Archive for September, 2011

Tuna, Chickpea and Roast Tomato Salad

September 29, 2011

At Coffs Coast Health Club we have been talking a lot lately about obtaining more energy to get you through your days.  We have found this delicious recipe and it will get you from lunch to your late afternoon appointments; supplying you with a good source of protein from the tuna & chickpeas without laying the fat on.  
BONUS…it’s easy to mix up and take with you for a  lunch on the run. 

Chickpea, tuna and tomato lovers will love this filling salad for lunch or dinner.




Serves: 2 person(s)

Preparation Time: 25 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins


400 g canned chick peas, drained
150 g cherry tomatoes
2 mL light sprays olive oil spray
180 g tuna in springwater, drained
100 g mixed lettuce


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Place chickpeas and tomatoes on a baking dish lined with baking paper. Spray with a little olive oil spray.

Cook for 15 minutes.

Put all ingredients into a bowl and toss.


Add chilli and/or black pepper and/or other herbs, if desired.

Nutritional Value
Calories 308 cals
Kilojoules 1,286 kJ
Fat 6.4 g
Carbohydrates 32.7 g
Protein 30.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 653 mg
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Fibre 1.5 g
Calcium 12.0 mg
Total Sugars 5.0 g


recipe from

Treat Treats as Treats

September 25, 2011

Treat treats as treats – and other smart rules to eat by


In the movie The Hurt Locker, there’s no shortage of tense, nerve shredding scenes involving bomb disposal in hot dusty streetscapes, but the image from the movie that really sticks in my head is a long way from Iraq. It’s in the climate-controlled aisle of an American supermarket where the camera pans along shelves of breakfast cereal that seem to stretch for ever. I thought of this as I read Rule 36 of Food Rules, the new book by US writer Michael Pollan: ‘don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the colour of your milk’. Even if you’ve never read Pollan’s best sellers, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defence of Food , you’ll recognise his memorable one liners: ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants’ and ‘don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food’.
If anyone deserves a prize for making us stop and think about how far modern food has drifted from the diet humans were designed to eat, it’s Pollan. And in Food Rules he distils the wisdom of the earlier books into a road map to help readers navigate an increasingly complex food supply. His bottom line: that populations eating a typical western diet – lots of processed food, and meat, lots of added sugars and fat and lots of refined grains end up with higher rates of obesity, heart disease and cancer than those eating more traditional, less industrialised foods. “What an extraordinary achievement for a civilisation: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick,” he says.
Here’s some of Pollan’s rules.
Treat treats as treats.
There’s nothing wrong with special occasion foods, Pollan says – as long as every day isn’t a special occasion. But outsourcing our food preparation to the food industry has made formerly expensive or time consuming foods – from French fries to pastries and ice cream – easy and accessible. The fact that these foods take time to make from scratch is no longer the barrier to eating them often than it used to be. Pollan’s advice – make these foods yourself and eat them less – or limit the ready-made stuff to weekends or special occasions. Or use the “S’ policy – “no snacks, no seconds, no sweets – except on days that begin with the letter S”.

Eat only food that will eventually rot
The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious is typically is, he says.
Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
The diet of the animals we eat influences the nutritional quality of the food we get from them, Pollan writes.”We feed animals a high energy diet of grain to make them grow quickly, even in the case of ruminants that have evolved to eat grass. But even food animals that can tolerate grains are much healthier when they have access to green plants – and so, it turns out, are their meat and eggs. The food from these animals will contain much healthier types of fat (more omega-3s, less omega-6s) as well as appreciably high levels of vitamins and antioxidants.”
Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
“Except perhaps for the milk and water, it’s all high processed imperishable snack foods and extravagantly sweetened drinks…”
Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
Chemicals added to food are designed to extend their shelf life or get you to eat more, he says. “Whether or not any of these additives pose a proven hazard to your health, many of them haven’t been eaten by humans for very long, so they are best avoided.”
Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
Try to be aware of why you’re eating and ask yourself if you’re really hungry – before you eat and then again along the way. (One old wives ‘test: if you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry). Food is a costly anti-depressant.”
Food Rules. An Eater’s Manual is published by Penguin, rrp $16.95.

by Paula Goodyer


Breakfast on the Run

September 22, 2011

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and ideally we should all sit down to a long and leisurely breakfast providing more kilojoules than any other meal in the day. Given our lifestyles, however, this is rarely practical, especially since eating when we’re rushed and stressed is bad for the digestive system. The compromise is to find some quick and healthy choices to fill us up for most of the morning.

