news & trends

Key Nutrition Trends for 2024 & Beyond

After examining forecasts, here are the 10 key trends in food and nutrition for 2024 and beyond. These trends have enduring impact that will influence food and nutrition businesses and shape the way we shop and eat.

  1. One Health

    One Health promotes a balanced and healthy future by integrating the well-being of people, animals, and ecosystems. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment. One Health is a collaborative approach, aiming for optimal health outcomes at local, regional, and global levels by recognizing the ecosystem connections.

    Opportunity: Innovations in food production are pivotal for ensuring food security, nutrition, and animal welfare. The WHO supports advancing One Health approaches.  (WHO 2017, 2021)

  2. Sustainability

    Consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability in food choices, seeking options that benefit both people and the planet. Principles of stewardship and responsibility of humans to change behavior and adopt solutions underscore the importance sustainable practices for future generations.  (Dvorin, 2022)

    Opportunity:  Many Canadian companies stepped up with eco-friendly packaging, but much more can be done to communicate clearly and credibly about sustainable choices that are affordable, available and desirable.

  3. Plant Forward

    The plant-forward trend continues to evolve, accommodating various dietary preferences. It encompasses vegan and vegetarian and flexitarian eating, reflecting a shift towards more plant -based eating while allowing animal foods too. “Think omnivores on their way to becoming flexitarians.” (Culinary Institute of America, 2020)

    Opportunity: Consumers seek great tasting and convenient plant based foods both in grocery stores and restaurants. Plant proteins present ongoing opportunities for innovation.

  4. Year of the Fibre

    Fibre is part of the ‘healthy halo’ yet many people only get half the amount of fibre they need. Fiber-rich eating patterns offer many benefits, including improved digestive health, and reduced risks of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Fibre-containing foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts. (Dietitians of Canada, 2018)

    Opportunity: Looking for ways to add more fibre to consumers’ eating plan can positively impact overall health. Fibre messages are easy to understand and have strong positive association to digestive wellness.

  5. Snackification

    Snackification reflects a trend towards consuming larger size snacks throughout the day rather than traditional main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, instead of a morning meal, people may eat a snack right after waking up, then eat another snack mid-morning. Other names for snackification have been “grazing”, eating a “little bit at a time but more often” or simply just “snacking”.  This pattern aligns with busy lifestyles, offering convenient and portable food options. (Ceyland, 2023)

    Opportunity: Snackification presents an opportunity for diverse, nutrient-dense food offerings that cater to on-the-go consumers. Balanced budget wise snacks could have the edge in these times of rising food costs.

  6. Positive Relationship with Food

    A balanced eating pattern involves nourishing and optimal food choices.  How and why individuals choose the foods they eat reflects their relationship with food. Encouraging a positive relationship with food is essential as consumers move away from restrictive diet culture and discover more about their body’s natural hunger cues. Embracing intuitive and mindful eating approaches fosters balanced eating characterized by lower stress around food and more freedom in food choices. (Turner, 2021)

    Opportunity: Supporting individuals in building positive food habits with no restrictions and providing resources for mindful eating can facilitate a shift towards healthier relationships with food.

  7. Mood and Mind

    Awareness is growing regarding the impact of food choices on mood and cognitive function. Nutrient-dense foods support gut and brain health, with emerging research highlighting the role of the gut-brain axis in overall well-being. (Bending, 2021)

    Opportunity: Promoting diverse, nutrient-rich eating patterns can optimize mental function and overall well-being.

  8. Successful Aging

    Successful ageing emphasizes quality of life beyond the age of 60, focusing on physical, psychological, and social well-being. Research identifies 4 key behaviors, including regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, moderate alcohol consumption, and avoidance of smoking, to promote health in later years. (Willcox, 2012)

    Opportunity: Promoting evidence-based behaviors like balanced meals and staying active significantly enhances health beyond 60.

  9. Processed Food Controversy

    Processing food is a method of production and includes any kind of alteration. Debate surrounds the classification of foods based on level of processing versus nutrition or other food attributes and their impact on health. The levels of food processing—from minimally processed to ultra-processed—influences consumers choices. (British Health Foundation , 2023)

    Opportunity:  Consumers expect simpler and less processed foods, yet great taste, convenience and affordability are also important factors. Explore options for processing foods and consider nutritional contributions.  Offer information on ways to balance convenient foods and boost nutrient density.

  10. Technology and AI

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing food-related processes, from production to consumption. AI-driven data analytics optimize operations for grocers, while mobile applications assist consumers in navigating food choices, comparing prices and delivery options thereby enhancing convenience and efficiency. AI’s impact is increasingly felt in education and health care, including dietetic practice.

    Opportunity: AI tools can help fine-tune processes and provide real-time data to act efficiently and cost-effectively. Further research into the effectiveness and safety of AI-powered nutrition interventions is essential for realizing its full potential. (Bond, 2023)

Contact us for comments or questions.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

References:

 

 

Intermittent Fasting (IF) : A brief overview

Q: I hear about intermittent fasting- what’s that about?

A: Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity presenting several patterns of fasting. Below, we explore three patterns, address associated concerns, and provide recommendations for your consideration.

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Fasting involves abstaining from food and drink for specified periods of time. Traditionally fasting has been used at different times of the year in religious observances.  Recently, intermittent fasting has been popularized claiming metabolic benefits. There are a wide variety of approaches to intermittent fasting including:

  • Alternate Day Fasting: Regular eating on one day, followed by either complete fasting or a small meal (500 calories or less) on the fasting day.
  • Time-Restricted Fasting: Limiting food intake to an 8 to 12-hour time frame during the day.
  • 5:2 Days Fasting: Regular eating for five days, followed by two days of fasting with one small meal per fasting day.

What’s the Issue with IF?

While some studies on IF exist, research primarily focuses on its impact on heart disease biomarkers rather than weight loss. Comparative studies between IF and constant-calorie-restriction groups show no difference in with weight loss, body composition or insulin sensitivity. [Raymond Morrow 2023]. More research is needed on intermittent fasting as an approach to weight loss. Notably, the long-term effects of this eating pattern are not yet known.

Additionally, IF can have unpleasant side effects. These include hunger, fatigue, irritability, decreased concentration, nausea, constipation and headaches due to restricted eating. Malnutrition can also occur with if the caloric restriction is too severe over the long term.

Individuals with disordered eating patterns, difficult relationships with food or diagnosed eating disorders face heightened risks.

Bottom line

Intermittent fasting is not currently a recommended treatment for weight loss or any other health condition. (Gordon 2021) More research is needed on IF and the scientific evidence shows that there are some risks and other balanced eating approaches may be more successful in the long run. The best eating pattern is flexible that you enjoy and can stick to for life. Reach out to a us with your questions!

For personalized nutrition guidance, consult a registered dietitian who can develop an individualized eating plan tailored to your specific health and wellness goals.

What would you like to ask a dietitian? Comment below or send us an email, and we’ll answer it in a future Dietitian Q-A blog.

Sources:

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

 

The Importance of Protein Webinar with Osteoporosis Canada

 

I had the pleasure of collaborating with Osteoporosis Canada on December 7th to present a webinar on “The Importance of Protein.” Protein is a hot topic and there is much to discover about why protein is needed for good overall health. In the webinar, I explored the significance of protein for bone and muscle health, compared animal and plant proteins, highlighted the vital role of amino acids and offered practical tips for easily integrating protein into a balanced eating pattern.

