Food For Thought. Every Diet Needs This!

“Nearly four in ten women will develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) during their lifetime” (Srivaratharajah & Abramson, 2019). However, with sufficient dietary intervention, this rate can be reduced by 80%, “elimination of modifiable risk factors including unhealthy lifestyle has the potential for prevention of 80% of cardiovascular disease cases (Nielsen et al., 2017). As a weight loss coach, I understand how losing weight can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. However, regardless of the amount of pounds you need to shed, there can be a downside to solely focusing on what you eat. Dieting, or therapeutic nutrition, can create a rift in the natural, holistic psychological approach to food, as well as the cultural benefits of breaking bread together. By merely perceiving the body as a machine and designating food as a modality for weight loss, you risk losing the holistic aspects of eating and succumbing to its shadow myths. For a person needing to lose weight, assigning to diet plans and the world of clinical nutrition can initially be beneficial. However, it is also important to incorporate a mindset that dieting and focusing on what you eat is is not the whole story.

Michael Pollan writes in his book, In Defense of Food, that current science of nutrition has, “confused us with three pernicious myths: that what matters most is not the food but the ‘nutrient’: that because nutrients are invisible and incomprehensible to everyone but scientists, we need expert help in deciding what to eat; and that the purpose of eating is to promote a narrow concept physical health” (Pollan, 2009, p. 8).  Dieting, clinical or therapeutic nutrition can temporarily aid weight loss, but it creates a narrow view of food, “we are becoming a nation of orthorexics” writes Pollan, (2009, p. 9). I suggest to anyone exploring weight loss, to evaluate clinical nutrition and diet plans as they would with all conventional medical avenues. By evaluating if the gain of overall health benefits outweighs the negative outcomes from the method. If you chose to diet or a therapeutic nutrition plan, remember that there are other vital holistic emotional components that still need to be incorporated into your relationship with food.

Pollan (2009) writes, “as long as humans have been taking meals together, eating has been as much about cultures as it has been about biology” (p. 8). Since the beginning of time, humans have broken bread together. We have innately known that it is not only what’s in the food that benefits our health and wellbeing, but the synergies of incorporating ritual eating with gratitude, abundance and joy, nourishing not only the mind and body, but also the spirit. I personally am caught in what Pollan describes as the “quel paradox” (2009, p. 9). I identify as a foodie, loving to explore the varied cultures of food yet find myself constantly conflicted with my proclaimed Nutritionista self. So now, I am exploring the culture of enjoying the whole experience of eating, trusting the holistic approach that good foods affect and satiate my whole mind and body. Eating a whole array of colorful vegetables, fish, some meats, nuts and oils, while eating just enough to feel content. No longer checking off lists of superfoods and macros etc.  I believe we have much to learn about the nature of eating, “not only physiologically but also historically and ecologically”, (Pollan, 2009, p. 11).

So, I would say to anyone wanting to lose weight, that while utilizing a diet plan for weight loss can be effective, prepare to be mindful of its shadow myths. Diet plans and clinical nutrition can create a rift in the natural, holistic psychological approach to food, as well as the cultural benefits of breaking bread together, by perceiving the body as a machine and designating food as a modality for disease prevention.  There is a balance in approaching the whole being and trusting oneself in what feels right when it comes to food. After all, humans have known what to eat for thousands of years. Nutrition science has a long way to go in understanding the holistic connection between mind, body, and food. All aspects of the human experience need to be present at the table.


Barriers to lifestyle changes for prevention of cardiovascular disease – a survey among 40–60-year-old Danes

Nielsen, J. B., Leppin, A., Gyrd-Hansen, D. E., Jarbøl, D. E., Søndergaard, J., & Larsen, P. V. (2017). Barriers to lifestyle changes for prevention of cardiovascular disease – a survey among 40-60-year-old Danes. BMC cardiovascular disorders17(1), 245.

Pollan, M. (2009). In defense of food: An eater’s manifesto. London: Penguin Books.

Identifying and managing younger women at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Srivaratharajah, K., & Abramson, B. L. (2019). Identifying and managing younger women at high risk of cardiovascular disease. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne191(6), E159–E163.

Skip Breakfast to Be Smarter, Lighter & Live Longer!

Also published in Shop HQ Insider

Myth Buster Alert: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” NOT!

According to various scientific reports from the National Library of Medicine (NCBI); narrowing your eating window to eight hours, then fasting for 16 hours each day, can increase brain function (2), lessen overall body inflammation (3), increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower blood pressure (4), weight loss(5), and finally, life longevity! (6). So, who wants to try Intermittent Fasting, or as the science community call it; Time Restricted Eating.

Time Restricted Eating has been extensively researched and is becoming a popular, easy lifestyle change due to its vast health benefits. Traditionally, after at least 12 hours of fasting, our body begins to convert energy from fat cells stored in the body.  As it breaks down the stored fat to release glucose, ketones are delivered into the blood. Once you have ketones in your blood, you are in a state of ketosis. You probably have heard of keto diets, which rely heavily on restricting carbohydrates in order to achieve ketosis. But if you want to enjoy your healthy grains, pastas and bread, Time Restricted Eating (Intermittent Fasting), can be an excellent and easier alternative to get those same ketones flowing and enjoy the following benefits.

Firstly, having ketones in your blood can improve cognitive function (PubMed). Ketones are one of the few substances that can cross the blood brain barrier. The state of ketosis has long been used to treat seizures in some patients, but in recent studies shared by Harvard Medical School, being in ketosis has shown a noticeable effect on various brain functions and improving certain brain diseases (HMS). So, by fasting each day, you can improve both brain health and increase memory function (HMS).

Secondly, ketones released in the body have shown to reduce overall body inflammation. As reported in the National Library of Medicine, fasting not only has a positive effect on tissue inflammation, but also on cardiovascular dysfunction (NCBI). For myself, I notice that my joints ache less when I fast. Also, in various experiments reported on, healthy cholesterol HDL-C, increased while blood pressure reported as being reduced (EC). Other reports from the Annual Review of Nutrition state “Pervasive benefits on multiple organ systems” (ARN).

Lastly, and most significantly, fasting each day can cause weight loss that is likely to stay off! By narrowing the amount of time in which you eat, you naturally consume less calories. Additionally, you will eat less at mealtimes as they’re closer together. According to Harvard Medical School, other low-calorie diets usually fail due to the body improvising and adapting to the lower calorie in-take. However, with Time Restricted Eating, these adaptions do not occur, creating more effective weight-loss as well as sustaining a healthier weight overall (HMS)

 So, what does the 16:8 Time Restricted Eating program look like for you? 

The 8-hour eating window can be anytime of your choosing. If you’d rather eat at 8AM, then finish your last meal by 4PM, that works. Other people wait until noon to begin eating, then finish their last meal by 8PM. It’s advisable to avoid eating within 3 hours before going to bed. This allows your body time to digest before sleeping, enabling better digestion as well as aiding in a better night’s sleep. I like to skip my breakfast meal then begin eating around 10AM, closing with my last meal by 6PM. You can eat what and when you want during the 8-hour window, but it is still advisable to make healthy food choices. Also, it is important to stay hydrated especially while fasting, so drink plenty of water. At least 64oz a day for everyone!  You can still enjoy your coffee or tea if you’re fasting in the morning, but don’t add creamers or sugar. So, have fun experimenting to find the best eating window time period that works for you. All that matters is that the body fasts for 16 hours each day, in order to reach the daily state of ketosis and receive all the wellness benefits.

It’s important to note that there are some health conditions that may not benefit from Time Restricted Eating. So, if you have any doubts or pre-existing conditions, please check-in with your physician before you start fasting. 

There are other fasting programs such as 12:12, in which you fast for 12, then eat for 12. This may be a better first step as you adjust to a regular fasting routine. Or there are more complicated programs which such as; 5:2, which involves eating regularly for 5 days, then fast for 2.  Alternate Day and 24 Hour Fasting are other options, where you eat solid foods every other day or fast for a full 24 hours, twice a week. 

