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October 17, 2018

Meditate on this . . .

Meditate in some way daily – even if it’s just ten to 15 minutes.

Meditation is ‘exercise’ for the brain – and it can train you to control your thoughts, especially to be able to stop the constant mind-chatter of senseless worrying. Meditation develops the ability to look inward and change an emotion you may not want to feel: anger, unhappiness, etc.

No, there is nothing wrong with feeling these emotions or being “stressed.” But dwelling for too long on worries and fears is not conducive to good health. Ongoing research continues to show us the many physical and mental benefits of keeping your cognitive cool. Each time you meditate, you strengthen your ability to decide what thoughts you want to occupy your mind with (make it ‘better’ thoughts!).

Do a variety of meditations or stick to the one you like. And incidentally, meditating doesn’t mean you have to wear sandals and beads and stare into a candle flame while chanting. Here are several “meditation” ideas that are my personal favourites:

Visualize a bright white light surrounding you and feel your body functioning perfectly and efficiently.

Relax in a warm tub, close your eyes and list all the things you are grateful for. Even if you are a very negative person you can still find many things to be grateful about: that you are alive, that you have a bathtub to relax in, that you have a roof over your head. Do you own a coffee table? Sure, be grateful for that too. Because while you are in a state of being grateful, there is absolutely no way you can be worried, afraid, angry or depressed.

Meditate as soon as you awake in the morning by thinking of all the positive things that will happen today (traffic to work will be light or you’ll find a $10 bill).

Meditate while you fall asleep at bedtime, reciting all the wonderful things that happened to you during the day (like the traffic being light or the $10 you found).

Make up your own type of meditation. Perhaps just listen to the sounds around you, without analyzing or thinking about them at all. Try to keep your mind blank. It’s actually quite fun to see how long you can do this before your mind wanders. Consider it a challenge, like a game of chess. And the longer you can do it, the better you become at being able to control your thoughts or, at the very least, avoid thinking about your troubles.

Practice makes perfect.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.



September 12, 2018

Pre-workout fuel


What’s the ideal pre workout snack? Your snack prior to exercising is ideally what you are eating year-round. If your diet is nutritious and well-balanced, you’ll be well nourished for any physical challenge.

Water is really the only macronutrient you need to be concerned about before, during, and after short duration workouts. Staying hydrated is important. But if you need an energy boost before exercise, or if the length of your activity increases, food may also become a concern.

Generally, a snack before a shorter workout of less than one hour should be about 30 minutes before and should be no more than 100 calories. Choose a small carbohydrate snack that won’t take too long to digest, like a banana, an apple, or an orange. With a short workout, you can leave the protein and healthy fat sources for after the workout, as these are more important for building and repairing the body. Carbohydrates are our preferred source of fuel.

If your workout is a few hours long, snack 40 to 90 minutes prior and eat about 150 to 200 calories. Again, carbohydrates are your preferred food choice, but you can add a bit of protein and/or fat to make the carbs last longer: apple slices with 1/4 cup cottage cheese or yogurt, or have an orange with about ten almonds. 

When you plan to exercise three hours or longer, such as a very long bike ride or long, strenuous hike, you’ll want the same timing as mentioned above (snack 40 to 90 minutes prior) but your carbohydrate choice can be a complex, slower digesting one  and it can include a bit more of a protein/fat combination to help the carbs last even longer during your activity. One suggestion is a pre-baked potato or sweet potato, with a few nuts or a cube of cheese.

Weight trainers and bodybuilders who are lifting heavy weights in their workouts may also require a small amount of protein with their high carb snack, pre workout. And be sure to have protein with your post workout carbs as well.

During very long hikes or bike rides, you can also take along some snacks to nibble on during the activity. Fresh fruit or veggies with a small amount of nuts or cheese provide high-quality carbs for energy, with a little protein, fibre and fat to slow the carb’s digestion, prolonging the energy source. And don’t forget to pack water!

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.




August 15, 2018

Don’t fear ‘anti-nutrients’

Anti-nutrients are properties in certain foods that may bind or block the efficiency or the absorption of important nutrients like calcium.

However, anti-nutrients are not something that should be avoided. They are properties designed by nature to protect the food from becoming extinct. And, for all we know, they may even have a benefit (in small amounts) for humans. We just need to limit our consumption of them or prepare the food (soak it and/or properly cook it) to reduce the anti-nutrient content or potency.

There are many anti-nutrients. The more well-known are lectins and phytates in foods such as legumes or whole grains, or oxalates found in spinach and other vegetables.

Some anti-nutrients, like lectins, may cause digestive problems or more serious health complications if consumed in excess when they are uncooked or improperly cooked. However, cooking (and especially presoaking) can reduce the lectins and phytates in foods. And it’s also sensible to eat them in smaller quantities.

Incidentally, fibre (essential for good health) and antioxidants (disease fighters) can also be considered anti-nutrients because large amounts can interfere with the assimilation of many other nutrients or functions of the body.

Choose from a variety of foods in your diet and be moderate with your consumption of ALL of them. This is the best way to obtain a wide variety of nutrients, yet keep the amount of any one food’s ‘anti-nutrient’ to a safe minimum.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.



July 04, 2018

First aid for furry family members

Pets can be like family members. However, if these family members need fast medical attention, you can’t call 911.

An ill or injured animal may need to be stabilized before taken to the veterinarian, so learning the basics of first aid may be a good idea. First aid for pets is offered through several programs, including the St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid course ( The course is designed to teach first aid skills and help overcome that helpless feeling when dealing with an injured animal. It also teaches pet owners preventive measures to lower their pet’s risk for illness and injury.

The course is suitable for anyone aged 14 or older. It is suitable for a wide variety of people: dog walkers, dog groomers, pet walkers, SPCA reps, nurses and even firefighters. The focus is primarily on domestic animals – mostly cats and dogs – although much of the information can be applied to rabbits, ferrets or even hamsters. For the St. John Ambulance course, participants are not allowed to bring their own animals, but course instructors may bring their own pet to demonstrate some of the techniques.

The course covers first aid for bleeding and wounds, shock, bone and joint injuries, eye and ear injuries, poisoning, injuries from heat and cold, birthing emergencies and teaches how to restrain and transport an injured animal. Other questions and concerns can briefly be explained if requested, such as administering medications, dealing with seizures or diabetes complications.

Participants also get instruction on airway obstruction, artificial respiration and CPR. The abdominal thrusts (for airway obstruction) are fairly similar to the technique on humans. Artificial respiration and CPR techniques are also similar to the human method, although the kiss of life is given through the nose (not the mouth) of the animal, and CPR compressions are done while the animal lies on its side.

And if that inevitable earthquake strikes, participants also learn about emergency preparedness. They learn how to include supplies for pets in an emergency kit, including any medications. Most people aren’t aware that animals are not allowed in human shelters during an emergency. They need to arrange for their pet’s care ahead of time. This can also be addressed during the course.

St. John Ambulance warns the Pet First Aid Course is not intended to take the place of a veterinarian. The course is designed to offer pet lovers the information and the skills needed to stabilize an injured animal until the vet can take over. 

St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid is a 6.5-hour one-day course, or it can be covered in two evening sessions. Participants receive a certificate.

The courses are offered through several School District Continuing Education programs. For courses offered elsewhere, or to book a course for a private group (dog clubs, etc.), contact your area’s St. John Ambulance office.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


May 2018

Pollution and the exerciser

Regular physical activity can lessen the symptoms of allergies and exercise-induced asthma (EIA). However, for those who exercise outdoors in the city, pollution and allergens (like pollen) can restrict lung function and oxygen delivery. But it’s not just those with EIA who suffer. Pollutants and airborne allergens can negatively affect anyone's health and physical performance.

Carbon monoxide exposure from heavy vehicle traffic can raise the carboxy-hemoglobin levels in a nonsmoker to that of a smoker. Vigorous or high-intensity exercise speeds the breathing rate, which increases the pollutants absorbed. Pregnant women, asthmatics, those with heart disease, the elderly and young children are the most susceptible. Children are particularly at risk because of faster metabolic rates, smaller airways, and less-matured immune systems. Children should play indoors when pollution levels are high.
Pollutants can affect your physical performance in several ways: Oxygen transport to the working muscles is restricted, causing quicker fatigue and muscle tightness and cramping in some individuals. Headaches, dizziness or nausea can also be a symptom of increased pollutant intake. Coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath may also be experienced. Pollutants and allergens can trigger severe bronchoconstriction in those with asthma or EIA.
Weather conditions also play a part in air quality. When warm winds blow into a valley or low land areas, warm air is trapped under cooler air. Vehicle exhaust also becomes trapped, and when it reacts with sunlight, ground-level ozone or smog is created. As hot, dry weather continues, air quality worsens.

