Dr. Kim Foster

How Do French Women Stay So Slim?

Yesterday I uploaded my second YouTube video, in which I talk about a topic I love diving into: French Health Secrets! It seems that ever since visiting France again this summer, I’ve been thinking and writing about this subject even more than usual.

In this week’s video, I break down some of the eating habits of the French in an attempt to crack the code of how the French enjoy such amazing food on a regular basis (croissants, cheese, chocolate…) all while staying thin!

I reveal four very specific tips in the video, so if that interests you–I encourage you to go check it out!

Also, in the video I mention a cheatsheet I put together with 12 French Health Secrets…and here’s the link to grab that PDF.

P.S. If you like this video and want to see more health & wellness videos from me, I invite you to subscribe to my channel so you’re notified every time I upload something new!

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How To Stay Fit Like The French (without even trying)

I was in France this summer and it’s something I notice every time I’m there: the slimness of the French people. It’s really quite incredible. By now, I suspect we’re all familiar with the French Paradox. It’s the fact that the traditional French diet is filled with goodies we North Americans tend to view as waistline disasters: butter, cream, cheese, croissants, chocolate, rich sauces, foie gras

And yet, the people of France are slim and gorgeous. When Mireille Guilliano wrote her NYT bestselling book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” many years ago, she attempted to explain this phenomenon to a North American audience. And because I was just in France for our family summer holiday, I’m going to devote the next few weeks’ worth of blog posts to this intriguing phenomenon.


Grab my free PDF cheatsheet: French Health Secrets


HOW THE FRENCH STAY IN SHAPE WITHOUT EVEN TRYING

What I’ve noticed about France is that while there is no shortage of bread and crepes and croissants and wine and cheese (thank heaven!) there is also this little phenomenon: the French don’t exercise.

Not in the way we think of exercise in North America, at least. Here, exercise seems to be synonymous with “the gym”. When I ask patients if they exercise, they always assume I mean going to the gym. 

In France, you are hard pressed to find an actual gym.

In the average Parisian block, you’ll trip over ten places to have coffee, get a fresh baguette, watch a film, enjoy a spectacular lunch…but no gyms. There may be a couple of yoga studios or very small boutique fitness studios. But that will be about it. So how are the French staying fit?

EXERCISE À LA FRANÇAISE

This is how the French exercise: they walk. They walk EVERYWHERE. They walk to their local food market—everyday (something I’ll talk about in a future post in this series, because it’s key!). They walk to the cafe, to museums, to work, to meet friends for lunch. The French are constantly out on the streets.

Jogging, non. At least, not as much as you would see in North America. When I go for a run along the Vancouver waterfront—especially if it’s a beautiful summer day—I’m surrounded by a mob of fellow runners (if it’s a rainy day, only slightly fewer). In contrast, when I went for a run in Paris last month along the Seine, there were definitely other runners but not nearly as many as you’d expect (plus a few rollerbladers, clearly transported there from the mid-1990s). I definitely noted more runners this time than I’ve seen in previous visits, although perhaps they were all expats and tourists. In other parts of France, however, I received plenty of confused and vaguely discouraging looks from the locals walkers on the streets when I’d go for a run.

Besides walking, the French also bicycle. Cycling is a passion and a way of life there. We happened to be lucky enough to be in Paris this time when the Tour de France entered the city for the grand finale—an amazing spectacle. Clearly, the French are serious about the sport of cycling. But it’s not just for athletes. You will see all kinds of cyclists in the cities and the countryside alike: women in dresses with little dogs in baskets, schoolboys, men in suits, cycling to work. Paris has a fantastic bike rental system, the Velib, so you can hop on and off a rented bicycle anywhere you want to go.

HOW TO APPLY THIS PRINCIPLE TO YOUR OWN LIFE

You might be wondering: can cycling to the market from time to time really take the place of my gym workouts?

Here’s what the research is showing: 

A little while ago, a study looked at the health benefits of riding a bicycle to do errands, like going to the store. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin statistically analyzed what would happen if the 31 million people living in the Upper Midwest did some of their short-distance errands (defined as 2.5 miles one way) by bike instead of by car. Their conclusions? If people ran even half these errands by bike instead of car, 1,100 deaths would be avoided each year. And there would be a $7 billion savings in health-care costs.

