Stress, Anxiety, and Breathing

We often forget that our breath is something we can control.  In stressful situations, many of us respond by contracting our muscles leading to headaches and neck pain, decreasing the depth of our breaths, and increasing blood pressure and heart rate.   By changing breath rate and the depth of our breaths, we can actually change our physiology and therefore the way we feel.   Deeper and slower breathing allows our heart rate and blood pressure to slow down and for our muscles to relax.  This is part of the reason why exercise (even if it’s not yoga) can be such a great stress reliever.

Feeling stressed?  Try doing some daily deep breathing exercises (see below) to help settle the nerves.  Do as many cycles as you feel necessary, but you will see that this takes literally a minute (or less) of your day!  You can also try setting a daily alarm clock to remind you to take a few breaths amidst your busy day.

Relaxing Breath Exercise
  1. Plant both feet on the ground while sitting comfortably on a chair (or lie down comfortably), with your eyes closed or focused on the tip of your nose.
  2. Place both hands on your belly.
  3. Inhale through the nose for a count of 4, so that you can feel your belly rise (not your chest).
  4. Hold for a count of 4; then exhale for a count of 4 through your mouth.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for at least 4 cycles.
After practicing this exercise in counts of 4 consistently for a couple weeks, start to increase the counts of your inhalation and exhalation until you are up to 8 counts. 

If you feel your anxiety or stress levels are starting to interfere with your daily functioning, it may be time to seek help!

All the best,
Christine





Dr. Christine Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre (DNHC).  To learn more about Dr. Cho, click here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options or for a referral to a ND closer to you.


Recipe: Banana Almond Butter Mug Cake (GF, Dairy Free and Sugar Free)


My mornings always seemed to be rushed no matter how early I get up...I guess it is time I finally admit I am not a morning person! No matter how late I am I always grab something to eat before I leave the house. I am a huge advocate of eating a complete breakfast with protein. Over the past few weeks I have seen tons of new recipes about mug cakes so I decided to try my own version.

I quickly whip this together and put it in the oven while I am getting ready. 

Ingredients: 
1 ripe banana
1 egg (ideally free-range and organic)
2-3 tablespoons of almond butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350F (You could microwave this as well...I would assume about 60seconds would do the trick however I have not tried so please comment below if you do)
2. Mash the banana with a fork
3. Combine all ingredients (including the banana) in an oven-safe mug or bowl
3. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on the top and cooked through the middle

Egg substitution: If you do not eat eggs you can swap the egg with 1tbsp chia seeds and 3 tbsp water (let sit for 5 minutes and then mix in) 

Enjoy!

Best in health,
Kate

Top 5 Reasons To Try A Teatox




       Are you ready to detox your way into spring?! A few members of the Avocado A Day Team have started a new tea business called The Teatox Company. Specializing in a professionally formulated loose leaf tea detox program, The Teatox Company is primed to set new standards for the Teatox market. Curious to know why? Check out the top 5 reasons (and then some) to do a Teatox.


Reason #1 - It tastes GREAT! 

Most tea detoxes leave our palate with a less than desired urge to gag.  Although not all medicinal herbs taste like cupcakes, we worked long and hard to create the right ratio of herbs resulting in a tropical and sweet flavour. We know when you open your Teatox for the first time you will be pleasantly surprised. No sweetener required!

Reason #2 - Kick-start a healthy lifestyle

We know it can be hard to stay on the health wagon ALL the time. It is our hope and mission that our Teatox programs will give you that motivation and inspiration to live your healthiest life for 14 or 28 days. We really want you to dig deep during your detox period so that when it's over you have tools and confidence in being healthier in your day to day life. 

Reason #3 - Formulated by healthcare professionals

All of our Teatoxes are formulated by naturopathic doctors who have a background and expertise in herbal medicine. When you do one of our Teatoxes you can be confident in the fact that it has been formulated by an expert in the field. This supports our philosophy of providing premium, high quality formulas that actually support your bodies natural detoxification pathways. 

Reason #4 - No "cleansing/laxative" effects

Because we only use professionals to formulate our teas we also know that using laxative herbs like senna obtusifolia are not a healthy or legitimate way to detoxify the body. These kinds of herbs can be dangerous if taken to long and provide a false sense of positive results in the user. This is probably the number 1 thing that really bothers us about other Teatoxes on the market. You can be confident that The Teatox Company will always have your health and wellbeing as our top priority. 

Reason #5 - Comes with "The Total Detox Handbook"

Our naturopathic doctors have written a complete guide to help you maximize the effects of your Teatox. It covers the 5 Pillars of a total life detox and is sent to you immediately after your Teatox purchase. It is filled with tips and tricks, recipes, a food plan as well as a 2 level fitness plan depending on your detox goals. We recommend you start planning your detox by using the handbook while your teas are being signed, sealed and delivered. 

Some other quick reasons include:
- 3 cups of tea per day! (for a real therapeutic effect)
- 15% cheaper per cup of tea than the other leading Teatoxes
- 100% organic (A non organic detox just doesn't make sense...)
- Jump-start weightloss
- Canadian owned and operated! (this means free shipping to all you lovely Canadians)

Be sure to also pick up our special report on the 5 biggest mistakes people make while doing a detox called "Detox Demystified". Just sign up for our mailing list HERE and get it emailed to your inbox instantly!
If you're ready to kick-start your health for spring head over to our shop page and pick up a Teatox!
As a thank you for reading this post use code "sweet_15" on checkout to get 15% percent off your first order.
Thanks for reading!

Jamie

Chocobanana Protein Bars (Vegan, DF, GF)

For the past couple of weeks, I have been experimenting a lot more with making my own protein bars/balls so I can provide my patients with some recipes and suggestions.  I also have just learned about using unsweetened baker's chocolate to make chocolate covered things.  Previously, I was scared of trying cooking methods like double boiling but it's actually pretty quick/easy as long as you don't crank up the heat and use a high quality chocolate.  So far I've come up with chocolate covered peanut butter balls, no bake protein bars, and this pretty amazing recipe:  Chocobanana Protein Bars that are gluten free, dairy free, and vegan (as long as vegan protein is used).

Ingredients:
Makes about 12 bars,  ~10 g protein each
  •  2 ripe bananas (more ripe = more sweet)
  • 5 dried honey dates 
  • 2 cups GF oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 4 scoops protein powder (around 20g protein each; I used a vegan vanilla but you could use unflavored or chocolate)
  •  ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened almond butter
  • 2 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate (should be pure cocoa mass with no sugar or dairy added)
  • Note:  You can always add ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, other nuts (ie almonds), use a different nut butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc.  Just make sure you add extra moisture (banana or water) for more dry ingredients.
 Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Blend the bananas and honey dates together until smooth
  3. Mix banana mixture in a bowl with oats, protein, coconut, walnuts until sticky.  Add a bit of water if you need more moisture.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread mixture out evenly
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. While baking, melt chocolate by double boiling (put a little water in a pot, place a glass bowl inside the pot, and melt the chocolate over low heat; stir frequently)
  7. Once done baking, spread an even layer of almond butter on top
  8. Pour melted chocolate over and let it sit in the freezer to harden
  9. Optional:  before letting it harden, sprinkle a bit of coconut on top
  10. Cut into bars, store in freezer.


Let me know if you try it out!

All the best,
Christine





Dr. Christine Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre (DNHC).  To learn more about Dr. Cho, book a complimentary 15 minute consult by clicking here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options.

What’s In Season For February?

Thinking about hitting the market to go get some fresh new produce for some great new recipes (or time old classics)?  Well as we know it’s always best to go for produce that is currently fresh in season!


So what’s in season for February you ask? 