So, pick the fasting window for your body to begin releasing daily ketones into your system. Then revel in higher energy as well as enjoying all the health benefits. Although this could be a small adjustment to your lifestyle, it can have a lasting and impressive impact on your overall health including; becoming smarter (NCBI), weight loss (NCBI), and living longer (NCBI).

Take The Sugar Challenge!

Take the Sugar Challenge! 

Just A Spoonful of ………

Sugar! An ancient, delectable, sweet sensation that unless consumed in moderation, puts you at serious risk for critical diseases, even death (American Heart Association AHA). In fact, the CDC is launching an extensive campaign to address obesity, a leading health risk in this nation often caused by excessive sugar consumption. So, if asked how many grams of sugar do you consume on a daily basis, what do you think your answer would be? 

Recently, I asked myself this same question and discovered my healthy, low carb lifestyle far exceeded the recommended amount of sugar! For 5 days I tracked my sugar intake and to my chagrin, I consumed double the recommended daily allowance. Food manufacturers have a sneaky way of inserting sugar, or forms of sugar into many foods and drinks. In fact, until I started reading labels, the foods and snacks I assumed to be healthy, such as high protein health bars, were actually sugar bombs in disguise! One of the goals of the US Dept. of Human ServicesHealthy People 2030 Objective, is educating and empowering people to take responsibility for nutrition by encouraging us to read food labels and know exactly what we are eating. Then, according to the CDC, by lowering our sugar consumption, we can reduce health risks such as: weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease. Not only reduce the risk but feel better and create a positive effect towards our overall health and well-being.

So, how much is the right amount of sugar?

According to the AHA the recommended allowance of sugar for women is 25 grams (6 teaspoons), approximately 100 calories. Men are allowed 36 grams, (9 teaspoons), 150 calories. However, according to the CDC, the American male is consuming an average of 19 teaspoons of sugar, and women an average of 15 teaspoons. 

It’s important to note, that our bodies require some amounts of sugar. Sugarscience states, “sugar metabolism is the process by which energy contained in the foods that we eat is made available as fuel for the body.” Our body requires a little sugar to create energy and function properly but most of us are consuming far greater than what’s needed.

I discovered where my excess sugar came from by food journaling. For 5 days, after each meal and snack, I kept track of all the sugar grams I consumed. I found journaling to be the most effective way for getting a clear picture of not just how much but which foods and drinks contained the highest amount of sugar.  

I found using a nutrition macro counting app to be the most effective way to keep track of the  sugar grams.  I like the Lose It app but the Fitbit and FitnessPal apps are other user friendly options. These apps use a barcode scanner to accurately scan barcodes on food and nutrition labels, recording the total sugar count including the added sugars. You can also use a pen and paper to keep record. Look at total sugar and added sugar on nutrition labels then keep a ledger of total sugar grams after each meal, snack or drink. If you’re eating whole foods, like meat or fresh vegetables, google “sugar grams in….” to get approximate counts. The wonderful news is by mid 2021, according to AMA, food manufacturers have to report all the “added” sugars on nutrition labels. In the past, one had to keep a nutrition translator book handy in order to decipher the sneaky sugar additives not necessarily labeled as sugar.

The high sugar culprit in my diet was my tea latte that had no added syrups or flavors but still contained 37 grams of sugar. Most popular coffee shop tea lattes, either chai or green tea, contain on average 35 grams of sugar. This is 10 grams higher than the total daily allowance for women! However, my tea latte was a favorite afternoon ritual! I loved the tea, the texture of the frothy milk, not to mention the friendly smile of the barista. So, to get to zero grams of sugar, instead of asking for a “chai tea latte”, I asked for the brewed chai tea (loose chai tea with hot water), with steamed almond milk (my frothy foam), all served by my favorite barista! Essentially, I still enjoy my favorite tea latte but now with zero sugar. It also costs $3 less than the sugary alternative, so I’m saving money as well! This Sugar Challenge is not about giving up simple pleasures or making drastic lifestyle changes, but rather to get creative. If soda is high on your list, can a can of bubbly water with fruit flavor and 0 grams of sugar be the solution you’re looking for? However, I suggest not switching to “diet” versions of soda or using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. 