For those who missed it, the webinar recording is available at these links:

Osteoporosis Canada Replay
YouTube – The Importance of Protein with Lucia Weiler RD

Consider partnering with n4nn! As a dedicated health professional, I am committed to bringing credible nutrition science to your audience. Let’s collaborate to create opportunities for positive change in health.

If you have questions or comments about the webinar, please contact us. 

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

 

 

Navigating Health Canada’s New Supplemented Food Facts Table

Health Canada aims to enhance your awareness of the revised labelling on supplemented foods, providing valuable information for making informed dietary choices.

Understanding Supplemented Foods: Supplemented foods are prepackaged items with added specific ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or caffeine, for purposes beyond basic nutrition. Some may have consumption limits or may not be suitable for certain individuals, especially when combined with other supplemented foods or supplements containing similar ingredients. Examples include – beverages or bars with added vitamins and minerals and beverages with added caffeine (for example, caffeinated energy drinks).

What’s Changing? Starting in 2024, a standardized Supplemented Food Facts table will replace the nutrition facts table on all supplemented foods, with full implementation required by December 31, 2025. Some supplemented foods will also carry a caution identifier on the front of the package and related caution box on the back or side of the package. This is because certain supplemented foods contain supplemental ingredients that can pose a risk to health if you consume too much of them or are pregnant, breastfeeding, under the age of 14 or sensitive to caffeine.

Be on the lookout when you go grocery shopping – some foods already carry these new labels!

Help Spread the Word: Join us in sharing this important information with your family, friends, and colleagues. Health Canada has developed messages and resources, including a new factsheet, to aid in distinguishing supplemented foods from other products and interpreting cautionary information accurately.

Connect with Us: For any questions or comments, please contact us! You may also reach out to Health Canada or contact Health Canada’s Supplemented Foods team with the subject line: Supplemented Foods Awareness Initiative. Let’s work together to ensure everyone stays well-informed!

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References:
Health Canada, Supplemented Foods (2023)

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

Insights from ‘Wellbeing Through Cooking’ Gallup Research – a Brief Overview

I’m excited to share with you a just released research that brings together my expertise as both a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a Registered Dietitian. The report on Wellbeing Through Cooking, done by Gallup and the Ajinomoto Group explores the connection between two simple things: cooking and eating together regularly with people you know. The report looks at this connection across different cultures and backgrounds. It also asks an interesting question: What kind of cook are you?

You can get a taste of some answers in this summary blog. [1] If you want all the details and global insights, check out the full report.

Cooking Enjoyment in North Americans

Nearly three in four North Americans reported enjoying cooking in the past seven days, surpassing other global regions. In Canada 75% of people indicated they enjoyed cooking in the past seven days, with women (79%) slightly outnumbering men (68%).

Cooking Enjoyment and Subjective Wellbeing

Globally, those why enjoyed cooking in the past week were significantly more likely to be “thriving” in their life evaluation compared to those who didn’t.  The research findings suggest that cooking can positively impact social life and can help improve various aspects of an individual’s well being.

Importance of Eating with Others  

Aligning with Canada’s food Guide recommendation  recommendation[2] “Eat meals with others’ and Gallup’s research this survey highlights a positive link between subjective wellbeing and regularly sharing a meal with someone you know. By contrast, habitually dining alone was associated with a lower quality of life in some circumstances.

Identifying Your Cooking Style

Have you ever wondered what type of a cook you might be and the level of enjoyment it brings? The final section of the research offers a demographic breakdown of five types of home cooks globally. This insight may be valuable for personal reflection and business building for those in recipe development and meal planning.

Summary:

Enjoying cooking aligns with enjoying life. As more people globally live alone, there’s an opportunity for policymakers, community advocates and other stakeholders to support the goals of ‘Cook more often’ and “Eat meals with others” to enhance the overall wellbeing of communities. ( Gallup, Health Canada)

If you’re wondering how this report might affect your personal and business success, I’m offering a free 15-minute Gallup Certified Coaching check-in with me. This personalized session is a chance for us to chat about the report’s insights and see how they align with your goals and strengths. Let’s connect!

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References:
[1]  Gallup & Ajinomoto Group(2023)
[2] Health Canada, Canada’s Food Guide Healthy Eating Recommendations (2019)

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

New Food Label Reading Tool – Health Canada Update

Health Canada recently unveiled an updated food label reading resource on it’s website, featuring clear graphics and simple 3 step process to understand food labels. Those who completed our n4nn course have gained valuable insights into interpreting food labels, empowering them to make healthier dietary choices. Using food labels can help you compare and choose products so you can make an informed choice. Below is the information on Health Canada’s new 3 step method to interpret food labels.

If you are interested in learning more about label reading, our n4nn tutorials cater to lunch and learns and professional development activities. Additionally, the n4nn online course is an invaluable resource for further exploration and understanding. If you’re interested in expanding your nutrition knowledge, please reach out to us.

Use these three steps to understand food labels

  1. Find the amount of food: 

The amount of food listed in the nutrition facts table is called serving size. The information in the nutrition facts table is based on this amount of food.

  1. Use % daily value:

The % daily value (% DV) tells you if a food product has a little or a lot of a certain nutrient:

  • 5% DV or less is a little
  • 15% DV or more is a lot
  1. Read the list of ingredients: 

The list of ingredients lists all of the ingredients in a food product in order of weight. This means that the food product contains:

  • more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list
  • less of the ingredients at the end of the list

 

Make a healthier food choice

When making a food choice or comparing two similar food products, choose those with less:

  • sugars
  • sodium
  • saturated fats

Some nutrients you may want more of include:

  • iron
  • fibre
  • calcium
  • potassium

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

Source Heath Canada (2023) https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/use-food-labels-make-healthier-choices/

E. coli Epidemic Update: Insights and 5 Professional Prevention Tips

E-Coli infection – NEWS UPDATE

On October 31, 2023, Alberta Health Services reported that an E. coli outbreak in Calgary daycares is over, eight weeks after it started. The outbreak was connected to hundreds of infections, mostly children, and was linked to a central kitchen used by several daycares. Health officials said that meat loaf and vegan loaf meals served for lunch on Aug. 29 was most likely contaminated with E. coli bacteria that led to the outbreak.

Alberta’s government is now focused on ensuring Albertans never experience another E. coli outbreak. The company’s directors also face 12 charges under municipal bylaws and will appear in court in November.

Several important lessons have been gleaned from this E. coli outbreak, and we touch on a few key takeaways.

What is the issue with E-coli?

E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a type of bacteria naturally found in the intestines of humans and animals. While many strains of E. coli are harmless and even beneficial, some can cause illness. Harmful strains of E. coli can contaminate various food products, typically through improper food handling or contaminated water. Harmful E-coli infections can lead to diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting with possible further complications especially in in young children, older adults, or individuals with weakened immune systems. The good news is that E. coli infections are mostly preventable with proper precautions and following sound food safety practices.
Now What?

Ensuring adherence to government-required food safety standards is critical in restaurants, food production facilities, and even at home. This demands continuous food safety training of staff and ongoing reminders. For example, proper food handling, cooking meats thoroughly, practicing good hygiene, and ensuring proper sanitation in food preparation are essential to prevent E. coli contamination and the potential onset of foodborne illnesses.