Look for the following at your local farmer’s market:

VEGETABLES
  • beets, beet greens
  • cabbage
  • cucumber
  • carrots
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • onion (cooking and red)
  • parsnips
  • potatoes
  • rutabaga
  • sprouts
  • squash
  • sweet potato

FRUIT & NUTS
  • apples
  • rhubarb

Why not try a yummy squash and apple soup? 


Happy cooking! 
Nadia 


A long time athlete and health advocate,  Dr. Kumentas’ goal is to help her patients become excited about making positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier, happier lives.  Her driving force is a passion for healing the whole person on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using carefully selected natural therapies, fitness, and integrated medicine.  She truly believes in the importance of practising what you preach and investing in your health.  
Dr. Nadia Kumentas practices at Zen Beginnings Wellness Centre in Toronto and has a special interest in dermatology, woman’s health, and pain management.

To learn more about Dr. Nadia Kumentas visit www.DrNadiaKumentas.com or contact her at nadia@zenbeginnings.com.

Fact or Ficton: Green Coffee Bean Extract - is the Buzz really worth it?

There has been a lot of hype about green coffee bean extract and it's fat burning capabilities. The Dr. Oz show referred to it as "the green coffee bean that burns fat fast"... but is the hype true?

Jamie wrote a post about Starbucks Refreshers which contain green coffee bean extract - click here to read about it!


So, what is green coffee bean extract? 
Green coffee beans are just coffee beans that are not roasted. These coffee beans contain a higher amount of the chemical chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid is believed to help the body manage blood sugar and metabolism. When coffee beans are roasted it removes a large portion of it's chlorogenic acid and that is why green coffee beans (raw/unroasted) are one of the best natural sources for chlorgenic acid.


What does the research say? 
Research shows that green coffee extract (Svetol®, GCA®) at a dose of 80-200mg containing at least 45% Chlorogenic acid daily might cause modest weight loss over a period of 12 weeks. However, the research so far is preliminary and poor quality.

So does green coffee bean extract = fat burning? 
Sadly, the answer is No. It may help slow the absorption and breakdown of fat. However do not expect to see the pounds and fat melt off with this supplement. 


Is it Safe? 
Just like regular coffee, green coffee bean contains caffeine. Therefore, green coffee can cause caffeine-related side effects such as: stomach upset, restlessness, insomnia, GI upset, headache and other side effects. Always check with your ND or other healthcare professional before starting any supplement. 



It is important to understand that there is no pill that is more effective than a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen.

Best in Health, 
Kate  





Resources
www.corbisimages.com
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1264-GREEN%20COFFEE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1264&activeIngredientName=GREEN%20COFFEE
http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/fact-sheet-green-coffee-bean

Recipe: Almond Butter

Lately the AAAD team has been experimenting a lot with almonds! If you haven't tried almond butter yet because you are obsessed with peanut butter I highly recommend trying it even just once - I am sure you will be hooked! I tend to buy almonds in bulk and then make my own milks and butters, which are preservative and additive free plus I can add my own flavoring. Christine makes a delicious almond fudge and this almond butter recipe would sub in perfectly! This is one of the easiest recipes yet. All you need is a food processor, almonds and some cinnamon.

  Ingredients:
  2 cups almonds 
  1 tsp of cinnamon 

Directions:  
1. Add 2 cups of almonds and 1 tsp cinnamon to the food processor.  

2. Keep processing! It takes about 7-12 minutes depending on your food processor. (I tried making this with my Vitamix but the consistency wasn't as smooth) 



3. Voila! Delicious, homemade almond butter. Store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.



So now that you have made an amazing, creamy, preservative and additive free almond butter what can you do with it??
  • Eat it right out of the food processor with a spoon
  • Use where you would use any other nut butter
  • Make almond butter fudge
  • Try almond butter and jam or honey on your toast 
  • Make a delicious date almond smoothie 
    • 1 frozen banana 
    • 2 tbsp almond butter
    • Cinnamon as desired (I use 1 tbsp) 
    • 2 handfuls of spinach or kale 
    • Almond milk (or dairy alternative of your choice)
    • 1 scoop protein powder 
    • 5 dates (or sweetener of choice)

I am sure you can substitute any other nut to make whatever nut butter you crave! Try cashew, macadamia, hazelnut or my personal favorite is a combination of cashew and almond. 