So how can we use this information?

Now that we’re in the dog days of summer—which likely means there’s a farmer’s market somewhere in your area—why not be inspired by that French habit of cycling to the market or on short errands? It’s much more stylish and glamorous than taking the car, and it’s a pleasurable way of living…which is something else I’ll be writing about a lot more as we go this month.

Bonne continuation!


If you like the idea of adopting a more French approach to healthy living, I’ve put something together for you: a free printable PDF cheatsheet of French Health Secrets. 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Stress May Be Causing Your Weight Gain

Angela was desperate to lose weight. Over the past six months she’d noticed her weight going up but couldn’t figure out why. As far as Angela could tell, she was eating the same things she always had. Her activity level hadn’t changed. So she came to see me, her family doctor, asking to get her hormones checked, thinking maybe that was the problem.

I checked her hormones and a few other things besides. Everything came back normal. We began to peel back the layers and talk about what else had been going on over the past six months.

It turned out Angela had been going through a pretty rough time. She’d been given some added responsibilities at work, and she had also been going through a contentious divorce.

“Sure, occasionally I comfort myself, but there’s no way that accounts for all this weight gain”, she said.

“I think you’re probably right,” I said. “But at the same time, I suspect it is the stress that’s contributing to your weight gain. Here’s what I think is happening.” I went on to explain what I meant.

The truth is, stress is clearly linked to weight gain, but there are several different reasons why. If you’re struggling to reach your happy/healthy weight, here’s why stress may be sabotaging your efforts:

1: HORMONES

Our bodies are amazing. Long ago, we evolved to survive various threats: a surge of adrenaline sets off a cascade of physiologic changes that help us get away or defend ourselves. You know, the fight-or-flight response. Then, once the danger is passed, one of the hormones—cortisol—triggers our urge to build up our stores again and eat. So we’ll have the energy for the next threat that attacks.

It’s a good system…when there’s actual physical danger.

Now, the danger tends to be less often mortal danger of a predator…and more often a stack of bills that need to be paid. But our systems still function the same. Even once the immediate threat is resolved, there’s still a cascade of responses that happen. Particularly if the stress is sustained.

One of the hormones released in response to stress and danger is cortisol. And cortisol is an interesting beast—it has a few beneficial effects, but many downsides. One is that it triggers our urge to build up our stores again. Assuming we’ve just had to spend a bunch of valuable energy in fighting off a bear, we need to replenish that energy, so cortisol triggers an urge to eat. Helpful when there actually was a bear…less so when it was simply a triggering meeting at work.

And cortisol has other, shall we say, undesirable effects that are even longer-lasting than the urge to inhale an entire buffet. But that leads us to…

2: BELLY FAT

Among other things, cortisol sends signals to our metabolism that we’re going to need to store some of our incoming energy as belly fat. Belly fat, historically and evolutionary-wise, was an excellent adaptation that ensured our survival. A highly resilient way of storing excess energy, it could help us survive a long winter, a famine, a siege from a neighboring village…whatever.

Of course now when fewer sieges happen, it’s less beneficial. Trouble is, it’s what our bodies want to do: evolution selected for those belly fat genes. In days long past, the guy with the most resilient belly fat was the last guy to starve and die when a famine hit. That guy went on to be your ancestor….because all the other potential ancestors died before they could procreate. You got the resistant belly fat genes.

Lucky you, yes?

3: EMOTIONAL EATING

This one is more of a behavioral thing than strict physiology. Anxiety and stress tend to trigger emotional eating and this is a particular problem given our constant and excessive access to food of all types. In previous epochs, stress eating might have looked like you scarfing down an extra handful of nuts and seeds while sitting around the fire, listening to stories. Now, stress eating looks like you taking a sharp left into the Dairy Queen drive thru on your way home from work.

To make things worse, we’re hard-wired to want the worst stuff. High-sugar, high-fat food gives us a dopamine hit: the “feel good” neurotransmitter. It’s rewarding and soothing—at least temporarily. Until the inevitable guilt spiral of shame and self-blame begins.


