A Healthy Food Strategy Is Easier than You Think

You wouldn’t step onstage to perform a ballet without ever having had a rehearsal. Nor would you show up to an audition without preregistering, or pick a pair of pointe shoes at random and hope they fit. In dance, preparation and careful planning play a role in your success. So shouldn’t the same idea apply to your how you’re fueling your body?

Meal planning
Sure, both choices are delicious, but would you rather dance on a stomach full of this or that?

According to research published in the American Marketing Association journal this summer, planning your meals ahead of time—instead of waiting to decide what you’ll eat when you’re ready to chow down—can actually lead to healthier choices. Why? It has to do with will power. The research team from Carnegie Mellon University asserted that people have more self-control when they’re making decisions about their future. If you go grocery shopping on the weekend and pack your lunches for the week several days in advance, your meals will likely have fewer calories, without you even consciously aiming to choose a “healthy” lunch. On the flip side, if you leave a stressful rehearsal and are starving, your choice will be more about the immediate taste of the food (“I. want. pizza. Now!”) and less about how nutritious the food is and how you’ll feel dancing on a stomach full of greasy pizza later.

When you think about it, the idea of meal planning is a no-brainer. You owe it to your body to make sure you’re getting enough protein, healthy fats and carbs to keep you dancing strong. If you’re looking for dining inspiration, check out our monthly column called “What Dancers Eat” for recipes, tips and more. We’re always curious about the pros’ unique approaches to nutrition. From home cooking on tour to go-to studio snacks, we cover it all.



Low Carb Alternatives When Cooking At Home


There are many benefits to cutting carbs from your diet, aside from losing weight. Overly processed foods, such as white bread, often include many types of wheat flour, and have been linked to causing conditions like heart disease. More and more people are reacting badly to these processed carbohydrates, hence the recent gluten-free movement.

But what is the best way to cut out these processed carbs from your diet? Why not try some creative carb substitutions that will let you keep eating the foods you love, while giving your body a break from hard to digest processed foods.

We’ve complied some of over favourite carb substitutes, to help you on your way. Easier to digest and richer in nutrients, you’ll surely enjoy these low-carb, unprocessed foods:

1. Replace potatoes with cauliflower

Potatoes are yummy, but they’re also full of starches and simple carbs you simply don’t need. Try our recipe for mashed cauliflower – it’s easy, delicious, and so yummy you might find you prefer it to the traditional mashed potato. It doesn’t have the same starchy texture, but this easy mashed cauliflower recipe is sure to become a staple in your home.

Recipe: Mashed cauliflower (gluten free)



  • Head of cauliflower (or pack of frozen cauliflower)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Butter
  • Favourite mashed potato flavourings of choice (eg; paprika)


  • Slow roast your cauliflower with a little quality olive oil and some sea salt at around 180 degrees until the edges start to turn golden.
  • Blend cauliflower in a food processor.
  • Add a little organic butter to taste. Some people add paprika, roast garlic, or sour cream to give the dish a flavour boost.

2. Low-carb pasta alternatives


Plenty of health bloggers advocate veggie noodles as a great way to replace your beloved pasta. But in reality, the flavour and texture of your favourite fettuccine or spaghetti is pretty far off that of a zucchini or parsnip. Luckily, there are lots of pasta alternatives on the market made from beans and thickening agents which are a more similar substitute to wheat pasta. Many also  boast higher protein as well!

Slendier is a product that has a very similar texture to pasta, but only has about a tenth of the calories. Like other alternatives it’s made from a vegetable, but what makes Slendier unique is it uses the Japanese Konjac vegetable, which creates the springy noodle quality you want from your pasta.

Super yummy in taste and unbeatable in texture, Slendiers products are also low in carbohydrates and add an extra serve of veggies to your diet. And for those in a hurry – Slendiers noodles and pastas cook in under a minute!

3. Nut flour or oat alternatives for cooking and baking

If you want to enjoy your sweet treats in the morning without all the carbohydrates, consider replacing wheat flour with something like almond meal, coconut flour, brown rice flour, or even oats. Most of these alternatives have their own distinct flavour, so as a bonus you can cut out the need to add sugar.

Just remember, these are still sweet treats! Many nut flours are a lot higher in saturated fats than your carb-laden wheat flour, so you should not be eating recipes like these every day.

Recipe: almond flour pancakes (gluten free, dairy free)



  • 1.5 cups of almond flour
  • 2 x eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk (or other dairy-free milk of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp of butter, Nuttelex or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar


  • Place all the dry ingredients in your blender, then add all the wet ones on top.
  • Mix well for at least 1 full minute. Add milk or coconut oil for a looser consistency.
  • Heat your butter/oil in a fry pan.
  • When butter/oil is melted, add a dollop of your pancake mix.
  • Flip when it is dry on the bottom, and it’s easy to wedge a spatula under there.
  • Enjoy!

Some final health advice about going low carb

It can be hugely beneficial to cut out processed foods and some simple carbohydrates. These benefits do not just extend to losing weight (although a diet low in simple carbohydrates will certainly help if this is your goal).

However, when people cut out carbohydrates they often increase their intake of saturated fats. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap – instead focus on eating foods that are easier to digest. This will give you more energy, and is an all-around kinder thing to do for your body



Fruit and veg consumption tied to mental health

now, most of us are aware that eating fruits and vegetables is good for our physical health. But a new study published in the BMJ Open suggests eating five a day is linked to better mental well-being.

A previous study suggested that consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is the optimum amount for lowering the risk of death from any cause, which contradicts another study that suggested we should be eating seven portions of fruit and veg a day.