Let me know how you have experimented with nut butters! 

Best in health,
Kate

GF/DF Chia-Banana-Oat Power Cookies

It’s hard to come up with a suitable name for cookies like this because you really can add any “power” ingredient you want in them.  For the recipe title, I chose the 3 ingredients that I don’t think you can really substitute—the rest is pretty flexible.  The changeability of the recipe is both a curse and a blessing.  On one hand, you can find whatever you have in your cupboard and throw it in.  On the other hand, YOU CAN LITERALLY PUT EVERYTHING FROM YOUR PANTRY IN.  So really it’s finding a balance between quantity and quality of ingredients.  The ingredients I choose are reflective of some of my pantry staples, but for sure I debated putting in walnuts, flaxseed, cashews, raisins, slivered almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, etc.  Here it is!

Ingredients:  Makes 10 pretty hearty cookies
  • 2 ripe bananas (I used frozen but you can probably use room temperature)
  • ¾ cup gluten free oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 4 dried medjool dates, chopped
  • 3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • Almond butter (just to drizzle over)


Directions:
  1. Mix chia seeds and almond milk in a bowl; let sit for about 10-15 min, until it is a gelatinous mixture
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Mash or blend bananas
  4. Stir in bananas and all other ingredients (except almond butter) into chia seed jelly
  5. Scoop into balls on a baking sheet and flatten a bit
  6. Drizzle a bit of almond butter over top
  7. Bake for 20 minutes
  8. Let cool and enjoy!
Discovered life changing add-ins?  Please comment below!




Dr. Christine Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre (DNHC).  To learn more about Dr. Cho, book a complimentary 15 minute consult by clicking here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options.

Tips For Losing Baby Weight

One of the most common concerns that new mothers have in the post-partum period is how to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.  For most women, incorporating a daily exercise routine plus preparing healthy meals is a very difficult task with a newborn.  

On average, 10-12 pounds are lost immediately after delivery and another 5 pounds is lost a week after.  The rest of the weight that is normally gained during pregnancy will gradually fall off over the post-partum months.  However, the issue is when women gain a little (or a lot of) extra weight—I’ve seen women gain upwards of 60 lbs, which is well beyond the expected gain!

Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
  1. Breast feed.  It’s pretty well accepted that “breast is best” for the baby, but it’s also important to remember the positive effects that breast feeding has on the mother.  In addition to promoting bonding and providing nutrients for the baby, breast feeding can actually help you lose weight!  Weight loss can occur since you are losing calories through breastfeeding and your body is working harder to produce breast milk.
  2. Allow your body some time to recovery after the birthing experience and be patient.  Pregnancy and childbirth are both physically and mentally exhausting.  Make sure to get as much rest as possible immediately after giving birth in order to recharge your body a bit.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to other women.  Comparing ourselves to others is something we do all the time.  Due to hormonal and other physiologic changes that come with pregnancy, different women will have differing degrees of weight gain and different rates of weight loss.  You can’t compare yourself to the woman who gained only 15 lbs and lost it all after giving birth!
  4. Seek professional help.  Start prepping before you give birth.  Talk to your ND, midwife, OB/GYN, etc regularly to see if you are gaining a healthy amount of weight.  If you are gaining a considerable amount of extra weight (or not enough weight), you/your baby will be at risk of developing certain perinatal conditions so it is very important to have regular check ups.  If you are not losing your pregnancy weight after delivery as expected, you will also want to make sure your body functioning optimally (ie your hormones, other aspects of metabolism).  It’s also important to make sure you aren’t take potentially harmful weight loss supplements while breast feeding as they may get transferred to your baby.
  5. Ask for help from friends and family.  This can be done in different ways.  Have friends or family that say they will babysit anytime? Hold them to it to get a little “me time,” even if it’s just for a 20 minute run, a nap, a bath, etc.  Have a mother/mother-in-law that wants to cook? Ask for healthier meal options and snacks.