The five-star no-cook breakfast, in my opinion, is natural muesli (no added sugar) with fresh fruit and low-fat natural yoghurt. It’s a meal that has it all; fibre and low-GI carbohydrates from the whole grains; low-fat protein from the yoghurt; good fats from nuts and seeds; and antioxidants from the fruit. Yet while it may be quick to prepare, the whole grains make it a meal that takes time to eat, so if you are pushed for time you might be better packing your breakfast in an airtight container to enjoy once you get to work.

To tide you over before then, you could buy a small fresh juice, made from carrot, celery, ginger, beetroot and apple, en route to the office. While low in fibre, it will give you a quick energy boost, kick start the metabolism and provide some antioxidants to protect your system.

Good options

Bad options

  • Wholegrain toast and tahini with tomato
  • Wholegrain toast and avocado with tomato
  • Wholegrain toast and cottage cheese with tomato and cucumber
  • Low-fat yoghurt smoothie with fruit and added fibre
  • Muffin
  • Commercial muesli bar
  • Turkish toast and vegemite or jam
  • White/wholemeal toast and jam
  • Large fresh juice (made from fruit only)
  • A low-fat berry smoothie will give you calcium, protein, antioxidants and keep you feeling full for most of the morning. This breakfast does not have much fibre so if you make this your choice be sure to increase your fibre intake with plenty of vegetables, high fibre cereals, legumes and nuts later in the day.

    A couple of slices of good quality low-GI grain bread, toasted, with sliced avocado and tomato or tahini and tomato is another good quick start. The choice of bread is critical to how long you’ll be satisfied throughout the morning. Fluffy white Turkish toast may taste delicious but will not keep you feeling as full as a bread with added whole grains. Your choice of topping also makes a huge difference to the overall health value and sustainability — jam and vegemite may be the quickest options but neither offer much in the way of nutrients. Tahini made from ground sesame seeds is a great fat, with a low GI that’s also rich in fibre and calcium. Topped with a vine ripened tomato, rich in the powerful antioxidant lycopene, you will be enjoying a breakfast that is contributing to your overall good health as well as filling you up for the morning.

    Muesli bars are not the same as muesli — they’re glued together with the sugar glucose. And muffins, even those marketed as low fat or ‘nothing naughty’, are really nothing better than very large single serve cakes.

    Finally, don’t be sucked into buying any of the packaged products specifically marketed to busy people with no time for breakfast — most are full of added sugar and other suspect additives your body does not need.

    By Judy Davie

    Should I Carbo Load Before the Marathon?

    September 19, 2011
    Some of our Runners!
    Well we know that a lot of  folk from the club like to run and with the Coffs Harbour Half Marathon coming up on September 25th & the Woolgoolga Fun Run on October 8th this might be a question on your mind “should I consume lots of carbohydrates before a marathon?”.  We hope the following information gives you some insight.  
    Oh, and good luck on your next marathon.
    Question: Should I Carbo Load Before the Marathon?
    Is carbo loading just a myth? Will eating more carbohydrates the day before the marathon help my endurance?
    Answer: The expert physician panel at the 2005 Marathon Directors College said carbohydrate loading has been dropped by most serious marathoners. You should eat a normal diet with 60-70% carbohydrates the week before the marathon, but do not increase your total calories.

    The Old Carbo-Loading Theory

    The older regimen had endurance athletes go on a low carb diet for 3 days, followed by a 70% carb diet for 3 days. This supposedly increased the glycogen in the muscles. However, it was found that eating a moderate 50% carb diet followed by 3 days of a 70% carb diet increased the glycogen just as much. And simply staying on a 50% carb diet all week still increased the glycogen, although not as much. There was no performance difference between any of these groups.

    Dangers of the Carbo-Loading Pasta Party

    The worst thing you can do for your marathon comfort is to load up huge plates of pasta and salad and high-fat salad dressing the night before the marathon. As one expert commented, “Constipation is unknown among marathon participants.” You don’t want the extra weight in your digestive tract the next morning. You don’t want any roughage, such as from the salad. You don’t want the extra weight, period. If you have been eating a balanced diet the week before the marathon, you have already loaded your muscles with glycogen.