5 Essential Tips from Our Food Safety Pros to Prevent E. coli Infection

  1. Cook and reheat food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure safe temperature has been reached. (e.g., 165°F or 74°C for meat and poultry (Health Canada).
  2. Rinse fruits and vegetables in running water before eating or cooking them.
  3. Avoid raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products.
  4. Separate raw meat from ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods, and wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces frequently with soap and water.
  5. Clean your hands. Practice proper handwashing using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, after using the restroom.

Are you looking for additional professional food safety training tips for your foodservice team or home cooks? Reach out to us for your food safety training needs.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

References:

– The Canadian Press, Oct. 31, 2023. Available at: https://www.timescolonist.com/alberta-news/calgary-daycare-e-coli-outbreak-over-after-eight-weeks-alberta-health-services-7764918
– Health Canada (2021) Available at E. coli (Escherichia coli) infection – Canada.ca

 

5 Tips to Meet Diverse Dietary Needs

In the dynamic world of culinary professionals, menus and service are at the heart of the business. They not only reflect the essence of the establishment but also guide the guest experience. As a dietitian collaborating with chefs, I appreciate the challenges, opportunities and legal requirements to meet and accommodate diverse dietary needs. Here, I’m thrilled to share with you five top tips to help meet your guests’ diverse dietary needs.

#1 Recognize the importance of food allergies

Food allergies are more common than you may think! Over 3 million Canadians are affected by food allergy, and 1 in 2 Canadian households are impacted by it. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, sulphites and mustard. Food allergies can cause serious illness and even death and can’t be taken lightly. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to COMPLETELY AVOID the offending allergen. It’s also important to recognize the significance of avoiding cross-contact and know that cooking or freezing does NOT remove an allergen.

#2 Understand food intolerances and preferences

Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to food but it is not the same as a potentially deadly food allergy.  One of the most common food intolerances is to dairy products. Gluten intolerance is linked to the protein found in grains like wheat, rye, triticale and barley. Dietary preferences may be related to personal lifestyle choices or religious practice. For example, vegetarian and vegan foods are common dietary preferences. Vegetarian foods do not include meat or fish but do include dairy, eggs and honey. Vegan foods exclude all ingredients sourced from animals such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey and gelatin.

#3 Communicate clearly to customers

 Ask your guests about their dietary needs and clearly communicate your ability to accommodate their dietary restrictions. Customers who are allergic to foods such as nuts, shellfish, wheat or eggs want ingredients to be identified. Because of the increased interest in nutrition and food ingredients, many foodservice operators provide information about options for dietary preferences on their menu, social media and website.

#4 Make simple menu swaps to accommodate dietary preferences

 Create your menu keeping in mind the common food allergies and dietary restrictions. For example, using oil instead of butter means that the vegans and those with dairy allergies can enjoy the dish too. Offer customizable options to meet different dietary needs. For example, building their own salad or pizza allows people to choose ingredients to meet their individual preferences.

#5 Invest in training and professional development

Train staff to handle request for dietary modifications. Restaurants can reduce the risk of food allergy reactions by training staff on food allergies, using separate equipment and areas to prepare food, and providing ingredients list for menu items. If you’re not familiar with dietary restrictions and related labelling, consider consulting with a registered dietitian to ensure your menu meets the necessary criteria and your customers’ needs.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References: Health Canada, Food Allergy Canada, Centre for Disease Control

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn. First published by Takeout Canada

 

 

Aspartame Controversy

What’s the issue?

On July 26, 2023, The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared aspartame a potential carcinogen based on a hazard evaluation with the mention that more research is needed to understand the health impacts. Another WHO agency named the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) focused on risk assessment considering exposure, and concluded that ‘there was no convincing evidence from experimental animal or human data that aspartame has adverse effects after ingestion.’ (WHO/JECFA) JECFA and Health Canada state the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame as  0–40 mg/kg body weight. According to Francesco Branca, WHO’s director of nutrition and food safety, the ‘safe’ limit is roughly equivalent to nine to 14 cans of soda a day for an average-sized adult and the “occasional consumption of aspartame is probably not going to be associated with a health risk for most individuals.” Reactions to WHO’s reports have been mixed, with some experts saying that aspartame is largely safe while others argue there are still potential concerns about its health risks and that more research is needed.

Here are some news clips with credible spokespersons for deeper insights into the issues:

Now what?

Health Canada’s online statement on Aspartame says that ‘there is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of foods containing this sweetener, according to the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations and as part of a well-balanced diet, would pose a health risk to consumers.  Health Canada is also reviewing the summary assessments by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and JECFA published on July 13, 2023, and will review the full reports for each assessment once they are released. The department will determine whether action on aspartame is needed to protect Canadians, taking into consideration the scientific details from the full reports and information specific to the Canadian context for aspartame. Action Health Canada could take, if necessary, includes reducing one or more maximum levels of use for aspartame, further restricting which foods it may be used in, or no longer permitting it to be used as a food additive.’ (Health Canada/Aspartame July 25, 2023)

Although food makers and regulators can show science on aspartame containing products as safe and demonstrate how they can be part of a balanced diet, consumers are hearing more in the media about aspartame being a potential carcinogen. This makes many people wonder about why eat foods/drink beverages that contain aspartame and start looking for alternative options. In my practice I see clients reading ingredients list more often than before to identify what’s in the foods they purchase. The opportunity for food makers is to better understand people’s perceptions, provide credible information and offer choices that meet their needs and preferences.

Please reach out to us for more information about translating the science to unlock food’s potential to support healthy living.

BMI Controversy & Rethinking in Dietetics

 

What is the body mass index (BMI)?

The BMI is a ratio of weight-to-height. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. BMI is also a commonly used as a method of classifying body weight and identifying people with excessive body fat.

What is the issue with BMI?

Researchers find BMI is unreliable and can lead to misdiagnosis or mistreatment. For example, the BMI does not recognize culturally diverse bodies and varied presentations of body weight including gender differences. The BMI system may underestimate or overestimate health risks in certain adults who are highly muscular, or adults who naturally have a very lean body build, young adults who have not reached full growth, and adults over 65 years of age. (Health Canada)

Now what?

At the May 2023 Dietitians of Canada Conference the opening keynote speaker addressed ‘Weight-Inclusive Care’. Their recommendation was to stop using BMI as a criterion in nutrition assessments and diagnosis. The American Medical Association (AMA) resolution published in 2023 also supports the removal of BMI as a stand alone measure in medicine. (AMA June 14, 2023) Healthcare professionals, including dietitians are rethinking the way they care for patients. Consensus is that BMI should not be used as a tool to evaluate health. Weight inclusive dietitians focus on the health issues rather than body size.

Here is the link to the media coverage featuring health care experts on BMI.

Contact us if you have questions or comments on weight inclusive care in dietetics.

International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics (ICND) – Toronto June 12-14, 2024

“Dietitians of Canada (DC) is excited to be the host of the 19th International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics (ICND) 2024, taking place in Toronto in June 2024. The ICND offers a global platform for dietetics and nutrition, sharing the best of applied science, practice and training experiences. Every four years the ICND hosts the world’s largest and most diverse representation of dietetics globally. This will be an incredible opportunity and experience for Canadian dietitians to engage with colleagues from all over the world.

