The first step toward getting teens off junk food, says Earl Johnson, who runs the school eatery at Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg, is to be hip to their current diets “and then find something to compensate.”
1. Talk to the kids Find out what they like and don't like. Most kids like potatoes, for example. Instead of fries, try baked potatoes. Then, next time you serve them, add broccoli and cheese.
2. Make food attractive Use as much colour as possible. Earl discovered that beige food, such as beef and macaroni, doesn't get too far, but kids will sidle up to the bar for offerings such as fresh mango and orange juice.
3. Find different ways of presenting fruit It's almost impossible to get a teen to eat a whole banana, says Earl, so encourage him to add fruit to his cereal. And try making mousses or juices with fresh fruit. "Hopefully, the natural sugars in juice will get them off processed sugar, which they're almost addicted to,” says Earl. "When I first started serving fresh juices, the kids would add spoonfuls of sugar. As they got used to the fruit and fruit juices, they came off the sugar and now they drink their fruit straight."
4. Bake healthy sweets "A lot more baking equals a lot less candy," observes Earl. "I introduced fudge blocks, for example. They're like candy but are made with granola, honey and condensed milk. I do three types: plain white, caramel and chocolate-carob."
5. Be careful what you call the food "When I started making cookies, I called them Honey Bran Cookies," says Earl. "That name was a real turnoff, so I called them Caribbean Cookies or Lemon Surprise. Smarties were a best seller in the cafeteria, so I came up with a Smartie Cookie. Each cookie has about three Smarties. But the name is there and they can see the odd one." You have to be inventive, says Earl. "And you also have to be a little conniving."
It took a year for Linda to make the decision to freeze her eggs. “I’d always known that I wanted a child of my own someday,” she says. “I had thought, I’m not that old, it’s not a big deal. But when I turned 38, I decided it was time to proceed.” Linda, a Vancouver-based financial professional who had recently left a three-year relationship, met with a doctor to discuss her options. A career in banking had consumed her for 18 years, and she hadn’t taken the time to travel or focus on her personal life. Because she was single and didn’t see herself having a child any time soon, she wanted to take steps to make sure she could still have biological children of her own when she was ready.
If Linda’s decision doesn’t seem radical, consider that just 10 years ago, freezing her eggs wouldn’t have been a viable option. Consider, too, that the idea of “social egg freezing” made headlines recently when Apple, Facebook and other companies agreed to cover the cost of their employees’ egg freezing even when it’s done for no other reason than to delay childbearing.
Doctors have had the technology to freeze women’s eggs since the early 1980s, but the technique didn’t work very well and the egg-survival rates were low. Because eggs were frozen slowly, they spent more time in a dangerous cold zone, where ice crystals could form. Many times, the eggs wouldn’t survive the thaw- ing process. “Eggs are very, very fragile,” says Dr. Sonya Kashyap, medical director of Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver. While sperm freezes easily because it’s mostly DNA, a woman’s egg is at least 1,000 times bigger than the head of the sperm, it’s 95 percent water and it carries all the “machinery.”
So when vitrification was invented in Japan in the early 1990s, egg freezing changed dramatically. Dr. Dan Nayot, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at TCART Fertility Partners in Toronto, explains the process as a rapid-freezing method whereby the egg is placed in a special “antifreeze” solution to help draw some of the water out so the egg doesn’t burst when frozen. The solution is then cooled so quickly that water molecules have no time to form ice crystals, so the egg spends less time in the “danger zone.” Vitrification allows clinics to freeze then thaw eggs with a survival rate of up to 90 percent. So far, the success rates are equivalent to in-vitro fertilization (IVF): about a 40 to 50 percent chance of achieving a pregnancy, depending on the quality of the eggs.
The egg-freezing process To determine eligibility for the vitrification process, a woman undergoes a series of blood tests, ultrasounds and general medical tests to check her ovarian reserve (the quantity and quality of her eggs). The recommended age limit is under 38, but doctors will review each woman’s health and consider her age before confirming that she’s a candidate. Then, similar to the stages of IVF, patients inject themselves with follicle-stimulating hormone, a naturally occurring hormone that, when taken at higher dosages, can help a woman recruit and develop more eggs.
When Linda began the process, she gave herself a daily hormone injection, then progressed to twice-daily injections. “You feel a bit like a pincushion,” she says. Once her follicles were stimulated to an ideal level (follicles are monitored frequently with ultrasounds and blood work), her doctor retrieved the available eggs from the ovary using a transvaginal ultrasound (a probe placed inside the vagina) and a guided needle. The procedure took less than 20 minutes and, though Linda was sedated, she found it fairly painful. “I don’t think it was supposed to hurt, but it did,” she says. “You can feel them pushing into the ovary to suction out the eggs.” The eggs were then frozen and will be stored indefinitely for a fee until Linda chooses to create an embryo with a partner or a sperm donor and undergo IVF.
How your age affects your fertility When it comes to fertility, a woman’s age is the biggest factor. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2010, the average age of mothers at childbirth was 30.1 (up from 23.5 in 1945). The current percentage of over-30 new moms is about two and a half times greater than it was in 1974.
So why are women waiting to have kids if fertility starts to decline after 30 and dramatically declines after 35? Statistics Canada reports that this delay in child-bearing is in part due to more women in the workforce, more women seeking out higher education and improved methods of birth control.
Not being in a relationship is a prevalent reason these days, too, says Dr. Kashyap. “Commonly, women used to come to us for fertility preservation for cancer treatment,” she says. “But now, one of the most common reasons is that women don’t have partners.” And even though she doesn’t think it’s fair to put pressure on women to have children when they’re not ready financially, relationship-wise or career-wise, she does admit that the sooner women try to conceive, the better—naturally or otherwise.
Unfortunately, if you want to use your frozen eggs at 40 or 41, but they’re not viable when thawed, your alternatives are limited. However, if you try to conceive with your frozen eggs at 35 and experience challenges, there are more options, such as trying to retrieve more viable eggs.
“Most single women at 30 are optimistic,” says Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. “If I tell a 30-year-old that she might not get married until she’s 43, she would be, like, ‘Wow, you’re a real downer.’ It’s nothing personal, but it might happen, so freeze your eggs now.”
The reality is that many women, like Linda, wait until their late 30s because they haven’t met someone with whom to have children. “Thirty-seven is the most common age that women come in requesting egg freezing,” says Dr. Schoolcraft. “They’re hitting the panic button, which is ironic because once their motivation is high and it’s obvious they should freeze their eggs, they’ve probably already waited too long.” Dr. Schoolcraft has also seen a woman’s parents come in with her to discuss egg preservation. “Some parents want to give their daughter the money to freeze her eggs because they want grandchildren.”
The cost of freezing your eggs Linda’s parents were both supportive when she told them she was going to freeze her eggs. Otherwise, only her close friends know. “I have a few friends who are the same age as me and single, too, and they wish they could do it,” says Linda. “I think cost is the main deterrent.” The process is expensive and generally not covered under provincial and territorial health plans unless “medically necessary,” for example, in the case of those undergoing potentially sterilizing treatments for illnesses like cancer. The price tag comes in at around $10,000: $7,000 for egg retrieval and freezing, not including the price of medications, and $3,000 for IVF. In addition, there are storage fees of approximately $200 a year, depending on the clinic.
The risks of delaying motherhood Even after the physical discomfort and expense of the process, egg freezing doesn’t guarantee that women will be able to have children whenever they’re ready. “When I counsel single women about fertility, I reinforce that the other reason to have a baby sooner—like, say, under 35, rather than at 45—is for them to consider what’s in the best interest of that child,” says Dr. William Buckett, director of McGill University Health Centre’s Reproductive Centre in Montreal. Health complications that could arise from carrying a baby at an older age should be considered, including an increased risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding in the third trimester, placenta previa, chromosome disorder, low-lying placenta and having to deliver by caesarean.
Dr. Buckett adds that the risk of congenital birth defects, while marginal, also increases with both egg freezing and IVF. So while egg freezing is now a viable option and has resulted in the births of many healthy babies, Dr. Buckett cautions that it’s far from ideal. “The general population needs to be aware that it’s better to get pregnant spontaneously than to get pregnant with eggs that are frozen and thawed.” And because vitrification is relatively new, most doctors emphasize that clinics don’t have reliable longterm data to prove success rates, as many patients have frozen their eggs but haven’t returned to use them yet.
The egg-retrieval process itself also carries some risk. In about one in 1,500 cases, the high level of hormones used to stimulate the follicles can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can result in hospitalization. The risk of bleeding, infection and injury is also present. “If we have a couple who has infertility, then we would accept these small risks for the benefits of a pregnancy,” says Dr. Buckett. “If someone doesn’t have infertility, then they’re accepting these risks for a more nebulous benefit.”
Despite the risks and the costs, for Linda, it was worth it. Having biological children someday is very important to her. “I’ve always wanted kids,” she says. “I don’t want to lose out on the ability to have my own child just because my life isn’t on a conventional timeline. Hopefully, by freezing my eggs I’ve taken the steps to have my own biological child at some point.”
This technology, though still new, is rapidly changing the face of reproductive choices in Canada.
Fashion stylist Skye Kelton explains how to take the "less is more" approach to your wardrobe.
If you’ve come to the point where your closets are bursting with clothes, but you still have no idea what to wear, a minimalist overhaul might be for you. Minimalism helps weed out the unwanted and unflattering items you’ve been hanging on to so you’re left with a chic, satisfying wardrobe. Plutino Group fashion stylist and minimalist expert Skye Kelton breaks down how to attain an easy, modern style that you’ll feel great in.
Shop with purpose
Before you hit “add to cart” on an online store or visit the plentiful racks at the mall, make sure you’re shopping with focus and not buying haphazardly. Your minimalist attitude should start at the point of purchase. Try to visualize your current wardrobe as you browse and mentally create outfits. “Choose fewer pieces of higher quality,” says Kelton. “If you’re building a new wardrobe, start with seasonless items. The same cream culottes can be worn in spring with sling-back pumps or flats, and in fall, with an ankle- or knee-high boot.”
Make it fit
A common quality among minimalists is fit; their entire outfit is perfectly structured, almost as if the clothing was customized. Never compromise on fit. “Tailoring can drastically elevate an outfit,” says Kelton. “Alter your trousers to hit at the perfect spot on your ankle to better complement your pump.” Think of Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) from House of Cards as minimalist inspiration for fit and tailoring.
Choose natural fibres
Because this look hinges on simplicity, any item, whether a jacket or a blouse, needs to exude excellence. “Opt for natural fibres, such as 100 percent cotton, silk, linen, wool, cashmere and leather,” says Kelton. “A simple item in these fabrics automatically feels more luxurious and intentional.” With fewer pieces in your wardrobe, you’ll be able to spend a little extra on essentials. A classic white cotton button-down is a necessity for the less-is-more approach.
In order to really perfect this style, it’s important to exercise restraint when it comes to accessorizing and wearing prints. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good pattern, just don’t overdo it—and definitely don’t mix motifs. “Large graphic prints work better than minuscule prints, so try geometric patterns or stripes,” says Kelton. As for jewellery, she recommends wearing one standout piece, such as a cuff or a statement ring. “Experiment with proportion and form rather than pattern and colour.”
Add interest to your outfit
The last thing you want is for your outfits to appear boring. The goal should be to look sleek, which is effortless if your items have interesting elements. Kelton suggests choosing clothes with cutouts or asymmetrical lines to add modern flair to your minimalist ensemble. Another way to step it up is by layering with various textures and fabrics. “If you layer a crisp cotton shirt under a cashmere sweater under a sharp blazer, then top it off with a wool duster coat—all in white and cream—the effect is still minimal,” says Kelton. This helps create depth, and it expresses that your selections are mindful.