GENERAL TIPS FOR OUTDOOR EXERCISERS. Outdoor exercisers in the city, such as cyclists and joggers, can avoid unnecessary exposure to pollutants and allergens like pollen, by exercising early in the morning or in the evening. Irritants are not at peak levels at these times. Check for air pollution and allergen levels online, in the newspaper or television reports. Sensitive individuals should exercise indoors when the levels are high.
If you must exercise outdoors during peak pollution times (like midday), try to avoid heavy traffic areas particularly on tree-lined streets. Trees can trap carbon monoxide. Run, walk or cycle in open, windswept areas whenever you can.

TIPS FOR SWIMMERS. Swimmers using indoor pools may be exposed to large amounts of trapped chlorine gas, which can trigger asthma symptoms. The harder and longer you swim, the more chemical you inhale or absorb through the skin. Check that your local pool is well ventilated, or swim in an outdoor pool. Chlorine dissipates in the open air.

SUGGESTIONS FOR ASTHMA SUFFERERS. For those with exercise-induced asthma (EIA), choose an activity in a warm, humid environment. Swimming outdoors is ideal. Highly strenuous activities or exercising in cold weather will provoke EIA. When exercising in the cold, cover the mouth to limit intake of cold air and pollutants. Avoid excessive mouth breathing. Breathing through the nose will warm, filter and humidify air intake. Do at least a 5-10 minute warm-up before your activity and follow the workout with a 10-minute cool down. Talk to a doctor, pharmacist or dietician about medications or nutritional supplements to reduce allergy or asthma symptoms.

CAUTIONS FOR GOLFERS. Most golf courses use large amounts of pesticides (ask them if you are concerned). Health officials recommend washing feet and changing socks after playing. If you wear your everyday footwear (athletic shoes) to golf in, be sure to remove those shoes before entering your home. Avoid contact of your hands to your mouth. Handling the golf ball, or touching sprayed grasses and plants can pass toxins into the mouth. Those highly sensitive to chemicals shouldn't eat or drink while golfing. And a final tip for all golfers – avoid chewing on your golf tee.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


April 18, 2018

Practical ideas to design your home gym

Exercising in the privacy and convenience of your own home has many advantages, including an increased chance you’ll stick with your exercise program.

Expect to spend about $500 to $1,500 for a home gym. This estimate includes all the details, like mirrors, a portable music source, stretching mats, and miscellaneous décor. But unless you plan to train for a bodybuilding competition (or want an elaborate sound system!) you can budget even lower than the lower end of the estimate.

Your designated exercise room or area should be at least 10’ x 10’. This will offer enough room for limited equipment, while still providing space for stretching or wide range-of-motion exercises (swinging of arms or side-to-side movements).

Key items in a home gym are resistance bands and hand weights (or dumbbells). These are practical items for either a small or large space. Both are inexpensive, space-saving, and can accommodate a variety of exercises for all your muscles.

Avoid buying big, bulky equipment useful for working only a few body parts. You’ll waste money and valuable space, when cheaper space-saving devices like dumbbells and resistance bands can offer a full-body workout. If your space is small but you want more complex equipment, consider items like fold-up benches, folding wall-mounted weight-stack systems, or even collapsible treadmills and exercise bikes to keep your space open and optional for other uses. If you do decide on a heavy-duty machine, be sure it’s a multi-station or multi-purpose one, able to exercise all the major muscles (chest, back, and legs).

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises can be accommodated with simple, inexpensive, and space-saving items such as a stepping bench or a skipping rope. Or simply do non-stop movements like knee raises or jumping jacks if you’d rather not buy any equipment.

Treadmills and stationary exercise bikes for cardio exercise can be costly and often require lots of space. But of the two options, a treadmill is a sensible investment for runners who regularly train and compete. However, if you aren’t a regular runner, consider this: Exercise bikes require less expense and less room than treadmills, and they can offer a wider variety of uses. Use the bike recumbently (sitting behind it) to put more stress on your hamstrings, as well as putting more stress on your quads (front of thighs) when sitting upright on the seat. Increase the pedal tension and push on the pedals, executing the “reps and sets” weight-training method to simulate a leg press machine. Or you can position the bike to pedal with your hands, giving your upper body a workout – especially when recuperating from a leg injury. (NOTE: Please get help to confirm proper technique if attempting any of these ‘improvised’ ideas!) In addition, since you can run or walk year-round outdoors, having a treadmill could be redundant!

If you aren’t knowledgeable about exercise physiology or exercise equipment, it’s wise to consult with a Certified Fitness Instructor to help plan your gym. A fitness specialist can recommend the equipment you’ll need to reach your goals, and also ensure you use it safely and for maximum results.

Generally, for best fitness results, you should plan to spend about 30 minutes, three to four times a week in your home gym. And with consistent training, you may be able to see those results in as little as one to two weeks.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. Google “Eve Lees Blog,” or visit



March 01, 2018


Many of our foods today have been altered, through natural evolution and/or by human intervention (by crossbreeding, which is NOT GMO). Wheat was also crossbred. Currently, commercially grown wheat is NOT genetically modified (but of course, that could change).

Crossbreeding can occur naturally and humans can do it as well (and a little faster than Mother Nature can). It involves combining two plants of a similar plant species. Crossbreeding does not genetically alter a plant, because gene splicing is not involved. However, the controversial method of Genetic Modification does require laboratory gene splicing – and this can’t occur naturally.

Practically all our foods today were naturally changed by nature (it’s called evolution) and many were changed by humans. And remember, crossbreeding is NOT GMO!

Our early carrots were purple, red, yellow, and white, until the familiar orange colour was developed by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Oranges didn’t exist until we created them: We crossbred a pommelo (it resembles a grapefruit) with a type of tangerine. Tomatoes and potatoes have changed. So has celery (it used to be a thin, herb-like plant – not the thick-stalked plant of today). The crab apple is the only true apple, but today there are many varieties of apples as well as pears that humans crossbred. And the wheat varieties of long ago (like Einkorn and Emmer wheat) were crossed with the hardier rye grain.

Humans created/altered all these foods listed above (and many others) long before GMO was invented. Should we stop eating these as well as the cross-bread wheat? If you won’t eat wheat because you truly believe it is questionable “Frankenwheat,” then why are you eating Frankencarrots, Frankencelery, Frankenoranges . . . ?

Wheat, like any food, should not be overeaten. But we ARE overeating wheat in the form of flour . . .

It’s not wheat or gluten specifically that should be villainized – rather, the problem is refining wheat into FLOUR. Flour is easily added to many other foods, and therefore we are overeating products that contain flour. We are overdosing on wheat in this way. Therefore, we are overdosing on gluten, which humans can’t properly assimilate in large amounts. Ideally, before we grind our whole grains into flour, we should more often eat the grains whole, cooked on the stove as you would cook rice.

It isn’t whole grain wheat berries or kernels that everyone stops eating when they go gluten free – it’s the flour-containing products like breads and cereals! Because very few people eat whole grain wheat cooked on the stove. Many don’t even know you can do that. And if we all did, there would be no complaints about gut health and gluten because you can’t overeat cooked whole grains: It takes forever to chew them and a very small amount fills you quickly. It’s FLOUR we overeat because it is in everything! We are a bread, cracker, cake, and cookie culture (and these foods are probably destroying your health more than ‘gluten’ is, which is more likely why you feel better when you stop eating ‘gluten’).

Reduce the highly processed, nutrient-depleted foods like flour and refined sugar. Stick to minimally or non-processed foods: They retain their nutrient content and THAT’s what keeps us ‘healthy’!


Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years.


Sources and more information:

Bill Nye explains GMO on youtube:

Instructions and recipes for cooking whole grains:




January 10, 2018

Is your diet slowly killing you?


Want to improve our health in the New Year?

Improve your diet!

According to Dr. Michael Greger of, “Eating the Standard American Diet today is like being a smoker back in the 1950s. Most everyone you know eats this way . . . it’s normal.”

We need to rethink that.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number one cause of disability, is diet. Poor diet has bumped tobacco smoking to number two.

Dr. Greger adds that smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year, whereas poor diet now kills hundreds of thousands more. Although these are U.S. statistics, this analysis applies to anyone following the current Western Diet of highly processed foods, including Canadians!

