Sunday, December 18, 2011

Moxley Monday: Nutrition course wraps up and Jordan fears fat


Heather Moxley is a registered holistic nutritionist here in Ottawa with a private practice, and she recently offered to have me attend a four-week nutrition course that she offers. I (Jordan) am blogging the experience as I take this important step towards our NEST goal of feeding ourselves. This is Week Two. You can also follow Jordan's twitter journalling of the experience with hashtag #jordaneats; click on the hashtag to see a Visible Tweets feed, but hurry: tweets do expire.
This was my last week of the Heather Moxley Nutrition 101 course…and possibly the most challenging chapter, because it was all about fat: consuming it, on purpose, for greater health. Crazy, you say? Apparently not.


Grapeseed oil. Source here.
First off: Heather tells us that fats aren’t making us fat. Maybe that’s oversimplifying; fats don’t have to be bad for us. Apparently when we spike our blood sugar with too much sugar and/or simple carbs, that’s when we gain weight. Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that a Big Mac is suddenly good for you, because it’s not. But it does mean that you don’t have to buy low-fat milk, butter, meat, salad dressing, etc etc etc. In fact, turns out that certain vitamins—like the coveted Canadian dose of Vitamin D—actually require fat to be processed by the body. So be sure to take your D’s with a bit of fat, or you’re not going to get the bang for your buck.

Heather broke fats down into a bunch of categories. I tried to remember this chapter the next day and found myself floundering, I think because it was more abstract than the other ones. Luckily, I have a workbook from the course I can refer to, and I brought it with me when I went to Bulk Barn today to buy a bunch of things I’ve never bought. What I did understand right away from that night’s course was that things like olive oil can actually be good for you, and you should ideally ingest 4 servings of these (unsaturated) fats daily. Oh yeah: and eating a fat family called MUFA fats will actually make you lose weight. Are you gobsmacked? I am!

I’m having some serious trouble with this ‘fat is fine’ concept, but I’m trying to follow it. I know that when I was training for roller derby, I started to have some health issues and I remember learning that I needed to increase my fat intake. It’s a bit more complicated when you have a sensitive tummy, sans gall bladder, that has difficulties with fat; but the quantities are very low, and there’s a world of difference between having some salad dressing, and eating a super-size fry.

Here, fishy-fishy-fishy. Source: here.
Whammy 3 was when Heather finally explained Omega 3’s and 6’s to me in a way I could understand. I won’t do the subject justice here, so I won’t try to explain in a paragraph what took Heather about a half-hour of patient instruction to teach us. But I will tell you this: you want to increase your Omega 3’s because they reduce inflammation, and you can do that with fish—but only if it’s wild (aka ‘Pacific’) fish. Farm-raised fish, unless otherwise-labelled, is corn fed, and the corn makes the fish into an Omega 6, which is actually inflammatory. So, one of the many simple ways to increase your Omega 3 intake is to simply eat wild fish twice a week. I am reassured that there are plenty of tasty fish recipes out there. Feel free to send me some, because I’m dubious.


I was pondering this final post this week, as I stood in my kitchen eating handfuls of Cheezies from a party-size bag. (It’s the course’s fault: all the talk of corn made me think of my favourite hydrogenated-oil-evil-corn-byproduct-and-fake-cheese snack, the simple puffy Cheezie.) I realized that I haven’t kept track at all of my weight or inches through this course, but I feel healthier than I usually do in December, and I’m having fun in the kitchen, trying to adopt food combinations and new grains and proteins. It feels like a science class, in truth; on one hand I’m thinking about flavours and what would be yummy, but on the other I’m trying to weigh out how I can make that classic yummy taste with new, healthy ingredients. I wish I had some beakers to measure out my quinoa.

I truly loved taking this course. Heather Moxley is absolutely incredible, a tiny powerplant of energy and excitement. She never berated anyone for struggling with their homework, and she could genuinely laugh at things like the one night I was headed out to a cupcake tasting right after the carb lesson. Listening to Heather explain about foods and their chemicals, I had utter confidence in her abilities, and I knew right away that she loves what she does. It’s funny: I’ve been watching Heather on CTV Morning segments for quite some time now, but I thought she was a pretty serious, stern lady from the clips. In person, she has a ready laugh, a curious mind, and an eager excitement to help people understand their bodies, which seems to make her glowingly happy.

My only wish for this course: that it could be twice as along, with two weeks on each subject instead of one. I feel like there are a hundred questions I didn’t get to ask yet, and I also needed more time to adopt some of the food practices. Of course, it’s up to me now to keep it up and keep pushing myself to reach for the hummus and fear not the fat. My hope is that in the near future I will be able to return to Heather Moxley’s offices to learn about taking care of a gall bladder-less digestive track.

I made quinoa for breakfast today, sort of improvising a recipe out of some online ones I found, involving a lot of cinnamon, some nutmeg, maple syrup, and berries. Brian ate it, then licked his bowl clean, which means I’ve found a winning food. Getting Brian on board has probably been the hardest part of the last month, mostly because he’s a simple carb fiend and this is a lot of change for him. But he patiently hunted down steel cut oats and flax seed today with at Bulk Barn; and later, he had a muffin at Starbucks but after a gentle reminder, found some nuts to eat with it. There’s hope.

I’m going to take things slow and be respectful of my irritable bowel, but I think that in just four weeks, I managed to learn more about my food than I’ve learned in my first 29 years combined. And maybe what’s even more important: I learned it in an interesting way that made the information fun, intriguing, and accessible.

I can’t thank Heather enough for this wonderful course, and for giving us a chance to learn about taking better care of ourselves. This course represents a significant step in our goal to Feed Each Other, a step that may not have happened without intervention.

If you think you may be ready to learn more about your food, to stop fearing fat, and to take better care of your insides, I recommend getting on board with a course at Heather’s clinic. There’s a stress workshop in January, and different stuff all the time. Look at the positive: if you’re like me, you’ll leave this course eating more yummy food than you let yourself eat ever before.

If you’re still not sold, I should tell you that Heather encourages the eating of dark chocolate. She’s even holding a Valentines chocolate workshop. Yeah; I knew that’d get ya.

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