Pickle Ballers Unite

What do NHL players and my 81 year old mother have in common? Well, they both enjoy pickle ball as a leisure sport. This blog post is not about pickle ball though, sorry to all the pickle ball fans. This post is about my mother’s love for fitness. From my very first memory my mother has been a gal on the move. She was an avid tennis player playing B level teams at our local fitness court in her 40’s. She tried her hand at golf, racquetball, and in later years pickle ball and bowling.
I thank her for inspiring me to be active on almost every day. I am less sports minded ( and competitive!) than my mother. Sometimes those tennis balls would whistle by our shoulders a little fast when she taught my sister, brother and I growing up. “It’s all in the serve and the follow through, dear”, she would coach.
Even in the pandemic, she got herself out walking, sometimes in the bleak cold evenings of lockdown. Kudos and thanks to my mother for giving me the love of movement and I passed it along to my girls.
Lesson? We’re never too old to play. Now, I wonder if those NHLers also are lit up by shopping at the local Value Village?

Sleep Crapnea

UPDATE: As it turns out, I repeated the home test and can report that I do not in fact have sleep apnea. Whew! I was going to delete the post but thought I would leave it as I think it has some valid points and the article link is interesting. 😊

See older post below:

As we coast into the home stretch before Christmas, I have decided to more aggressively heighten efforts on healthy eating and lifestyle. Yes, heighten. My goal is to unload the 1 pound per year gained since turning 50. For some it is 1-5 pounds per year gained so I am grateful that I am at least on the lower end.

Why not just accept it and grow into my later years with a little extra cushioning? No harm? Well, there is nothing like a little incentive and fire on the butt to up the ante. I was told this week that I have probable mild sleep apnea. I come from a long line of snorers, you see, my father being the king. He can move mountains with his raucous breathing during sleep. I am sure it has dialed back the quality of his life to some degree but he trudges on seemingly made of titanium given his health woes. He is also one of the many who do not adhere to CPAP therapy so my mother had no choice but to sell his machine on Kijiji.

After my initial visit to the sleep clinic and having just dropped off the home sleep study machine, I remarked to another sad fellow leaving the clinic that I thought the whole thing was a load of crap. Denial of the deepest.

Now that I am moving toward a place of more acceptance, I am reminded that the last few months, even few years, have not been restful when it comes to sleep. The 4 am wake ups have been frequent. I have cut back or eliminated alcohol, kept caffeine to a minimum as much as possible and have avoided blue screens after supper (mostly).

Knowing what I know about hormones though I know that estrogen withdrawal from my body is creating havoc on all my body tissues as it does in midlife for us all. Why should my neck and throat area be any different? Sigh….

As a dietitian though, I ask myself why the clinic did not ask me some important questions? “Are you aware of any weight gain in recent years? How is your diet? Are there any changes to be made to your lifestyle to see if we might make some improvements and possibly reduce any apneic episodes? What is the harm in trying?

So here I go on a refining of my lifestyle. It has become a full time job taking care of myself and I assume it is worth it to avoid any unnecessary heart disease, Alzheimer s, or chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease both of which are significantly on the rise in young adults.

People have said to me, you are not overweight. Well the truth is that the extra few pounds are pushing me in the wrong direction so the weight does matter. I am more under “estrogened” than overweight and the fat redistribution and tissue changes make the hardware around my breathing area compromised. If the lifestyle refining and slight weight drop does not make a difference then so be it – my honey and I will have his and hers units by our bedside. We will laugh a little harder before we talk before bed. Some are not fortunate enough to have access to these machines and this creates a social health dilemma I think.

Let’s see what happens. Think about any refinements you could make around your lifestyle even here and now during the holidays. It might just give you a little extra shut eye and life could be a little sweeter in 2019. Please read this recent opinion on diet and chronic disease. It will open your eyes. It is never to early or late to make a few lifestyle changes.

