If you are like most people you pick up a packet of food in the supermarket and turn it over to read the ingredients to see if it is good for you, all the while having no idea what you are reading. Eating healthy can seem complicated at first so let’s try and make it simple.
Putting the right fuel in your body is essential for your day-to-day wellbeing and performance as well as longevity. Poor diet is linked with many chronic health conditions. We encourage our patients to clean up their diet when undergoing structural chiropractic care to maximise their body’s ability to heal, recover, and re-structure. Think of it this way, if a builder uses cheap materials to build your home it probably won’t last long. Each day your body produces millions of new cells PER SECOND, so make sure you get the appropriate raw materials for your body to make the best cells it can.
My first recommendation when it comes to reading a food label, is NOT to. Why? Because the food you eat shouldn’t need labeling since it has only one ingredient in it. Most of your diet should be made up of plants, lots of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and grains. If you buy carrots, there are only carrots in the pack. If you buy potatoes, same deal. As a rule of thumb, the more processing steps involved in getting a product from its source to your plate, the less good it probably does for you and the more potential harm it has.
Okay so every now and then you will need products that do have a label on them. The simplest way to approach this is if you can’t read, pronounce or understand the ingredients list, it’s probably not good for you (this is a general rule, and with rules, there are always exceptions).
These two tips can be very helpful if you are new to eating better and you are trying to clean up your act. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information out there, start simple and keep educating yourself!
Here you are in the midst of modern society. No time. Rushed. Distracted. And eating… really, really fast. It seems like half the time you’re not even chewing our food properly! It’s time to discover eating slowly and what it can do for your health and well-being.
Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do to improve your health. But it’s not always easy, so let’s explore why it’s so beneficial and worthwhile.
Eating slowly gives your body time to realize that it’s full. It takes 20 minutes from the start of your meal before your brain sends signals that it’s satisfied with the amount of food and nutrients you consumed. Imagine the extra calories you’ve been eating simply because you haven’t given enough time for your body to realize it longer needs food!
Eating until satisfied is different from eating until you’re full. Satisfied can be around 80% full, which is what you should aim for. When you take the time to slow down and take in each bite mindfully, paying attention to the tastes and textures of the food, you end up feeling way better about what you eat… even if it’s just a sandwich.
Before you even put the food in your mouth, your body’s digestive processes are already at work. As soon as we see, smell or think about food we begin to produce saliva which contains enzymes to break down the food and moisten the mouth to aid in swallowing. Your stomach then starts to secrete more acid and your small intestines start to prepare for movement and food transport.
When we eat fast, we tend to take larger bites and chew less before swallowing. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. Anyone who’s experienced either can tell you it’s not pleasant.
A study served lunch in two different ways to 30 average weight women. The meal consisted of a huge plate of classic pasta and a glass of water. All women were instructed to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. During one visit they them to eat as quickly as possible. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly and down their utensils between each bite.
Here’s what they found when they compared the difference:
Fast eaters: 646 calories in 9 minutes
Slow eaters: 579 calories in 29 minutes
That’s 67 less calories in 20 more minutes… which may not seem like much until you add up the three meals a day… 7 days a week. Do some simple maths and you’ll quickly realize that that adds up to 1407 extra calories a week!
On top of that, they found that when the women ate quickly they reported more hunger an hour earlier than when they eat slowly. This means that slow eating leads to less food consumption and more long-lasting satisfaction – which is both good for the wallet and the waistline!
What’s interesting is that they took the same study and compared the amount of water that the participants drank to find that the fast eaters drank an average of 289 mL and the slow eaters drank 409 mL! So they conducted a similar study, only this time they controlled water levels, and found that ate the same amount of food, but an hour after the meal the slow eaters reported less hunger and desire to eat.
So they concluded that drinking more water helps reduce portion sizes, while eating slowly seems to decrease hunger levels for longer. On top of that you get the other incredible benefits of drinking more water such as balancing body fluids, energizing muscles, helping your kidneys and bowels work better and improve skin appearance!
At the end of the day, if you’re eating slowly and drinking more water, you’ll consume less food and feel more satisfied.
Of course, eating slowly is not the end all be all for weight loss and health, but it will definitely help you with portion control and hunger satisfaction.
If you’ve had no time during the week and you’re looking to fit in a quick, solid sweat, here’s your go-to do anywhere workout. It’s a great way to maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism going and more!
Full-body movement everyday is important whether it be cycling, running, climbing, walking or this awesomely time-efficient workout. Here it is:
5 reps of each of the following 5 movements = 1 circuit.
Repeat for a total of 3 circuits (add or subtract 1 based on your conditioning level and available time).
1-2 minutes rest between circuits.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms out in front of you.
Keep your core engaged and your tailbone tucked in.
Lower yourself by pushing your hips back and keeping your feet pointing straight.
Push weight through your heels and midfoot when pushing yourself back upright.
Add more reps.
Hold something decently heavy like a dumbbell or a bag full of things.
Start on the floor with your arms extended in front of you, your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward.
Maintain a straight line form your head to your heels.
Keep your elbows in and externally rotate your hands so that your elbow creases are pointing forward (imagine twisting the ground outward) and lower yourself.
Add more reps.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms behind your head.
Keep your core tight, back straight, knees slightly bent and weight on your heels.
