Nutrition

Learn more about Nutrition and it’s effect on living a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is a factor in stress and weight gain.

Thriving During The Holidays

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

The Key To Surviving The Holidays? Kindness.

The holidays can be a fraught time for health goals. With an influx of food, family, and oftentimes stress, many people feel overwhelmed and powerless to maintain a healthy balance.

At Mountain Trek’s fitness retreat and health spa, we spend all week detoxing from what the body, mind and spirit don’t need (caffeine, empty calories, technology, stressful environments), and instead spend all of our time feeding our souls: with hale and hearty meals, 4-5 hours of cleansing physical activity in the pristine mountain air, and deep, restful sleep.

This lifestyle isn’t realistic for many — and is especially difficult around the holiday season — and towards the end of the week at Mountain Trek’s health and wellness retreat, we discuss the journey of goal-setting and habit formation, and how to take elements of what we experience in the program and apply it to your busy daily lives. Our biggest piece of advice tends to surprise people: The only thing you must do every day to make a serious change: Practice self-kindness. Being compassionate and understanding with oneself is the cornerstone of success.

A treat now and then or missed week of exercise won’t kill you — but the quest for perfection might.

Perfect is a myth. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Aspire to live healthfully 5 days a week, and give yourself 2 days off. One thing we see time and time again: People (Americans, especially) focus on perfection: They want to exercise 7 days a week, to journal every single day, and to never have a drop of wine ever again! This is not the successful path to meaningful change — by setting yourself up for failure, you sabotage your goals.

Your ultimate obstruction isn’t calories or sedentarism: It’s negative self-talk.

Keeping your thoughts and actions self-supportive is crucial in any long-term health goal. Creating a daily practice of self-care is the cornerstone of success. Too often, one setback sets people into a tailspin of guilt and shame, and the memory of guilt and shame stops them from pursuing the initial goal. You must create space for yourself to fall off track. You must give yourself permission to be human.

Reward your intention to do your best — whether you fulfill the goals, or not.

Navigating our modern world — replete with foods bereft of nutrition, stressful city environments, at the total mercy of our devices — is the warrior’s path. It’s not easy, and there’s no button or quick solution. Kale isn’t the answer — neither is the newest workout fad or the most expensive blender money can buy. You must respect, love, and honor yourself before you can truly make everything we teach at Mountain Trek truly work.

If you’re ready to commit to change, ready to grow and deepen your relationship to yourself, your truth, and the breathtaking outdoors, click here to view rates and dates at Mountain Trek for 2018. Shepherding people back to their essential selves is our life’s work — come to our mountain lodge in Nelson, BC, and find out what the mountain has to offer.

Jenn’s Favorite Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

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We know how critical what we eat is in energy management: Making sure to plan snacks well will make sure you’re properly fueling your body and optimizing your nutrient intake! One of the questions we most often hear is when and how to snack, especially before and after workouts. Our head of nutrition, Jennifer Keirstead, offers some tips below for making the most of your workouts with strategically timed snacking.

Pre-Workout: Fruit + Protein Source

Says Jenn:Pairing a piece of fruit with a protein source is a fantastic pre-work snack. The sugars in the fruits act as a quick energy source, and since protein digests a little slower, combining these two helps stabilize blood sugar levels — this supports longing lasting energy (for example, an apple with almonds). Or try a homemade Coconut Apricot Bliss Ball — recipe below!

Do your best to consume a small snack within an hour pre-workout — this way you’ll be sure to have quick energy available to burn.”

Post-Workout: Fruit or Vegetable + Protein Source

Post-workout snack is similar to the pre-work snack. Either a fruit or veggie, paired with a source of protein. An excellent example would be a sugar snap peas with a hard-boiled egg.

A smoothie is another great option for post-workout — try mixed berries with cashew butter. Eating every 3-4 hours will support energy not just for exercise, but for sustaining energy levels throughout the day.” Click here to learn more about our approach to nutrition.

