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Eve Lees

Health Columnist for INSPIRED 55+ Lifestyle Magazine and the White Rock Sun

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January 11, 2022

Counting calories is old school

Last month, we took a humorous look at "calories." With this article, we'll take a closer but more serious look at counting calories, especially if you are tired of doing that. Actually, your intuition is far more accurate at determining your energy needs because your body has a built-in calorie counter:


Your hunger signals can be compared to a car's gas gauge. Your body knows when it needs fuel (food) and when it's full. You won't gain excess weight if you listen to your body and never ignore hunger signals.

Naturally slender people usually eat only when their stomach sends hunger pangs (or if they feel hunger in other ways, like light-headedness or sudden fatigue). They intuitively know when their body needs fuel and when it’s had enough. Thin people won't eat if they don't feel like it -- even if they see and smell food -- and they know to stop eating when they're full. And that's a significant factor behind why they never seem to gain excess weight. It's the consistent non-hunger eating that packs on the pounds!

Unfortunately, we can lose our born instinct and our discipline to acknowledge when we are hungry and when we are full. Instead, we develop habits, like eating when the clock tells us it's time to eat or being forced to clean our plate as children. And society's perception of appearance teaches us to ignore our hunger and stick to a diet.

However, ignoring hunger signals won't help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, it can make you more efficient at storing body fat and less efficient at utilizing it.

When your body signals hunger, it's telling you it needs fuel (food) for energy. But if you don't give it any, it senses a state of "famine." If this happens too often, the body eventually learns to hang on to body fat because fat is the preferred long-term fuel source. This is a genetic defence mechanism we all have. It was once necessary for survival – when food was often scarce.

With today's food availability, this defence system is no longer necessary. But there's no way to shut it off. This survival trait is one cause of binges and the repetitive weight gain/loss cycle. And it's the major reason why diets don't work – because calorie restriction creates hunger.

Normal, attuned eaters eat when hungry and stop when satisfied most of the time. Even though they may occasionally eat when not hungry or overeat at times, they usually do not eat again until hungry. Their bodies automatically balance out their calories in this way, and they don't gain weight.

Be prepared for unexpected hunger signals by preparing healthy foods ahead of time and arranging take-along snacks. Choose to eat as healthfully as possible to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs to sustain life.

Listen to your body. Eat only when hungry and stop when you are full. This may help you develop the habits of naturally thin people. If you need assistance with Intuitive Eating, consult a Registered Dietitian (RD):

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



December 07, 2021

Having fun with ‘calories’

Here’s some nonsense about calories to give you a chuckle while you’re changing your eating habits. And hopefully, you are changing those habits to more nutritious ones!

If no one sees you eating something, it has no calories.

Whatever you eat that is on another person’s plate has no calories because the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will stick to their plate.

If you eat food directly from the fridge (without putting it on a plate), it does not contain any calories. Remember, calories stick to plates.

Anything you eat while you are standing has no calories.

Food that serves a medicinal purpose does not have any calories, such as ice cream, Oreo cookies, or coffee with Baileys.

Cake and cookie crumbs have no calories. When a food crumbles, it has been damaged and there is extensive calorie leakage.

A carbonated beverage cancels out the calories in a chocolate bar when you consume them together (you basically burp out the calories).

There are no calories in anything you lick out of a bowl or off a spoon or knife while you are baking.

Your body will not absorb calories if you eat with someone larger and/or heavier than you are. Through the process of osmosis, the calories are drawn from areas of lower concentration (you) to areas of higher concentration (your heavier eating partner).

All kidding aside, most of us are too obsessed with food and dieting. The desires and the denials are the surest way to hang on to your excess weight. Lighten up with your eating habits. Don’t go on a DIET. Eat healthier food choices most of the time, choosing (more often) the foods that have not been changed too drastically (highly refined). Do this, and you can indulge occasionally.
Incidentally, counting calories is ‘old school.’ Listening to your intuition is a more accurate way to gauge how much fuel you need (measured as calories). Eat when you are hungry, not when the clock tells you it is time to eat. And never ignore hunger pangs: If you do not eat when your body wants food, your body senses a famine is coming and will conserve your energy by slowing your metabolic rate. With a slow metabolism (the speed of your internal activity), you’ll become less efficient at burning calories, and that includes burning up stored body fat!

Visit with a Registered Dietician if you need credible nutrition information, especially if you need help getting rid of those negative, limiting beliefs you may have about food.


Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.

November 03,2021

Don't hate potatoes


If potatoes are a vegetable and vegetables are supposed to be healthy, why are many sources saying potatoes aren't good for us?

Potatoes ARE good for us. They are a rich source of potassium as well as vitamin C and B vitamins. They are also a good source of fibre. And if you are physically active, they provide vital food energy.

However, because this vegetable offers a high amount of 'calories,' mainly as carbohydrate, we are wise to consider potatoes more a complex carb or a starchy carb choice, rather than a 'vegetable' choice. So, think of potatoes as an alternative to other starchy root vegetables or in place of rice and other whole grains. Keep your 'vegetable' choices as the lower-calorie and lower-carb veggies – choosing more often those that are brightly coloured (fruits and vegetables richer in colour usually offer more antioxidants like carotenoids).

Much of the potatoes' lousy reputation stems from the current belief that 'carbs' are bad for us. Non-refined or unchanged complex carbs offer lots of nutrients and provide a slowly released energy source, keeping our blood sugar levels stable. The highly changed or refined complex carbs that lack nutrients cause a blood sugar surge because they are so quickly absorbed. Therefore, whole, unchanged carbs aren't the problem. It's the refined carbs we need to minimize.

Some avoid potatoes because of their high glycemic index (a rating of how quickly a food is absorbed compared to table sugar). However, the glycemic index is much lower when potatoes are eaten with a full meal or with the skin left on. In any case, recent research finds the glycemic index rating of foods is inaccurate. In addition, we each absorb foods differently: potatoes – when eaten by themselves without other foods to buffer its glycemic effect – may raise blood sugar levels in some individuals but not in others.

Potatoes also have a bad rap simply because we tend to overeat them. Overeating any single food will risk limiting the wide variety of nutrients we need to be healthy – especially when you fill up on the higher calorie vegetables like potatoes. And face it, we are a "potato" eating population: Baked, fried, or boiled, potatoes are the most commonly served complex carbohydrate (or starchy root vegetable) on any restaurant menu.

Vary your choices if you think you eat too many potatoes. Enjoy other healthy complex carbohydrate choices: try sweet potato, jicama or turnip, cassava, taro, or the many varieties of winter squash. And there are also many varieties of potato: purple, yellow, russet, etc. Change them up often. Wash the skin well and eat that too for more fibre (and other nutrients we haven't identified yet). Bake, broil but avoid deep frying (oven roast your "fries" instead).

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.





October 06, 2021

Stair Stepping

Stepping on a single stair step is a convenient workout done anywhere, even at the office. It can be the “cardio” part of your regular workout for heart/lung benefits. Or do shorter sessions throughout the day (even at the office) to strengthen leg muscles and burn calories. For example, a 135 lb person can burn about 150 calories in 20 minutes of stair-stepping.

Begin with a seven-inch height or less. A higher platform quickly exhausts those who are unfit and may cause injury. Use a sturdy box or the bottom step of a staircase (the standard stair step height is about seven inches). Gradually increase the height as fitness improves, but never higher than a height that causes the knees to bend more than 90 degrees.

Use the proper technique to avoid injury: Place the entire foot on the step to distribute body weight evenly over the whole foot. When stepping off the platform, step down, not back (always land with toes close to the step’s base) — reaching too far back with the leading leg when stepping down results in sore calves. It also makes the body lean forward, putting more stress on the low back and ball of the foot.

Step up with your left foot and then up with the right. Next, step down with the left and follow with the right (change the leading foot periodically). Repeat this stepping pattern at a steady, controlled pace. A general recommendation is approximately 118 - 120 steps per minute. To make the workout harder (and still keep it safe), add more arm movement instead of increasing speed.

For quick calorie-burn breaks at home or at the office, step for several two-minute sessions throughout the day. But slip into supportive shoes first to absorb the repetitive shock on your feet, calves and knees: Cross-training or aerobic shoes offer adequate shock absorbency and stability due to the wider heel. And don’t forget to do a few leg stretches afterward.

If you have chronic pain under or around the kneecap, stepping may not be a suitable exercise for you.


Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.








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