Click here to download a free 2-page PDF checklist of my Top 10 Stress Detox Tools.


4: MINDLESS EATING

Stress and worry are highly distracting. Which means they are contributors to another related, yet distinct, eating problem: mindless eating. This is when we are eating without awareness, like an automaton. When we’re too busy in our own heads, tending to those spinning thoughts, we often don’t even notice that our arm keeps raising the fork to our mouth. Ten minutes later we hit bare plate and realize we’ve hardly tasted—let alone enjoyed—a single bite.

5: SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Sleep disruption and insomnia are common, but even more so when we’re stressed. Anxiety disrupts our sleep-wake cycle and messes with our sleep rhythms. As a result, we wake feeling exhausted and beat a straight path to the coffee maker—which can interfere with our sleep the next night, too.

The question is: how is that connected with weight?

It revolves around a pair of neurochemicals, called ghrelin and leptin, that control appetite. Essentially, ghrelin is your hunger hormone. Released by the lining of your stomach, it sends signals to your brain that it’s time to eat. Leptin basically does the opposite by sending a “full” signal.

It turns out lack of sleep disrupts the normal functioning of ghrelin and leptin. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with higher levels of ghrelin, more hunger, and more cravings—especially for carbs. We have more difficulty resisting temptation and sticking to our healthy eating resolve.

There’s a lot more to it, but the research has clearly demonstrated that when you’re sleep deprived, it’s more difficult to lose weight.

But let’s go back to Angela. After unpacking all the stressors in her life and the effect they were having, it was clear that when it came to her weight loss efforts, she would be fighting an uphill battle until she got a handle on her stress.

And maybe you’re in a similar situation. If you think stress is sabotaging your weight loss plans, what can you do about it?

Truth is, there is a lot you can do about stress. I have much more to say about this—stress is one of my favorite topics—but I’ll save the details for future posts.

In the meantime, if you want to get started on managing stress, you can download (for free!) a 2-page PDF checklist with my Top 10 Stress Detox Tools. Just click here to grab it!

Grab My Top 10 Stress Detox Tools

 


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My family thinks I’m obsessed. And maybe I am, but it comes from something I experience on a daily basis at work. Young women often come to see me with a particular constellation of symptoms: poor concentration, fatigue, hair loss, plus generally low mood and irritability. So I send them for investigations, and what comes back? Low iron levels.

Every. Damn. Day.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency out there, and it causes a lot of trouble for women in particular, although I’m always surprised at how little press it receives. Maybe because it’s not the fashionable new thing?

The world may not be obsessed with iron, but I am. My kids joke that I love my cast iron pan more than anything else. They’re not entirely wrong. My twelve-year-old thinks the primary benefit of my skillet is for defence against zombies when the inevitable apocalypse comes (naturally), which is hard to deny…however I’m a fan for a different reason. But I’ll get to that.

WHY IS LOW IRON A PROBLEM?

If you’re a menstruating female, you’re losing blood every month. Your body seeks to make new red blood cells to replace the ones lost, but needs the building block of iron to create hemoglobin—the molecule that carries oxygen. Your only source of new iron is through your gut (either diet or supplements), but the trouble is, our GI tract doesn’t like to absorb iron. It’s difficult to get enough. Hence the common entity of iron deficiency among otherwise healthy women. Animal sources (heme) are the best sources of iron, so if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you have even less iron coming in.

The symptoms of low iron?

  • fatigue
  • poor concentration
  • insomnia
  • weakness
  • headache
  • irritability
  • depression
  • exercise intolerance
  • dizziness
  • restless legs syndrome
  • hair falling out
  • brittle nails
  • cracking at the corners of the mouth
  • pale complexion
  • dry skin
  • pica

This last one is an interesting symptom. Pica refers to a desire to eat non-food substances, like clay, dirt, paper, or ice. Have you ever had a craving for any of these things? You might have thought you were losing your mind—but perhaps it was just iron deficiency. Don’t be ashamed. Talk to your doctor about it.

HOW TO PREVENT & CORRECT LOW IRON

So what can you do about iron deficiency?

