Going on Vacation?? Reduce your Jet Lag Symptoms with Nutrition!


So I don’t know about you – but it feels like every person I know is off gallivanting the world, traveling to far off places, posting about it on social media, and giving me serious travel envy. Then, I was asked to put together a presentation on jet lag for a group of athletes that are traveling to Japan with an exchange program and I thought – I wonder how many people know that you can reduce your jet lag symptoms by adjusting when you eat?? So here I am, telling you!

Jet lag is defined as “extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.” After high school, my friend Alyssa and I hopped on a plane and went to Thailand for 40 days and if I’m going to be completely honest with you – I don’t remember experiencing jet lag at all. But, here I am 9 years later planning for a trip to Italy with my husband and I have a feeling my body won’t be quite as resilient this time around. Common symptoms of jet lag include:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • disorientation
  • reduced concentration
  • reduced aerobic fitness
  • reduced anaerobic fitness
  • nausea
  • GI distress
  • joint swelling and stiffness
  • muscle pain and stiffness

So how long does jet lag last? Scientists estimate that it will take one full day to recover for every time zone crossed. So for the athletes that were going to Japan for 10 days and crossing NINE time zones – they could potentially be experiencing symptoms for 9 of their 10 days! Not ideal right?

So – how do you manage jet lag??

First, we need a little background on how our sleep wake cycle works.

Our bodies work on a 24 hour cycle which is controlled by our circadian rhythms. These rhythms are measured by rise and fall of body temperature and levels of certain hormones and they are influenced by our exposure to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight tells our body that it should be awake and darkness tells our body that we should be asleep (for the most part).

Before you leave – you want to try to adjust your sleep schedule as close to your destination time zone as possible. So, three days prior to leaving, try to go to bed and wake up one hour early or later (depending on which direction your traveling). If you are traveling west and typically go to bed at 10PM and wake up at 6AM and you need to go to bed at 11PM the first night, 12AM the second night, and 1AM the night before your flight and wake up an hour later each morning (or do the reverse if you are traveling east) . This will start to transition your sleep wake cycle.

Also, doing a high intensity workout prior to your flight helps decrease high stress levels  generally associated with flying and has been shown to help with jet lag symptoms.

Fasting has been shown to be very effective in reducing jet lag symptoms. Research shows that participants following a fasting protocol called the Argonne diet were 7.5 times less likely to experience jet leg symptoms upon arrival at their destination and 16.2 times less likely when they returned home. Sign me up!

Here is a modified version that was shared by Precision Nutrition:

  • On your day of travel, eat a normal breakfast and normal lunch.
  • Fast immediately before and especially during the flight – don’t forget to drink lots of water to stay hydrated!
  • When you arrive, eat soon after landing, as close to local meal time as possible.
  • Start a normal meal schedule based on local time.
  • Fasting should last at least 14 hours but can last as long as 24 hours.
  • You may need to adjust actual meal times based on your flight times.

While your traveling – stay well hydrated and continue your fast! The air quality on an airplane is extremely dehydrating so it is super important that you are drinking A LOT of water. Like all the time. I know it’s annoying to have to get up to go to the washroom 9847639 times during your flight but it’s good for you to be up and moving around every hour anyways. Make sure to avoid caffeine on the flight as it can do some damage on your circadian rhythms – that means coffee, tea and most pop. Essentially you should just stick to water and call it a day.

When you board the plane set your watch ahead to match the time zone of your destination.  If fasting isn’t your jam and you plan on eating during your flight, it is important to pack your own food so that you aren’t at the mercy of the planes meal schedule. Try to adopt a similar meal and sleep pattern to your destination so that your body can begin to adjust. Here are some ideas for foods that don’t need to be refrigerated:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Crackers
  • Nut Butter
  • Fruit and Nut Bars
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Trail Mix
  • PB and J Sandwich

Once you arrive – expose yourself to sunlight and spend time with others. This will tell your body that it’s daytime and that you should be awake! If you really feel like you need to take a nap, make sure that you don’t sleep for longer than 30 or 40 minutes. When you wake up each morning try to expose yourself to sunlight as quickly as possible to get your body adjusted to your new time zone.

If you typically eat breakfast at 8AM, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5 PM – try to follow a similar schedule in your destination! This will help your body adjust in the same way that exposing it to light will.

Well – that’s it! I hope this information can help you get the most of your time oversees. I can’t wait to give it a shot during my trip to Italy 🙂



Nutrition Month 2016: Take a 100 Meal Journey

Nutrition Month

Have you heard that March is Nutrition Month?? I know I’m a little bit late to the ball game but the past few weeks have been crazy in the Fudge-Antosh household. Plus, a separated shoulder is a great excuse to procrastinate.

Back to my favorite month of the year…

Every year in March, Dietitians of Canada organizes Nutrition Month with a goal of providing information and guidance to make it easier to choose, eat and enjoy healthy food. This years campaign is “Take a 100 Meal Journey: Small Changes, One Meal at a Time.” We consume nearly 100 meals every month and making small changes supported by real life strategies can make those changes last.