The theme for ICND 2024 is “Rise to the Challenge” and focuses on the key challenges, opportunities and learning needs faced by dietitians in all areas of practice.”   Dietitians of Canada

Lucia is honoured to have been chosen to join the International Congress of Nutrition & Dietetics (ICND) 2024 abstract review team & help shape the future of nutrition! By becoming an abstract reviewer, she will play a crucial role in contributing to the development of a robust program that showcases relevant and engaging topics for the dietetic community at ICND2024

🖐️🖐️🖐️What are your thoughts on key challenges, opportunities and learning needs for dietitians? Contact Lucia by Sept 19th to let your voice be heard as she reviews and score papers & posters that will be presented at ICND2024.

 

 

 

A farewell message from Sue

Sue Mah sitting on a red chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been almost 17 years to the day when a national food company called me, requesting a day-long nutrition training workshop for their 50-member marketing team. That significant phone call planted the seed for Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists (n4nn), which I co-founded with Lucia Weiler.

With a vision to inspire and elevate the nutrition knowledge of food / beverage professionals worldwide, I’ve had the absolute pleasure to meet you at our n4nn training workshops and work on innovative nutrition projects with many of you.

After leading three consulting businesses for decades, it’s time for me to make space for professional and personal growth. I’ll be “retiring” from n4nn on June 30, 2023. I’ll continue to be very active in my other businesses Nutrition Solutions Inc, offering nutrition writing, brand activation strategies, speaking opportunities, social media collaborations and ambassador work, as well as Media Training Boot Camp, providing media and communications training to corporate executives / health professionals. And to squeeze in a little “me” time over the summer, I’ll be working on my swim strokes and SUP yoga.

Thanks for a fantastic 17 years! Let’s keep in touch!

Warm regards,
Sue

SIAL 2023 Innovation Winners

SIAL Canada is the largest food innovation trade show in North America. Each year, new products are featured and judged for their novelty. ICYMI, here were this year’s winners that highlight health and sustainability trends.

bag of frozen tea cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Superfood Tea – by Millennia Tea

This product is a raw organic tea made from camelia sinesis leaves. Instead of drying the tea, the leaves are first picked, washed and flash frozen to preserve nutrients. The frozen tea cubes can then be added to smoothies and recipes.

 

packages of powdered egg substitutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yumgo Plant-based, Vegan Egg Substitutes – by Alternative Kitchen

These allergen-free powdered egg substitutes are a 1:1 vegan replacement for chicken whole eggs, egg whites and egg yolks. Available in a resealable package, the powder can be used in sweet and savoury recipes for foodservice applications.

 

bottles of frozen cocktails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold-pressed Cocktail Mixers – by La Presserie 

From Blood Marys to Mojitos and Strawberry Daiquiris, these frozen alcohol-free cocktail mixers are made using cold-pressed ingredients. Each bottle makes two cocktails.

 

unique aluminum bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alumishape Custom Shaped Aluminum Bottles – by Kingston Aluminum Technology Inc

Aluminum is used for sustainable packaging. While most plastics can only be recycled twice, aluminum can be recycled repeatedly back into aluminum bottles. These unique beverage bottles are created with a blow molding machine, are 3D printed and require 30% less aluminum than a typical aluminum bottle or can.

 Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners!

  

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

SIAL Inspires Food Business in Toronto May 9-11, 2023 at the Enercare Centre.

Sial Canada

SIAL Canada inspires food business. The 2023 theme is “Own the Change’ with discussions that aim to positively shape the future of food. Research shows that consumers are increasingly aware about how eating impacts their community and that the products they choose have an impact on the environment. The issues of 2023 “have serious implication on supply chains, raw materials, energy, and more, and directly impact the price of food. Climate change and its effects (early harvests, shortages, etc.) are also having a major impact on the way we eat.” (SIAL)

Canadian Grocer Magazine says “Innovation is the DNA of SIAL Canada. For more than 15 years, hundreds of companies from all over the world have been taking part in passionate competitions that encourage, celebrate and showcase the most innovative products in the industry.” (Canadian Grocer) We look forward to discovering the 2023 winners at the show!

Registration is open for attending the exhibits only or the full conference package and additional networking events. Benefit 50% off on your registration thanks to Canadian Grocer!

Use the promo code: CGSIAL23  Get your visitor badge at this link:  SIAL Inspire Food Business Visitors registration

We look forward to connecting with you at this in-person event!

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Health Canada Policy Update – Restricting Food Advertising to Children

 

Health Canada is seeking your feedback on their policy update on restricting food advertising primarily directed at children before June 12, 2023. The policy update was published on April 25, 2023. For food makers, it’s time to start thinking about whether their ongoing and upcoming advertising campaigns meet the proposed regulations.

Regulators at Health Canada want to hear from everyone including the public, health professionals, researchers, academics, organizations, governments, industry stakeholders, First Nations and other interested parties. The key questions for feedback include:

  • Defining advertising that is primarily directed at children
  • Targeting restrictions to advertising on television and digital media
  • Restricting advertisements for foods that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars or saturated fat

We are joining the webinar discussion with Health Canada on May 11, 2023  and complied the following background information for your business and advertising insights. Let us know  if you have any questions. Here is more information on  how you can participate and where you can register for the  English Webinar

Purpose of Health Canada’s Policy Update

Health Canada intends to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict advertising primarily directed at children for foods and beverages that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars and saturated fat.

Health Canada’s latest scientific evidence review found convincing relationships between the increased intakes of these nutrients of public health concern and health issues such as increased blood pressure (sodium), overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes (sugars and saturated fat), dental decay (sugars) and cardiovascular disease (saturated fat).

Children see and hear food advertising throughout their day, across a range of media platforms (such as television, social media and gaming) and settings (such as retail food stores, theaters, and recreation centers). The focus of this policy proposal is about exposure to food advertising on television and digital media however, Health Canada acknowledges that Canadian children are also exposed to food advertising in other types of media, settings, and techniques such as brand advertising, food packaging and labelling and sports sponsorships. Health Canada will continue to monitor food advertising in these areas to inform any future restrictions.

Details of the policy update are available at this link: Policy update on restricting food advertising primarily directed at children: Overview

Position Statements from Associations

Many organizations and associations have released policy or position statements on the issue of restricting food advertising directed at children. The position papers from associations provide valuable insights and references. Here are some examples:

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada published: “Protecting our Children: Restricting Food and Beverage Marketing to Kids.”  in December 2021.

Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition advocates for restricting food and beverage marketing to kids. They provide an Inventory of Position Statements.

Advertising Standards Canada has made attempts to inform the industry and self regulate by creating a “Food and Beverage Advertising Code” in August 2022. However, the Code is not a replacement for regulation. The Code is aimed at prepackaged products as well as restaurant and food service meals. The criteria are generally focused on saturated fat, sodium and sugar content. More information is available at this link:  Food and Beverage Advertising Code

Stay Informed with Us!

In our work as health professionals and consulting dietitians, we examine current credible evidence and translate the science into meaningful expert advice for Canadians. Connect with us to stay informed and shape your nutrition strategy. If you have questions about nutrition related to food and beverage marketing please reach out to us! (info@n4nn.ca )  ‎

Catch up on our most popular n4nn blogs about nutrition for kids and teens:

Healthy eating at school – insights for menu planning and nutrition programs
How to raise kids to have a positive relationship with food
Kids are Back to School…and Eating Better

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Food Trends Spotted at the One of A Kind Show

article title with images of 5 trending foods

At the One of a Kind Show in Toronto this past week, I was impressed by the number of Canadian food innovations as well as the people and stories behind them. Here are a few products that caught my eye.