Joshi: To tackle chronic disease, start by fixing our harmful diet


Gums Up: Nutrition for Healing After Gum Graft Surgery

This week, I decided to bite the bullet and have the gum graft surgery that I was assessed for last year. One graft done last year and two done this week! Yikes. What can I eat?  When your body goes through any kind of upset, like surgery, inflammation is going to ensue. Eating well is always important and the effects are important both in short and long term.  When your body has the nutrients it needs to do its job, it will respond with proper immune function.  You definitely want this prior to , during and after gum surgery.

The whole cast of players must show up. Protein, vitamins A, C, D, zinc and selenium are just some of the stars.  Remember we are all made up of cells and those cells are formed into tissue. To build healthy tissue you will need the building blocks. Where else are you going to get get any finer building blocks  than from nutritious food?  See links below for some of these star nutrients and their food sources.

And don’t feel that you are resigned to eating jello, ice cream and Kraft dinner for the week or two of healing.  Here are some of my favorite foods to eat that are soft and pack a tasty nutritional punch.

Canned baked beans (yum, favorites are Heinz or Our Compliments)

Canned peaches, pears or mandarin oranges

Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat with some ground flax

Frozen individual salmon fillets (Catch of the Day fav)



Eggs, egg whites, liquid eggs (Burnbrae or store-brand)

Super smoothie. Add some frozen fruit, yogurt, greens and a protein source like nut butter, silken tofu, protein powder or cottage cheese.

Well cooked carrots with some added fat of your choice is going to deliver lots of vitamin A and antioxidants.

Your gum tissues will love all of these foods and you will be on the road to recovery in no time.

The Dope on Drool

One afternoon while making a toasted cucumber and cheese sandwich with mayo, a beautiful reaction took place. In anticipation and hunger for this meal, I began the process of digestion without having had one bite. I started salivating.  What is this process and what of its utility?

This beautiful fluid that you produce in the amount of three pints per day is a health drink for your teeth and oral cavity among many other things.  It has antibacterial properties keeping cavities at bay.  A close cousin to that other body fluid, blood, it delivers important minerals like calcium and phosphorus. It is essential for working your food into a form that you can swallow making hard foods softer and safe on the passage through your body.

Saliva balances the acidity in your stomach and may prevent heartburn.  It also helps keep your gut bacteria robust and healthy. Saliva is and has always been (for almost 2000 years!) an overall marker for one’s overall health.  Without happy salivary glands we can get into some body distress.

The next time you sit down to or prepare your next meal, send a salutation to your saliva.  Give thanks for it and marvel at its contribution to your health.

If you want to keep a steady supply of saliva going life long be sure to drink plenty of fluids, watch the alcohol (can dry a mouth out) and eat fibrous foods (apples, celery and carrots) which are often high in fluid and help move the saliva around.

Sing a song for your saliva today!  In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you got till its gone.


Celery – the Unsung Green Vegetable

It’s not often that you see celery celebrated as a side dish on a dinner or lunch plate in North America though this is not so true world wide where it plays a more prominent role in a meal. Like a side or bit part actor it holds its own in a meal but doesn’t stand out and show off. But when it does make its presence known it is subtle, a little unstated but powerful. It delivers flavor that defies description and texture abound. It hangs out in the fridge just waiting for its opportunity to bring something magical to food. Standing tall but never imposing or stalking (sorry). At just 16 calories a cup it adds to the green of a plate – though perhaps paler shade of green never the less green. Offering beautiful benefits of phytochemicals that add to our antioxidant quotient and perhaps emerging benefits around reduced inflammation in addition to its vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium content. It’s a real knock out.

The world would be sadder place without celery so head to the market or your fridge today. Take off a piece of this wonderful root vegetable. Add it to a sandwich, salad, sauce, soup or stir fry and watch your dish come alive. Better yet eat on its own. Or get your crunch, fat and sweet fix by adding some almond or peanut butter with some raisins or dried cranberries. This is a great snack anytime or especially at any upcoming festive events guaranteed to please your guests. Perhaps the ancient Greeks were on to something in awarding celery leaves to commemorate winnings. Celebrate celery today!

Rules for Less Stressful Living

I wrote these points around life and stress for my daughters a year or two ago.  They are pretty well on their way in life, busy with friends, work and school.  I am no expert by any means so just a few observations.  I have more work to do on some of them, but hey we are all one glorious work in progress.

Rules for a less stressful living

Here they are in no particular order….

Keep finances in check. Live within means even if others around you are not.

Use a credit card for convenience, points and establishing credit but always pay it off each month.

Keep your weight under control. Eat well without obsession. Be aware of life transitions that can impact your food choices. Fad diets are not helpful and are likely harmful.

Stay active and keep your body moving. Dancing and exercise that you enjoy are better than any drug.

Stay in touch with family. Communicate your feelings in ways that preserve dignity for all.

Engage with society but know when you need to have quiet time for yourself.

Find something creative and spend time with it.

Be aware of when you are judging yourself and ignore judgement from others. What people think of you is none of your business. Don’t let others rent space in your head.

Pray to someone or something else to feel less alone.

Be polite and respectful of others in your space. Treat them as you would want to be treated.

Forgive yourself if you mess up sometimes but try and learn the lesson in the experience.

Get enough sleep.

Know that a bad day is usually followed by a better day. This is especially true when you have young children.

Keep alcohol in check. You only have one liver. It is amazing but can only protect you so far.

Be aware that people come and go in your life so enjoy the times that you have but know that things will always change.

Put good things in your head. Read positive stuff and be aware of things that sap your energy or joy.

Take medication when needed and appropriate.

Learn basic things in life like swimming and driving and learn to drive a manual transmission.

Learn to write a good letter.

Keep your living space tidy and as clean and uncluttered as possible. Make your bed every day.

Find the positive in bad situations.

Stay on top of your dental health, don’t drink too much coffee.

A shower or an Epsom salt bath can make you feel so much better.

Fiesta in the Fridge

This little poem/story was written 21 years ago after my first daughter was born.  Children are immensely inspiring.  I thought it might be fun to share now with the world. Consider it a little celebration of the soon to be released Canada’s Food Guide. Enjoy and bon apetit!  It was written by myself and my daughters aunt Jane Gallinaugh, a very creative and talented gal.  My illustration above delivers some of the flavour (pardon the pun) in it’s creation.

Fiesta in the Fridge

Hey can you tell me I want to know more.

What really happens when you close the fridge door?


I’ve heard that inside the parties are thrown.

The lettuce comes alive and gets on the phone.


He calls all his buddies from far and from wide.

The freezer, the crisper, the shelves on the side.


The juices of apple and orange dance a jig.

So do the peaches and one lonely fig.


The carrots and parsnips catch up on their news.

The eggplant is sporting a new pair of shoes.


The butter plays piano, the milk plays the drums.

The cheese plays the sax, but alas, he’s all thumbs.


The sausage and corn cob sing country tunes.

The jalapeno pepper is banging the spoons.


The ketchup, the mustard and relish go round.

They size up the wieners and burgers by pound.


The pizza is schmoozing and winking one eye.

The lemon shakes hands with the chocolate cream pie.


The haddock and lobster are charming the trout.

But there is a square off with the dill and sauerkraut.


The whole wheat and mayo have fun playing darts.

The mushrooms get fresh with the artichoke hearts.


The salsa is spicy, the tomatoes a bore.

The French fries play twister all over the floor.


The ice cream is twirling then dips the cup cake.

The string bean does the limbo and tries not to shake.


The celery is showing a bit too much leg.

The parsley tells a joke that cracks up the egg.


The mangoes and kiwi are ready for bed.

The cuke’s acting crazy with a lampshade on his head.


The ham slice is gasping, “Who cut the cheese?”

The all-beef baloney blushed, “Please excuse me!”


The garlic and onions are smelling quite raw.

The freezer is warming and things start to thaw.


Just when the melon is blowing his stack.

The rutabaga yells “ Someone’s coming for a snack!”


The “Root” (vegetable) of Change

Have you ever felt stuck? Can’t go back, can’t move forward. With the result being frustration, anxiety, overwhelm. As with many of life’s transitions, it is a good reminder that you are not alone. When any significant life event befalls us, it is surprising how many people share similar stories of the same when you open up about it.

Perhaps you are wishing to make a change for eating better, for being more active, for giving up or cutting down on one of those dang vices – alcohol, caffeine or the dreaded sugar. Maybe you are contemplating a career change or wishing to move out of or  improve a life relationship. I wrote “wishing” in that last sentence and this is a good point. Try implies effort but wish has no action whatsoever. One guarantee of not moving forward is non-action. Without action there is often a feeling of pain as opposed to power. In the Susan Jaffer book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she discusses a Pain vs Power continuum. You can illustrate this for yourself on any piece of paper and have it readily available for you to see each day. It can be plain or fancy, your choice.

You can pinpoint your progress each day or time of day. The movement toward action impacts your space on this continuum of pain to power and is key to heading to the left toward pain or right toward power. Easier said than done as there seems to be barriers on the way to progress. Judgement of self, perceived or actual judgement from others, financial or physical challenges. Pick anyone. Then write it down and throw it out the window. Replace it with “I can handle this”, another Jaffer tip. Or in the words of a sagely man from Cape Breton, knock the t off can’t.

If you peeled one carrot and ate it that would be you eating either 100% more vegetables if you don’t eat any or 50% better if you only eat one vegetable a day. Any percentage is excellent as long as it is in the positive direction. 10% improvement is a great goal and very achievable. Decision, commitment and resolve are steps in the right direction. Get yourself out of the quick sand of life and get going. When you start looking for what you need, it will show up. There are no coincidences. All of these points are made from various books and authors that aim to help us in our mental and physical awareness. Put good stuff in your head. Limit news. Be in your world and community but know when you need to have peace and quiet.

One final shout out to a writer and blogger named Nicki Cullen. Check out his amazing writing on anxiety on the Medium or Facebook. Be forewarned of his humorous but spicy language but he is an artist with his words. His last article inspired this writing.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott

Letter To Those With Gestational Diabetes


You just found out that you have gestational diabetes and I am guessing that you are not all that happy about it. Life is busy enough without this on your plate (pardon the pun).  You probably have not heard the news directly from your doctor but maybe a random person who doesn’t know who you are or what this means to you.  Don’t give up, there is hope. You are invited to be part of a clinic based setting to learn more.  You may be scared, you may think “what if I have to go on insulin?” Following a diet is not something you may have planned during your pregnancy.  It doesn’t seem fair, this is the only time in life where maybe you can get away with eating extra and not think too much about it.  Or maybe you are very careful about your diet and think “why did I get this despite me having a good diet?”

Hormone time

Well, it is the case with so many transitions in life stages, hormones are to blame. They can really wreak havoc in the body but even though they get a little out of control sometimes, they have their purpose.  One effect of hormones of gestational diabetes is that it can make your body very stingy with insulin. This is a hormone that senses blood sugar after you eat (carbohydrates break down into blood sugar).  A meal that you would have no problem making enough insulin for before pregnancy may in turn become a problem due to the insulin being in shorter supply.

Your body especially likes to have less insulin overnight so waking up with higher blood sugars tends to be the result. Sometimes this happens even with the perfect night snack.

Daily Diet Challenges

Life is filled with temptation, constant celebrations; sometimes the perfect snack is not available at the time.  Our days can be filled with landmines of food and drinks that don’t necessarily suit a body being stingy with insulin.  Sugar is lurking around every corner.  Balancing a meals sometimes becomes harder than being on a balancing beam!

Minding Your Plate

Take heart though, you just have to begin with where you are today and do your best with what is in front of you. The “healthy plate” is a good visual to get into your head.  If you think you have a lot of work to do on your diet, you may get away with a few tweaks here and there which can make all the difference.  The “free for all” food group are veggies.  Even a non-vegetable lover can find ways to have them. Think the “Seven S’s” –Soups, Stews, Stir-fry, Sandwich, Skillets, Sauces, and Smoothies.  Then think protein foods which are helpful for keeping carbs balanced and blood sugars better.  Choose meat, fish, tofu (learn to work with tofu), nuts, seeds, legumes, cheese.  Remember that protein is needed to build that little baby; as an added bonus it is needed to make insulin so protein up.

Healthy fats are your friend (nuts, seeds, avocado, oils, and fatty fish) but unfortunately cereal is not so much a friend. However cereal may sometimes be used as a night snack which may keep a good blood sugar until the next morning. Try and keep one quarter of your plate as whole grains such as … Breads, rice, pasta.  These foods may bring much joy and comfort but unfortunately creates higher blood sugars so they need to be in smaller portions and balanced with other foods.

Be wary of drinks with sugar and they are everywhere; ice coffees, ice tea, pop, juice, sport drinks. Even milk in large quantities have too much sugar. Best to axe get rid of the processed sugar beverages and keep a cap on milk to two cups per day.

The Joy of Movement

Get your walk on for better blood sugars. Movement of any “enjoyable and pregnancy appropriate” kind can make a huge difference in blood sugars.  Don’t think of walking as an add-on; make it part of your daily routine.  A 10 minute blast of activity after a meal can make a positive change for you and your baby.

Your Effort Pays Off

Making a difference for you and your baby is what it is all about here. Your baby will be all smiles and thumbs up if they are sheltered in a nice fluid filled with nutrients and the right amount of blood sugar.  They will be sporting a healthy weight when they arrive in their little birthday suits and they have a greater chance coming to the party on time too.  They will have happier blood sugars when they arrive too; less chance of them needing extra tending to with medical procedures.  More time for holding, feeding and cuddling your new baby.  Speaking of feeding, breastfeeding will propel them and you into better health faster.  Learn about breastfeeding and all its glorious benefits for you and your baby.

Your effort with managing gestational diabetes may sometimes be inconvenient; but the payoff will be huge for you in the short and long term. High blood sugars just make you feel sluggish, tired and your baby may feel the same way too. Managing your gestational diabetes is going to help your weight gain be much smoother, which will make a difference in fending off high blood pressure and other problems that can pop up later in pregnancy.

Navigating and the Reward

If you need a bit of insulin from outside, so be it. This is not a failure. Do your best with diet and lifestyle but sometimes all efforts may be for naught.  Be proud of every effort that you make. This is not easy, but like so much in life that is not easy, the reward is greater.  Take a deep breath and go forward with what is in front of you each day.  Don’t stress about a high number here or there.  Patterns and trends are what your health teams looks for.  Your team is here to help you on your journey.  It is a shared experience.  Look for the positives in this unexpected fork (again sorry for pun) in the road.  Sometimes what appears negative turns out to be a positive!  Here’s to you, a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby and lifelong health to you both and your families.  Life is waiting.

Sleepless in the Saddle (of Perimenopause)

Sleepless in the Saddle (of Perimenopause)
By Catherine Walsh, Registered Dietitian

Sleep, or the lack of, seems to be discussed a lot in my circles in days of late. Is this the case for you as well? Did you know that insomnia affects approximately 50 per cent of midlife women? This fact is astounding and seems to confirm my assumptions that “every second person” (mostly women but also men) I meet has some issues related to their sleep. One coworker recently mentioned that she hasn’t had a good night sleep since 1987. This is distressing to say the least. Let’s examine what is happening and what can be done. Continue reading “Sleepless in the Saddle (of Perimenopause)”