Each week is centered around tips, strategies, or ideas to support making small, positive changes:

Week 1 – Get Ready!
The first week is all about joining the 100 meal journey by taking the pledge. I took a pledge to drink water at all of my meals. This is something that I really struggle with. The only time I find myself “craving” water is during physical activity, but at most other times of the day I gravitate towards tea, lattes, or diet carbonated beverages. I plan to use fresh herbs and fruit to help flavor the water and encourage me to drink more!

*Check out the tip sheet

Week 2 – Quality Counts!
This week focuses on making food decisions that support individuals’ goals, such as cooking more meals at home, choosing nutrient-rich foods and substituting ingredients.

*Check out the tip sheet

Week 3 – Prioritize Portion Size!
This week, they provide strategies for individuals to be aware of selecting realistic portion sizes during their 100 Meal Journey.

*Check out the tip sheet

Week 4 – Try Something New!
Because taste is the number one reason for food choice, this week focuses on nourishing meal and snack ideas that are delicious!

*Check out the tip sheet

Week 5 – Make it Stick!
Every journey encounters detours along the way. This week’s tips will equip people with doable strategies to put in place during their 100 Meal Journey and make healthy eating stick!

*Check out the tip sheet

The Dietitians of Canada have also put together two recipes for the campaign that look delish and I am really excited to try. Click on the links to get the recipes!

Garden Veggie Buddha Bowl

Spice Roasted Peach and Yogurt Parfaits

Make sure to comment below if you make the pledge and share what your goal is 🙂

Check out the Dietitians of Canada website for more information.

What’s in Store in 2016?

https://i0.wp.com/www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/pulses-2016/logos-resources/LOGO_IYP-en-high-horizontal.jpgDo you love wandering the aisles of the grocery store? I’m not sure if it’s a dietitian thing, but I could spend hours slowly walking up and down each aisle looking at new products and reading nutrition labels. Not only is it totally fun, for a food nerd like myself, it’s also important to know what clients are referring to when they bring up a specific product they use or love. So naturally, when I received an invitation from the Dietitians of Canada to attend a grocery store tour at my local Save-on-Foods I couldn’t say no! This specific tour was lead by my friend and fellow dietitian, Karol Sekulic, and focused on pulses and legumes, anti-inflammatory foods, and hidden sugars.


Those of you who know me, know that I have a very special relationship with chickpeas. Which is why I am beyond excited that the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Some of you are probably thinking – “what the heck is a pulse?!” A pulse is a lentil, dried bean, dried pea, or a chickpea and they are ridiculously awesome (but we will talk more about that later).


The tour started where any good trip to the grocery store starts – the produce section. Here is a snapshot of the discussion:


Inflammation is a totally normal and necessary response that your immune system has when your body is healing a wound or fighting infection. But sometimes, this response goes into overdrive. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s have all been linked to chronic (aka long term) inflammation. There are a number of factors that contribute to inflammation such as insufficient duration and quality of sleep, BPA’s (found in some plastic food and beverage container’s such as water bottles), smoking, stress, obesity and diets with large amounts of refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugar, red meat and processed meat.


*The World Health Organization recommends that individuals reduce their intake of free sugars to 6-12 teaspoons per day. FYI – one can of coke contains just over 8 teaspoons of sugar!


*The Canadian Cancer Society recommends limiting processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon as much as possible (only special occasions!) and consuming no more than three 3oz servings of red meat per week.


The good news is – there are patterns of eating which have been found to help with the reduction of inflammation. This is what you need to know:


Eat more vegetables and fruit – There is a reason you hear this over and over and over. Dark green and orange vegetables contain antioxidants that reduce inflammatory markers. It’s a fact and you should probably do it.


Choose whole grains and high fibre foods – As I mentioned before, obesity is an inflammatory disease. When you have a large amount of adipose (fat) tissue, you release a larger amount of adipokines, which cause increased inflammation in your body. Research shows that people who have a diet high in fibre, generally have a lower body weight. So, essentially: higher fibre = lower body weight = less inflammation.


Incorporate more omega 3’s into your diet – Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to reduce interleukin 6 and c-reactive protein, which are inflammatory markers found in the body. There are three types of omega 3 fats – DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA and EPA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, anchovy, mackerel and sablefish (if you don’t like fish try taking a fish oil supplement). ALA is found in flax oil, walnuts, and canola oil.


Drink green tea – Catechins are antioxidant compounds found in green, black and oolong tea. It is recommended that you drink 3-5 cups per day, preferably on an empty stomach (helps with absorption). So, if you are able to drink 3-5 cups of green tea in the morning before your stomach starts eating itself – good on you! I will continue drinking my 1-2 cups before breakfast and have the rest on a full and satisfied stomach.


PS – my absolute FAVOURITE hot drink right now is lemon green tea with a ¼ of a fresh lemon and a little bit of stevia. Heavenly.