    How to Eat the Week Before the Marathon

    As you taper your activity in the week before the marathon, you should eat a balanced diet with 60-70% carbohydrates and not overeat or undereat. If you have been on a weight loss diet, increase your calories to match your basal metabolic rate. For women, this will be 1800-2000 calories per day.

    Two Days Before the Marathon

    If you want a traditional pasta party, the time to do it is 2 nights before the marathon. Do not overeat. Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption. Drink plenty of water. A giant bowl of pasta and a huge salad with lots of roughage are not recommended – you need moderation.

    One Day Before the Marathon

    Eliminate any high fiber foods and foods that cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, bran cereals, etc. If you are lactose intolerant, eliminate milk products. If spicy foods speed up your gut, eliminate them. Stick with low-residue foods and eat only enough to satisfy your basal metabolism. Eliminate alcohol and reduce caffeine to the bare minimum.

    Morning of the Marathon

    Many marathoners can’t eat anything before the starting gun. Whatever you choose for breakfast should be bland and high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. If you must have some coffee, have as little as possible. Drink a large glass of water 1-2 hours before the start and have nothing more to drink until the starting gun. That starts you off well-hydrated but gives you enough time to eliminate any extra. 

    By Wendy Bumgardner

    Wendy Bumgardner is a certified marathon coach (RRCA). She is an avid walker who keeps abreast of the latest research and information on walking for weight loss, fitness and sport.

    A ridiculously yummy (and super healthy) treat!

    September 15, 2011

    This week, we have a fabulous recipe for Dairy-Free Ice Cream from the lovely Lee Holmes at Supercharged Food.

    Not only is this recipe dairy-free (heaven for a dairy intolerant like me), it’s also sweetened with stevia – a natural sweetener that has a positive impact on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. On top of this, no sugar means no feeding the nasty bacteria in your gut (which in turn means no bloating)! Yes please.


    • 2 cups cold almond milk
    • 2 teaspoons gelatin
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
    • 1 cup cashew nuts
    • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
    • 1/3 teaspoon liquid stevia
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


    1. Pour the almond milk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface.
    2. Leave for a few minutes while the gelatin softens.
    3. Put the saucepan over a low heat and stir the mixture until the milk has heated and the gelatin dissolved.
    4. Remove from the heat and place the saucepan in a sink of iced water so that the milk can cool to room temperature.
    5. Put the egg yolks in a blender and process until light and frothy.
    6. Add the coconut milk, coconut flakes, stevia, vanilla and a pinch of sea salt and process until well combined.
    7. Add the gelatin milk and blend for a few more seconds.
    8. Pour mixture into an ice cream container and put in the freezer.
    9. After an hour mix it up with a stick blender or fork and then return it to the freezer for another hour. Do this one more time, as it breaks up the ice crystals which cause the ice cream to be more icy than creamy.
    10. The ice cream will be quite hard when it comes out of the freezer so place it onto the counter for 10 minutes before serving.

    For more gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast and sugar-free recipes visit:

    Get Real with Sugar

    September 13, 2011
    30 Days to Green Your Diet - Real sugar is a greener option than artificial sweeteners.

    Photo: Marcelo Wain / Istock


    Of course, we’re not suggesting you up your sugar intake. But for the sweet things you must have, try going with the real stuff instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes.
    Sugar substitutes are chemicals that offer a sweet kick with fewer calories. Those chemicals have been linked with cancer in laboratory animals, and though that claim has been debated over the past few years, surely you’d be better off without the risk in your diet.
    If the calories in real sugar are what bother you, try eliminating one artificially sweetened item from your regimen, such as diet soda, each day or week (depending on your habit), instead of switching to nondiet. And relax — one teaspoon of sugar has just 15 calories. So go ahead, pour a packet into your cup of coffee, and take a few additional steps to burn it off.
    One greener sugar option is turbinado or raw sugar, which is made from evaporated sugar cane juice. Raw sugar does not require the use of bone char, which is used to whiten some refined sugars. (Though raw sugar is brown in color, it is not the same as brown sugar, which is often just refined white sugar coated in molasses.)
    There are also a few natural sweeteners on the market. Stevia is a noncaloric sweetener made from an herb originally grown in South America. While the FDA has approved stevia only as a dietary supplement, U.S. fans use it to sweeten their coffee and tea, and generally as a substitute for sugar. It has been used as a sweetener in other countries for years. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener derived from the agave plant, found mostly in Mexico (yes the same one used to make tequila!).

    By Annie Bell Muzaurieta

    10 Minute Balance Workout

    September 10, 2011

    Stability becomes more and more challenging as you get older, so consider these balance-enhancing moves your personal fountain of youth.

    balance exercises, improve balance, balance1. TREE POSE

    Standing tall and strong, shift your weight to your left leg. Place the sole of your right foot onto your left inner thigh and bring your palms together at your chest. Hold 30 to 60 seconds, while focusing on breathing slowly and evenly. Switch legs. Repeat twice on each side.
    PERFECT YOUR FORM: Press your weight into the floor, using the whole base of your foot, and avoid locking your knee. Be careful not to press the raised foot into the knee of your standing leg.
    DIAL IT DOWN: If your foot won’t stay on your inner thigh, place it on the side of your calf instead.
    AMP IT UP: Keeping your hands together,  reach your arms overhead and close your eyes.



    Stand tall. Raise your fists to eye level and shift your weight to your right leg. Bend and lift your left knee. Straighten your leg and kick. Return to starting position and do 15 reps, then switch legs.

    PERFECT YOUR FORM: Keep your core tight and kicking foot flexed. You’ll get more power from your kick if you push forward with your heel.
    Instead of the full kick, do a knee lift.
    AMP IT UP: After each forward kick, plant your foot and do a back kick with your other leg.



    Holding dumbbells, stand with your weight on your left leg. Slowly lean forward and extend your right leg behind you until your body is parallel to the floor. Extend your arms toward the floor (palms facing in), then bend your elbows as you pull the weights in toward your chest. Pause at the top, then lower arms back down and return to starting position. Do 15 reps, then switch legs.

    PERFECT YOUR FORM: Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of each row.
    DIAL IT DOWN: Work one arm at a time and place one hand on a wall or chair for extra support.
    AMP IT UP: Use heavier weights.


    Start with feet hip-width apart and fists at eye level. Step forward with one leg, bending both knees until your front leg is 90 degrees, and thigh is parallel to the ground. Twist torso to one side. Step back to standing. Repeat, stepping forward with other leg and twisting in other direction. Do 15 reps per side.

    PERFECT YOUR FORM: Keep your shoulders back and hold your head high.
    DIAL IT DOWN: Skip the twist.
    AMP IT UP: Instead of staying in one spot, do walking lunges.

    Remember we have a wealth of knowledge so if you need any advice or help just ask next time your in the club.

    Brain foods that help you concentrate

    September 6, 2011

    Ginseng, Fish, Berries, or Caffeine?

    Listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements and you’ll believe they can do everything from sharpen focus and concentration, to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.
    But do they really work? There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain — if you add “smart” foods and beverages to your diet.

    Caffeine Can Make You More Alert

    There’s no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter however certain substances, like caffeine, can energize and help you focus and concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake up buzz although the effects are short term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

    Sugar Can Enhance Alertness

    Sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source. Not table sugar but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability.
    Consume too much, however, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory, without packing on the pounds.

    Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

    Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of the brain fuel list include high fibre whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat as a high calorie breakfast does appear to hinder concentration.

    Fish Really is Brain Food

    A protein source associated with a great brain boost is fish. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: higher dietary omega 3 fatty acids are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.
    For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

    Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

    Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
    Enjoy a small portion a day of nuts and dark chocolate to provide all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

    Add Avocados and Whole Grains

    Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. Eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.
    Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fibre and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow.

    Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

    Research in animals shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.

    Benefits of a Healthy Diet

    It may sound trite but it’s true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can decrease your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your ability to focus. A heavy meal may make you feel lethargic, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.
    Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy, wholesome foods.

    Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?

    Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.
    Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.
    Check with your doctor before starting on supplements.

    Get Ready for a Big Day

    Want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balanced meal, experts also advise:
    • Get a good night’s sleep.
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
    • Meditate to clear thinking and relax.