What is the simplest way to improve your diet? Choose to eat foods in their most natural form – whole foods changed or tampered with as little as possible. The more processed a food is, the less it provides the fundamental nutrients humans need to survive.

Avoid following popular or fad diets; we don’t know enough about the foods nature provides, or about the human body, to make “rules” about what to eat and what not to eat. Trust nature, not human created diets or foods.

Need more information on improving your diet?

Scroll through the articles in my Blog, or visit my website for more articles and free e-books on sensible eating:

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.


December 13, 2017

Fat Burning Fats?


Fat. We tend to hate that word when it relates to our bodies. However, a certain type of fat (brown fat) is getting lots of admirable attention lately.

Brown fat, commonly found in lesser amounts in the adult human, is metabolically very active because it burns energy and produces heat. In contrast, the stored body fat known as white fat acts predominantly as a storage site for energy (calories). And although white fat is just as necessary as brown fat to ensure proper functioning of our bodies, white fat isn’t as metabolically active as brown fat.

It was once believed we humans only had more brown fat as babies, and as we aged the ratio of white to brown fat increased. Remember how cold weather never seemed to bother you as a child? And how your parents always lectured you about bundling up because THEY were cold?

But now we know some adults can have high amounts of brown fat too. Research finds those with a lower body mass index (BMI) tend to have more brown fat. But everyone has at least some brown fat in particular areas or mixed together with white fat in other areas.

So, is having more brown fat a matter of genetics? Possibly. But recent findings show brown fat is activated by cold temperatures. If you aren’t blessed with lots of it, spending more time in cold temperatures can make your brown fat more active. It may even generate the growth of new brown fat cells.

Cold shower, anyone?

More good news: Some scientists suggest physical activity alone – regardless of the temperature – will produce a certain hormone (irisin) that stimulates white fat to burn as much energy as brown fat. Perhaps cold showers won’t be necessary if you stay active.

It’s no surprise drug manufacturers are creating a drug to stimulate or generate more brown fat cells. Of course, they see the potential of its effects on many health concerns, like obesity.

But the best approach is a natural one. Just be more active to stimulate all your fat cells to work properly. And perhaps, just as a little boost to whatever brown fat you may have, do your workout outside this winter!

Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years.




November 15, 2017

No need to fear lectin . . .


In his book “The Plant Paradox,” Dr. Steven Gundry warns us to avoid eating foods that contain lectin (a type of protein), also called an anti-nutrient because it may impede the absorption of other nutrients.

However, while lectins may cause some damage if overeaten and/or improperly prepared, there is strong research supporting the benefits of eating plant foods. The healthiest people and cultures have consumed lectin-containing foods as part of their regular diet for centuries, without suffering any of the many health issues Gundry attributes to ‘lectins.’

Lectins are rich in many plants and lectin levels will vary significantly in each plant or plant family. In addition, there are many different kinds of lectins. Some seem to be beneficial in fighting diseases like cancer.

All plants contain “anti-nutrients” like lectins and other protective properties. It’s nature’s way of sparing the plant from the elements, insects, diseases, and being overeaten to extinction. These foods include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables, rice, peas, tomatoes, nuts and seeds, green tea, and the list is endless. Moderation (eating small amounts) and properly preparing certain plant foods is what we need to practice – not omitting these foods. This is what Gundry et al should be teaching us.

It is also important to consider that much of the research done on lectins has been with animals or in-vitro (test tube). In addition, many of the studies have only looked at individual lectins and not the “whole” food that contains them. Therefore, we have no idea if other nutrients within a whole food may somehow buffer or alter the effects of certain properties like lectins (or even gluten).

It is inaccurate to blame any health problem on a single isolated property in one food (like lectin or gluten). This is taking that one substance out of context from the whole food. It is misleading to focus on one “part” and omit the “whole.” 

Before a lectin-free diet can be recommended for everyone, more research is needed. But so far, it looks as though this dietary advice is more a trend than a sensible or science-based practice.

For more insight: or visit

Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years.



October 07, 2017


When in Rome . . .

If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do, says Brian Wansink, professor of consumer behavior and nutritional science at Cornell University. 

Naturally slender people tend to eat slowly and are pickier about what they eat. They seem to prefer, for the most part, home-made foods rather than prepared, convenience foods.

Here’s what “spying” on naturally lean people reveals: When visiting a buffet, the slimmer patrons often scan the buffet first, while heavier visitors go straight to the serving plates. Slender people choose smaller plates, sit farther from the buffet and generally turn their backs to it. They choose very small samples of what appeals to them, and if they go back for seconds, it’s usually only for the one or two things they liked the best. They seldom choose to eat more than one dessert item from the buffet.


Tips for eating/serving foods at home:

- Serve salads and vegetables first, and leave them on the table for extra servings.

- Pre-plate the main dish (do not put it on the table in serving dishes).

- Use smaller plates no larger than 9 inches (studies show bigger plates and bowls encourage people to load up more food, even if the food is undesirable or tastes bad).

- Avoid watching television while eating. Many people tend to rely on external cues to determine when they are full or finished eating: “When the bowl or plate is empty, or when the television show is over, I can stop eating”. Many of us have lost touch with our true satiety signals. We have become mindless eaters, and watching TV while eating isn’t helping with that.

- Avoid storing more than a few soft drinks in the fridge at any time.

- Have an organized, not cluttered kitchen counter.

- Have pre-cut fruits and veggies in the refrigerator, on the middle shelf only which is directly in the line of sight for most people.

- Have about 6 individual servings of protein foods handy in the fridge (like hard-boiled eggs, milk, yogurt, left-over meats, tofu, cheese, nuts). A small amount of protein with your snack can help with satiety.

- Store snacks (junk food) in one cupboard that is inconvenient to access.

- The only food stored on the kitchen counter should be a bowl of fruit.

- When dining, turn down the music and turn up the lights, both psychological stimulants to eat less (notice they do the opposite in most restaurants?).


Children or families who are overweight tend to seldom eat breakfast, eat while watching television, and seldom eat seated at the table (they sit on the couch, stand in the kitchen, etc.).

Among ‘slender families,’ one notable habit is they more often eat at the table together as a family and remain seated until everyone has finished eating.

For more tips from Wansink, surf YouTube for “Brian Wansink – Slim By Design,” or visit this link:
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.



August 11, 2017

Fat-loss factors to consider

If your fat loss attempts just don’t seem to be working, consider the following . . .

1) STRESS. Exercise is wonderful for body, mind and soul. However, if you consider your life as very stressful (work, relationships, or a current health challenge) your body will have a hard time losing fat.

Job challenges, a poor sleep cycle, or other chronically stressful situations can raise the “stress” hormone (cortisol), one of many causes of fat storage. Elevated cortisol begins a chain reaction of effects that can make fat loss much more difficult. And adding more stress as “exercise” into the mix is just making matters worse.

Exercise is physical stress – and that can also contribute to high cortisol levels. Therefore, until you can control your reactions to stress, it’s wise to keep your exercise program at just 2-3 times weekly. Spread the sessions throughout the week to allow time for rest and recuperation. Keep the program simple and the intensity low to moderate – never intense!

To avoid boredom, use variety in cardio, weight training and stretching exercises/activities. Gentle to moderate exercise will strengthen the body and the immune system. However, pushing yourself too hard (intense exercise) will only break down tissue quicker than your already-stressed body can repair it. In addition, intense exercise will temporarily shut down your immune system.

Any psychological stress you are faced with needs to be dealt with. It’s important to learn to control your reaction to stressful situations. The situation itself is not “stressful”; it’s how you react to it. Stress releases cortisol and cortisol out of balance will impede fat loss. Get help. Seek counselling, a support group, and find a good listener. Learn relaxation and mind control techniques like meditation, visualization, or deep breathing. Perhaps practice Tai Chi or Yoga.

2) LOW CALORIES. Exercise is just a small part of achieving good health. It’s actually proper nutrition that supports and fuels your physical movements, your recovery and your good health in general.

Nutrition is the foundation that “exercise” builds upon. But if your exercise frequency, duration and intensity are more than your current fuel and nutrient intake can handle, your body will strive to retain balance or homeostasis. Often, this means it will hold on to your weight (your fat stores). This is a built-in survival mechanism.

Avoid starving yourself. Not only do you need the right amount of calories to fuel your daily activities (as well as your exercise program!), but you also need adequate calories to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to sustain LIFE. There is no way you are getting the necessary amounts of calcium, potassium, or any other nutrient you need, on 500 calories per day. Your body needs at least 1100 calories daily just to fuel your body’s functions when you are sitting there, doing nothing! By adding your daily movements and an exercise program, you will need much more than 1100 calories -- or your body will fight to keep you alive by hanging on to stored body fat. It will sacrifice your muscle tissue instead, for energy.