Assess your current wardrobe
Before you run out and purchase a whole new wardrobe, raid your closets to see what you have in your current inventory—you’ll be able to achieve your minimalist goals even faster and do a spring cleaning at the same time. You might be surprised at what you find. Remove any clothing you haven’t worn in ages or that don’t suit your needs. Consider getting some alterations on what you do have before purchasing anything new. What you thought was just a plain jacket might turn out to be a key item for your less-is-more style. Oh, and if you come across a trench, definitely hang on to it.
How one woman found love with someone who had lost it.
After my husband and I separated, I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had two little children and couldn't imagine being in another relationship. I felt unlucky in love, as if perhaps I didn't deserve to be happy. Besides, I hadn't dated in 15 years and, now, didn't know where to begin. But six months after I separated, a mom I'd just met called to ask if I'd be interested in going on a blind date with her friend James*, a single dad who had recently lost his wife to cancer.
By then, every single person I'd met had baggage, including me, so it never occurred to me that dating a widower would be different from dating anyone else. I didn't even really consider the possibility that a first date might lead to a second. But from the get-go, I could tell James was different. The conversation flowed easily, he was funny and interesting…we ended up going on that second date, then a third. When he asked me to date him exclusively a few weeks later, I was ecstatic— but a few months into our relationship, something weird started happening. There were a series of days when, inexplicably, he wasn't himself. He was quiet and sad and didn't want to talk.
I knew what it felt like when a man wasn't interested in me anymore—that's how my marriage had ended. So when he would clam up and be distant, I had a familiar sickening feeling. We met for a drink at a quiet neighbourhood bar, where I cut to the chase. "I'm sorry, James, but I don't know what to do when you won't talk to me. I can't do it," I told him, too sad to drink my wine. I hoped ending things would spare him the trouble of dumping me and spare myself the pain of having yet another person leave me. I was beside myself: I couldn't believe things were ending when everything had been going so well.
Only now, James was ready to talk. "I've mentioned that my wife died two years ago, and I'm sorry for not being able to communicate with you better. Certain days of the year are hard for me, and I've just got through some very difficult back-to-back anniversaries," he explained, his eyes fixed on his lap. "Some days, I don't want to talk, but I'm feeling better again and I don't want you to take it personally. I'm just trying to cope as best I can; it has nothing to do with you. I really like you and I like where this relationship is going."
He looked up into my eyes and stretched his arms across the table. His warm hands enveloped my own. It hadn't occurred to me that he was going through a rough patch; because of my own history, I assumed it was something I had done. I didn't yet know enough about his life or about grief to understand his personality or the dates that would be difficult for him. When he communicated his feelings, I felt as though I understood him, like we were connecting on a deeper level. I realized then that this man was different kinder, deeper, stronger and more compassionate—than anyone else I was likely to meet. As a newly single mother struggling to get back on my feet, I had my own set of issues and insecurities; dating a widower on top of it all wouldn't be easy, but I had fallen in love. I had to try.
My situation isn't as unique as you might think. In 2016, about 1.83 million widowed people were living in Canada, and many of them are finding their way back onto the dating market. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States, 19 percent of those who are currently divorced, separated or widowed report using online dating. In fact, Match.com saw an 8.3 percent increase in the proportion of widowed users in Canada from 2015 to 2016.
Rebecca Cooper Traynor, a Toronto matchmaker who founded Match Me Canada, has seen a similar trend. "I'd say that about 10 percent of my clients are widowers," she says; most of them are 55 and older, but some are only in their 30s and 40s. And at the same time as this group has become more interested in dating, she has also seen a shift in perceptions about them. "I've noticed that my other clients are more open to dating a widower now than when I started my business eight years ago," she says. "Some people are tired of dating divorcés and hearing about their anger and resentment on a date. They want to meet someone in a different space, someone who knows how to love."
