About Allison Todd

Allison is the newbie on the team and joins femMED as the Communications Coordinator. After completing a Bachelors of Arts degree from Dalhousie University she moved back to Toronto to complete a post graduate degree certification in corporate communications from Seneca College. From there she cut her PR teeth working with a Toronto PR agency before moving to femMED. Allison’s passionate about health and fitness. She loves to cook healthy meals and her bookcase at home is dangerously at risk of over flowing with cookbooks. She loves a good workout, is training for Tough Mudder, and hits the pavement for a run as often as possible.

Love is in the Food

We’ve all heard about them, but do aphrodisiacs (foods that are thought to enhance sexual desire) really work?  Well, we’ve done some digging to find out which ones are the most popular and why.

1) Happy as an Oyster

Oysters are believed to rev up your libido. This myth could have started because oysters are loaded with zinc which can help improve libido, raise testosterone and increase sperm production. There is no conclusive evidence to support this but they are a great source of omega-3s, which is known to promote a feeling of well-being. So split a few shells and see where the night takes you.

2) Crazy for Cacao

Pure chocolate (not milk chocolate) contains PEA (phenylethylamine) also known as “the love chemical”. PEA releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and peaks during orgasm. It’s thought that the PEA in chocolate could help induce feelings of excitement, attraction and euphoria but it’s doubtful. The small amount of PEA in chocolate is metabolised before it has time to take effect. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a component of serotonin which is known to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation. We’re not sure if eating chocolate will actually induce feelings of love and euphoria, but no women is going to say no to a gift of delicious chocolates.

3) Honeymoon – I’m Home

Mead or honey wine was traditionally served to newlyweds. Often, enough mead was provided to the newlyweds following the wedding to last them a month, since it was believed the first month was the sweetest. Although it has sometimes been claimed that the word honeymoon is derived from this practice, the first known reference to this term dates back to 1552 when it was used to describe the inevitable waning of love.

Today, honey is a great source of sugar which can help boost energy levels and it also comes in handy as a beauty product. Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the pores. Spread some evenly on your face and let it sit for 30 minutes. When you scrub it off it will leave your skin soft with a rosy glow and you’ll be ready for date night.

4) Heating it up with Chillies

Chile peppers quicken your pulse, makes you sweat and stimulate the release of endorphins. Does this sound familiar to you? It should. All these things happen to you when you’re aroused. Chillies also have the bonus of being good for you, just like sex.

5) Pomegranate Juice for Two

In pomegranate lore, it was once the fruit of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and believed to be a natural libido booster for both women and men. The jury is still out on this, but pomegranates are a delicious fruit that are full of vitamins A, B and C. They are also a good source of antioxidants which can help boost the immune system. Just be aware of how much you drink. Pomegranate juice, similar to grapefruit juice, is thought to interact negatively with certain medications. Experts believe that an 8-12oz glass of sugar-free pomegranate juice is perfectly fine but you shouldn’t exceed that amount, especially if you’re on certain medications.

So the next time you’re cooking up a romantic meal or find yourself on a fabulous dinner date, keep these top 5 aphrodisiacs in mind. Your love life and your health might thank you for it later.

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Surviving Wedding Season

It’s spring time, and we all know what that means, wedding season! That’s right. It’s time to inventory your party dresses and revamp your shoe collection. You’re on the wedding circuit this summer!

The ceremony will be beautiful and the reception venue amazing, the only question is, how are you going to survive the dinner? Here are a few strategies we found helpful when faced with the dilemma of eating healthy while still having fun at a wedding.

  1. Control yourself during cocktail hour. There will a bounty of cater waiters tempting you with cocktail shrimp and mini quiches. Resist. Keep in mind there will be a full dinner service later in the night.
  2. Have a buffet table strategy. If you’re faced with eating from the buffet table know your portion sizes. Keep them small and be picky about what you select. Use the salad plate instead of the dinner plate if it helps. It’s a wedding, so it’s important to enjoy yourself, but you don’t want to go off the rails with your diet. If you’re tempted to have seconds wait 20 minutes (the length of time it takes your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full) and have a glass of water and relax.  You might find the desire for that second helping disappears. Don’t forget that dessert is on its way.
  3. Cheers to the happy couple. If you’re going to drink alcohol at the wedding, that’s fine. Who doesn’t love a nice glass of wine, but you need to be smart about how much you drink. The calories in wine, beer and mixed drinks can really add up. If you find you’re the kind of person who needs to be holding a drink the entire time, try rotating a glass of alcohol with a glass of water or soda.
  4.  Avoidance.  This is going to be key to keeping your wedding meal fat free. Stay away from cream sauces and soups, starchy foods and anything that has been deep fried. If you’re a soda-holic opt for the diet version and skip the croutons on your salad. Every little bit helps.
  5. Partners in Crime.  These days dessert is a serious statement at weddings. Many couples offer more than just the standard wedding cake. Find a dessert buddy and share your portions. That way you can try a little of everything while not gorging on sugary sweets. You’ll both walk away satisfied and guilt free.
  6. Next day detox. If you did throw your diet rules out the window, be smart about what you eat the next day. Keep it as healthy and clean as possible. Drink plenty of water, take a multivitamin and eat whole wheat’s, veggies and fruits. Try to get a work out in or if that’s not possible take an extra-long walk.

Now go and enjoy yourself on your friend big day!

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Sitting on the Sidelines

Due to a recent kickboxing injury, I have now been on crutches for 2 weeks and still have 2 more weeks to go. This is a serious problem for someone like me who has never used crutches and is always active.

I love nothing more than a lazy weekend on the couch watching bad TV, but a full month of it is truly agonizing! Apart from a speedy recovery, my biggest concern is how do I keep on track with my goals for staying healthy?

After 2 weeks on crutches I have learned some helpful tips on how to stay healthy while recovering from an injury.

The first is obvious; speak with your doctor about what is realistic. Your number one priority should be following their advice on how to help your injury heal properly. I am lucky that my knee injury is relatively minor (when compared to something like a broken leg). If your injury requires a longer recovery time, please be smart about getting better. Don’t over exert yourself; give your body time to heal.

Second, eating right and sticking to a healthy diet is even more important than ever. Stock up on all your favourite healthy foods. I bought double the amount of everything that I usually get at the grocery store. I then spent the entire weekend preparing all my lunches and dinners for the week. I prepared lots of different fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains and  stored them in containers in the fridge. That way, as soon as I made it through the door after work, I was able to make dinner quickly and with plenty of options. This way I am never bored with what I am eating, and it helps me stay on track.

Third, if you’ve got them, use your crutches. The daily walk to my bus stop and office is a total of 30 minutes on crutches. After only a week, I’ve noticed that my shoulders, upper back and arms have been getting a great workout. I have been using my pectoral muscle, biceps, deltoids and trapezius much more than I usually do. I did the math and I am burning approximately 300+ calories an hour. Using my crutches regularly has also helped to build my stamina and exert some of that pent-up energy.

Lastly, keep your mind and your hands busy. Trust me; it will help make the time go by much faster. I asked friends to recommend books, puzzles, word games, anything that would keep me busy but resting at the same time. I’ve even taken up knitting. Try to take advantage of being parked on the couch and turn an unfortunate situation to your advantage.

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Sleeping Beauty – A Guide to Buying the Perfect Mattress for You

We can’t talk about healthy sleeping habits without talking about the most important sleeping aid of all. Your mattress! Your mattress is one of the most important items you’ll need for a good night’s sleep. So, if you’re in the market for a new one, here are a few tips to keep in mind before buying.

1)    Get some support. Your mattress should support your entire body, especially your back. Make sure it supports the natural curves and alignment of your spine. Take into consideration the materials used to make the mattress such as coils, springs, fabric and padding.

2)    Better Safe than Sorry. A good mattress is an investment into your health, so when ever possible, take advantage of a warranty.  Accidents do happen, whether it’s moving from place to place or an unfortunate spill. Your mattress should be just as protected as any other large investment item in your home. Always use a mattress cover since most of the mattress companies won’t honour the warranty if you don’t.

3)    Firmer Isn’t Always Better.  There is a misconception that a firm mattress is the better mattress. Not so! Like a pillow, it depends on what type of sleeper your are: back, side or stomach. Also if you sleep alone or with a partner. Discuss these things with the salesperson and if you do sleep with a partner, make sure they come along when you shop. Take your time when selecting a new mattress to make sure it feels right for you.

4)    Accessorize. Once you’ve purchased your mattress, think about getting a good quality mattress pad. They can help protect your mattress from stains, spills, rips or tears. They‘re also easy to clean (most go right into the washing machine) and come in a variety of textures, price points and thicknesses. They can really help you customize the comfort of your mattress for that perfect night’s sleep.

5)    Be Picky. It’s recommended that you should replace your mattress every seven years (depending on use). Some people don’t even own a car for that long! Do your research before going to the store and make a list of your current mattress failings. Don’t be afraid to put the sales people through their paces. Ask plenty of questions about mattress materials, longevity, value, warranty and design. Also, find out if the mattress company recommends you flip and rotate your mattress on a regular basis, since this can add years to the life of your mattress.



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Happy Earth Day

The connection between a happy earth and a healthy you are closer than you think. Here are 5 ways you can have a healthy Earth Day.

1) Get in the Garden. Weather permitting get outside and enjoy some of that sunshine (which means getting some of that vitamin D). Also, gardening is much more active than you would think. It’s a great way to help build strength and it works towards developing your aerobic health.

2) Leave the Car in the Garage. What better way to help save the earth then dusting of your bicycle and going for a ride. You’ll be helping to cut down on emissions, and it’s a fantastic lower body workout. Grab some healthy snacks and get your friends involved. Make Earth Day fun for all of you.

3) Start eating local. Take advantage of your local farmer’s market. It’s a wonderful way to connect with other members of your community, and they offer a wide variety of produce and products. By purchasing locally grown food, you’re helping to cut down on emissions from long distance transport.

4) A Greener Home is a Happy Home. Get your house green inspected. This will show you how to make your home more energy efficient and more cost effective!

5) Start Scrubbing. Look through your current cleaning supplies and switch out anything that isn’t made with the environment in mind. Look for “green cleaners” that have been reviewed and approved by a third party auditor. EcoLogo is a great example of this. They audit, review, and certify the ingredients in cleaning products to ensure that your cleaners are as sustainable as advertised. Look for the logo and you’ll know what you’re using will be kind to the earth.     

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