Dr. Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre.  To learn more about Dr. Cho, book a complimentary 15 minute consult by clicking here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options.

Reflection: 3 Silent Days of Meditation in Thailand



Since writing board exams I have taken off to SE Asia! I am very lucky to have the opportunity to travel for the following nine weeks while awaiting our results. I began my trip about an hour north of Bangkok, Thailand with a three day silent meditation.

Meditating is something very new to me. Besides yoga I do not practice meditation daily however it is something I am trying to incorporate. With this in mind, I’m not going to lie three days of silence plus meditation seemed very intimidating. I had numerous people including my family ask "WHY?!" And before experiencing it my reason was: "why not try something new?"

So what does a silent meditation entail?
I arrived the night before and checked in my electronics however books were allowed.  I decided not to read and just keep my mind focused on meditating (or being still).

There were 8 precepts (rules) that we had to follow during the meditation retreat just like Buddhist laypeople must follow.
They entail:
1. No killing or harming of any kind (even Mosquitos)
2. No stealing
3. No sexual misconduct
4. No lying
5. No alcohol or drug use
6. No eating after noon
7. I will abstain from listening or playing music, wearing flowers/jewelry and other ornaments.
8. I will not sit on high and luxurious places (higher than those of noble ones such as kings, bhikkhu, etc.)

If you think these 8 rules would be hard keep in mind monks must keep 227 precepts!

The sleeping arrangements are separate for men and women. I slept on a wood bed with an inch thick mattress - the monks described this as not suffering or luxury but as comfort.

Daily schedule:
We wake at 5:30am and do sun salutations as the sunrises from 6-7am. After this we serve the monks breakfast followed by breakfast and cleaning our dishes.

From 9:30-11:30am there is a teaching and meditation lead by a monk who resides at a nearby Wat (temple).

Then lunch (our second and final meal of the day), which we serve again first to the monks and then we eat after.

2-4pm is the second session and meditation

6:30-8:30 is the final session and meditation.

We are allowed to talk during meals and in between teachings. However I spent most of my time in the gardens,  walking or practicing more meditation.





What did the teachings involve?
Meditation does not have a religious affiliation as it is the act of keeping the mind still. If the mind is still then there are no thoughts about religion or about anything for that matter.

There were themes that each monk discussed and the ones that really stood out for me included giving and forgiving. He asked: "what is the benefit of not forgiving?" I think this is a question many of us can ask ourselves and by doing so it can help us stop ruminating about the past and focus on the present. Monks also believe that the more you give the more you get - I also believe this!

Another theme was stillness. One of the monks talked about being still in the mind. And when you are still in the mind happiness can occur which causes happiness and stillness throughout the body. Happiness is the ultimate goal of meditation. When meditating we can focus on an object (crystal ball, bubble, sun, moon, etc.), a mantra (clear and bright) or on the center/solar plexus) of the body.

The final concept that stood out to me was about defilements.  There are  3 defilements: 


  • greed
  • anger/hatred
  • delusion/ignorance. 
One of the monks gave the analogy of a glass of water. If you shake, mix, twirl the water then debris and defilements come about. This is the same as the mind. When you leave a glass of water still it is calm and clear and there are no defilements. 

Therefore we must practice keeping our mind still like a glass of water so our mind can be clear, still and happy. When the mind is clear and happy you can reach internal peace - the ultimate goal of meditation is happiness.




Session summaries:
1. The more you give the more you get.
2. To forgive is to forget.
3. Do not take what you have learned here and leave it here. Take it with you and share it with others.

I know that a lot of these concepts are easier said than done but like anything else, meditation takes practice. I recommend starting with a daily practice - if you have a smart phone download the app Headspace it reminds you for 10 days to meditate for 10 minutes (or any desired amount of time).

Happy meditating!

Best in health,
Kate

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