A delicate balance As in any relationship, James and I have challenges—but some of the things we face are specific to his widowed status. For example, in the five years since we went on our blind date, I've learned to give James space on significant dates, such as on his late wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the day she died. Since our near-breakup early on, I've marked those days on my calendar so I can call to say I'm thinking of him and see if I can help. Being in tune with your partner's needs is often the best thing you can do, says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor with the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax. "Ask your partner what you can do to make those tough days better. Your awareness itself can be a lovely gesture. Maybe you don't need to be involved and you can give your partner the space he or she needs to continue that grief work," he says. "That can be a gift in and of itself."
I've also learned that, contrary to the proverbial "five stages of grief," how we mourn doesn't fit into easy steps. In fact, the psychiatrist who first identified those stages, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, never intended them to apply to the living—her research was on people who were facing their own deaths. In other words, watching for signs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance is no way to tell whether a mourner is ready to move forward.
Rather, many grief specialists champion the "companioning" philosophy espoused by author, counsellor and educator Alan Wolfelt. They believe that the process is individual and that bereaved people tend to know when they are ready to move forward. According to this model of grief, mourners have six needs that must be met in order to reconcile their loss: acknowledging the reality of the death; embracing the pain of the loss; remembering the person who died; developing a new self-identity; searching for meaning; and receiving ongoing support from others. But this isn't a checklist and there's no time frame for completion, or a particular order in which they must happen.
"The companioning model of bereavement distinguishes between grieving—the internal experiencing of pain—and mourning, which is the outward expression of that pain," says Maureen Theberge, a psychologist at Viewpoint Counselling Psychology in Calgary. "Grief isn't something you 'get over' any more than you 'get over' love, but those who can mourn well will have a better outcome for moving forward. Having a way to remember the dead, to honour and acknowledge them, especially when the mourner has children, can be healing. It's meaningful and may offer comfort."
Finding your way For the first few years, James commemorated special days only with his close family, but recently, I've been invited to participate by attending an annual memorial service and being with his family to remember his wife's birthday. I'm happy to support him in this way, much as he has supported me through my divorce—but the truth is, it can be hard for me emotionally. Sometimes, I'm sad for days afterward. I want to weep thinking about what an unfair loss James, his family and his wife suffered. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for his wife to be diagnosed with a terminal illness as a young adult, to hear she was going to die. But I've come to understand that grieving is a healthy sign. Even if the process hurts, it brings James' family and friends together. I've seen how remembering and celebrating his wife provides them with strength to continue on. We have been companioning without realizing it.
As much as I grieve with James and his family on sad days, I've also had a hard time coping with his loss on great days. It's embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I've felt guilty for dating James. I've seen his late wife's beautiful photos, can sense how wonderful she was and feel how much she was loved—how much she still is loved. I've dissolved in tears, overwhelmed that James and I are on a romantic vacation together when he should have been with the love of his life, his wife. How was I ever going to fill her shoes? How would I measure up? What if I couldn't?
As difficult as these feelings are, experts say they're normal. Unlike dating a divorcé, Theberge says dating a widower can feel threatening because the person's partner didn't choose to leave; rather, "death tore them apart." Logically, however, jealousy doesn't help. "It's irrational," says Theberge. "You are not in competition with the deceased. Your relationship is new and unique."
Just because those feelings are irrational doesn't make them any less real, and it's important to deal with them, says Ellis. He suggests looking within at why you're feeling insecure. "We are each responsible for our self-esteem and self-love. Take stock, find out what's hurting and share it with your partner, but not in an accusing way," he says.
Overcoming feelings of insecurity isn't easy. As Ellis says, "You have to learn to integrate the presence of the deceased in a new relationship the way you don't in divorce. With divorce, you're out; with death, you've got to come to terms with the fact the other person is still loved and recognized." But while the challenges are different, "it doesn't mean you can't have a successful relationship."