 

Trend #1: Healthy Food Choices 24/7

Daily Blends vending machine

It can be challenging to find healthy food choices while on the go, at work or at school. Daily Blends is an innovative Toronto-based food tech company that operates automated vending machines stocked with wholesome on-the-go meals and snacks. Some of the offerings include Spicy Tofu with Japchae and Kimchi (I taste tested this and can say it’s absolutely delicious!), Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa and a Strawberry Chia Pudding.

After immigrating to Canada from India in 2020, sisters and Co-founders Shriya and Purva Gupta recognized a need for fresh, healthy and delicious food 24/7 whether it be available at hospitals, college campuses, malls, office buildings or transit hubs. Combining Shriya’s tech background with Purva’s culinary expertise, the company uses AI software to power Daily Blends smart vending machines and capture real-time inventory / consumer data. Their chef-style meals are made from scratch every day in their Toronto kitchen facility. All unsold food is donated to local food banks and charities.

You can find Daily Blends vending machines at numerous locations including Union Station Bus Terminal (level 2), Highway 407 GO Bus Terminal, University of Toronto (Mississauga and Scarborough campuses), St. Joseph’s Health Care and St. Michael’s Hospital.

Trend #2: Next Level Hummus

Date Hummus

In 1980, Yohannes Petros immigrated to Canada with his family from East Africa. As a student, Petros started making hummus for himself and was constantly praised for his delicious recipes. Today, he’s the creator and owner of Hanes Hummus, a line of gourmet, artisan hummus locally made in Saskatchewan.

Hanes Hummus is available in 3 flavours: Moroccan 7 Spice; Roasted Garlic and Dill; and Hot Date – which is my favourite. When I taste tested the Hot Date Hummus, I immediately noticed the sweetness of the dates followed by a kick of heat from the serrano peppers. What a lovely combination and a great product name!

Trend #3: Culinary Lavender

lavender shortbread cookies can of lavender lemon soda

The delicate floral flavour of lavender is trending in both food and drinks.

Well known for their classic sweet and savoury shortbread cookies, Sprucewood is now testing a new flavour – lavender!  Founder Chef Mark Pollard sources the culinary lavender from Niagara region.

In the beverage category, County Bounty Artisanal Sodas are created by Dodie Ellenbogen, a former farmer originally from Prince Edward County. When gifted with a large flat of strawberries that were about to spoil, Dodie started making cordials and later began creating bottled / canned sodas with unique combinations of local flavours. The Lavender & Lemon Herbs Soda combines culinary lavender with lemon basil or lemon balm.

Trend #4: Beet It!

bottle of beet ketchupBeets weren’t a big part of Anan Palanichamy’s diet growing up in India. But when the food processing engineer moved to Winnipeg Manitoba, he discovered their great taste and nutritional properties. The beet ketchup is made with beets grown in Portage la Prairie. Ingredients include beets, chia seeds and garlic. The sugar content of the beet ketchup is comparable to tomato ketchup, but is low sodium with only 5 mg per 1 tablespoon serving compared to about 150 mg in ketchup. The company also offers beet hummus, beet chips and beet chutney.

 

Trend #5: On-the-go Breakfast  

bag of chiamigos breakfast mix

It all started with a desire to have an easy, delicious breakfast while camping. Driven by their love of the outdoors, siblings Peter, Chris and Katie Phillips created Chiamigos – a convenient plant-based breakfast or snack. Unlike typical chia pudding which needs to set overnight, Chiamigos is ready in 5 minutes and can be made with hot or cold water, milk or plant-based beverage. The Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour contains 10 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar per serving.

 

 

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Lemon Water – What’s the Hype?

 

Drinking lemon water has been in the media touting many health benefits such as weight loss and detox. With so much information out there about food and nutrition, it can be confusing. As dietitians, we help consumers and clients make sense of the facts and fiction.

The truth is that there is little research that adding lemon juice to water causes weight loss. While both lemon and water have benefits on their own, putting them together does not exponentially improve their health impact.  Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Drinking water is important to your health. It quenches thirst and helps you stay hydrated without adding calories. In a day, aim for 9 cups of fluid for women and 12 cups for men.[1]  This can include fluids from a variety of sources such as water, 100% fruit juice, milk / plant-based beverages, coffee, tea and fluids found in fruits / vegetables.
  2. Any hot liquid can help people feel better when they have a cold. Drinking warm liquids will improve symptoms of a cold, but it’s not a cure.
  3. Your body does an excellent job detoxing itself. Kidney, liver and other organs contribute to this process. When you go to the bathroom, urine and feces are the evidence of body detoxing.
  4. Steer clear of claims that suggest lemon water (or any one food or drink) helps you lose weight. Be mindful of ‘diet culture’ and look at developing sustainable habits to reach your health goal.
  5. Lemon is acidic and too much could wear away tooth enamel and increase tooth sensitivity. If your teeth are sensitive use a straw to drink and rinse your mouth with fresh water after drinking lemon water.

Bottom line: If you love the astringent taste of lemon in warm or cold water, go for it. But remember that lemon and hot water are not going to deliver a host of superfood benefits.

Connect with us  for accurate and practical advice to improve the way you eat and drink!

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

[1] Dietitians of Canada (2021) Facts on Fluids – How to Stay Hydrated, Unlock Food. ca

Unlock the potential of food with us! We are Registered Dietitians

Link

Canadians are more aware of their food choices, shopping smarter, and opting for better nutrition now more than ever before. Dietitians remain the most credible source of food and nutrition information and consumers seek accurate, practical advice to improve the way they eat and feel. This means that more employers are realizing the value that a trusted dietitian advisor can bring to a workplace.

At n4nn we specialize in planning and delivering corporate wellness programs and offer virtual individualized nutrition counselling. Many employee benefit plans cover dietitian services. Check your plan today. If your benefits don’t cover dietitian services, connect with us for a factsheet you can share with your employer on the important advantages of dietitians’ services for yourself, your family and your business.

N4nn Dietitians have the skills and expertise to help you make informed food and nutrition choices for your own health and wellness and your food and nutrition business. Here are just some of the ways we work with our clients:

  • Plan and deliver continuing education opportunities for professionals and consumers on food, nutrition and health
  • Consult with marketing agencies, brand managers and foodservice associations
  • Develop and promote food and nutrition products
  • Support manufacturers in following regulations around food labeling, nutrition claims and food safety.
  • Work with food and nutrition-related businesses providing expertise in product development, communications, marketing, consumer affairs and public relations.
  • Create written content for blogs, social media, newspapers, magazines, websites and make TV appearances.
  • Provide personalized nutrition counselling and medical nutrition therapy

We are Dietitians.  Connect with us  for trusted food and nutrition information to meet your personal and business needs and goals.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

#NutritionMonth2023

5 Food & Nutrition Trends for 2023

Aerial image of friends eating with various dishes on the dinner table

What are the trends that will be shaping the way we shop, cook and eat?  We’ve scanned the research and share these top 5 trends.

1. Foods with benefits

According to the Mintel 2023 Global Food and Drink Trends report, 57% of Canadian consumers value food and drinks which offer health benefits such as heart health, gut health, stress management or immune support. Another growing health issue is sleep. Data from McKinsey research, cited in the 2023 Trend Report by Nourish Food Marketing, shows that better sleep is in fact, a higher health priority than better nutrition, fitness, mindfulness or appearance.

Do you have a product with unique benefits? This year’s National Nutrition Month theme for March focuses on unlocking the potential of food and ingredients. Work with us! Leverage our expertise to share the nutritional and health benefits of your product in the media, social media, and at events.

 2. Technology

Move over Alexa. Adam is in the house. Showcased at this year’s CES tech event (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), Adam is an interactive, two-armed robot, bartender or barista, making coffee, boba tea or other drinks. Canadian Grocer magazine predicts we’re entering an automation nation driven by innovative technology and labour shortages. Smart home faucets and appliances as well as self-service or smart cart checkout systems are already in use. Automation is also used for stocking merchandise and fulfilling orders at distribution centres.

What’s next? The tech savvy Gen Alpha population (born in 2010 and onwards, the same year that the Apple ipad was invented), AI (artificial intelligence) and trending #FoodTok recipes on TikTok will all be major factors shaping the future of food and beverage, according to Datassential.

3. Budget-wise eating

The cost of groceries will continue to rise. Canada’s Food Price Report predicts that food prices will increase by an average of 5 to 7 percent this year. Vegetables will take the biggest hit, with prices expected to go up 6 to 8 percent. For a family of four, this could mean an extra cost of over $1,000 over the year. For a two-adult household, it’s an extra $500. Eating out at restaurants will also cost an extra 4 to 6 percent. On top of this, natural gas and electricity bills will hike up between 50 to 100 percent for most Canadians!

To cope with inflated prices, consumers will turn to money-saving strategies such as reducing food waste, cooking from scratch and making copycat recipes at home instead of going to restaurants. The food budget will include more economical ingredients such as frozen veggies, cheaper cuts of meat and plant-based proteins. Ready-to-eat foods requiring little or no cooking and energy-efficient air fryer recipes will continue to be popular.

 4. Trending Foods

Seaweed – The term ‘seaweed’ actually refers to many different species of marine plants and algae that grow in oceans, rivers and lakes. Green algae, kelp, nori, seaweed snacks and wakame salad are just a few examples. Containing a range of nutrients such as beta-carotene, calcium, folate and vitamin K, seaweed is especially popular among Millennials and Gen Xers.

Mushrooms – With their meaty texture and umami-flavour, mushrooms are a perfect meat extender to stretch the food budget. Mushroom coffee and even mushroom-based cocktails are examples of the food’s versatility. Some mushrooms may have adaptogenic properties.

Tinned fish / canned fish – Thanks to a few viral TikTok reels about tinned fish date nights, eating canned mussels on corn chips is a trendy thing! Chalk up convenience, cost and nutrition too. We’re not sure exactly how long this trend will last.

5. Trending Flavours

Ube – Food experts predict that Filipino will be the cuisine of the year, with special attention to ube, a beautiful purple coloured yam. Ube has a sweet, nutty, earthy flavour and is used in chips, fries and baked goods.

Yuzu – This small citrus fruit looks like a mandarin orange and has a tart taste similar to a grapefruit. It’s used in Japanese ponzu sauce, drinks and baked goods.

‘Swicy’ – Think sweet plus spicy. Swicy is a flavour combo appearing in products such as chili dark chocolate, hot honey chicken, barbecue sauces and nut mixtures. Can’t wait to try it!

Stay tuned to our blog for more food, nutrition and health trends throughout the year!

 

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Does Vitamin D help improve my bone health?

Yes, Vitamin D is important for strong bones. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help you maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps your muscles, nerves and immune system work properly.[1]

How much vitamin D do you need?

The amount of vitamin D you need depends on your age. [2]

  • Ages 1 through 70 the recommended vitamin D intake is 600 IU (international units) every day
  • Adults 71 and older need 800 IU every day.

How can you get vitamin D?

Your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D, and Vitamin D is found in a few foods. These include:

  • Fatty fish (like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best natural sources of vitamin D.
  • Cow’s milk (In Canada, cow’s milk must be fortified with vitamin D.)
  • Fortified soy and rice beverages (check the label)
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Margarine (mandatory fortification)
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified yogurts (check the label)

NOTE: Health Canada has revised vitamin D fortification and the Percent Daily Value has increased for Vitamin D. New nutrition facts labels transition deadline is December 15, 2022.

Health Canada continues to work toward an updated Vitamin D fortification strategy which they shared with Dietitians at their Annual Conference on September 15, 2022.  Contact us with your questions on the future of Vitamin D fortification in Canadian foods.

Do you need a vitamin D supplement?

It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone and some people don’t make Vitamin D as well as others. They may have to take extra care in getting enough vitamin D. Things that reduce the amount of Vitamin D in your body includes:

  • Having a dark skin tone
  • Age, especially if you are older than 65
  • Digestive problems, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Using sunscreen or clothing to cover your skin

If you do not get enough vitamin D from foods or have low blood levels of vitamin D, you may need a supplement. Osteoporosis Canada says Canadians can’t get enough vitamin D through diet alone and recommends routine vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults year round.[3]  Health Canada recommends that everyone older than age 50 take a daily Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. [4]  For people 51 years and older many dietitians recommend a daily 1000 IU Vitamin D supplement. Health Canada recommends adults not go over 4000 IU of Vitamin D daily. [5] There are no additional benefits of Vitamin D over this limit.

Consult your dietitian or doctor for your Vitamin D needs. Remember your total Vitamin D intake should be below the maximum amount allowed per day to avoid any possible negative effects.

Bottom Line:

Getting enough Vitamin D is important for bone health. You can maintain adequate vitamin D levels through a combination of limited sun exposure, a Vitamin-D-rich diet, and if needed, taking Vitamin D supplements. Connect with a dietitian or doctor to make sure you are getting the amount of Vitamin D you need. Ask your doctor or dietitian about steps you can take to prevent weak bones and lower your risk for osteoporosis.

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food?   CONNECT WITH US!

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

References:

[1] Dietitians of Canada – Unlock Food.ca  (2019) What you need to know about Vitamin D. Available at: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-Vitamin-D.aspx

[2] Health Canada (2020) Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes Available at:  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-calcium-updated-dietary-reference-intakes-nutrition.html#a7

[3] Osteoporosis Canada (2022) Vitamin D. Available at: https://osteoporosis.ca/vitamin-d/

[4]  Health Canada (2022) Vitamin D. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/vitamin-d.html

[5] Alberta Health Services (2022) Learning About Vitamin D. Available at: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/AfterCareInformation/pages/conditions.aspx?HwId=ad2017

 

Meet three passionate Ontario food producers who make our food

At a time when consumers have more questions than ever about where their food comes from and how it’s produced, Dietitians are finding answers. Once again, we were invited to go behind the behind the scenes to learn more about farming and food production. Here is a brief story of the three local Ontario farmers we met, who are passionate about what they do – which is to grow Ontario food that we enjoy so much.

Disclosure Statement: This event was hosted by Farm and Food Care Ontario  and Canadian Agricultural Partnership 

Pristine Gourmet

 We met Jason, a 4th generation farmer who wanted to add value to the farm operation. He and his wife Linda bought another farm and built a grain drying and storage facility. Pristine Gourmet was formed with the vision of supplying the food industry and restaurants with quality, local artisan foods. Today through the brand Pristine Gourmet Pure Virgin Oils, the Persall family provides cold pressed products including canola, soybean and sunflower oils, all of which are 100% pure Canadian from field to table. https://www.pristinegourmet.com/

Image: Lucia and Sue tour seed oil production facility

Roanoke Farm

 Scott Persall shared his story where along with his father, Doug, and his wife, Sara, they grow corn, soybeans, and wheat on 400 acres near Waterford, Ontario. They also have 18,000 egg laying hens. At this stop, we learned about the day-to-day operation of grain and oilseed production including the hard work that goes into planting, growing and harvesting Ontario’s crops.

Image: Lucia in a soybean field

 

P & H Milling Group

We had a rare opportunity to tour a state-of-the-art flour making facility and grain terminal elevator owned by Parrish and Heimbecker Ltd., (P&H) on the Port of Hamilton.  P&H is a Canadian, family-owned agribusiness, with roots in the agriculture industry since 1909. P&H are manufacturers of the high quality of wheat and pulse-based products including hard and soft flour, durum semolina, bran, wheat germ, organic hard and soft flours, organic pea starch and a variety of pulses. https://phmilling.com/

Images: P & H Grain terminal elevator and mill.

Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting an informative day and introducing us to farmers who shared insights and knowledge on food and farming. Farm and Food Care Ontario  and Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Written by Lucia Weiler, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

Ask a RD – How much caffeine is too much?

A person holding a the handle of a coffee mug. An image of Sue's face in the overlay.

Health Canada has set recommended maximum daily amounts of caffeine depending on your age. For children and teens under the age of 18, the recommended caffeine intake depends on their body weight. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, irritability, nervousness and headaches. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, consider having less.

chart with caffeine recommendations for age groups

Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate and certain flavourings such as guarana and yerba mate. Check out the caffeine content of some common foods and beverages to see where you’re at with your caffeine intake for the day. Keep in mind that many mugs and store bought drinks are larger than a standard cup.

chart with caffeine intake of foods and beverages

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us and we’ll feature the answer in one of our next newsletters.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC ~ Award-winning dietitian and Co-founder, n4nn

Healthy eating at school – insights for menu planning and nutrition programs

student eating a healthy lunchImage Health Canada

Back-to-school is in full swing, including educational opportunities for dietitians and food professionals! We attended an international seminar on back-to-school success with USDA’s Team Nutrition.[1] As you may know the US funds school lunch programs and has a robust support system – both financial and practical – for feeding kids in schools. We discovered some amazing new content, lots of tips and highlights that you can use to nourish students whether you’re a parent, educator, or foodservice professional.

Scientists and health professionals agree on the importance of healthy eating at school to optimize health, development, and academic performance. Since children and youth spend a large portion of their day in school, they consume a significant proportion of their daily energy intake while in school.[2],[3] This means it’s key to provide food for students that gives them enough energy and nutrients they need throughout the day.

Here are some tips for your school’s food and nutrition program to help kids grow up healthy:

Food Focus

  • Align school nutrition policies with recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide and promote nutrient-rich foods and beverages that are lower in saturated fat, sugars, and sodium.
  • Involve students in the menu development to find the right balance of nutritious foods that are ‘fan favorites’ that kids are going to eat. [4]
  • Encourage student taste-testing and get their feedback on food items created by chefs.
  • Monitor food waste. Are you watching what foods kids throw away? Finding the reason why kids are not eating their lunch provides insights for creating lunches they will enjoy eating.
  • Reach out to a dietitian for support with healthy delicious recipes and meal plans for kids, analyzing recipes and menus to meet school food nutrient standards.

Make an impact beyond the food

  • Provide a safe space to enjoy all foods without fear of food judgement.
  • Advocate for sufficient time for eating lunch. Experts recommend students have at least 20 minutes of seated time to enjoy their meal and socialize. [5]
  • Find out if there is a health committee you can join or start one for your school.
  • Invest in educating your school community about how to build healthy relationships with food. A dietitian can help. Ask them about resources to teach nutrition in the classroom, parent resources on packing lunches, school presentations, and referrals for student nutrition programs.[6]

As Dietitians we look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Do you want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with us with your comments or questions.

 Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

Tags; Foodservice management, back to school, school nutrition policy, student nutrition, dietitian, Lucia Weiler, n4nn

[1] United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food & Nutrition Service (2022) https://www.fns.usda.gov/team-nutrition

[2] Health Canada (2021) Healthy eating at school – Canada’s Food Guide

[3] Canadian Paediatric Society (2020) School nutrition: Support for providing healthy food and beverage choices in schools

[4] ABC News (2022) Chicago Public Schools lunch menu https://abc7chicago.com/cps-school-lunch-menu-chicago-public-schools/12213616/

[5] CDC (2019) Making Time for School Lunch  https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/school_lunch.htm

[6] Dietitians of Canada (2019) Eating Right at School. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/School-Health/Articles/Eating-Right-at-School.aspx

What’s the benefit of eating locally and in season?

vegetables and fruit displayed at a market

Have you ever wondered if buying local food is a better choice? You’re not alone as more people want to know how and where their food and other products are grown and handled. Local food is also trending in the mainstream of grocers, restaurants, health care facilities and schools. In this article we consider what the term local really means and look at some of the benefits of eating local food.

What does the term ‘local food’ mean?

Most people think that ‘local’ refers to a short geographic distance between where the food was grown and sold. Since the term ‘local’ is largely unregulated and undefined, the area could mean 1 kilometer or 1,000 kilometers away from the point of purchase. Some advocates promote the ‘100-mile (160 km) diet’ as the geographic limit of local, but local food does not have to be such a short a distance.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says local food claims are valid for food produced within in the province or territory in which it is sold, or if sold across provincial borders it’s within 50 km of the originating province or territory.  The best way to find out what local means for a specific product is to ask the food seller – be that a grocery store retailer, the farm stand supplier or restaurant owner. You may get some different answers.  How would you define local food?  For the purpose of this article, we’ll go with the CFIA term local food, that is grown within your province or territory.

What are the benefits of buying local food?

Local food is fresh and tastes great

Local food is often harvested a few hours before it’s sold so food produced close to home is usually the freshest it can be.  Local fruits and vegetables are also harvested close to peak ripeness and flavour. When food is picked and eaten at the peak of freshness, it retains more nutrients and tastes better.  Check online what grows in season in your region. You can also eat local food during the winter months because root vegetables, pulses, grains, meats, dairy products are available year-round.

Local food offers seasonal variety

Local farmers may grow a variety of unique foods such as heirloom produce, which you might not find at the grocery store. Look for various types of your favourite vegetables and fruit and try different products.  Seasonal eating may mean eating in step with the agricultural harvest calendar and enjoying foods at peak flavour and ripeness. Embracing foods that are in season may also increase the variety of foods you’re eating. Dietitian’s tip: If raw produce is not in season locally then it probably is not locally produced.

Buying local can save money

Food produced close to home is often sold at a good price, and seasonal produce may be sold for even less. For example, if all the farmers have a lot of tomatoes, they may be willing to lower prices to sell them all. Planning meals around what’s in season also helps you save money. Canning or freezing well-priced seasonal vegetables and fruit is a good way to take advantage of lower prices and eating local all year long!

Local food supports communities

Local food creates community and connections. As we emerge from a long, socially isolating pandemic, loneliness is a rising problem. Meeting local growers, discussing foods unique to your region, discovering how your food is grown and harvested counters this trend.  Local food is a great experience and offers a place for people to meet each other and build meaningful human connections. Local food can also spark healthy conversations, whether at the farmers’ market, grocery store, local restaurant or farm-to-table gathering with family and friends.