    Best 12 staples to have in your pantry

    September 4, 2011

    Heart-Healthy Canned Tuna

    No pantry is complete without a few cans or pouches of water-packed tuna.  Tuna can help add healthy omega-3 fats and protein to a variety of dishes, including omelets, enchiladas, or vegetable dips.

    Surprising Uses for Pasta Sauce

    Whipping up quick meals is a cinch when you have your favorite prepared tomato based pasta sauce on hand. Spuds, vegetables, and chicken breasts are transformed when topped with sauce and a sprinkle of low fat cheese. Make pizzas or add the sauce to lasagne. Read nutrition labels to find out the amount of calories, fat, and sodium in your sauce. You can jazz up your sauces with extra herbs and vegetables.

    Spectacular Spuds

    Super-healthy potatoes are a pantry must. They are low in calories and high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. You can sprinkle crunchy baked sweet potatoes cinnamon. Baked white or sweet potato french fries are superior to their deep-fried cousins. Make mealtime magic by topping a baked potato with vegetables, cheese, beans, salsa, chili, or whatever you have on hand.

    Beans, a Protein Source

    Make sure your pantry is stocked with a variety of beans. Whether dried or canned, beans are an inexpensive alternative to animal protein. They’re also an excellent source of fibre. Serve them as a side dish or add them to soups, omelets, tacos, casseroles, or salads. Thoroughly rinsing canned beans can slash sodium content by 40% or look for the no added salt versions.

    Peanut Butter: Sandwiches and More

    A perennial favorite of kids and adults, peanut butter is a comfort food that is found in almost every pantry. It’s a great source of filling protein and healthy fats. Beyond sandwiches, spread it on apples, bananas or celery! You can add it to Asian sauces and smoothies, or use it in dips. Mix it with hot water and a splash of soy sauce for a satay style salad dressing.

    Most Versatile Staple: Dried Pasta

    A family favorite, pasta goes with virtually all meats and vegetables.  It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to help make meals more interesting. Get more fibre by choosing whole-grain or whole-grain blend pasta. Add dried pasta to soups and casseroles. Clean out the vegetable drawer in the fridge and make a nutritious pasta primavera or stir-fry. Or top pasta with meat sauce or plain virgin olive oil.

    Healthy Fats: Olive and Canola Oils

    You’ll want to taste the fruity, peppery flavor of extra-virgin olive oil. Use it to dress salads, and grains. Drizzle it on pasta dishes or on crusty bread and diced tomatoes to make bruschetta. Canola oil performs best in frying pans and woks. Both of these heart-healthy oils lower certain disease risks and are preferable to solid fats like butter. Use either oil to sauté vegetables and meat.

    Go for Whole-Grain Goodness

    Brown rice is a healthy, high-fibre whole grain. Couscous, bulgur, and farro are also available in whole-grain versions. These versatile grains complement any meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable as a centre piece or side dish. Couscous, bulgur, and the seeds of the grain-like plant quinoa can be cooked quickly. For richer flavor, cook grains in stock. Combine them with colorful vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

    Can’t Live Without Canned Tomatoes

    Having canned tomatoes on hand can make life a lot easier when you’re creating quick and healthy meals. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and vitamins A and C. They work in a variety of dishes, like soups and casseroles. And of course, they’re delicious. Spike them with basil and other herbs to use as a quick sauce for pizza, meats, pasta, or whole grains. Choose tomatoes with no added salt.

    Add Some Crunch With Nuts

    Don’t think of nuts as just a party food. They’re an excellent source of protein, fibre, good fats, and other healthy nutrients. If you regularly eat nuts as part of a healthy diet, you may reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts pair well with sweet and savory foods. Use unsalted nuts in cereals or as a meat alternative in pasta, grains, salads, or vegetables. Eat them with fruit or yogurt, in desserts, or as a nutritious snack.

    Stock for Richer Flavors

    In a perfect world, you’d have time to make your own stock from fresh meat or vegetables. (Homemade stock allows you to control the salt in your cooking.) If you don’t have enough time, buy low-sodium or unsalted chicken, beef, or vegetable stock to add depth of flavor to your dishes. Use it as the base for a quick soup or sauce. Rice and whole grains may taste richer when cooked in stock instead of water.

    Fruit for All Meals

    Rich in nutrients, loaded with antioxidants and fibre, and low in calories, fruit belongs at every meal. Canned fruit (which is just as nutritious as fresh or frozen) makes a delicious snack or dessert alone or over yogurt, ice cream, or waffles. Dried fruit adds pizzazz to salads, cereals, and fish, and goes well with nuts for the perfect healthy snack.

    Tips for recovering from depression

    September 1, 2011

    If you have had depression, you know how hopeless you can feel.  It is important to get professional treatment. However there are things that you can do to ease the symptoms of depression. Exercise, changing your diet, and even playing with your pet can improve your mood.
    Let your pet nuzzle your blues away
    Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend and that is good therapy. When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your problems. Also when you take care of your pet you are fulfilling a commitment to something outside yourself. Caring for others can be very therapeutic.
    Eat smart to lift mind and body
    There is a connection between mind and body. Although no specific diet works for depression, a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your diet around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help build your physical and emotional health.
    Choose foods to boost your moods
    Some studies suggest Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega 3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low fat dairy products are sources of B12. Vegetarians who eat no meat or fish can get B12 in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements.
    Try low fat carbs for a pick me up
    Serotonin is a brain chemical that enhances your sense of wellbeing. Carbohydrates raise the level of serotonin in your brain. Low fat carbs such as popcorn, a baked potato, crackers, or pasta are options. Vegetables, fruit and whole grain options also provide fibre.
    Drink less caffeine to improve mood
    Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety can accompany depression. Too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery or anxious so cutting back on caffeine soft drinks, coffee, tea and chocolate may make a difference in your mood. It can also help you to sleep better at night.
    Treat your aches and pains
    Feelings of depression can be related to pain. Work with your health care team to treat depression and your pain.
    Exercise to change the way you feel
    For some people, exercise works as well or even better than antidepressants. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes by increase your activity until you exercise most days. Start to increase the intensity as you get more confident, include a class or a weights session at the gym. You will feel better physically and sleep better and night and your mood will improve.
    Choose an exercise you enjoy
    If you don’t like running you won’t last long trying to train for a marathon. However you are much more likely to stick with a moderate exercise that you enjoy. For instance play a game of golf without the cart, ride a bike, work in the garden, play tennis, go for a swim or attend a class at the gym that you like. The important thing is to pick something you like as you will then look forward to it and feel better when you do it.
    Exercise with others for support
    Staying connected with other people helps overcome the lethargy, exhaustion, and loneliness of depression. Join an exercise group or exercise with a friend. You will stay connected and also receive the support you need to help you stay on track.
    Be sure you get enough sunlight
    Do you feel more depressed during darker, colder months? You may have seasonal affective disorder or SAD. SAD is most common in the winter when there is less sunlight. SAD can be treated with light therapy or exposure to artificial sunlight, antidepressants and psychotherapy.
    Explore your creativity
    Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal are all ways to express what you are feeling and to explore these feelings. Being creative can help you to feel better. The goal is not to create a masterpiece just to do something that gives you pleasure. It may better help you to understand how you feel.
    Make time for mindful relaxation
    Stress and anxiety can increase your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learning to mentally relax can help to restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or body balance class or meditation. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while taking a bath.
    Become actively involved
    Being involved with others can help you regain a sense of purpose. Try volunteering with a charity, or join a discussion group at the library or your church. Meeting new people and doing new things will help you to feel good about yourself.
    Keep friends and family in your life
    The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out then they can’t. If you let them in you will feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find that it helps to talk about your feelings. It feels good to have someone listen to you.
    Get the healthy sleep that you need
    Depression interferes with healthy sleep. Some people with depression sleep too much. Others can not fall asleep easily. As you recover from depression you need to relearn good sleeping habits. Start by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. Healthy sleep makes you feel better physically and mentally.
    Avoid alcohol and drugs
    Alcohol and can slow or prevent recovery from depression. They can also make your depression worse and interfere with the medicines you take for depression. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help. You will have a far better chance of recovering from depression.
    Continue your treatment
    These steps may help you to feel more positive about your life. But alone they are not enough. They will not replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide seek help immediately. And never stop or change treatment without discussing it with your doctor.