Bend at the waist by pushing your hips back until you feel a little stretch in your hamstrings (behind your thighs).
Extend your arms up overhead.
Loop a resistance band behind your neck with the other end under your feet.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Find a chair and get into a split stance with your right foot forward (knee bent) and left foot straight and back. Place your right hand on the chair and hold the weight in your left hand.
Keep your core tight, tailbone tucked and weight on your front foot (right) heel.
Pull weight to your lower ribs and lock your shoulder blade down.
Complete 5 reps on each side.
Add more reps.
Add more weight.
Start on all fours.
Push with toes to bring your knees off the floor.
Keep pelvis stable and centred.
Crawl with your right arm and left leg moving up together.
Why is proper posture so important? Is it for the way you look? Sure, people definitely look better when they fix their posture. But regardless of esthetics, your posture is actually key to how your body functions in more ways than one.
Take muscles for example: when you’re sitting with your head forward, your posterior (back) neck muscle are working way too hard to support your head, while your anterior (front) neck muscles switch off. This leads to muscle imbalances and over time may very well develop into neck pain which can be stemming from degeneration, disc disease, muscle strains and so on.
Now your organs: when your body gets used to a slouching position and makes it a long term problem your intestines get compressed and digestion can become difficult. Poor posture also reduces lung capacity by up to 30%. As you can imagine it can compress the heart and reduce the flow of blood to vital organs thereby making them work less efficient and create disease within them.
Not only does posture affect you physically, it can also be detrimental psychologically. Studies have linked poor posture to increased depression, stress and fatigue.
The overall effect can become global and when those issues persist long term they can take away from your quality of life and even longevity.
“How do I know if I have a possible posture problem?”
Luckily there are 2 tests that you can try at home to see if you have any possible posture problems. All you need is a wall and/or a floor!
The Wall Test
Stand with the back of your head against the wall with your heels 6 inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.
If you can slide more than 3 fingers behind your neck or the small of your back then it indicates poor posture.
The Floor Angel
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lower your rib cage so it’s in contact with the floor and your arms are out and bent at the elbow by 90 degree like so:
If your hips, rib cage, head or wrists and arms can’t maintain contact with the floor then this may indicate possible postural issues.
Try these out and see what your posture is like! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask your structural chiropractor.
Here’s one thing you probably already know: the human body was not designed to sit at a desk all day. Our bodies require constant movement, so any job or activity that keeps you in one position for a long time (ie. office work and video games) can have negative effects on your body. The most important thing to remember above all else is to move more and move often. If you’re struggling with movement or there’s something limiting you, then consult with your structural chiropractor on how to approach your challenges and they’ll provide you with individualized and specific exercises that will get you back on track.
There are certain areas of the body that are of primary concern when sitting for long hours:
Why? Poor ergonomics and computer set up can lead to your head hanging forward for long periods of time. This even happens when we’re on our phone for too long. This position increases straining in your neck and the muscles around the neck become tight and reactive. This can even lead to tension headaches.
What to do: • Sit tall and think of stacking your neck bones one on top of the other directly above your back. Then tuck your chin and gently push your head back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times every two hours. • Remember to also move your head often throughout the day by looking left, looking right, and making big circles with your neck (if pain free)
Why? When typing and reading a computer screen, our shoulder tend to slump forward and stay there for long periods of time. When the positioning of your shoulder girdle is not optimal, it can lead to imbalances in the muscle system, which will lead to your muscles not functioning as well.
What to do: • Sit tall and pinch your shoulder blades together gently. Hold this positioning for 5 seconds and slowly release. Repeat this 10 times every 2 hours. • Make big round circles with our shoulder blades. Focus on the part of the circle where your opening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. Perform 10 circles going forwards and 10 going backwards every 2 hours. • Stretch your chest muscles by putting your elbow and forearm on the side of a doorframe with your elbow at 90 degrees and stepping into it until your feel a stretch in your pecs. You can feel it more by breathing into the sides and front of your rib cage. Hold for 30 seconds on each side every 2 hours.
3. Low back
Why? Being at the desk for such long periods of time, we tend to get lazy and slouch or round through our low back. This can put a lot of stress on the joints and discs in the low back area, which can potentially lead ot disc injuries, muscle strains, joint stiffness and weakening of your core muscles which can make you more susceptible to further injury and pain.
What to do: • Sit directly on top of your sit bones and try to keep the weight even on both sit bones. This will create a small arch in your low back which is its optimal position. • Be sure to stand up and walk around every hour or so to take the pressure off your low back. • Try some gentle yoga when you’re not at work. • Perform the cat-camel pose which helps bring movement throughout the entire spine. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it.
Why? When sitting on our bottoms all day, it means that we’re squishing our buttock muscles which can lead to weakness in this important muscle group. The sitting position also leads to tight hip flexors since our hips are stuck in a 90 degree angle for so long. Imbalances in the hip can lead to injuries affecting all parts of the body, especially the low back and knees.
What to do: • Stand and walk throughout the day. • Stagger your legs, similar to a lunge position and transfer your weight forward. This will give you a nice stretch in the hip flexor muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides every 2 hours. • Perform the glute bridge outside of work. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it. Remember that every BODY is different. If these general exercise suggestions aren’t working for you, then be sure to visit your structural chiropractor to get individualized recommendations to get your back on track.