According to Dr Ludwig in an article, “Sugar free but at what cost”,  from Harvard Medical School; “Non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup”. Reports also in this HMS study share, the artificial sweeteners themselves can also be addictive. Initially, it may take a little time to find and make the adjustments needed but stick with it, because the benefits of lowering your sugar count can have great rewards including feeling like you’re back in control.

Feeling in control again can be very empowering. You have the power to decide if you do or don’t want to eat those sugar grams. On holidays or certain days when you want to enjoy wine or beer, you can bank sugar grams. For example, only consume 15-20 grams for 5 days, banking 5 grams each day to create a 25 gram excess which you can use on those special days or holidays. 

So, are you ready for the Sugar Challenge? It can be quite the discovery especially if you consider your lifestyle to be reasonably healthy. Perhaps you’re wanting to make a lifestyle change and not sure where to start? Taking the Sugar Challenge could be a great first step for making those small adjustments but having a large impact on your health and wellbeing. So, pick your app or get your pen and paper but starting counting those sugar grams to find out if your within the daily recommended allowance for sugar.  As the CDC states, by lowering our sugar consumption, we can reduce health risks such as: weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease. I can’t wait to hear about your Sugar Challenge and what you discover.  Make sure to leave a comment and let me know as love to hear from you!

By Helen Cameron-Zenobian

T.V Host, Nutrition Expert, Health Coach, Writer, Model

Studying for M.A Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching.

Making Health an easy Action!

Lemon Water

If loosing weight, exercising and making only healthy choices was easy, we’d all be making them, right? However in reality, choosing the option towards better well-being is often never easy. So, here’s my practice. Actually, it’s more of a trick. The trick being that each morning, I create a mind-set that will support making healthier decisions easier throughout the rest of the day! Sound easy?

I believe it’s so much easier to keep something going rather than trying to get something started. Once you commence with healthy intention, continuing it feels much easier than having to keep getting started. After all, how many times have you promised yourself that you will start making changes tomorrow! So here’s how I create the momentum. In the beginning 5mins of each day, I take my first healthy action, therefore significantly increasing the likelihood that I will continue to make healthy choices throughout the day and lessening the chance of diverting to an unhealthy route and crashing your health.

So what’s this healthy action that I take in the first 5mins after waking up? It needs to be something that requires no set-up, otherwise I’d have to think about it the day before. Also, it needs to be something I’m able to do while still feeling sleepy. I simply drink between 16 – 20oz of water with squeezed lemon juice. Not only am I instantly hydrated by the lemon water, but it also delivers anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties(Research)However, for this lifestyle purpose, it provides the mind-set that I’m choosing to start each day with action towards a healthy lifestyle. Without even thinking about it, in the first 5mins of the day, I’ve chosen an affirmative step for self-care and personal wellbeing. I have started the momentum and have created good intention. I’ve built a mind-set that I have started my day with good actions. Therefore as the day progresses, when tempted by indulgent, un-healthy foods, I consider that I’ve already taken action towards better health. My health is already improving. Do I want to change paths now? Do I want to continue on with what I’ve already started or do I want to go backwards?

I have practiced drinking my lemon water first thing in the morning for many years. The first thing I notice is that I feel more alert. My body appreciates the qualities of the lemon juice with its polyphenol antioxidants, which research has shown to support weight loss, or Vitamin C, another anti-oxidant which again,research states may support cardiovascular health. Also, as I feel hydrated, I drink less coffee, therefore consuming less caffeine. I also feel more satiated so am able to continue my fasting until later in the morning. But most importantly, I feel successful by starting each day with a positive action for my personal health and well-being. 

So, make it easy, without thinking too much, take a healthy action in the first 5mins of each day to increase the likelihood that you’ll continue to make good, healthy choices and not be tempted towards an unhealthy lifestyle, or having to keep starting the change towards better health.

Morning Water Recipe:
16-20oz filtered water, room temp

¼ lemon, squeeze juice into water.


How the Cauliflower came to Power!

Cauliflower Power Lunch Plate

Today’s food adventure starts with the usual staring into the fridge.  Meanwhile, the cauliflower that’s dangerously close to it’s sell-by date stares right back! Feeling guilty at the thought of having to throw yet another fresh cauli away, it became apparent that today’s lunch included cauliflower!

So, creating a new recipe can start with something old, like an almost gone-off cauliflower. I was feeling ravenous and in no mood to head to the grocery store. So, in an attempt to not give into high carb, high sugar, fast snacks, I decided to entice myself with a delicious yet nutritious new recipe for a power lunch.

I took out the cauliflower. Without giving anything else too much thought, I randomly grabbed other foods such as brie, red onion, half an avocado and what was left of the arugula. I always try to have fresh lemons, so I cut up one of those. Side note, squeeze fresh lemon juice into everything you cook to add extra flavor.  Another favorite of mine is olive oil. You can enjoy olive oil hot or cold. Today I fancied heating the olive oil, as well as sautéing the onions. By pouring the hot oil onion mixture over the arugula and avocado, the texture changed, making digestibility easier.  This is the case for other salads that include fresh spinach leaves. The heated oil allows denser nutrition values to become available during digestion, which aren’t accessible when consumed raw. Another excellent way to cook and heat your veggies is to use an airfryer. Airfrying vegetables can make even the most mundane veggie become delectable. 

So, as my cauliflower was on it’s last leg, I knew the airfryer was the best way to bring it back to life. I laid out my cauliflower steaks in the airfrying basket. If you’re wondering what a cauliflower steak is, it’s simply a cauliflower that is thickly sliced horizontally. I generously added olive oil plus sea salt to the steaks, then let the air fryer do it’s thing.

Today’s food adventure ended up to be a delicious, new nutritious lunch recipe, filled with flavor. Click on the recipe link at the top to decide for yourself if my food trip turned out well! I hope you’ll find my ventures entertaining, somewhat useful and inspiring to embark on your own food adventures. There must be something in your fridge that is dangerously close to it’s sell-by date!

(Chuckle), It is all about Oats!


Hello dear friends-at-home,

And now for something completely different!  It is all about oats! Kale, Jackfruit Steel Cut Oats with Curry. How about, Leek, Sage & Currant Oats? Intrigued? I hope this story of a bowl of oats strikes you with inspiration in creating your own oat umami!

So the simple oat grain is not biased in being either sweet or savory. It is quite neutral really, especially if you only add water.  Consider your bowl of oats as a wonderful, blank canvas for creating your own breakfast adventures! Depending on which ingredients you add, your morning oats can be either sweet or savory!

The oat story started when I began experimenting with my daily steel cut oats. One morning, I could not decide if I wanted my protein smoothie or my bowl of oats. I fancied the oats but had been trying to incorporate a daily protein powder. A thought then occurred to me, “why could I not add my protein powder to my oats?” In fact, why not consider approaching my oatmeal the same way I approach making a smoothie.  Thus was born, The genie steelie! However, simply adding protein powder to oats was a simple beginning.

The thrill from finding and adding unusual ingredients into my daily oats started to provide excellent motivation for getting out of bed! Some days, when a surprising ingredient or a unique pairing had caught my eye, I could not wait to jump up the next morning and begin experimenting! One particular lunchtime, my daughter & I were enjoying a yummy, black bean, vegan taco with Jackfruit. “Hmmm”, I thought, “Jackfruit in oatmeal?” So imagine my delight when I found frozen Jackfruit at my local grocery store. Jackfruit has a wonderful, unusual savory taste. It has almost a peppery quality, while the texture and color are similar to a mango. The Jackfruit’s unique tubular shape is not found in any other fruit and its sunshine color was perfect for brightening my morning Kale, Jackfruit and Curry Oats.However, the next oat creation might be my favorite, Leek, Sage & Currant Oats.