First, get tested. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that testing may not accurately reflect what’s happening. For example, it’s possible to have a normal hemoglobin level (meaning you don’t meet the actual definition of “anemia”) but have critically low stores of iron (revealed through other tests, like serum ferritin).

Staying on top of your iron levels and ensuring you get enough is particularly important if you are a menstruating female, a vegetarian/vegan, or a growing kid—whether you’re looking to treat a deficiency you have, or prevent deficiency from developing.

What are the benefits to improving your iron level?

  • improved energy
  • hair and nail growth
  • better appetite
  • better sleep
  • mood
  • concentration

There are three things I advise all my patients with low iron:

  1. Increase your intake of iron-rich food.
    2. Buy a cast iron pan and cook with it as much as you can.
    3. Consider supplements if your level is particularly low.

Supplements can be tricky and very individual, so I’ll save that for a future post. In the meantime, talk to your doctor if you want specific advice on iron supplements.

But if you’re looking to work on the first two points—diet and cooking tips—read on!

YOUR IRON-RICH GROCERY LIST

First up, you need to ensure you’re getting enough iron-rich food.

There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme is the most complete iron source (derived from hemoglobin) and the source most readily absorbed by our bodies, but it is only found in animal foods.

An iron-rich grocery list:

Tofu
Lentils
Breakfast Cereal (many are enriched with iron)
Green leafy vegetables (eg. spinach, kale, broccoli)
Beef
Shellfish (especially clams and mussels)
Mussels
Chicken liver
Beans (eg. lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas)
Pumpkin seeds
Canned Sardines
Dried fruit (eg. dried apricots, raisins)
Grains (eg. bulgur, wheat germ)
Blackstrap molasses
Fish (eg. halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna)


Click here to download a printable PDF with a detailed listing of iron-rich foods, both heme and non-heme.


To improve absorption, avoid coffee or tea with your iron-rich food. Calcium can also inhibit the absorption of iron by as much as 60 percent. On the other hand, Vitamin C can maximize absorption, so pair your iron-rich meal with some strawberries or a glass of orange juice.

AN OLD-FASHIONED KITCHEN TOOL

Cast iron is a chef favorite because of its heat-retaining properties—it’s absolutely beautiful to cook with. But I love it because every time you cook something in a cast-iron pan, a little extra iron seeps into your food. This is particularly true if the food is somewhat acidic, as with lemon or tomato-based sauces. I’ve read that the increase in iron deficiency among developed countries has been linked with a decline in cooking with cast iron pans (which started when everyone began cooking with Teflon-coated pans in the 80s).

Granted, a cast-iron pan is heavy. But think of it as an upper body workout when you’re lifting it into the sink to wash it!

And…don’t forget all the zombies you’ll be able to take down when the apocalypse comes.

Click the image below to download a free PDF of Iron-Rich Foods!


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When I was a new mom—sleep-deprived and struggling under the overwhelm of first-time motherhood—I would go on a daily walk, pushing my stroller to the closest Starbucks. After a short, numb stroll that I barely remembered I would shuffle up to the counter and order a venti macchiato with caramel drizzle and lots of foam. I’d then point to an overlarge muffin with chocolate chunks or streusel topping or whatever looked good that day. At home, later in the afternoon when my son was napping, I’d bake cookies and brownies galore.

This was something I’d never done before. At the time I said to my own mother: if I have to be stuck at home, I’m going to be the best damn stay-at-home mom there ever was. This included competitive baking, apparently. (I was not in a good emotional place.) To make matters worse, my son was barely on solid food at this stage, and my husband has never had much of a baked-goods tooth, so the only person eating all those cookies? Me.

After many months like this, I noticed my weight pushing north as I slowly regained everything I’d lost after childbirth. But I didn’t change my eating habits. Didn’t stop indulging in my daily Starbucks fix, didn’t stop gobbling down the treats. I had these thoughts: I deserve it. I need this. Life is hard enough; the least I can do is treat myself to one little comfort.

And the truth is, those treats did make me feel a little better—temporarily. I wasn’t actually dealing with my issues, but I had a sense I was doing something positive by pampering myself.

I was wrong.

