be virtually identical batch after batch.  In our apple muffin example, artificial flavours used to make an apple muffin are ready to go, so you don’t need to peel, cut, or worry about apples going brown, or that they’re not tasting “appley” enough.

Oh, and it’s WAAAAAAAY cheaper than using real, whole apples.

And what about safety?

While there are some flavours banned for use in many countries, other countries allow them. There is an approved list of flavours that are accepted to be safe, and are used by the food industry. They are considered GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.”

Even if they are 100% safe to ingest, the mere fact that an artificial flavour is in food makes it fake food.  It’s not a real, whole food. Having an artificial flavour as an ingredient almost defines that food to be a processed, “food-like” product.  For me, artificial flavours in food indicate that the food, regardless of the marketing, or health claims, is not a healthy choice. Don’t be fooled. They are not added to improve the “healthfulness” or nutrition of the food. They are meant to have you buy more and eat more. End of story.

Yes, cooking and baking can take time. And yes, your time is already stretched paper thin with everything you are responsible for. Believe me, I get it. 4 kids, a husband with his own business and my own work – it’s not easy. It’s always a balancing act to figure out what takes priority – but your health, and that of your kid(s) needs to be protected and supported. Making the time – even if that means the house stays dirty for another day –  is so important. And maybe as a first step, you consider only purchasing snacks that don’t contain anything fake. You don’t need to overhaul everything at once. Start with swapping out 1 or 2 items and work your way up. You can do this!

“The greatest wealth, is health.”

 

For more information on artificial flavours, cravings and the food industry, check out this article.

IMG_4093

Recipe (All-natural): Apple Muffins*

*These are not your typical flour muffins. Delicious for sure, but not particularly light/fluffy.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick oats, uncooked
  • 
1-1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped apples
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the quick oats and cinnamon and baking powder.
  3. Add the quinoa and mix again.
  4. Add maple syrup, apples and eggs, and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  5. Place 12 muffin liners into a muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup about ⅔ of the way
 full
  6. Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes.

 

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Before baking, sprinkle each muffin with a touch of cinnamon for extra (natural) flavour.


Ketogenic Diet 101

If you haven’t heard the term Ketogenic or Keto in the last little while, I can only imagine that you’ve been living on a beautiful, caribbean island, unplugged from the rest of the world. (and I might be slightly jealous)

But don’t worry…I got you! Today, I’m going to break down the ins and outs of the ketogenic diet and you’ll be able to decide if it’s an eating style that would work for you.

In the most simple terms, the ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. It has recently gained a lot of popularity in the wellness sphere because of some of its health benefits. It has been shown to help some people with weight loss and also to help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children.

Read on for some of the lowdown on how it reprograms your metabolism (for “ketosis”), and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.

Let’s start with the end goal – getting your body into ketosis. But what is “ketosis?”

Carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. They use carbs first, whenever they’re available. This is why not maintaining stable blood sugar can affect your attention, mood, and energy level. It is also the reason why you crave carbs when you are tired – you’re body is trying to get a fuel source that it can easily use.

However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat (is the lightbulb going off yet?).

When you are a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as “ketosis.” It’s the same process that your body goes through if you’ve fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That’s the trigger for turning fat into ketones.

Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”

Before I go any further, I want to be clear on one thing. “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”

I’m sure I peeked your interest when I mentioned the Ketogenic diet has been successfully used for weight loss. With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss….but it’s true! Whoop, whoop!

It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets. Ok people, that definitely needs some major whoop, whoop!

So that begs the question…what is it about the ketogenic diet that makes this weightloss possible?

Simple. Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and satisfied, and we don’t need to eat anymore. It also reprograms your metabolism to use fat as fuel.

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet. As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues. Some studies show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity. Another study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers.  Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet.

As with all nutritional changes, this type of diet can be beneficial for some people.

“How To” Keto

Not everyone should go on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before diving in. It can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”

The ketogenic diet involves getting 75-80% of your calories from fat, 10-15% from protein, and just 5-15% from carbs. This a major stretch from what most people eat on a daily basis and can make for a challenging switch.

But there are lots of resources available to you that can help you navigate the Ketogenic eating style. As a starting point, I suggest checking out The Keto Beginning. I love this resource because it focuses on whole foods, it walks you through the keto lifestyle ‘beginning’ and explains everything you can expect in the first 30 days. It’s full of valuable, real-life information, a 30 day meal plan, macro breakdown for each day, grocery lists and recipes! And there’s also a thriving community of Keto-ers who support each other in this eating style. (There’s also a bunch of other resources that you can check out in your keto lifestyle journey)

In general, the foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados,  low-carb vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, most fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”

And because of the limits on fruit and starchy vegetables, many people on the ketogenic diet need to take supplements. This is because, in addition to their sugar and starch, fruits and starchy veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So, if you’re cutting those foods out, you still need to give your body those nutrients. And often, it means needing supplements (such as electrolyte powder, himalayan rock salt, magnesium powder).

The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. It can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions. Again, it’s not for everyone, so make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner before you begin.

Recipe (Ketogenic): Peppermint Hemp Fat Bombs/Fudge*

Peppermint fat bombs
Photo credit: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com
* Recipe courtesy of http://www.healthfulpursuit.com

Serves 16

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup (100 grams) stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips, melted
  • ⅓ cup (50 grams) Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, soaked overnight, strained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch finely ground Himalayan rock salt
Instructions
  1. Place a silicone mold with rectangular cavities on a baking sheet, set aside.
  2. Place all ingredients in the jug of your blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared mold and transfer to the fridge to set for 20 minutes, or until fudge is hard to the touch.
  4. Remove the fudge pieces from the silicone mold and place on a plate.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: These are (high fat) super-rich desserts. Don’t eat too many if you’re not going full keto.