Coconut Apricot Bliss Balls

This protein-packed and calorie-conscious snack is great for pre- or post-workout fuel, and is the perfect replacement for highly processed, sugary “energy bars.”

Ingredients 

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tbsp hemp seed butter

1 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tbsp dried cranberries

½ tsp (scant) powdered ginger

1 pinch cardamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 zest small orange

Orange juice, to moisten

Directions

Using food processor, chop nuts and apricots finely. Add butters and remaining ingredients. Form into balls with small scoop and refrigerate or freeze.

Craving more nutrient-packed spa cuisine? Download the Mountain Trek Health Guide In Your Pocket App for a full library of amazing recipes — as well as help sustaining healthful habits and some of our favorite, high-impact workouts.

 

Dr. Josh on How To Eat Smarter & Lose Weight

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Mountain Trek recently started offering Lifestyle Performance Coaching via clinical physcologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, who's also an alumni of the program. It seems the good doctor is also adept at explaining matters of nutrition as well given an article that has appeared on beachbody.com. In it, Dr. Josh is asked to explain how to eat smarter through "mindful eating" (also known as "intuitive eating") and how it can influence your body shape.

In the article called "9 Mindfulness Tips For Losing Weight," Dr. Josh compares mindful eating to mindful existence: “It’s not unlike taking a minute to look at a flower or experience being in nature,” he says. “We can either rush through it with a passing appreciation, or we can spend several minutes and take the entire environment into our senses. Mindful eating is the exact same thing.” He goes on to explain that "By itself, mindful eating is not a weight-loss cure, but as part of an approach or tool it can catapult healthy eating and weight loss.

By being conscientious when you consume foods, you limit distractions, choose healthier options and become more in tune with your body. Here are the nine mindfulness tricks to help you eat smarter, be conscious of what you eat and, ultimately, make better decisions that will help you lose weight. 

  1. Pause before you eat to ask yourself why you're eating
  2. Chew each bite thoroughly and savour it
  3. Drink water before meals
  4. Eat vibrant, flavourful foods
  5. Eat without distractions
  6. Wait before getting seconds
  7. When you feel the urge to snack, make a cup of tea first
  8. Take note of your cravings
  9. Eat with joy, not judgement

All of these tips will help you take more pleasure in your food and to read more about Dr. Josh's take on "mindful eating," log on to beachbody.com.

For an even more well-rounded culinary experience, book a stay at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa to enjoy the delicious spa cuisine prepared by our master chef Bonnie VanTassel. She's renowned for creating healthy, farm-fresh food that you can't help but savour. Book your stay at Mountain Trek now.

Heavenly Orbs Recipe

Heavenly Orbs_16X9

The name says it all. Nut butter anchors the lightness of coconut, orange and apricot in this delicious snack. This Heavenly Orbs recipe is definitely one that belongs in our Hall of Fame. Makes 8 or 9 orbs.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/8 cup hemp seed butter
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • orange juice to moisten
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • zest of a small orange

Method 

  1. Chop nuts and apricots together finely in a food processor
  2. Add butters and remaining ingredients
  3. Form into balls and refigerate or freeze

To find more Mountain Trek recipes, and to get the shopping list for this recipe, download our Health Guide in Your Pocket App now. 

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6 Healthy Travel Snacks That Are Prepackaged

Healthy Snacks

Guests at Mountain Trek are pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the snacks we supply during the hours they spend hiking on the trails. Many expect mass-produced "energy" bars to help fuel their activities but that style of snack is usually full of corn syrup and highly processed ingredients. We recommend people take a small time out of their week to prepare healthy items they can snack on throughout the course of their days. We even wrote an article detailing the "Top 5 On The Go Snacks" that mentioned some of our proprietary recipes such as bliss balls