THE TROUBLE WITH EMOTIONAL EATING

Julia was a patient of mine at my previous family practice in Vancouver. She was a 32-year-old single woman in a stressful job, struggling her way through a challenging dating market. Every disappointing date or rough day at work found her ordering a pizza, grabbing takeout, or eating a pan of brownies.
Of course, every time she did that, she wasn’t really dealing with the deeper issues, and she ended up in a downward spiral of guilt, shame, and self-blame.

Emotional eating can sabotage the best-laid plans for healthy lifestyle change and weight loss. It’s commonly defined as the act of turning to food for stress relief, comfort, or as a reward—not as a means to satisfy hunger.

The occasional use of food as celebration or comfort isn’t a problem. But when we use food as our main coping strategy it can lead to trouble. For some people, the immediate reaction to any negative emotion (anger, loneliness, anxiety, sadness, boredom, fatigue) is to go to fridge. Not only is this an unhealthy way of eating and using food—and can lead to significant weight issues—it also means that the underlying problem and negative feelings aren’t actually being addressed. When we eat to fill an emotional need, rather than to fuel our bodies, we often end up feeling worse—both in the short term (immediate guilt) and by compounding the real problem through avoidance.

With my patient, Julia, we started to talk about strategies around eating, but also about the deeper issues. We discussed her dissatisfaction at work, and she began looking into career change opportunities. We also explored her frustration in the dating market. Ultimately, she decided to spend some time focusing on herself instead of investing so much energy in finding a mate—for the time being. Which meant signing up for belly dancing classes she’d always wanted to take, and pursuing her interest in interior design. She found these changes empowering, and her self-esteem climbed as a result.

Moreover, I worked with Julia to help her develop a strategy for dealing with emotional cravings. She started tracking her eating habits and how they connected with her emotions by using a Food & Mood Journal (click here for a free downloadable version). She began studying mindfulness, took a 6-week course on mindfulness meditation, and became much more self-aware as a result. She began cultivating the ability to pause when her emotional hunger hit, to recognize the cravings for what they were, and to substitute a much better activity, like going out for a brisk walk or calling a friend.

Do you tend to fall prey to emotional eating? Do you eat to numb the pain, to avoid bad feelings, or as a reward?

Let’s examine some common traps and triggers for emotional eating:

EMOTIONAL EATING TRIGGERS

Boredom

There’s a void. You have a vague feeling of restlessness or purposelessness…so you fill up that void with food. Sound familiar?

Procrastination

You know you have to do something, you’re not looking forward to it, or not sure where to start…so instead you go to the kitchen to fix yourself a snack.

Social influence

Family dinners often mean being surrounded by well-meaning people who love you but insist you have another helping, finish off the last bite, take a little more. Or maybe it’s a social setting, you’re feeling uncomfortable…so you head straight for the food table and busy your hands with food.

Habits from childhood

When you were a child, you were rewarded with food. Ice cream for a good report card, perhaps? Or you were soothed with food—remember those brownies after a bad day at school?

Stress

You’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed…so you head straight to the freezer and grab the first pint of ice cream you see. Sound familiar? High levels of stress triggers cortisol release—one of our stress hormones–and cortisol triggers a desire for sweet, fatty, salty food.

Uncomfortable emotion

You’re feeling lonely, or sad, or angry at something that happened. But rather than truly feel those feelings, which are uncomfortable, you dive into a bag of chips and numb yourself with food.

Reflex, habit, or association

Do you have dessert because you think it’s supposed to happen? Is it hard for you to enjoy your afternoon tea without some kind of sweet treat? Do you believe you enjoy a movie more with a giant tub of popcorn on your lap?

Fatigue

You’re feeling tired and sluggish, so you reach for a sweet treat or a sugar-laden caffeine drink with whip cream on top to give you that boost or hit of sugar and calories. Sound familiar?

So tell me: did any of those resonate with you? If they did, you may have an emotional eating issue to tackle. It was something I realized about myself during those early months of motherhood.

So what did I do about my budding emotional eating problem?

I saw a counselor and started talking about my postpartum struggles. Instead of feeding my emotions with brownies, I started taking an honest look at what I wanted to be doing in life. Together with my therapist, I began tackling the bigger issues. It wasn’t easy, but it was the process that helped me realize I needed new direction. That direction took me toward writing, back into a part-time medical practice, and ultimately toward a career that blended my passions in the most wonderful, authentic way.

I found other ways to embrace my season as a stay at home mom—besides baking muffins like I was running a bakery—and I started exercising again, doing more yoga, and finding other ways to relax and cope with the trials of new motherhood.

The good news: my weight stabilized and I started feeling much healthier. I found I didn’t have quite so much need for all those goodies. Now, I actually see my brief stint with emotional eating as a positive, because it helped illuminate the things that weren’t working in my life. It started me on a journey toward the life I truly wanted.

That baby whose stroller I used to push to Starbucks? He’s now 12 years old. His brother is about to turn 7. And they have a much happier, more balanced mother who—while she certainly loves her morning coffee—doesn’t need heaps of unhealthy goodies to feel complete.

FREE BONUS: If you struggle with emotional eating (or you’re a health coach who works with clients on this), one of the best ways of tuning into your habits is by keeping a food & mood journal. I’ve created a free, downloadable PDF to help you do just that! Click the button below to grab your copy.

Download my printable Food & Mood Journal PDF

A Sneaky Trick For Dealing With Cravings

popcorn

I love collecting tricks and tips to help people stay healthy and maintain a happy weight. Click through to read one of my all-time faves: a very easy trick (…and fashionable, to boot).

Here are some other posts that I put in the category of “weight loss ninja”:

health secrets of GreeceThe people of Greece have figured a lot of things out when it comes to knowing how to live a happy, healthy life. It makes sense–Greece is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine.

Have you ever been to Greece? My husband and I went many years ago, in the BC years (Before Children, of course). We started in Athens and then spent a week island-hopping. And if you’ve never been–go. It’s absolutely gorgeous: sun-washed, distinctive architecture, sparkling sea, incredibly laid-back culture, fabulous food. If it isn’t paradise…well, it comes pretty close.

That said, if a trip to Greece isn’t on the horizon for you anytime soon, the least you can do is steal their secrets for a life well-lived. (It’s not like we haven’t done it before…read this, and this, and this for previous Passport to Health posts.)

So what are the Greek secrets to a healthy life? Some fairly simple stuff, as it turns out. One of the most interesting is this: napping!

Napping for health

In Greece (like many Mediterranean and warm-weather countries, like Spain, Egypt, and Italy), it’s a common thing to take a mid-afternoon siesta. To their benefit.

Researchers have cottoned on to this health habit. In a study of over 23,000 Greek men & women between ages 20 and 86, over the course of 6 years, they found that people who took a 30-minute siesta at least 3 times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related death. Other studies have corroborated this: countries where siestas are common tend to have lower levels of heart disease.

One theory why napping helps keep your heart healthy? A regular nap may help you relax more and have lower stress levels.  Or, perhaps nappers are generally getting more rest, more sleep…and there’s plenty of research to now show that getting sufficient sleep is associated with lowered blood pressure, lower rates of obesity, and improved brain health.

“Let your food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”

Sounds like a mantra for the explosive trend toward organic food, food cures, and holisitic nutrition, right? But that quote belongs to Hippocrates. 4th century BC, baby. Western medicine, you guys.

The Greeks have long practiced this principle, and now the research in favor of the Mediterranean diet is huge. Much of it surrounds the impressive benefit to our hearts. A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Medicine analyzed the results of several studies that pitted the Mediterranean diet and low-fat diets head-to-head. They found that the Mediterranean diet was more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, and brought greater improvements to blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to protect against the “big C”: many studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to reduce cancer risk.

So what, exactly, do you eat if you’re trying to go Mediterranean? Read this.

Then there’s all that walking…

Like many European cultures, walking is a way of life. When my husband and I visited the island of Santorini, we rented a Vespa one day. (Sidebar–this was so fun, I can’t even tell you. Zipping around a sun-bleached island, making pit stops at little cafes and beaches…). But when we started on the steep hill up to a famous archaeological site, which involved some rather sharp switchbacks…well, people were walking at a faster pace than we were motoring up. They were passing us on the switchbacks. This might have been a little embarrassing. Just maybe.

Anyway, the walking thing is a big deal in Greece. And I think we all know this is a good idea. Here’s how to incorporate more walking in your life.

For more Passport to Health articles, read these next:

Passport to Health: French Paradox

Passport to Slim: Weight Loss Secrets from Around The World

Passport to Health Part Deux

Passport to Health: Norway

child-sleepingIt’s rare for me to meet a parent who is unfamiliar with bedtime battles. This age-old struggle is crazy making, to be sure.

I have known a lot of trying situations in my life, but very little compares to the relentless frustration of trying to wrestle my toddler into bed, night after night.

Can you relate?

So, what if I told you there was something that may actually be at the root of all that irritating sleep trouble for your little one? Something simple, and something that can be corrected. Would you think it sounded too good to be true?

Well, if you’re curious, click over to Yummy Mummy Club and read the post I recently wrote about this. Because this one is not just me, conveying medical information. This is me, describing what was happening in my own family, and how I fixed it. It may not be the answer for you…but on the other hand, it just may be.

We-Want-ItI love dining in restaurants. I mean, delicious food professionally prepared just for me, while I relax and sip my wine…and someone else washes the dishes afterwards? Yes, please.

But…I don’t necessarily love what restaurants do to my waistline. Or my heart health. And a little carrot icon next to a supposedly-healthy menu item is totally not enough for me to make a fully informed decision.

This month–heart month, of course–I’m working together with the Heart & Stroke Foundation to help promote an important initiative, called We Want It, to let restaurants know we want this nutrition information. We’re talking calories, fat, sugar, sodium content–all those key details. Most people want this information, but many restaurants don’t realize it. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has taken this project on, in a big way. With our help they can communicate to restaurants that, although we love to dine out, we also want the ability to make healthy choices.

Are you with me? If you love to eat in restaurants, too, and you want nutrition information to be available in your favourite restaurants, you can join the movement. Visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation site  where you can join the chorus of voices asking for nutrition info. You can tell them in which restaurants you’d love to see nutrition information–and they will communicate with the restaurants on our behalf.

Also, for your viewing pleasure, check out this snazzy video by the We Want It people (FYI, the shot below was filmed in my old neighbourhood in Vancouver down by the waterfront.)

HSF-video

So it gets even better…you can win, too!

As part of this movement, I’m going to give away a $40 gift certificate to The White Spot restaurant (a Western Canada institution, and a yummy place to eat. Tuscan Chicken Pasta…enough said.)

So here’s how to enter the contest. For starters, you need to be 19+ and a BC resident. {Sorry, everyone else, this is a British Columbia movement only. For now, anyway…stay tuned!}.

There are two ways to enter:

  1. Make a comment below (or on my personal blog) to tell me about your favourite restaurant (and if they do a good job of providing healthy choices and nutrition information, all the better!).
  2. Follow me on Twitter @DrKimFoster, and simply RT one of my tweets about this contest and the We Want It movement.

The contest is open now, and will stay open until the last day of February, when I’ll randomly choose a winner from the compiled entries, and mail you your prize!

Also, if you’re not already following me on my Facebook page, you can head over there anytime because I’ll be chatting about this initiative on my wall.

Good luck!

UPDATE (March 1, 2013):

Winner selected: TONY

Thanks to everyone for participating!

valentine's dayWhether you love Valentine’s Day, or whether you loathe it…everyone can appreciate a little health boost now and then, am I right?

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand. Feeling a little guilty about your favorite indulgence? Don’t. Here’s why chocolate is good for you. (Yes, you read that right.)

And speaking of pleasurable indulgences…here’s why I prescribe hugs and kisses and squeezes this time of year (and all year-round, to be honest).

Valentine’s Day is also the perfect time to think about your heart. Your real heart, the one beating inside your chest. Heart health is something we all need to think about–not just for ourselves, but for the ones we love, too. Here’s how to keep yours going strong.

Finally, if you’re planning a special dinner this Valentine’s Day, there’s a strong chance your plan might include a nice bottle of wine. Good news there, too. Read all about the health benefits of wine, here

You’re welcome.

Love and hugs, everyone.