The researchers from this latest study, led by Dr. Saverio Stranges of the University of Warwick Medical School in the UK, used data from the Health Survey for England, which included nearly 14,000 adults over the age of 16.

This survey collected detailed information on the mental and physical health of the participants, as well as their health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics.

In addition, the team assessed the participants’ mental well-being using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, putting the top 15% of participants in the “high mental well-being” group, the bottom 15% in the low group, and those between 16-84% in the middle group.

‘The higher the veg and fruit intake, the lower the chance of low well-being’

Overall, the researchers found that high and low mental well-being were typically associated with the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake.

In detail, 35.5% of participants with high mental well-being ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who consumed less than one portion.

Additionally, 31.4% of the individuals from the high mental well-being group ate three to four fruit and veg portions per day, and 28.4% ate one to two.

“The data suggest that [the] higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake, the lower the chance of their having low mental well-being,” says Dr. Stranges.

The researchers also considered other health-related behaviors – such as smoking, alcohol intake and obesity – and found that only smoking and fruit and vegetable intake were consistently associated with mental well-being.


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5 Tips to Help You Get Pregnant Faster

While you might have spent the majority of your 20s preventing an unexpected pregnancy, once you’re ready for a baby in your 30s or even early 40s, most women expect it to happen like, right now already!

So regardless of if you’re trying to have a baby during a specific season or month, or just conceive quickly, here are ten tips to help you get pregnant faster…

1. Track Your Ovulation Cycle

To considerably increase your chances of becoming pregnant, it’s all about knowing when you ovulate. After all, you are most fertile during your menstrual cycle right after your ovary releases an egg. This is the target period in which you want to have sex out of each cycle when sex can actually lead to pregnancy. There are a number of online tools to help you pinpoint when you’ll ovulate next. You can also seek help for your doctor to ensure you’re optimizing your chances of conception.

2. Have Sex Regularly

Ovulation aside, waiting to have sex only when you ovulate will not promote pregnancy either. It may make sense to wait for your partner to build up sperm count, but actually waiting long periods between sex will result in a buildup of dead sperm in your partner’ semen, which won’t get you pregnant.

3. Avoid Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol affects both men and women in the negative when it comes to conception. For women trying to get pregnant, alcohol lowers the estrogen hormone that promotes optimal ovulation. While in men attempting to get their partner pregnant, excess drinking can lower your sperm count.

4. Prevent Gum Decay and Disease

I bet you didn’t equate your oral health with your chances of getting pregnant. However, periodontitis, or gum disease, can actually cause difficulties when it comes to getting pregnant and remaining healthy while pregnant (i.e., miscarriages and early deliveries). That’s why maintaining good oral health by brushing and flossing, as well as going for an annual dental checkup will promote a healthy conception, pregnancy, and delivery.

5. Skip the Caffeine

You know that coffee is a stimulant that when consumed in excess can stress out the body. And trust me; stress creates a bad environment for pregnancy. That’s why sticking to one or 2 cups (8 ounces) of coffee a day and no more is wise while skipping the afternoon soda, energy drinks, and chocoholic cravings altogether.



Whole Grains Each Day Linked To Longer Life

Eating a diet rich in whole grains may reduce your risk of dying early, a new meta-analysis finds.

People who reported eating at least three servings of whole grains daily were 20 percent less likely to die early from any cause compared with people who reported eating less than one serving a day, the researchers found. The analysis included 14 previous studies; all of the studies were at least six years long, and many were more than 10 years long.

The researchers also looked at specific causes of death. They found that eating three servings of whole grains a day was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, and a 14 percent lower risk of death from cancer, compared with eating one serving or less of whole grains daily.

[5 Surprising Ways to Be Heart Healthy]

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating three or more servings of whole grains each day. However, Americans eat, on average, less than one serving a day, according to the study, published today (June 13) in the journal Circulation.

Indeed, “these findings lend further support to the U.S. government’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which suggest high consumption of whole grains to facilitate disease prevention,” Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and the senior author on the study, said in a statement.

The studies in the meta-analysis included a total of more than 786,000 people. There were nearly 98,000 deaths in all of the studies, including more than 23,000 from heart disease and more than 37,000 from cancer.

“Multiple individual studies consistently revealed a reduced risk of death among people who consumed more whole grains,” Sun told Live Science.

Moreover, each serving, or 0.5 ounces (16 grams), of whole grains a day was associated with a 7 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from any cause, a 9 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from heart disease and a 5 percent reduction in a person’s risk of death from cancer, the meta-analysis found.

The researchers noted that the types of whole grains people ate varied from study to study. However, in the U.S., more than 70 percent of whole grains that people eat come from breads and cereal grains, which include oatmeal, rice and barley, according to the study. [Extending Life: 7 Ways to Live Past 100]

This is not the first study to suggest whole grains have health benefits, nor is it the first meta-analysis to do so.

Two previous meta-analyses, for example, found that whole grains were associated with lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels andlower amounts of body fat, the researchers wrote.

A number of compounds found in whole grains could contribute to the foods’ effects on health, the researchers wrote. Fiber, for example, may lower cholesterol and help people feel fuller so they eat fewer calories. Magnesium may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure. And other minerals and antioxidants may help fight oxidative stress, they said.

Based on the new findings, “health care providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population, as well as patients with certain diseases, to help achieve better health and perhaps reduce death,” Sun said.

In addition, whole grains should replace refined carbohydrates in a person’s diet, because these carbohydrates have been shown to have negative health effects, the researchers wrote.