However, we've since heard from some guests, especially those who travel a lot, that it can be difficult to find the time to whip up some Loki Dip to go with those carrot sticks. So, we asked our nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead to supply us with another list of snacks that people can enjoy when they're traveling and don't have access to their kitchen. This is Jenn's reply and suggestions for 6 healthy travel snacks

Eating right on the road, can be tricky. I always take a few things with me so I have a little backup. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  1. EPIC bars – These are basically dehydrated meat in power bar form. They're made from grass-fed meats, high in protein, and taste like jerky!
  2. SuperFood Energy Bar They're made from plant-based, high-quality ingredients. No fillers!
  3. Justin's Almond Butter in squeeze packs make great traveling companions. Pack a piece of fruit, or two, and spread on some creamy, high-protein almond, for a perfectly balanced snack on the go.
  4. Trail Mix – Try to avoid the prepackaged ones as they contain a lot of sodium. Instead, buy seeds and nuts from the bulk section and make your own. I like to mix unsalted cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried currants and goji berries.
  5. Prepackaged veggies – Items such as baby carrots or sugar snap peas are easy to find and delicious with a container of hummus.
  6. Starbucks "Protein Box" – If you're at the airport and grab one of these boxes and enjoy a hard boiled egg, fresh fruit, cheese, and multigrain Muesli bread.

Of course, being even just a little prepared with a snack in your purse, or suitcase can go a long way to help keep you on the right track nutritionally.

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Why You Need To Stop Calorie Counting Right Now

Calorie Counting

Recently Mountain Trek's nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead was asked whether calorie counting is beneficial for those who are looking to lose weight and improve their fitness. Below is her response but before we jump into it, let's first define the subject at hand. 

What Is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is the act of adding together the caloric value of food(s) that one eats. The history of this practice dates back to 1900 when Wilbur Olin Atwater and his associates at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station determined the caloric values of a number of food components (i.e., the protein, fat, and carbohydrate isolated from various foods) by multiplying the heat of combustion of the food with correction factors that take into consideration incomplete digestion or oxidation of the food in the body. The conversion factors determined by Atwater and his associates remain in use today.

Why The Calorie Calculation Formula Is Skewed

Despite the fact Atwater built in various correction factors for caloric values, they do not account for:

  • variation of individual absorption
  • the influences of an individual's intestinal bacteria and that's affect on absorption (these change depending on history of travel, antibiotics and present diet)
  • variation in nutrient density of today’s foods compared to foods from those used in the Atwater research of 1900, which were less processed, more organic and more local
  • and they exclude many nutrients that were unknown in 1900 (the number of known nutrients to science in 1900 was fewer than 16 whereas now it's exponentially higher than that. 

Moreover, both meal timings and meal composition also have an impact on how calories are absorbed by the body.

Why A Calorie Isn't Just A Calorie

Now that we've looked at the history of calorie counting and why it can be considered inaccurate, here is Jennifer's further response to why calorie counting isn't worth it:

"Not all calories are created equal. Take the example of an ice cream cone versus an avocado: both are calorie-rich foods but the calories in the ice cream cone are considered "empty" because they don't offer the body any nutritional value. They simply spike our blood sugar and leave us feeling lower in energy after we eat them. However, the calories from real foods, like the avocado, offer the body nutrient-dense calories that are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Your body gains energy, antioxidants, and digestive support from the calories in real foods. But it's important to remember you can still overeat the good calories too. It's great to be mindful of how much we're eating, regardless of where the calories are coming from!"

It can be argued that Mountain Trek stresses specific (and different) caloric intake for women and men but this is a rough guideline and it's important to remember the entire nutrition tenant of the program includes many proven elements such as only eating real foods, abstaining from cortisol-raising foods such as sugar and caffeine and stressing the importance of meal timings and composition.

To fully appreciate the Mountain Trek nutrition program we suggest you book a stay with us. Contact us by phone or email to learn more. Alternatively, book online now.