There are many calorie calculators available online that can help you determine the general amount of calories you need daily for your size, sex and activity level. Or follow your intuition: Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. And focus on whole, naturally-produced foods, not those nutrient-depleted processed food items that humans have tampered with!

3) HORMONE IMBALANCES. The hormone leptin is associated with feelings of satiety. Indirectly, it also controls our body’s rate of fat loss. If you under eat (which most of us do, when we want to lose body fat), your body produces less leptin which will ultimately impede your fat loss.

Another hormone that commonly goes out of balance is insulin. Our bodies produce insulin in response to a rise in blood sugar, especially after eating highly processed carbohydrates. The best way to deal with insulin imbalance is to avoid eating the quickly-digested highly refined carbs and stick to small amounts of the healthier, whole-food form of complex carbs (root vegetables and cooked whole grains).

Having another high-fibre food with your vegetables or grains is also a way to help balance insulin’s secretion and effectiveness; such as adding small amounts of legumes or flax seed to your meals.

Cortisol is another “stress” hormone vital for life but can become imbalanced with poor lifestyle habits. When a “stressed” body produces high amounts of cortisol, it eventually slows metabolism and therefore slows fat loss. It’s important to understand that exercise also creates stress – physical stress – which will only hamper your fat loss attempts even more.

IN SUMMARY: For those suffering ongoing stress, it is best to place a major priority on nutrition, adequate sleep, and controlling your reaction to stressful situations. Exercise is still necessary, but take it easy and pace yourself. This will have a greater impact on balancing hormones and enabling fat loss.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer.



July 95, 2017

Gradual approach best for increasing metabolism

Metabolism is the process of all the chemical reactions that occur in the cells of every living organism to sustain life. It also involves transforming your food into fuel, allowing your body to burn calories, store energy, and build your body structure.

You are a living organism, therefore you need an energy source to function and survive. Food is the only way we can acquire this energy. When our bodies are balanced and healthy, we have an adequate metabolism, able to fuel and meet all the demands our bodies require. However, poor lifestyle habits and environmental factors can slow our metabolism. We become unable to efficiently use and store the energy from the foods we eat. As a result, we become more efficient at storing our fuel as fat.

Many factors can slow our metabolism besides poor diet and nutrition. This includes lack of exercise, hormone imbalances (which can be caused by poor diet!), certain medications, chemical and industrial pollutants, stress, and sleep loss.

However, with patience and knowledge, it’s possible to boost your metabolism. It may not happen quickly – particularly if you’ve been metabolically slow for some time, and that’s why “patience” is highly recommended. Educating yourself is also very important. Many myths circulate about diet and how your body functions (physiology) – especially given today’s popularity of the internet and social media.

We need to learn that many popular diets – especially those too low in calories – and poor quality foods that are highly processed and refined, do more harm than good to our bodies. As a result, this can affect the quality of life: Sleep loss, inability to control reactions to challenges (stress), chronic fatigue affecting desire and energy to exercise, and many other drawbacks which are all major contributors to slowing metabolism.

By practising patience and using a gradual approach to learning new lifestyle habits, you can be successful in speeding your sluggish metabolism.

Join the 8-week “Boost your Metabolism” Program . . .

I’m offering an eight-week “Boost your Metabolism” program. There’s no cost to participate and you work privately, at your own pace; this isn’t a “group” event. Once a week, for eight weeks, I supply a practical tip to incorporate into your day. It’s a fun way to learn about and develop new habits that may help rev up your metabolism.

You can access the tips on my Blog by Googling “Eve Lees Blog.” Look for the featured Blog, “Tip #1: Boost your metabolism 8-week program.” Or here is a direct link:

Try out the 8-week program. Have fun with it. Consider it an investment toward a healthy future. Following healthy habits is the best kind of life insurance you can get!

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.




June 07, 2017

Eating right ensures a healthy gut


A poor balance of “gut bacteria” is being linked to almost every known health problem. And it certainly makes sense. Without balanced intestinal microbiota we can't absorb many of the nutrients from our food. This weakens our immune system (among other things) and makes us susceptible to many health problems.

This focus on gut health is making “fermented foods” increasingly popular, even though they have been around for a long time. Fermented foods can encourage and maintain balanced gut microbiota.

But surprisingly, no one seems to question why we need to focus on fermented foods in the first place.

Fermented foods (created by humans, by the way) are merely treating the symptoms of a poor diet. We need to get to the real root of the problem: Fix our diets.

Our diet is rich in human-altered, highly refined foods that ruin the balance of our gut bacteria, or at the very least contribute nothing beneficial to it.

Nature gave us foods like vegetables as the perfect, natural probiotic (stimulates growth of beneficial bacteria). And many vegetables, along with other whole, natural foods also act as prebiotics (food for the probiotics). Yet few of us eat lots of vegetables – or a diet rich in whole, unchanged foods.

I’m not cutting down fermented foods. Eat them if you like them. Many are very nutritious. But you have a very narrow focus if you believe eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotic/prebiotic supplements is solving your health problem. You are just treating the symptoms, not permanently addressing the underlying issue: Your overall diet. And an untreated health issue may snowball into other health problems in the future.

In addition, it’s never a good idea to rely on or become obsessed with one food or type of food – like fermented foods – to improve health. It’s the balance and variety of all whole food sources that ensures good health, not the magical properties of a few superfoods. All whole foods are really superfoods in that their differing nutrients work together as a team to ensure our survival.

Eat a wide variety of whole, real foods. Foods retain their nutrients when they are altered as little as possible by humans. They also retain their “mysterious” functions in our bodies, which we do not yet fully understand.

We haven’t identified everything in our foods or how they ‘work’ in the human body. And if we don’t understand it, how can we change it or make it better? Therefore, the original designer of our food sources and our bodies (Mother Nature) is who we should trust. Not someone in a laboratory wearing a white coat. And not someone selling you a product or supplement (like fermented foods and probiotics).

Use common sense in your quest for good health. Eat real, whole foods. The way nature intended.

​​And everything in your gut should balance out nicely.

Eve Lees has been active in the Health & Fitness Industry for over 35 years. She is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. 




May 10, 2017

Can You Isolate and “flatten” The Lower Abs With Exercises?

Having a protruding lower belly encourages many to do exercises targeting the lower abdominals (abs). 

However, it’s impossible to completely isolate the upper abs from the lower abs, even if it feels like you are. Muscle contraction is all or none; a muscle can’t contract just in certain areas. In addition, the four muscles in your abdominal area are not independent. They all work together as a team; you can’t train one part without affecting all of them.

The best way to affect the muscles in the entire abdominal area is to practice a wide variety of movements, including those that seem to work the lower abs more. So don’t focus only on the so-called lower ab exercises, like the reverse crunch or hanging leg raises, where the lower body moves toward the upper body (unlike crunches or sit-ups where the upper body flexes forward). Include various exercises in your abdominal routine.

However, the “lower ab” exercises do offer more tension on the tendons in the lower part of the muscle (tendons attach muscle to bone), just as “upper ab” exercises put more tension on the tendons that attach muscle to bone in the upper part of the muscle. Tendon strength is important too, although it won’t necessarily make a visible difference in the appearance of your tummy bulge.

To activate or place more “stress” on the lower abdominal tendons, maintain a pelvic tilt during the action (ask a certified fitness instructor about proper technique). Avoid mindlessly swinging your legs. Concentrate on feeling the lower portion of your abs doing all the work.

Lower abdominal bulge is often due to subcutaneous body fat. In which case, a sensible diet and being regularly active will utilize that stored fat – not doing endless abdominal exercises (which is primarily just affecting your muscle strength).

However, if you already have low body fat, but still have a bulge under your navel, there are many contributing factors to explore. Certain health conditions, like bladder inflammation or infection, can contribute to protruding lower abdominals. Food allergies or sensitivities and poor digestion can also affect the distension of the abdominal area.

Consider also how many refined sugars and other highly processed foods you eat (which can affect the health of your intestinal flora and your digestive abilities). Other factors to think about: How much you eat at one sitting, how quickly you eat and drink, and how thoroughly you chew your food. All these can contribute to that annoying tummy bulge!

Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.