Inspiration for bringing together new and different flavors can to be found in all sorts of places. The Leek, Sage & Currant Oats inspiration came from a wonderful Food and Wine recipe for a Turkey leg dressing! Remember, oats are a blank canvas. So, when I recently found this recipe speaking of sweet, “melted leeks”, blended with sautéed currants to create a rich, sweet yet savory flavor, my mouth watered. I needed to adapt the recipe but it was the perfect inspiration for a new oat beginning.  I woke up this morning and started cooking right away. The sautéed currants, oniony taste of the leek, savored together with the sage created a decadent, flamboyant start to the day. It felt like a breakfast suitable for a Queen!

So dear friends-at-home, what royal oat flavors will you be creating for breakfast? By sharing my creative journey with you, I hope that you are struck with oatspirational sparks and create more, fabulously unique oat recipes for the world! Perhaps we should create a hashtag or something! Please make sure to share below any questions you have, or hopefully, pictures of your oat inspirational journey! I cannot wait to see what oat inspiration is ignited in you!

Genie Steelie’s – Waking up Breakfast!

Oats! It’s whats for Breakfast…….or lunch, dinner or even a snack! I’ve always loved oatmeal but when I gave up sugar a few years back and started adding sea salt to my breakfast staple, my now savory oatmeal breakfast created enticing new possibilities.

I’m  also tired of having to make smoothies to take my natural supplements. So I’ve started using my steel oats as a new place to incorporate my potions! Rather than using a smoothie to mix up wheat grass, juices and wellness powders, I use my simple oatmeal as a  place to mix it up! And so the Genie Steelie is born!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We’ll call this genie steelie, the “Power Starter”.

I use a rice cooker to make my steel cut oats and always toast them in coconut oil first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Toasted Steel cut oats

Grass fed cow/dairy free milk (in ratio to the amount of oats)

Lemon Juice (squeezed juice of 1/2)

Fresh ginger (grated)

Ground Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon more or less)

Sea Salt (pinch of)

Sliced Apple (half an apple)

Serving of Protein/Wellness supplement mix

Sit down & Sip Up! – Elixir for Detoxing Mind & Body

In our culture,  the evaluation of a successful person is based on a level of busyness. But get this, being busy does not make you important. In fact, it just makes you stressed, tired and definitely not your best self! In reality,  taking a break, sitting down and enjoying a moment of quiet, especially while sipping on a warm beverage, is a vital step for optimizing on good health as well as detoxing the brain clatter.

For a simple but tasty cup of tea, to boost both mind and body, try a genie elixir. I call them elixirs as it’s more than just a quick cuppa! My Genie Detox for Mind and Body, includes natural detoxifiers such as charcoal and lemon juice along with wellness a boost from apple cider vinegar. For an added powerful antioxidant, I use Hydrogen generated water. For a touch of calm and comfort, I use dried Hibiscus and raw honey. Its warming. It’s revitalizing. Its boosting. It’s a lot cheaper than any detox supplement. So I invite you to take a break, sit down and sip up!

Steps for Genie Elixir:

#1 Make cup of boiling hydrogen water. You can either purchase Hydrogen water, or use a Hydrogen water generator such as that found on shopHQ

Add serving Activated Coconut Charcoal to your favorite tea cup.


Squeeze half a lemon juice


Add boiling water to dried Hibiscus leaves in separate teapot. Let steep for 5 mins. Strain while pouring onto charcoal & lemon juice.


Add Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (making sure to use a brand that includes the Mother)


Add Teaspoon raw honey.


Sit & Sip!

Genie Elixir Recipe:

  1. 1 serving Activated Coconut Charcoal
  2. Squeeze juice of half a lemon into cup.
  3. Add boiling water to dried Hibiscus leaves in separate teapot. Let steep for 5 mins. Strain while pouring onto charcoal & lemon juice.
  4. Add Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  5. Add Teaspoon raw honey, then stir.