Are you a mindful eater?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I’m glad that the movie theatre is dark while I’m eating my popcorn.  I say this because I once had a traumatic experience watching the man sitting in front of us gobble down his gigantic tub of popcorn before the house lights were dimmed for the film. He was shovelling in that corn like there was no tomorrow. It was mesmerizing to see. There was a certain hypnotic poetry in the fluid piston-like rise and fall of one arm as he swiftly filled and then emptied each fistful. His mouth never seemed to shut – even as he somehow managed to chew and swallow while escaping kernels flew about his head and shoulders. Now that’s mindless eating for you. And good Lord, is that what I look like, too?!

But psychologists who study such things tell us that mindful eating, on the other hand, can be a useful method for aiding behaviour change to help with healthier eating and weight loss. Even better, focused attentive eating habits are something that we can practice on our own. So says Dr. Andrew Schwartz, writing in Consumer Reports last month. Here’s what else Dr. Schwartz had to say:   Continue reading “Are you a mindful eater?”

Six steps to stop emotional eating

by Carolyn Thomas

Karen Trainoff knows a thing or two about emotional eating.  Years ago, this Heart and Stroke Foundation dietician was a newly divorced single mother. She gained a whopping  70 pounds after she discovered the nightly comfort of sitting down to a big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes after her son’s bedtime – night after night, week after week, month after month.

Hers was a good example of eating driven by emotions rather than hunger. It’s no secret that food can bring us comfort. But when we eat as a way to cope with problems such as depression, boredom, anxiety, anger, frustration or stress, the results can lead to poor self-esteem and unwanted weight gain, which can in turn increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. Continue reading “Six steps to stop emotional eating”

My debut on the national news

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

It all started when I was contacted by Melanie Glanz, a television producer with CBC News from Toronto. She was working on a report about hospital food, she explained. Would I be willing to be interviewed for this news feature?

Hospital food?  I assured Melanie that I was not a dietitian or nutritionist or hospital administrator. Not an expert on hospital food at all – rather, more like just a mere victim.  But she persisted. She had read my blog article called Hospital Food: The Best Reason to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Avoid Hospitalization. And she told me she really needed a patient’s perspective on such an important topic.

I agreed, albeit a tad reluctantly. What was there to say, after all, about hospital food that hasn’t already been whined about by generations of patients?  “Hospital food is bad!”  After that, I didn’t think I’d have much else to say.  Continue reading “My debut on the national news”

Is your doctor telling you to “meditate, eat veggies, walk, quit smoking?” If not, why not?

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥ @HeartSisters

Newsweek once called his advice “the state of the art in psycho-cardiology” – a lifestyle regimen best known for the stringency of its ultra-low-fat diet, but with equal emphasis on exercise and stress reduction. And in The Atlantic, the famous preventive medicine guru Dr. Dean Ornish has written an essay called Why Health Care Works Better than Disease Care. Dr. O is founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

And his research studies were the first to claim that lifestyle changes can reverse cardiovascular disease without drugs.

He’s a rare duck: a man with the letters M.D. after his name who shuns the prescription pad and Big Pharma’s domination of what’s been called “marketing-based medicine”. Instead, he has long advocated preventing – and even reversing – heart disease without drugs or surgery through changing your lifestyle. He actually recommends two different diets:  the prevention diet and the reversal diet. The reversal diet is a very strict low-fat diet designed for people who have diagnosed heart disease.

Alas, so far I have yet to meet any heart patient who has been successful in sticking to this extremely restrictive diet for any significant length of time. Continue reading “Is your doctor telling you to “meditate, eat veggies, walk, quit smoking?” If not, why not?”

Vegetarian-friendly religions

by Carolyn Thomas 

The well-known Mediterranean Diet recommended for optimal heart health calls for eating very little meat. Here in Canada, although our meat consumption is steadily decreasing according to Statistics Canada, we still average about 23.4 kilograms (about 52 pounds) of red meat per person per year. That puts us well behind the United States, Hungary, and Australia in total meat consumption.

But if you break it down into types of meat, people in Denmark eat more pork than anybody else in the world, Hong Kong leads chicken consumption, and, to nobody’s surprise, the Argentinians eat more beef.

So a heart-smart vegetarian in Buenos Aires might feel quite outnumbered, but elsewhere on earth would be among the majority.  An Apple A Day recently took a unique look at international vegetarianism and came up with some widespread religion-based connections.  Continue reading “Vegetarian-friendly religions”

My favourite brunch recipe for heart-healthy Blueberry Almond French Toast

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

The best thing about this heart-smart brunch recipe for eight is that you make it the night before. Ten minutes of easy prep time, about eight hours of overnight sitting time in the fridge, and 50 minutes of baking time next morning, filling your kitchen with that irresistible vanilla-cinnamon aroma while you’re off showering and making coffee.

And did I mention that it also looks and tastes fabulously delicious? Perfect for feeding a crowd of hungry (slightly hungover) houseguests!  

Continue reading “My favourite brunch recipe for heart-healthy Blueberry Almond French Toast”