The Detox Food Myth – Our Nutritionist Weighs In

Detox Food Myths

There has been a lot of talk lately about “detoxing foods” – super foods that cleanse everything from your liver to your spleen. In fact, take a walk through any health food store and you’ll notice a lot of products bearing the word “detox.”

Recently the well-respected Guardian newspaper in the UK did an exposé about a lot of these foods and claimed that detoxifying is a myth – that the word should only ever be applied to someone suffering from life-threatening drug addiction.

And yet, at Mountain Trek, we use the word “detoxify” often – in fact, it defines one of the five paths of the program, which also include nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress reduction. So what is the difference between the modern day media’s use of the word “detox” and the way it’s used at Mountain Trek?

To discover the answer, we spoke with Mountain Trek’s nutritionist Jennifer Keirstead about the differences between detoxifying foods and detoxifying your body.

Jennifer Keirstead, Nutritionist at Mountain Trek1. Thanks so much for speaking with us, Jennifer. Our first question is whether there’s such a thing as a food the detoxifies?

I think there are certainly foods that can help our bodies in the process of being healthy. I like the idea of eating to nourish ourselves. A diet full of colour, variety, more fresh and less packaged foods. These foods, when eaten regularly, help keep us healthy all year round.

2. We hear a lot about “detoxing teas” and “super foods” that clean out the body. Are there really examples of detoxing foods?

Fresh foods, with lots of colour, are abundant in nutrients, making them both nourishing and satisfying. Some of my personal favourites include: leafy greens, cilantro, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, apples, berries, garlic, and ginger. I like the idea of buying local and in season, to increase the freshness and nutrient density of my food.

3.Why do you think there a fad around foods that detoxify right now?

I think everyone loves trying something new. We get bored because we’re used to having so many options. This is another reason why eating seasonally makes sense, we can get the variety we really crave. Those fresh summer strawberries only have a small growing window, you truly enjoy and savor them when there not available everyday. Besides, our lives are busy! When we stop for a minute to reflect, chances are we all feel like we need to detoxify from some part of our jam-packed life. I think just the word “detoxification” itself can be comforting. It can make us feel like we’re being proactive in reducing the amount of lifestyle stress we often expose ourselves too.

4. What is a better way to detoxify your body?

I like to look at detoxification as a whole body and lifestyle process. If we could take into account all the different areas in which we may need to make adjustments. These include increasing physical activity, enjoying dry saunas, eating nourishing, whole foods on a regular basis, and addressing all that mental clutter through practices like meditation, yoga, or getting out into nature. All of this helps relieve toxic stress and a toxic lifestyle.

5. What are 5 examples of food to avoid because they are very toxic to your body?

I believe so much in moderation. Some of the things we might truly enjoy from time to time, may not always be the best for our body. Enjoying indulgent foods in balance helps supports realistic expectations, and can still be part of a healthy, yet sustainable, lifestyle. Excessive amounts of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods can have a toxic effect on us both mentally and physically. Try and make these things an occasional part of life, and remember it’s what you do MOST of the time that matters.

What are your thoughts about detoxing foods? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Will Bacon Kill You? Facts vs Fiction

Will bacon kill you?

Last week the World Health Organization released a report that classified bacon and other processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans…based on sufficient evidence in humans that consumption causes colorectal cancer.”

The media reacted instantly with articles that read, “Bacon: as bad as cigarettes” and “Hot dogs can kill.” Of course, a lot of the coverage was sensationalized and a few key facts were missed so we looked into the controversy a bit deeper and asked Mountain Trek Nutritionist Jenn Kierstead to give us her thoughts about it all and whether processed meats are indeed detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing.

What the W.H.O. Report Actually Said

To see the World Health Organization’s press release about the report regarding processed meat and red meat, click on this link: WHO-press-release. However, here are a few key items pulled from the document.