Talk therapy In order to do that, though, you have to communicate. I knew I had to tell James how I was feeling, but it was difficult to have that conversation, to admit my insecurities. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt awash with shame. But James was patient and loving and told me his wife wanted him to be happy. Talking to him made me realize I couldn't change his past, but I could have a future with him—and I was helping him move forward, which is what his wife wanted.
Over time, I've grown to believe that we don't have only one soul mate for life. It's possible to love more than one person. When you have a second child, after all, you don't stop loving the first; you make more room in your heart. And now I see that grieving is good, that talking about fears and sadness can be healing. I know not to compare, not to think of myself as an inadequate replacement for the woman he really wanted.
James and I know too well that life can be fleeting. We understand that time is precious. We are taking things slowly—not rushing to combine families or get married—but when I look into his eyes, when I hold his hand on good days and bad, I know we are moving forward together.
Success factors Five tips from the experts for building a healthy relationship with a widower.
1. Communicate, even if it hurts, says Suzanne Farmer, a psychologist (candidate register) at Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax. "There will be times when your partner will think about his deceased spouse and miss her; there will be times when you might feel threatened or hurt. You have to be able to communicate these feelings."
2 Be open-hearted and understanding. "Sometimes your partner might experience bursts of grief, and you have to let him be sad and feel his pain. It's normal. It's not a judgment about you," says Calgary-based psychologist Maureen Theberge.
3. See your partner as a whole person. His experience of loving someone and having that person die is just part of his story.
4. Be ready for sudden mood swings. "Sex and emotional intimacy can sometimes trigger upwellings of grief and emotion," says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor in Halifax. The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility is to have discussions about intimacy in advance.
5. Be open to a new life. "Your partner will never 'get over' the loss— he will be forever changed—but it doesn't mean life can't be beautiful again," says Theberge.
Aside from being an easy snack for the office, yogurt is chocked full of ingredients that help your body run smoothly, no matter what age you are.
Although yogurt has been a staple in the health food world for what seems like an eternity, it has made a comeback in a big way with society's newfound love of greek yogurt. Now, people eat yogurt with a variety of tweaks and alternations to make it their own: with oats and grains sprinkled on top, honey drizzled in, and all and any fruit for added flavour and health benefits.
Whether you eat it plain, low-fat, greek, frozen, from a tube or a bottle, or in your smoothies, yogurt has health benefits beyond what you may think. Read on to find out what the good stuff is that makes up yogurt.
1. The probiotics.
You know yogurt has probiotics because every commercial for yogurt says that, but what does it actually mean? In the simplest of terms, probiotics are good-for-you bacteria. They help in regulating your digestive system and decreasing gas, diarrhea and bloating. Research has even suggested that probiotics can aid in boosting your immune system, weight management and reduce the risk of cancer.
2. The calcium.
Just like all products in the dairy family, yogurt is a great source of calcium, which plays a huge role in many health benefits. Calcium plays a primary role in the development and maintenance of healthy and strong bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, healing wounds and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Some yogurts contain vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium to its fullest potential, so finding those yogurts or pairing yogurt with foods high in vitamin D is highly beneficial.
3. The proteins.
Plain yogurt made from whole milk is a highly rich source of protein. The proteins in yogurt can increase the absorption of minerals, promote lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
4. The vitamins.
Yogurt made with whole milk contains every single nutrient the human body needs, although the way it is made and ingredients used can alter the levels of the vitamins and nutrients in the yogurt. Yogurt contains vitamin B12, which keeps your nerved and red blood cells healthy and can only be found in foods originating from an animal. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is also in yogurt. This helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, or 'food into fuel.'
Want to incorporate yogurt into your diet, but don't want to be stuck with buying processed, sugary yogurt cups? Check out Canadian Living's recipes: