By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2017
September is here and so is back-to-school time. This month, we offer ideas, recipes and tips that are as stress-free as possible.
Food fuels our bodies including our brains. Nourishing ourselves with good quality foods will help ensure peak cognitive function. It starts with a fortifying breakfast, then a recharging lunch, followed by delicious supper and balancing snacks to keep us going throughout the day.
Week 1: Let’s start September on the right foot by planning ahead for breakfast.
Trust me, it’s worth getting up a few minutes earlier to avoid having your stomach growl mid-morning during an important meeting. Breakfasts that include foods with a low glycemic index  will produce a slower rise and lower peak in blood glucose concentration after eating. Your first meal of the day should also include carbohydrates such as low-in-sugar breakfast cereals, oatmeal or whole grain toast combined with some protein such as a plain dairy or non-dairy product, eggs and nut butters to keep you satiated for longer.
- Check out Healthy Families BC’s blog post on healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings
- Think outside the breakfast cereal box with Greatist’s 34 healthy breakfasts for busy mornings
- Freezer-friendly breakfast sandwiches from Damn Delicious
- Freezer-friendly spinach feta breakfast wraps from Kitchn
- A week’s worth of oatmeal in jars from Kitchn
Week 2: Transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch
With a bit of planning and making extra food when you do have time to cook or prep meals, you can transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch. Try doubling up on recipes so you have enough portions for a couple of lunches. It shouldn’t add any cooking/prep time. Also, consider shopping for food online to save time. Some stores prepare your order for easy pick-up or even deliver!
Be prepared with these recipes, tips, and healthy lunch spots:
- Check out Spud’s 13 hacks for quick lunches
- If you need to buy lunch, no problem! After all, we are trying to reduce stress levels. Check out Melissa is a Registered Dietitian and Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing in UBC Food Services. seven places to grab healthy food on campus.
- UBC Food Services offers these alternate ideas to replace deli meats
- Explore mouth-watering healthy lunch ideas for work from EatingWell
For those extra busy times when you don’t have time to grocery shop, consider online food ordering. Here are some local options:
Week 3: Who’s ready for snacks?
Avoid the mid-morning or mid-day run to the snack bar by incorporating healthy snacks that include a minimum of two food groups. That will help reduce the sugar spike and impending crash from eating highly processed, carbohydrate-based, easy-to-grab snacks.
- 27 healthy and portable high-protein snacks by the Greatist
- Check out Melissa Baker’sHealthy Snacking 101
- Did you know UBC staff and faculty (in Vancouver) get a discount to Naked Snacks?
Week 4: Plan and execute home-cooked meals with less chaos
How many times have you gotten home after work starving and with no idea what to make for dinner?
- Explore meal planners, including Martha Stewart’s Grocery Bag Weekly Meal Planner. You’ll get recipes for dinner (and possibly leftovers for lunch), grocery lists and the confidence to whip up simple meals.
- Did you know UBC staff and faculty (in Vancouver) get a discount to iMeal?
Here are some time-saving tips:
- Wash, chop and store fresh veggies and fruit once or twice a week to minimize cooking and prep time on other days.
- Make grains galore. Cook extra whole grains or other sides and store portioned leftovers in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. That way, you’ll be ready when you need a healthy meal in a hurry.
- Slow saves time: consider using a slow cooker. Check out BBC good food’s vegetarian slow cooker recipes.
Dinner in 30 minutes or less:
Melissa Lafrance’s Tip of the Month
Try one of my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows: Maple-Cinnamon Apple & Pear Baked Oatmeal. It’s great to make on Sunday evening and have as a quick breakfast each weekday morning. I scoop some in a bowl, add milk, and heat it up in the microwave. It also keeps me satiated until my mid-morning snack!
Become a UBC Health Contact
Each week in September, we will be sharing tips, tricks and information to support environmental health. To receive weekly reminders or for more information on how you can promote health and wellbeing at UBC, sign up to be a UBC Health Contact.
By Miranda Massie on September 13, 2017
Week 1: Don’t miss Free Week!
UBC Recreation (September 11-17) and BodyWorks Fitness Centre (September 11-16) invite you explore as many classes as you like at various Vancouver campus locations. It’s a great opportunity to try different types of activities before registering for a full program. If you’re in the Okanagan, check out the Campus Rec Open House (September 14).
As UBC staff and faculty, you have access to a wide range of corporate health, fitness and family discounts that will help you fit in fitness without breaking the bank. Check back as the list is updated and expanded regularly.
Week 3: Drop-in for a twoonie!
Looking for a cost effective workout plan? Staff and faculty can drop-in to the BodyWorks Fitness Centre Monday to Friday from 1-4pm for only $2!
Week 4: Stay in shape while on the move.
Looking for ways to incorporate more walking into your day? Park on the top level of the parkade, get off the bus 1-2 stops early, or cycle to meetings across campus. Another free alternative is to take the stairs to your classroom or office.
People who use active transportation to commute to work and school (by bus, bike, or foot) tend to be more active in their day, and have more positive lifestyle attributes [Source].
By Miranda Massie on April 5, 2017
Congratulations on making it through the end of the fiscal year on campus! This inevitable, yet often trying, time of year can be very stressful, particularly if you are like me and have a fear of tiny boxes filled with numbers.
According to the Financial Planning Standards Council, 42% of Canadians rank money as their top source of stress. As a young professional currently renting a one-bedroom, planning a wedding and hoping to eventually start a family, finances are always top of mind and often a source of stress. Caring for our financial health and finding ways to manage the associated stress is vital to our overall wellbeing and quality of life.
With this in mind, spring feels like a great time to begin thinking about ways to boost fiscal health, perhaps through a financial cleanse. Think of it as spring cleaning for your wallet!
1.Track where you’re at
Though it may be tedious and it might seem like a slow start to the process, it is impossible to make improvements to your spending habits without first assessing where you are at. For best results, track your spending for a minimum of 30 days. The good news is that there are lots of spending trackers and budgeting apps that can make this step less painful.
Mint.com (App or desktop)
Budget Calculator in Excel (Credit Counselling Society)
2.Take stock of your existing inventory
While tracking, take stock of what you already have in the way of clothing, health and beauty products, non-perishable food, etc. Create a list so that you are on top of what you currently own. This decreases the likelihood of making purchases “just in case” or because you’ve forgotten what you’ve already bought.
You might also want to take this time to look at any ongoing monthly subscription services that you are paying into, like Netflix, meal delivery services, gym memberships, magazines or catalogues. Are you receiving the value you expected at the start? Are you making the most of the services? Do you think that the service is worth what you are paying (i.e., would you sign up now if you were not already subscribed)?
3.Consolidate your plastic
The average Canadian has two or three credit cards in their name and close to half are carrying credit card debt month to month. Try making purchases without a credit card (using debit instead), or if you like to get rewards points, ensure that you have the money needed to pay off the purchase in advance. Consider closing one or more of your credit cards (remembering to hold on to the oldest one for credit history purposes). There are a variety of different strategies for how to go about paying off credit card debt, but typically anything that goes above and beyond the minimum payment per month is a positive step.
4.Establish a debt plan
On top of credit cards, many people are also facing car loans, mortgages, student loans and other personal loans. These debts can weigh heavily, restricting daily financial decisions as well as overall mental health. Consider creating a debt repayment plan. List all of your debts and their interest rates and determine a minimum monthly payment for each that you are comfortable with. Explore ways of consolidating loans, and use any savings from other areas to help pay down the remaining balance.
5.Try a fiscal fast
If you are trying to curb spending or change your financial habits, stop spending money (except for essentials of course) for one week. This will force you to make do with what you already have and stop you from spending on “extras” or unnecessary items. You may discover that there is a lot that you can do without money or that you can find new value in what you already have. To make it more fun, try it as a challenge with a friend or within your family.
Check out the Money Diet: Withdraw all the cash you will need for essentials for a week. Avoid using debit or credit cards and see if you can make it through the week.
*Bonus tip: Put up a “digital defense”. Remove temptations that could lead to online shopping by unsubscribing from store newsletters or offers for products. You may also want to consider creating a self-imposed ban on online purchases during certain times of the year.
I realize that some of these steps may not be feasible, or may not appeal to everyone. Even if this is the case, I encourage you to use the start of spring as a reminder to look after your financial health. Financial stress, left untreated, can have significant impacts on our mental health and on the wellbeing of those around us. And don’t be afraid to reach out for support, especially if you just can’t bear to face the tiny boxes with numbers all alone.
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on April 5, 2016
It is no secret that we live in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. The draw of delicate cherry blossoms, crisp ocean breezes and gorgeous mountain views are only some of the reasons that keep us here, despite the costs.
The stark reality however, is that we can’t count on the ocean or the view to pay the bills, and, the stresses associated with finances can be overwhelming and at times suffocating.
I often hear from people that items related to personal health and wellbeing are the first things to be sacrificed in times of financial strain. What we sometimes forget is that keeping well doesn’t have to break the bank.
At the end of the day, if we don’t have our health, how are we to enjoy and appreciate our wealth?
Top health hacks to boost your wellbeing while keeping money in your wallet
Participate in free events:
Register now for UBC’s annual Staff and Faculty Sports Day on May 6, 2016. This free UBC Centennial event is designed to build teamwork and celebrate the end of the school year. With your team of 4-6 people, you will take part in four physical or intellectual challenges and enjoy a free lunch, prizes and more!
Take advantage of discounts:
As a staff and faculty member at UBC, you have access to a wide range of corporate discounts for local fitness, yoga, and recreation programs. Already covered for physical health? Don’t forget to explore the arts and culture as well as family event discounts available too. Discounts include both on and off campus options.
UBC offers free pension plan workshops on a wide range of topics intended to help you make informed decisions for your family and future. Topics include Pension Plan 101, Understanding your Pension Plan, Retirement Information and GetEducated Seminars. Available for individuals, departments and larger groups.
You also have access to a wide variety of online learning tools through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell. Visit workhealthlife.com to find out more.
Find the right incentive:
Canada’s first wellness rewards program has launched in the form of Carrot Rewards. BC residents who make an effort to lead healthier lifestyles can now be rewarded with loyalty points such as Aeroplan, PetroPoints, Scene and MoreRewards. Users who sign up (it’s free) for Carrot Rewards will be able to earn loyalty points for completing activities centred on making healthier lifestyle choices.
As we set foot into a fresh fiscal year, I want to leave you with one last hack, or perhaps just a fun fact:
People often assume that eating healthier costs more money. Well, Harvard did a study to see if this was really the case. They found that the difference in price between the healthiest diets (rich in fish, nuts, fruits and veggies) and the least heathy diets was $1.50 per day. For the cost of a daily cup of store-bought coffee, you have the potential to re-allocate your funds in a health boosting way.
All my best
By Melissa Lafrance on April 5, 2016
Maintaining a wholesome diet or purchasing healthy foods may seem a little more difficult these days with increasing food prices. Perhaps you’ve noticed a difference in your grocery bill, or have seen the changes to Statistic Canada’s Consumer Price Index for food. One culprit is the current value of the Canadian dollar. With 81% of vegetables, fruits and nuts imported from outside of Canada, it’s an inevitable shift. Another factor is climate change and the effect this has on crops.
Regardless of food prices, we need to eat! There is some good news. We can all adopt a few habits to get the most bang for our buck while ensuring proper nutrition and reducing the impact the rising food cost has on our health and our wallets.
1. Cooking at Home vs. Eating Out
The University of Guelph’s Food Price Report states the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food in 2016, an increase of about $345 from 2015. Those figures include an average of $2,416 spent in restaurants. When you go out to eat, you are not just paying for the food itself, but also for the service, food preparation, staff wages, etc.
Get cooking to save money! Check the Healthy UBC Recipes Series.
2. In-season Produce
Foods that are in-season are often less expensive than when they are not in season. Check out a helpful chart for seasonal and local foods in BC.
3. Shop the Specials
Take a minute to read the in-store flyers and plan your meals accordingly. It may mean you need to visit a couple of stores to get the best deal. Stock up while specials last but make sure not to overdo it to avoid food waste.
4. Plan Ahead and Stick to Your Grocery List
When there is a plan in place for meals, there is a better chance that food will be readily available when you need it and there will be less tendency to eat out or purchase pre-made meals. It’s so simple and the payoff will be worth it.
5. Waste Less and Use Leftovers
6. Cook More Vegetarian Meals
If you are finding animal proteins are more expensive than what you can afford, you can add more vegetarian sources of protein to your meals. Check out a fantastic collection of healthy vegetarian recipes and 10 meatless high-protein foods.
7. Check the Best Before Dates
Make sure you check the date to ensure you will have enough time to consume it before it goes to waste. Read more on best before dates vs. expiry dates.