  • At this juncture the agency’s discussion of red meat is premature and inconclusive because it admits it’s based on “limited evidence” and the fact that “red meat has nutritional value.”
  • However, after reviewing the scientific literature of 22 experts from 10 countries the organization says it has “sufficient evidence” to classify processed meats as carcinogenic.
  • According to the experts, eating 50 grams of processed meat per day increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%
  • Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), bacon, ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

Not All Bacon Is the Same

Jennifer Keirstead, Nutritionist at Mountain TrekWhat’s interesting about the report is it doesn’t qualify what exactly “processed meats” are. To be clear, there are definitely examples of bacon, ham and sausages out there that do not fall into this category. Our nutritionist Jenn says eating bacon from a locally raised, pastured pig is a far-cry from the shrink-wrapped rasher at your nearby super-store. However, it’s safe to say that, in this case, the W.H.O. is referring to mass-produced meats.

“The key word in all of this is ‘processed,'” Jenn says. “Anything that goes through processing means it’s been tampered with; it’s altered and eventually becomes a non-food. In the case of processed meats, they go through a curing process that requires a lot of nitrites and other preservatives so that they can last and last on grocery store shelves.”

What Would Mountain Trek Do?

“It looks like processed meat is the next hot topic surrounding food,” Jenn says. “Every so often news agencies and the general public will jump on the latest superfood or fad diet and that dominates the discussion.”

“At Mountain Trek we tend to ignore the hype,” she continues. “We’ve always stuck with the same program around nutrition and its proven to work: eat local, healthy meals as often as you can and, occasionally if you have some bacon or a hot dog, it’s not going to be the end of the world.”

In other words, don’t eat bacon every breakfast or foot-longs every lunch. But indulging during a Sunday brunch or at the ballpark is OK.

Remember, though, the more colour on your plate the better. (And no, that doesn’t include ketchup and mustard). To learn more about the importance of meal timings and composition, check out our “Health Eating Tips” blog.

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Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

If your kitchen has become a centre for stress, these 4 tips can help simplify your cooking style so you have more time to relax and enjoy healthy and delicious meals. (And if the thought of cooking a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving holiday is just too stressful, then why not join us at Rancho la Puerta in Baja, Mexico and have someone else do the cooking for you?!)

Remember, cooking should be a way to relieve stress rather than cause it. The act of preparing a meal can divert the mind from the day’s activities and bring into focus the food you are creating. And the smell and taste sensations that come from preparing a delicious dish are immensely satisfying.

Kitchen Tips: Plan Ahead

Tip 1. Draw It Up

In order to be prepared for the coming week, take a few minutes to plan your meals. Check your schedule (as well as your family’s) for any meal conflicts that might arise (such as evening sports games or late nights at work) and then work around it. By organizing in advance, it alleviates the stress of coming home and trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

Kitchen Tip: Write it down

Tip 2. Write It Down

Many people don’t realize this but you don’t need to spend a lot of time in your average super market because: a) you just have to stick to the outer aisles to get everything you need and b) when you write down a detailed shopping list, it prevents you from wandering into the middle aisles where you’ll find all the processed, unhealthy food. When you write down your list, group items by what aisle they’re in and you’ll save a lot of time, energy and stress.

Kitchen Tip: Prep your food ahead of time

Tip 3. Divvy It Up

If you’ve ever watched a cooking show on TV, you’ll notice that the professional chefs always divvy up their ingredients into separate bowls before beginning the preparation. This extra step ensures you’re not having to look for something at the last second while things are boiling over. It helps you stay in line and on time and definitely takes the stress out of mixing ingredients together.

Kitchen tip: Work Ahead

Tip 4. Work Ahead

Consider cooking extra food or even two meals at once, and reheating on a busier day. Some Mountain Trek favourites include Smoked Salmon and Halibut Chowder, Super Vitalizing Quinoa Salad and Greek Feta & Turkey Stew. Even fresh vegetables can be prepared ahead of time – simply blanch them (ie: parboil in water or steam) in order to remove at the start of the week and store them for use later when you can quickly rewarm or sautée them.

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