April 11, 2017

Choose food – not silver – as medicine

Colloidal Silver is a dietary supplement in which silver particles are suspended in a liquid. Advocates boast of this mineral’s cure-all properties: An immune system booster, fights bacteria and viruses, and treats cancer and many other disorders.

They also warn humans are suffering from a “silver deficiency.”

However, silver is not an essential nutrient, so we can’t be deficient in it: Silver has no biological use in the human body.

Colloidal Silver can be used externally; it’s an effective antibacterial and antiviral. It’s sometimes used to sterilize medical equipment. But don’t get external use confused with internal use. We don’t know enough about using Colloidal Silver internally. And we are all different: You have no idea what your tolerable level really is. At the very least you may risk turning your skin bluish-grey (you can’t undo this, by the way) – and at the very worst, you may risk renal failure.

If you are seeking an antiviral and antibacterial to lower your risk of illness, simply eat better. Food is medicine. We need to break away from our “pop-a-pill-or-take-a-potion” mentality. Getting a wide variety of nutrient-rich plant foods is our best defence against any illness.

But if you can’t immediately break from this pill-taking society we’ve created, then stick with plants our bodies were designed to ingest – such as medicinal herbs like oregano and ginger . . . and there are many others. Take those in pill form, if you must (and eat them in their food form as well). These plants have all the same health-boosting properties of “silver.” Better safe, than sorry (or turning blue).

If you disagree with me about Colloidal Silver, fine. But please do your research. Many of us choose to only regard the studies and articles that confirm what we want to believe. We ignore or overlook the views that conflict with our beliefs.

Review both sides of all issues with an open mind. And then make your decision.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.



March 08, 2017

Should you avoid plants in the nightshade family?


The Nightshade plant family includes foods such as tomatoes, red peppers, eggplant and white potatoes. Some people react to the glycoalkaloids they contain, which is likened to a “bug repellant” – nature’s design to protect the plant.

However, glycoalkaloids can cause inflammation in some individuals, particularly those with compromised immune systems, intensifying digestive and other related autoimmune problems. It’s recommended those with rheumatoid arthritis, gluten intolerance, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or any form of leaky gut syndrome should be careful consuming nightshades: The bug-repelling properties of glycoalkaloids can weaken an already weak cell membrane. However, everyone is different: Experiment with the different plants and the amounts you eat.

Plant foods in the nightshade family include eggplants/aubergines, goji berries, potatoes (not sweet potatoes), red peppers and most other peppers (including bell peppers, sweet peppers, chili peppers, jalapenos, pimentos), tamarillos, tomatillos, tomatoes.

Less common nightshade plants are ashwagandha (or winter cherry), bush tomatoes (native to Australia), cape gooseberries (or ground cherries, different from regular cherries), cocona fruit, garden huckleberries (different from regular huckleberries), kutjera (a type of tomato), naranjillas (a type of orange), pepino fruit.

Spices/Seasonings considered nightshades: Many spice blends including cayenne pepper, chili pepper flakes, chili powder,  curry powder, curry spice powder, Hot Sauce, Ketchup (and BBQ Sauce), paprika or capsicum spice, red pepper flakes, Steak Seasoning.

The nightshades all differ in their levels of glycoalkaloid. Peppers have a lower level than the other nightshades. Unripe tomatoes are the richest, but the levels decrease as the tomato ripens (this is a stage when the plant needs to attract bugs – not repel them – to help cross-pollinate). The skin of white potatoes contains the highest levels of glycoalkaloid (especially the greener they are), but peeling them reduces the levels greatly. Incidentally, sweet potatoes, yams, and taro are not in the nightshade family.

Glycoalkaloids are heat-stable, particularly in potatoes. Therefore cooking will not affect the levels to any significant degree.

The properties in the nightshade family tend to affect those with autoimmune disorders more than the average person. If you experience joint inflammation and pain from arthritis, it’s recommended to try a nightshade elimination diet for 30 days. You may be sensitive to only one or two of the nightshade plants – or it could be the total amount you are eating from any source that’s more of a concern.

If you eat nightshades regularly and experience frequent bloating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or headaches, try omitting them for a short time, and introducing them back one at a time to gauge your reaction. Or simply moderating your intake may be enough.

What is NOT advised is to eliminate these nutritious plants from your diet because of fear. Adopting the “good food” “bad food” mentality is not wise. It is more sensible to reduce the amounts of all foods you eat and choose from a wide variety of them.

All plants contain a natural toxin, similar to the Nightshade family. It’s nature’s unique design to protect the plant from the elements and from extinction, so it’s wise not to overeat them for this reason alone. However, eating small amounts is also a good idea because every plant also provides many nutrients (known and unknown) to keep us healthy. Eliminating any plant, without a sound medical reason, is risking nutrient deficiencies. As is eating a limited variety of foods.

Gluttony contributes to illness: Overeating is common to many of us – as well as tending to eat the same food choices each day. Practice variety, moderation and balance in your food choices.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.



February 09, 2017

Why do we crave chocolate?


There is a definite connection between food and emotions. Chocolate is a food commonly craved. However, science can’t pinpoint exactly why we’d brave a snowstorm for a chocolate bar, but not for asparagus.

Obviously, chocolate's appealing taste is a big factor. And while you enjoy your chocolates this Valentine’s Day, consider the several other theories behind chocolate cravings.

Caffeine. Chocolate contains caffeine that -- with other elements in chocolate -- can affect mood. However, its caffeine content alone isn’t substantial. An average chocolate bar has 10-20 milligrams of caffeine, while six ounces of coffee can supply as much as 175 mg.

Phenylenthylamine (PEA) is a substance in chocolate that occurs naturally in the brain and may have a role in emotional arousal. Experts suspect it’s the PEA in chocolate that causes certain people to crave the treat when they’re depressed. The theory is still being researched.

Theobromine, another stimulant in chocolate, may also elevate mood, claim some researchers -- but only mildly, say others. This theory also needs more research. Theobromine has similar effects on the body as caffeine; increased heart rate and energy level.

Nutritional deficiencies. When hormones (like insulin, cortisol, and estrogen) are changing or out of balance, cravings are strongest. For example, many women experience food cravings just before menstruation. Hormone imbalances can be corrected by dietary changes to boost nutrient intake, especially removing all the highly refined and nutrient-depleted foods like sugars. Some experts suspect people who crave certain foods are trying to correct a chemical or nutritional imbalance. Cocoa is a rich source of magnesium, making some researchers wonder if chocolate bingers could be magnesium-deficient. But devils’ advocates point out if magnesium deficiency caused the craving, why doesn’t the body crave other magnesium-rich foods -- like spinach?

Allergies.  Some health experts believe people often crave foods they are allergic or sensitive to. Chocolate, or cocoa, is a common allergen, triggering migraine headaches in some people. Allergic reactions from chocolate can also be caused by its other ingredients; dairy products, nuts, fruit, liquor or other additives, flavorings and preservatives. Those allergic to chocolate can try substituting with products made from carob (a bean that’s caffeine-free) or white chocolate. White chocolate is really not chocolate at all. It’s made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids and vanilla. It has no caffeine because it doesn’t contain any chocolate liquor -- the thick dark paste left after cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa bean. Unfortunately, white chocolate has the same amount of calories, fat, and sugar as brown chocolate.

Anandamide. Research shows chocolate contains small amounts of anandamide, which is produced naturally in the brain. This chemical activates the same areas in the brain that marijuana does. Combined with other chemicals, like caffeine, anandamide can mimic the effects of marijuana. However, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute of San Diego stress the effects are much milder than those caused by marijuana. Researcher Daniele Piomelli says his work doesn’t imply chocolate is as stimulating as marijuana: An average-sized adult would have to inject the equivalent of about five pounds of chocolate, at one time, to get the marijuana-like effects.

Carbohydrates.  Chocolate treats contain sugar, a simple carbohydrate. Carbohydrates release serotonin from the brain, a hormone that has a calming effect. This theory seems to make sense because food cravers most often want high-carbohydrate or sugar-rich foods; no one has fantasies about eating unsweetened chocolate.

Psychologically soothing. For many people, chocolate can simply be a comfort food, associated with happy childhood memories. However, using the food as an escape from stress or depression isn’t getting to the root of the problem. If foods like chocolate become a regular coping tool, find other ways to relieve stress and/or improve your mood. If you can't control the craving, talk about it or get counselling.

There is one other theory about food cravings that has been proven: Getting a hug from your “Valentine” is just as mood-lifting as eating chocolates.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


January 04, 2017


Good health is simply good chemistry

A nutrition message for 2017 . . .


The foods we eat are a complex mass of chemicals. Our bodies are also complex masses of chemicals. These chemicals in our food and our bodies work together to ensure we function and operate normally.
The chemicals in our food/water/air are the tools (nutrients, etc.) that we require to survive; to keep our bodies operating efficiently.

Unfortunately, when we change our food (process it) we change its chemistry. This can change how our bodies “read” the food and may affect how we absorb and utilize it. As our bodies try to figure out how to deal with this unfamiliar, changed chemistry, it becomes more work for the body. More work is more stress.

Constant stress over time can be health-robbing. In addition, depriving ourselves of the unchanged, unprocessed “tools” we need to function will also ruin our health. As we age, we become less and less able to deal with this malnutrition. Digestive stress and all types of discomfort and illness begin to develop.

And as we continue to age, these health problems snowball into more and bigger problems. Until we are at the point where walking, talking, and thinking become very difficult. Our body finally has to say; “I give up. I can’t deal with this abuse any longer!”
We call this aging.

But this extreme response does NOT have to happen. Making better food choices is a big factor in slowing the many symptoms we inaccurately attribute to aging.

You don’t have to drastically change your eating habits. Or become a born-again fanatic about it. Simply become aware of making better food choices. More often, opt for an apple instead of a cookie or snack bar. Add an extra vegetable (or two) to your meals. Cut back on the soft drinks and more often choose a healthier alternate instead, like water with lemon.
Choose to begin 2017 by practicing healthful eating habits. Make it an investment for your future.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


December 08, 2016

The latest study says . . . we are sadly misinformed!

There’s tons of health misinformation everywhere, especially on the internet. Even newspapers, magazines, radio and T.V. news may not tell the whole story – mostly because the reporters who receive the press releases about the “latest health study” may lack an understanding of human physiology and the science of nutrition – so they will misinterpret and inaccurately report the findings to you.

What can you do? Most important is never to immediately believe what you hear. Question it. Always. Misinformation perpetuates because we do not question it. If the public would have questioned the gluten-free diet, it would not have become as popular as it is today. Same for the low-carb diet, oxygenated water, cellulite creams, detox diets, weight loss teas . . . the examples are endless.
A few months ago, the media reported a poor diet is now believed to be a cause of acne. Sadly, this isn’t really news – it’s just that the medical and dermatology fields never believed it in the past. While those who understood nutrition always knew poor diet is among the major causes of poor skin health.

But I digress.

Getting back to the concern of misinformation and inaccuracy . . . the “acne” report stated skim milk was linked to causing acne, more so than whole milk. The report failed to mention that healthy fats (as found in whole milk) are necessary for healthy skin. Now we risk a knee-jerk reaction of many people switching from skim to whole, because whole milk is said to be better for the skin: Ergo, whole milk must be “healthier”.

Whole milk is definitely a smart choice for those needing a healthy source of fat in their diet. But it’s not the only good source for fat. Skim milk is higher in calcium than whole milk, and much lower in fat. This makes skim milk a wise choice for those concerned about bone health or those wanting to lower their body fat.

So if we questioned that “acne” study, we would have discovered that healthy fats contribute to great skin – not whole milk, per se. Therefore, we really don’t have to stop drinking skim milk if we are concerned about our skin health. All we have to do it make sure we are choosing to eat more healthy sources of fat. Avoid or reduce fried foods and margarine, and more often enjoy foods like nuts and seeds, avocado, fish and eggs.

Incidentally, studies show a correlation. They do not prove causation. (So think about that when the next alcohol or coffee study circulates.) It’s not wise to change your lifestyle habits based solely on someone’s research.

When the next news report comes around about some new finding (like a sure-fire diet, or a practice that will improve your health) always question it. Avoid blindly following the latest news. It’s the only way we can stop the misinformation and be able to make an informed decision.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer. For more health info, follow Eve on Facebook or visit



November 03, 2016

pH balance: Can diet make you ‘acidic’?

Eve Lees


Among the many highly debated health topics, is the belief your body can become acidic from eating acid-forming foods, like meats and grains . . . and that being ‘acidic’ is linked to poor health. These assumptions are partly right and partly wrong, because they have been extremely simplified. Your body’s alkalinity or acidity – your pH balance – is a very confusing, complicated process.

Can we become acidic? Well . . . yes and no. Yes, because if you eat an acid-forming food, like meats or grains, a pH test might indicate you are ‘acidic’ until your body eliminates the acid residue (therefore, you can be very healthy, yet still test ‘acidic’). And, most likely no: Your body has many differing pH levels. It precisely maintains the levels of its many systems, so unless you have organ failure or were poisoned, it's difficult to become entirely ‘acidic’. If you were, you could not function normally: You wouldn’t be sitting here reading this. You would most likely be severely ill, perhaps in the hospital – or dead.

Your body is designed to maintain the many differing pH levels required in various areas of your body. The human body (including all its pH levels) is not static – everything is constantly changing to maintain homeostasis, or ‘balance’. There are several metabolic pathways that carefully monitor and adjust your pH levels in response to diet, stress, exercise, and many other factors. If this didn’t happen, you’d die.

The confusion about acid/alkaline balance can perhaps be attributed to the simplified mindset that being acidic is ‘bad’ and being ‘alkaline’ is good. Actually, our bodies are a balance of both, as are our foods – that’s nature’s design. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, you can be temporarily ‘acidic’ but not ill, or you can test ‘alkaline’, yet still have poor health.

Another reason for the confusion is not understanding the difference between symptom and cause.

If you use a pH test strip to test your urine or saliva, and it reads acidic, this is a symptom that you recently ate an acid-forming food (generally categorized as meats and grains). The food was the cause of that symptom. If you are healthy, and eating a balanced diet which includes lots of alkaline-forming foods (predominantly fruits and vegetables), this symptom of ‘acidity’ is temporary. No need to worry. But if you are not regularly eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, you may want to investigate that acidity symptom so as not to cause poor health in the future.

The underlying cause of your symptom (the acidity) was your poor diet. But many choose to treat the symptom instead, with a heavy focus on alkaline-forming foods, alkaline water, and other alkalizing products.

Here’s the problem with treating the symptom only: While it will definitely change and correct your test results (and perhaps make you feel better, only because you increased your plant consumption!), you haven’t really addressed the underlying cause of your abnormal levels. You haven’t learned anything. The underlying issue wasn’t corrected because you simply put a band aid on the problem. This is similar to blood pressure and cholesterol testing. Like pH testing, these tests can be used to measure your health. A poor test result may be an indication of poor health, but not the cause of it. Yet many doctors immediately prescribe drugs to reduce high levels of cholesterol or hypertension (the symptoms) failing to investigate the cause of why those levels became high in the first place.

When testing your urine/saliva pH, acidity is the symptom. You need to treat the underlying cause of that symptom: poor diet. Therefore, choose to eat a balanced diet of both alkaline and acid-forming foods, because it was the imbalance that initially caused your ‘acidic’ test results and/or your poor health. Following an ‘alkaline only’ diet again limits your variety of nutrients, just as it did with the ‘acidic’ diet. Both can create other health problems over time.

A healthy diet is a major factor in maintaining a balance in health – including the balance of your pH levels. The focus should be on moderation, variety and balance in your food choices. You do not need to eat only alkaline-forming foods, use costly alkalizing products . . . or learn to test your pee.

We are designed to operate with a healthy balance of both an acid and alkaline pH, thus we can include acid-forming foods – whole grains, nuts & seeds, and some fish or meat if you like – they all contribute valuable nutrients to keep you alive. So don’t worry about having salmon or quinoa (both ‘acid-forming’), especially if you accompany them with a generous serving of vegetables and perhaps fruit for dessert (both ‘alkaline-forming’). Our diet should be a balance of acid and alkaline foods. (But personally, I like to advise leaning a bit more toward the alkaline side, due to their high fibre and other nutrients – so eat lots of veggies!)

It’s obvious how healthy and balanced your diet is, just by looking at it. You don’t need a urine test to determine that. Do you even eat vegetables? How many? How often? Do you eat fruit daily? Are you having these plant-based foods at every meal? A truthful answer to these questions trumps the need to test your pee. If you aren’t eating plant foods – or if you are regularly flunking your urine tests – that’s a darn good indication you aren’t getting a lot of variety in your diet; specifically the plant foods. Thus, you are missing vital nutrients your body needs to function efficiently.

Nutrients are the tools your body requires to keep you alive. Deprive yourself of any nutrient and you’ll get sick. These are simple facts that many people just don’t ‘get’ (and why we continually fall for diet myths). Being ‘acidic’ is not the issue you need to be concerned with – the root of the problem is malnutrition.

Your body will become malnourished if all the nutrients you need are not being supplied. If you are malnourished, you’ll become ill in some way. And yes, that can include getting cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Fruits and vegetables offer the most anti-oxidants (disease fighters) and other phytochemicals vital to ensure good health. Recent discoveries about plant fibre in particular, shows it is a major contributing factor to the health of our intestinal ‘gut’ bacteria – which has been revealed as vital for the health of the immune system. However, the average person doesn’t eat enough plant foods; at least two servings of vegetables at every meal (including breakfast!).

It’s unfortunate that acid-forming foods are the bulk of our typical Western Diet, because this only fuels the belief that acidity equals poor health: The average person eats lots of meats, dairy products, caffeine, as well as plenty of highly processed stuff like sugar, salt, flour, hydrogenated fats, etc. Grains are slightly acid-forming, and we eat far too many refined grain products. We are a sandwich culture: Bread, buns, pastas and other flour-containing products constitute a large part of the average person’s diet. The problem is many of these foods (especially the highly processed ones) offer few, if any, nutrients. Because our diet has such a focus on the above mentioned foods, we limit nutrient variety, and suffer poor health. Therefore, it’s no wonder many believe acidity means illness.

If you continue to follow the typical Western Diet, over time, the limited food variety will deprive you of so many nutrients. Without adequate nutrition to help your body function normally, it won’t be able to handle the added abnormal workload of neutralizing your pH levels. Your body will soon become exhausted.

Eventually, this ongoing, exhausting work leads to other health complications, perhaps involving your kidneys and maybe your bone health. You may also risk muscle loss, aching joints and chronic inflammation. By the way, does this slowly-evolving series of health issues sound familiar? It should. We call it “aging” – or what many of us recognize as aging. In my opinion, this gradual progression to poor health (aging) can be slowed enormously with a sensible diet.

You just need to use common sense: Quit eating the junk (processed foods) and eat more veggies. For those with mild health complaints, just taking these two simple steps will reap significant improvements. Even those with serious disorders like cancer should be very careful about limiting nutrients with any restricted-variety diet. This is definitely not the time to restrict nutrients! There’s no need to limit your food variety to only alkaline-forming foods. Focus on getting rid of the junk, and eat a wide variety of natural, wholesome foods.

Incidentally, I’m not criticizing The Alkaline Diet, as it does encourage eating more plants and allows a selection of acidic-forming foods, so it can be a healthy food plan to follow. My comments throughout this article referred to eating ONLY alkaline-forming foods, and omitting all acid-forming ones. However, my concern with the Alkaline Diet is it may encourage the good-food-bad-food mentality; that acid foods are bad and alkaline foods are good. Some people may choose to restrict or omit many healthful food choices, risking their good health over time. In this case, you would not be healthy because of poor nutrition, yet your pH tests may read alkaline because you are still eating alkaline-forming foods. And in the reverse situation, as mentioned earlier, you can be healthy, yet still test as ‘acidic’ after eating acid-forming foods. This shows how inaccurate it is to connect good or bad health to your pH balance.

In summary:
‘Acidity’ is how you interpret it: You can overreact, or you can relax and realize it normally happens from time to time. It really isn’t a sentence of poor health. But it is a symptom – possibly a warning to smarten up.
Treating the symptom (acidity) with ingesting only stuff that’s ‘alkaline’ is not fixing the problem. If you regularly test ‘acidic’ then obviously your diet is lacking in variety because you are eating only a select type of food (in this case, the more acid-forming ones). You need more nutrition – more food variety. But eating only alkaline-forming foods is the same as eating mostly acid-forming foods. You are again limiting your nutrients, and you’ll still risk future poor health.
You achieve ‘pH balance’ simply by eating healthful, real foods and choosing from a wide variety of them. This provides all the tools your body needs to keep you balanced; to keep you healthy.

All whole natural (non-processed) foods should be included in your diet. This is your only guarantee you are getting all the nutrients (known and unknown) you need to survive. Perhaps follow Michael Pollan’s simple rule: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

A former newspaper editor, Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach and has been a Health Researcher, Writer & Speaker for over 30 years.



Eve Lees is a health writer for several publications and has been a Fitness & Nutrition Counsellor for over 30 years.



September 2016


Losing weight, gaining skin?

You’ve reached your dieting goal. Bravo! But now you have another concern. Slack skin. Rolls of it. Ugh.

If you’ve gained and lost 40 to 50 percent more than your ideal body weight, it may be difficult (and for some, unlikely) for skin to regain its original elasticity. However, for some of us, depending on certain conditions, there is still hope loose skin may eventually tighten up.

The younger you are, the slower you gained the weight and the slower you lost it will make regaining skin tone much easier. Good genetics regarding your skin helps too, but unfortunately we can’t pick our parents.

Quick weight loss and yo yo dieting (continually gaining and losing large amounts of weight) can aggravate the extra skin problem. It is important to lose no more than one pound per week and regular exercise is recommended to avoid too much slack in the skin as you lose weight. When you burn fat through exercise, the circulation to the muscle bed increases, helping to maintain skin tone.

An adequate diet, providing all the essential nutrients we need for healthy skin is also advised. Skin health relies on the omega 3 fatty acids (fish are a rich source) and the antioxidants (especially vitamin C), as well as the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Severe calorie restriction will not guarantee you are getting your required nutrients. Exercise regularly and keep the calories up, just cut back on too much fat, like deep fried foods and foods rich in trans fats. Be aware of the type of fat you are eating. Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and foods such as fish, fresh coconut and avocado provide healthier sources of fat and other nutrients for your skin.

High levels of processed carbohydrates (carbs) in the diet have also been found to contribute to poor skin health, so omit the processed refined carbs, and stick to the highly nutritious carbs in their natural form (eat more cooked, whole grains, instead of bread!).

Keeping your body hydrated will also keep your skin adequately hydrated, which may reflect in a more toned and firmer appearance of your skin. Drink adequate water and avoid or reduce anything that can dehydrate your body, like caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and high protein diets. Carbohydrates (carbs) help lock water into your muscles, so you need just enough carbs to maintain adequate hydration in your body. The drawback to the low carb diets (Atkins, South Beach, etc.) is the body becomes dehydrated, contributing to wrinkled, loose skin.

Excess skin can be removed surgically, but wait until your weight goal has been achieved and stabilized for six to nine months. And try to follow the good health practices mentioned in this article. If you are feeding it adequately, your skin can continue to tighten for an entire year. Your patience could help avoid unnecessary surgery.

Eve Lees is a health writer for several publications and was a Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness Counsellor for 30 years. Visit



August 2016

Don’t Deny Your health

We humans are in denial.

We smoke and deny it’s killing us. We eat high-fat foods and deny the plaque building in our arteries. We drink alcohol for heart health, but deny it’s killing our brain cells. We eat nutrient-depleted ‘fast foods’ at almost every meal and deny its long-term consequences on our health.

Currently our health care system is a 90% focus on treating disease and disorder. Only 10% goes toward preventing it. We are all to blame for this (and we’re in denial of this as well).

Each of us has the choice to create good physical and mental health. Make that choice now. Choose to take better care of yourself . . .

Stop smoking . . . Beware of alcohol and caffeine . . . Drink water . . . Play catch with the kids . . . Eat more fruits and vegetables . . . Avoid processed, refined foods, especially sugar . . . Get off your butt and go for a walk . . . Fill your heart and entire body with feelings of love. Project that love outward, even to those who offend you . . . Reduce the unhealthy fats in your diet; eat more nuts and seeds instead . . . Say goodbye to fried foods and hello to baked potato. . . Protect your skin from too much sun . . . Think positive thoughts . . . Stop being so damned negative . . . Chew your food well . . . Don’t deprive yourself of sleep . . . Laugh often. Laugh at the serving sizes in Canada’s Food Guide because you know you eat way more than that. Learn and practice those serving sizes . . . Don’t litter . . . Take your holidays . . . Be honest . . . Use avocado instead of butter or margarine . . . Learn relaxation techniques or enjoy a hobby . . . Take breaks often to clear your mind of all thoughts. Listen to your heart beating. Concentrate on your breathing . . . Love yourself . . . Say NO to super-sized anything including popcorn and soda . . . Stop in the middle of any task and look at that tree, that flower, your own hand  and really LOOK at it: See its perfection, its beauty . . . Eat winter squash and try other foods new to your diet . . . Hang out with positive-thinking, supportive friends: Be one yourself . . . Cut down on desserts . . . Give freely of your time, money and possessions because generosity comes back tenfold . . . Take deep breaths . . . Go outside and appreciate nature: Stop destroying it . . . Snack on an apple not a candy bar . . . Tell your spouse/kid/parent/sibling/relative/friend you love them. DO IT NOW . . . Quit working yourself to death for more “stuff”: Your friends aren’t your friends just because of your flashy car or designer clothes and if they are GET NEW FRIENDS.

Don’t deny it; every moment of every day you are presented with choices and you make choices. Choose the one offering the greatest health benefit. It’s as simple as that.

For over 30 years, Eve Lees has been a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer for several publications. Follow her on Facebook or visit             


July 2016

You are what you think

Your thoughts predict and affect your health. Scientists and researchers are beginning to understand exactly how.

The mind and body are one system, working together. We experience this when we feel our stomach churn when we imagine a disaster. We feel it when our hearts beat faster thinking of someone we love, or how we salivate when we think of tasty foods. Thought becomes sensation; thinking creates action.

Thoughts have physical effects on our bodies in three ways; through the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system.

The autonomic system or nervous system is an intricate web running though our bodies. It’s divided into the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system is our energizer, allowing us to meet challenges or dangers, stimulating the adrenal glands to secrete norepinephrine and epinephrine to increase our heartbeat and breathing. The parasypmathetic system does the opposite; it relaxes and calms.

The endocrine system is made up of the hormone-secreting organs, like the pituitary and adrenal glands. These hormones regulate our growth, sexuality and activity level.

The immune system keeps us healthy by protecting us from outside antigens (bacteria and viruses) and from tumor cells forming in our bodies.

These three systems are intertwined. They continually exchange information through neurotransmitters made from proteins called neuropeptides. The three systems each have receptor sites on all their cells that are able to accept these neurotransmitters. How these neuropeptides link with their receptors makes up the biochemistry of our emotions.

Researchers say the immune system listens to emotions through its neuropeptide receptors. It responds by sending signals to the brain via neurotransmitters. The brain does the same thing in influencing the immune system. The brain therefore actively monitors and reacts to the immune response. Immune system cells also produce a hormone that can stimulate the adrenal gland into action.

The nervous system, endocrine system and immune system work together, translating our thoughts into action. When we worry, we begin a chain reaction that prepares us for fight or flight -- a reaction that may not have been necessary and is exhausting if it frequently happens. An overworked immune system becomes exhausted and unable to fight bacteria or viruses. We become ill. Or it may learn to react too strongly: Instead of attacking outside invaders the immune system attacks harmless substances in the body, creating conditions like allergies or rheumatoid arthritis.

A negative mindset (anger, depression) can have a negative effect on the functions of our immune system, because this system is closely connected to the other systems affected by emotions (the nervous and endocrine systems). In contrast, positive thinking, happiness and the ability to relax have all shown to maintain a healthy balance in the body.

The damage of chronic stress comes from your body’s learned response to a situation – not from the situation itself. Learn ways to control your reaction to
stressful situations. Train your brain to think with a smile.

For over 30 years, Eve Lees has been a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer for several publications. Follow her on Facebook or visit




June 2016

Eating slowly assists weight loss

In our faced-paced lifestyles, many of us eat our food quickly and mindlessly. However, eating slowly can help you feel fuller and lose weight.

Fast eaters are more often (but there are exceptions) heavier than those who eat slowly. Studies find people who eat quickly tend to be heavier and gain more weight over time, compared to slower eaters.

Appetite and calorie intake are mostly controlled by hormones. Normally, after we eat, our bodies release three anti-hunger hormones; cholesystokinin (CCK), peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). These hormones relay messages to the brain, to signal that you’ve just eaten and nutrients are being absorbed. This reduces appetite, makes you feel full, and helps you stop eating.

This process takes about 20 minutes. Slowing down gives your brain the time it needs to receive these signals. But if you eat too quickly, your brain doesn’t have time to receive or process these fullness signals.

Eating slowly can decrease the amount of food consumed at a meal. In part, this is due to the increase of those anti-hunger hormones generated when meals aren’t rushed. One study showed fewer calories were consumed at a slow-paced meal than at a fast-paced meal, although the difference was greater in the normal-weight group of participants.  Additionally, all participants also felt fuller longer after eating more slowly, and were less hungry 60 minutes after the slow-paced meal than after the faster meal.

Another benefit to slow eating: you’ll be chewing your food more thoroughly before swallowing it. Your body can more efficiently absorb and utilize the nutrients in the food when it is thoroughly chewed. The saliva generated in your mouth offers enzymes that help digest your food – particularly carbohydrate-rich foods. When you thoroughly mix and coat your food with your enzyme-rich saliva, it combines with the enzymes in the food, allowing more thorough and efficient utilization of the nutrients in the food.

There are many other benefits to slow eating: It Increases your enjoyment of food. It improves digestion and may reduce or eliminate digestive problems like bloating and flatulence. It promotes stronger, healthier teeth. And it assists in feeling calmer and more in control, which can reflect on how you respond to stressful situations.

Here are some suggestions to help you develop a “slow eating” habit . . .

Avoid getting extremely hungry. When you are really hungry, it’s much more difficult to eat slowly. Try to eat regularly throughout the day and keep healthy snacks handy for those unexpected hunger pangs.

Chew more. Be conscious of chewing your food. No need to count – different foods break down in differing lengths of time. It’s best to simply chew until your mouthful is almost a watery consistency, before you swallow it.
Take a break occasionally. Put down your fork/spoon between mouthfuls of food.
Savour each mouthful. Concentrate on the texture and taste in your mouth.
Set a timer or eat with a friend who will keep you focused. Set the timer for 20 minutes, and try to stretch the meal until the time is up. Or buddy up with a friend who will remind you to eat at a slow, consistent pace throughout the meal.
Avoid distractions until slow eating becomes a habit. At mealtimes, it may help to turn off the television and stay away from the computer and hand-held electronic devices. Put down the newspaper and novel too. In a month or two, your new habit should have a firm hold and distractions won’t be an issue.
Breathe deeply. When you notice you are eating too quickly, stop and take a few deep breaths to help you refocus.
With practice, eating slowly will become habitual. Enjoy every bite!

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the Health & Fitness Industry for over 30 years.


May 2016

Have Faith in Food

Our foods contain thousands of properties we have yet to discover. Yet many people choose pills over food because they believe food today does not contain the nutrient value of many years ago. Not so.

There may be some areas where soil has been mistreated, but it's usually obvious by the poor quality of plant yield. In order for plants to grow, they must be able to absorb all the nutrients they need from the soil. If not, the food source will not be the right color, texture, taste or smell. However, our soil quality in many regions, particularly in the less populated rural areas of Canada, remains as rich in nutrients as it did many years ago.

Yes, areas of overly-depleted soil do exist, and these areas are the source of the “studies” used by vitamin supplement marketers to promote their products. However, it is naive to believe soil is deficient world-wide. There still remain many areas of fertile, nutrient-rich soil, particularly with the growing interest in organic and sustainable farming practices.

If the fruit or vegetable you are eating doesn't taste, smell or look right, it may have grown in poor soil, or was handled improperly after harvesting (poor storage or spraying the produce to prepare it for shipping will also affect a food’s nutrient quality). You can choose to change your source for the food or grow your own. Consider buying locally, from a farmer’s market where you can become acquainted with the proprietors. And if your budget allows, buy organic as often as possible, to reduce the chemical exposure.

How you store and prepare your food is perhaps the biggest factor in nutrient retention.

Always store your food as recommended; eggs and condiments (like mustard and peanut butter) should be stored in the refrigerator, and root vegetables in a cool, dark area, etc. Be smart when you cook, such as avoid over-boiling your vegetables; steam or bake them instead.

Also important, is to cut back (or eliminate!) the processed, refined foods that slide out of a can or roll out of a box. These foods lack many nutrients. They just aren’t natural; they’ve been changed drastically from the way they were created in nature. Stick to whole and fresh whenever possible. Fresh food retains its nutrients – unlike food that’s had its nutrition processed out of it. And fresh food doesn’t have added sugars, fats and chemicals, as processed foods do.

And finally, practice variety. A well-rounded variety of foods in your diet is the best guarantee you're getting all the known (and unknown) substances we need to keep us healthy.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the Health & Fitness Industry for over 30 years.



several publications and was a Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness Counsellor for 30 years. Visit


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