Cook with pulses as much as humanly possible – but seriously, pulses are amazing. In regards to inflammation, beans are known to reduce inflammation as they have high levels of bioactive molecules, as well as provide relief from inflammatory bowel disease. But beyond inflammation, pulses are rich in many nutrients such as protein, fibre, iron, folate, and potassium, and are low in fat and cholesterol-free. They are a delicious and budget friendly meat alternative and you can use them in sauces, soups, salads, chili, casseroles, and baked goods. And if that isn’t enough, Canada is the world leader in pulse production/sales (#local) and they have nitrogen-fixing properties, which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment. WOW.


I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing about it! Check out this link if you are interested in setting up a nutrition tour at Save-on: http://www.saveonfoods.com/nutrition-tours.

Make This, Not That – Holiday Party Edition

There is no harder time of the year to keep your diet on track than the holidays. Every party and gathering that you attend will be sure to include a spread of high fat, high calorie foods and drinks. Research shows that on average people gain only one pound over the holiday season due to extra indulgence, but that single pound is never lost. Between the ages of 20 and 50 years you could find yourself sitting 30 pounds heavier solely due to eggnog, candy cane bark, turkey, and mashed potatoes. Does this statistic surprise you as much as it surprised me? This year, throw a party that won’t be forever remembered on your hips.

Make This, Not That.

5 Jumbo Tiger Shrimp with 1 oz of Cocktail Sauce contains 128 calories and 1 gram of fat.

Whereas, 4 Bacon Wrapped Scallops rings in at 285 calories, 21 grams of fat and 45 minutes of shoveling snow before you work them off.

1/4 cup of Hummus with 1 Whole Wheat Pita will supply 185 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Whereas, 1/4 cup of Spinach Dip with 1 Whole Wheat Pita sets you back 400 calories and 37 grams of fat. Better strap on your skates, because this dip requires 60 minutes on the ice before its gone.

2 Chicken Skewers adds up to 200 calories and 3 grams of fat.

Whereas, 4 Honey Garlic Chicken Wings tops up at 240 calories and 12 grams of fat and it would take 30 minutes of cross country skiing in the cold to burn them off!

Date Bran Jingle Balls Recipe

1 Date Bran Jingle Ball (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/date_bran_jingle_balls.html) contains 104 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Whereas, 1 Chocolate Hedgehog packs 135 calories, 9.5 grams of fat and requires 40 minutes of holiday shopping to get rid of.

1 cup of Mulled Wine (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mulled_wine.html) has 174 calories, 0 grams of fat and a ton of holiday flavor.

Whereas, 1 cup of Rum and Eggnog will bring you 403 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 50 minutes on the stationary bike!

Do yourself and all your guests a favor, you don’t have to forfeit flavor over the holidays to keep your weight in check 🙂

My name is Staci and I am a Diet Coke addict…

As I dietitian, one of the most common questions/statements that I hear from clients, friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers is that aspartame is BAD for you. Especially when I have a can of diet coke in hand. I have a hard time biting my tongue when it comes to the topic not only because I use it myself but because I feel confident in recommending it’s use to others.

So, I decided it’s time to do some up-to-date research and enlighten all my followers as to what the researchers, health professionals, and national organizations have to say on the subject.

Aspartame was permitted for use as a food additive in 1981 and is one of the most widely used and researched artificial sweeteners to date. It is composed of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, creating a compound which is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Amino acids are the naturally occurring building blocks of protein and are found in a variety of foods. Since aspartame is so much sweeter than sugar, food producers are able to use a much smaller amount to achieve the same level of sweetness, leading to a much lower calorie content. Aspartame can be found in products such as soft drinks, yogurt, desserts, chewing gum and as a table top sweetener.


Those individuals who suffer from the metabolic disorder, Phenylketonuria (PKU), are unable to break down the amino acid, phenylalanine, therefore cannot safely consume aspartame. PKU is detected in infants through a routine blood screening shortly after birth and results in life long restriction of phenylalanine.

The acceptable daily intake (ADI), determined by Health Canada, is set at 40 milligrams per kg of body weight per day, which is equivalent to the consumption of 19 cans of diet pop (for a 130 lb person). ADI’s are set for a number of different nutrients and food additives such as caffeine, vitamins, and minerals.

Rumors of negative health effects associated with consumption of aspartame are as widespread as the evidenced based research supporting the consumption of aspartame as safe practice. Be sure to consider the source of your information when using the internet or any other medium to further your knowledge. Government regulated agencies such as Health Canada and professional organizations such as American Cancer Society and Canadian Diabetes Association are sure to share credible, evidenced based information.

The following are responses to allegations against consumption of aspartame as summarized by Health Canada:

Allegation: The methanol in aspartame is toxic and is linked to numerous health problems including lupus and blindness, and also mimics multiple sclerosis

Not Supported

Allegation: Aspartame is especially dangerous for person with diabetes

Not Supported

Allegation: Aspartame causes cancer and brain tumours

Not Supported

Allegation: Aspartame causes seizures

Not Supported

Allegation: Aspartame causes allergic reactions

Not Supported

If you would like additional information on this topic feel free to visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/sweeten-edulcor/aspartame-eng.php or http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame.