The Amish Diet 101

Whenever I hear the word “Amish”, and image of pristine green farmland with a horse and buggy in the backdrop come to mind.  That and the Amish Furniture Warehouse (I hear they make excellent furniture!!).

Anyway, when my teacher mentioned The Amish Diet earlier this week I was curious and found that it essentially works on then notion of being active to burn off caloric intake.  Since the Amish don’t use electricity, they rely on good old-fashioned hard work to complete their daily tasks.  They walk a lot and tend to their crops with basic equipment that requires a lot of physical exertion.

In an article I was reading in The Globe and Mail, the author stated that Amish women walk close to 14,000 steps a day compared to the 2000-3000 here in Canada.  In general they do six (6) times more physical activity than does the average Canadian.

What really blew me away is that the average caloric intake for an Amish diet is 3600 and consists of a lot of meat, cakes, gravy, eggs, pies HOWEVER everything is made with whole grains and balanced with lots of fruit and veggies.

What this means is that Amish people have very low incidences of heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

Obviously the Amish lifestyle is not realistic for most of us…but here are a few ideas on how to become a little more Amish in your community:

1.)  Leave your car at home.  Cars are a big reason we’re getting fat and dying from an overly sedentary life.

2.)  Bike (with a helmut) or walk.

3.)  Take up a sport; inner tube waterpolo, dodgeball, volleyball, hockey, soccer, tennis – whatever.  Don’t drive to your sport….take a bike, subway, or walk.

4.)  Walk at lunch.  Get away from your desk for even 10 minutes.  Canada’s Physical Activity Guide says we should do between 30-60 minutes of exercise each day but it can be broken down into 10 minute increments.  Take a 20 minute walk at lunch.  You’ll feel more awake and energized.

5.)  Start a garden in your backyard.



Here Fishy Fishy!

If you check under the Recipe tab, I have added a new page dedicated to fish recipes (see link below).  This week it’s all about salmon but check back as I’ll be adding more as I test them out at home.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid: A Follow Up


I received an email regarding last week’s post on Omega-3 Fatty Acids asking if it better to source Omega-3 from a capsule or fish.  The same reader also wanted to know how much fish is safe to consume given all the recent media attention surrounding mercury in fish.

While capsules and fish oil re certainly a legitimate way to get Omega-3, I would argue that obtaining it directly from fish is better because you eliminate processing of the fish oil and the expense associated with supplements.  Cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna, herring, anchovies, and sardines are all good sources.  If you can eat fish twice a week you’ll get the Omega-3 required and if you’re worried about mercury try to purchase organic/wild fish.

In terms of supplements, you should be looking for the ratio of EPA to DHA – the higher the ratio of EPA the better.  The type I use is called is a fish oil called Lemon Flavour NutraSea HP which has a ratio of 3:1.  1 tsp has 1500 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA and comes from anchovies and sardines.  If the taste and texture of fish oil is too much for you to handle, don’t be a hero – go for the capsules!  Consult with your health care provider on how much you should be taking per day as too much fish oil can be dangerous for some people because it thins the blood.

On a final note, while I outlined fish oil as the best source of Omega-3 for your heart, other forms such as flaxseeds offer anti-inflammatory properties and shouldn’t be discounted in your diet.

If you are interested in fish recipes, I’ll be posting a special recipe profile tomorrow!

Breaking the Fast: 3 Part Series

The final reveal!  For those of you who haven’t been following the past few posts, here is what you miss:  eating a healthy breakfast will make you feel good, think well, and continue a cycle of good eating throught the day.

Here are some good options to kick off your day along with product suggestions and recipes to boot.

1.)  LOW SUGAR HIGH FIBER CEREAL!  You can have cereal but not the kind that is full of sugar because that will work against you later in the morning when you start to crash and crave more sugar.  In class last night, my teacher who is a dietician suggested Fiber 1 cereals.  I tried out the Honey Cluster Fiber 1 this morning and it has 13 grams of fiber which is 52% of your daily requirement!  Top it with fruit and you’re good to go.  High fiber is anything over 6 grams btw.

2.)  WHOLE GRAIN TOAST WITH PEANUT BUTTER/ALMOND BUTTER & FRUIT on the side.  2 pieces of toast should be good along with at least a half cup of fruit.

3.)  PANCAKES & FRUIT but not from a pre-made mix.  Click here ( for some of my favourite recipes including oatmeal, banana flax seed, and buttermilk.

4.)  SCRAMBLED EGGS W/ SALSA AND WHOLE GRAIN TOAST.  This provides a nice kick of protein and fiber and will keep you full for a few hours.  Have some fruit on the side.

5.)  HOMEMADE GRANOLA WITH YOGURT & FRUIT.  The yogurt provides protein and a good boost of calcium while the fruit and granola are excellent complex carbs loaded with fiber.  Try 1% or less plain yogurt and if you find it too bland you can add a tsp of honey.  Click here( for a recipe.

6.)  FRUIT SMOOTHIE.  It has to have a good balance of yogurt, fruit, and milk in order to avoid a huge sugar spike.  This is a good one to bring with you on the go.  Check here ( for a recipe.

7.)  HOMEMADE MUFFIN & FRUIT.  Your muffins should be made whole whole wheat, seeds, and nuts if possible.  Pack this in your bag with a banana and you’ve got a breakfast to go.

8.)  HOMEMADE MUELSLI.  I could live off this stuff and it’s packed with nutrients and good for people on the go – pack this in a tupperware and you’re off.   Check here for a recipe.(

9.)  FRENCH TOAST & FRUIT.  Make sure you use a whole grain bread and limit your syrup to a tablespoon or two.  Top with strawberries or blueberries.

10.)  VEGGIE OMELET.  This provides a nice balance of protein and you can get a least one serving of veggies into your diet right off the bat.  If you can add a serving of fruit on the side it would be great.

Breaking the Fast: 3 Part Series

So, from yesterday’s post we know that eating breakfast is important and will help you maintain a healthy weight, optimal cognitive functioning, and an overall feeling of wellbeing – but how and why?

During sleep, our body takes advantage of the down time to repair and replenish from daily activity.  While we are sleeping, bones are built, tissue repaired and regenerated, muscles grow, and our immune system is strengthened. To carry out the restorative functions of sleep properly, our body turns to energy which is stored in the body in a few forms.

– Blood Glucose

– Glycogen, stored in the liver and muscles

– Protein, which is converted into glycogen

– Fat within the adipose tissue

Structural Formula of Glucose

I’m going to use a car and gas as an analogy to the body and it’s form of fuel – food.  As you can imagine, once we wake up our energy stores are significantly depleted and it’s sort of like a gas tank being on low or empty.  Like a car, without fuel in the form of food we can go a certain distance but we sort of put-put along without much enthusiasm or energy…just scraping by.

Nutritional Value for Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut

Now, imagine what happens when you eat a donut first thing in the morning – it will provide a spike in energy because it’s full of sugar but there are no nutrients.  So we speed along and then come to an abrupt stop because the tank is empty.  You start feeling dizzy, tired, irritable, hungry, and stressed.  This leads cravings, over eating and by this time you’ll eat whatever crappy food comes your way.  A cycle of poor eating often continues for the rest of the day.

While a donut is a good example of a poor breakfast, here are some other not so obvious culprits:

Hidden Culprit: Cereal

– white bread

– low fiber cereals (I have an issue will all cereals but that’s a whole other topic)

– Danish/Croissants

–  Fruit juices

– Granola Bars

– Pop Tarts

There is a light at the end of the poor breakfast habit cycle!  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on breakfast options that will keep you happy and healthy.

Breaking the Fast: 3 Part Series

This smart cat would rather eat a cactus than skip breakfast!

We are hounded from the time of childhood about the importance of breakfast but here are a few convincing scientific reasons why you should believe the hype:

– Data from The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (US based) concluded that people who eat a grain based breakfast have a considerably lower BMI than those who skip breakfast.

– Authors from a study conducted by the University of Minnesota determined that for teenagers, there is an inverse relationship between the frequency of breakfast throughout the week and BMI.  Meaning, the more frequent breakfast eating is, the lower the BMI tends to be.

– A 2008 study conducted by researches at The Centre for Neurosciences and Learning found that high school students that ate breakfast reported improved congnitive functions such as visuospatial memory, alterness, and a general feeling of positive wellbeing – this compared to students who fasted through the morning.

Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at why eating a poor breakfast (or skipping completely) makes you feel like crap and on Friday we’ll examine some easy, healthy, and fast breakfast options.

Children are picky eaters…

Don’t let that persuade you from trying to get them to eat healthy food.  I have a new section of the site dedicated to recipes that have passed the test with some VERY picky middle school kids.  Even though most kids will reject new foods the first few times they’re introduced, keep trying because persistence pays off.

Check out the “Kids Corner” section which can be found at the link below and also on the main toolbar of the site.

If you have some kid approved recipes, I would love to hear from you!!

In 100 Words: why not all omega-3 fatty acids are created equal

Many foods possess omega-3 fatty acids naturally (flax, hemp, walnuts, etc) and others have it added in by food companies (orange juice, eggs, cheese).  What you should know is that there is only one omega-3 fatty acid that has been proven to protect your heart and that is omega-3 found in fish oil.  While all omega-3’s are beneficial for helping to reduce “bad”  cholesterol and optimal brain functioning ONLY fish oil has the type of EPA (eicosapentaonic acid) that has been proven to reduce inflammation and the type of plaque that often leads to cardiovascular disease.  It tastes terrible but works wonders!