Buying local preserves farms

Choosing local food aids your local economy. It helps keep local producers in business, creates jobs and promotes economic growth. When you buy local food, you are also helping to preserve valuable farmland. This also helps protect green space and habitats for wildlife to exist locally your communities.

Where to find local food in your region?

Farmers market

Farmers markets help meet the growing demand for locally produced food by providing a retail hub intended to sell foods directly by farmers to consumers. They’ve become an important connection between rural and urban communities with benefits that are felt throughout the community. At a farmers’ market you may discover products you can’t find elsewhere such as different variety of vegetables and fruits, unique cheeses, fresh or potted herbs, cut flowers, oven fresh baked goods, meat, fresh fish, poultry, or eggs from nearby producers.

Farmers markets are also a place where you get a chance to directly talk food growers, producers and vendors. Many small farmers are eager to talk about their growing methods and how they care for their animals. Take time to connect with them and discover more about the foods you buy and enjoy.

With more farmers markets opening every year, check online and with your local community associations to find out where they are in your region. In Ontario you can find a farmers’ market at this link Find a Farmers’ Market – Farmers’ Markets Ontario (farmersmarketsontario.com)

Pick your own

Some farmers may invite you to pick your own produce at the farm. By making a trip to a local farm you’re treating yourself to an experience of choosing your food from the field where it’s grown. Pick your own is especially valuable during the peak growing season and harvest times.  Check online for local farms that open their gates to pick your own customers.  In Ontario you can find an on-farm market or pick-your-own operation near you to purchase Ontario food at this link: Find a Farm – Farm Fresh Association (farmfreshontario.com)

Grocery stores

Some grocers are offering more local food.  Many of these foods will be clearly labeled in the store so you know what you’re buying and where it came from. At the grocery store, identify the area of origin for foods you buy and look for ‘local’ when possible.

Restaurants

When dining out, consumers are attracted to local foods especially while on vacation. Check out the menus online and look for menu items with local and seasonal ingredients. Some regions have government co-ordinated ‘eat local’ initiatives that include participating restaurant listings. In Ontario, the Culinary Tourism Alliance created the FeastON Certification. You can find a restaurant serving Ontario food on their menu at this link https://ontarioculinary.com/restaurants/

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA provide a way to buy local seasonal vegetables and fruits directly from Farmers – often at a more affordable price. Farmers sell a set of number of shares, or memberships, to customers. The shares usually provide a container of vegetables or other seasonal farm products on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule during the growing season, depending on the growing conditions. CSA’s provide a market for local farmers, and both raw product and a farm connection for consumers.  You can find CSA’s near you by visiting your local community centre, municipal office or searching online.

Bottom Line:

Canadians increasingly value supporting a thriving local agricultural system. There are many benefits to exploring local food for individuals and the community.  Let’s start a conversation about the benefits of including some local foods in the diet and in menus.  Dietitians share credible information and can help find ways to maximize this opportunity and navigate around challenges.

Further Reading and more information:

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Contact us for comments or questions.

3 Things I Learned Visiting Saskatchewan Farms

I spent 2 days visiting Saskatchewan farms and meeting the farmers who produce our food. It was a journey shared with fellow food professionals who were keen to discover more about where our food comes from and get a behind the scenes look at Canadian farming.  We opened with a discussion on agriculture and sustainability, then visited real working farms to continue conversations with the people who grow our food.

Thanks to Farm and Food Care Sask  and Canadian Food Focus for hosting and inviting me on this amazing trip and educational event!

Here are three things I learned:

Families run farms

Did you know that 97 per cent of Canada’s farms are family owned?

Today’s family farmers are well educated, often university graduates who worked in business and agriculture. When they go home to farm, they are savvy managers, and their sense of community plays an important role in farming.

Although the farms are bigger than in the past strong family ties run through them. At every farm we visited three sometimes four generations of the family came out to greet us and share their stories. The farm families we met, pride themselves in improving on each generation’s hard work and building a sustainable future so the next generations can carry on farming their land. For example, the Colborn family has been farming their land since 1910. Today the farm is run by the 5th generation, three cousins who produce eggs, grains, and beef.  More information is available at Home – Colborn Farms

High tech is in

Modern agriculture is progressive, and farmers invest in technology to produce more and increase efficiency.

For example, chicken farmers use I-phones to monitor chicken barn temperature and animal welfare any time of day. Should temperatures drop below the set range, a phone alarm is activated.

On Foth Ventures dairy farm a state-of-the-art rotary carousel milks 900 cows in about three hours, three times a day! On average a dairy cow produces 30 litres of milk per day, so with the aid of innovative technology this farm provides 27,000 litres of milk per day.

At Star Egg processing facility, eggs come from 65 local farmers that are identified and traceable along their journey from the farm barns to the consumer. Robotics technology allows more production with less labour. This state-of-the-art facility grades 1.2 million eggs a day!  More information is available at  Star Egg – Saskatchewan

Transparent conversations about agriculture matter

Consumers want to know more about what’s in their food and how it is produced.  However, credible stories of food production and the journey of food from farm to table are often hard to find. Farmers believe that reconnecting people with the origins of food is an important task and they want to engage and help bridge the information gap between agriculture and consumers. We benefited from transparent conversations and visited farms to better understand what farmers do and why.

If you have questions about techniques of modern agriculture or why farmers do what they do we encourage you to talk to farmers, visit their websites and ask them your questions. As dietitians we are also here to engage with you in transparent conversations about food and agriculture. What’s your farming question?

Thanks  again to Farm and Food Care Sask  and Canadian Food Focus for organizing this amazing trip and educational event!

Written by Lucia Weiler, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn. The event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences.

Does diet affect erectile function?

A man in a blue shirt sitting on a couch and talking to a health professional

It’s the question you may have always wondered, but were too shy to ask!

June is Men’s Health Month, so let’s take a look at some of the research on this topic.

A study published in the Journal of the American Association Network Open journal suggests that a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in maintaining erectile function in men. Researchers from the University of California and Harvard University looked at the food and nutrient data from over 21,000 healthy men aged 40 to 75 who had no previous diagnosis of erectile dysfunction or diabetes or heart disease. The men were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers found that men at all ages who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction. A Mediterranean-style diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fish.

Fruits and vegetables contain special plant nutrients called flavonoids.  Researchers in Greece found that eating fruits and vegetables lowered the risk for erectile dysfunction by 32% in men aged 18 to 40 years.

Another study from researchers in Spain looked at 83 healthy men aged 18-35. For 14 weeks, these men were asked to follow their usual diet and were divided into 2 groups – one group also ate 60 grams (about ½ cup) of nuts a day such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts; the other group of men did not eat nuts. The study found that a healthy diet supplemented with mixed nuts may help to improve erectile and sexual desire.

Bottom line: Fruits, vegetables and nuts are the foundation of an overall healthy diet that can benefit not only your heart health but also your sexual health.

 

Does Eating Veggies Protect Your Heart? Trending Research Translated for Wellness

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A recent study made media headlines questioning whether eating veggies really protected your heart. Since eating ‘lots of veggies’ has been the mainstream nutrition recommendation for promoting health and wellness, we thought a closer look into this new research was warranted. Here we bring you the Dietitians’ translation of the science into meaningful advice to support healthy living.

The Study [1]

Published in the Frontiers of Nutrition, a new study by researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Hong Kong, and the University of Bristol involved nearly 400 000 British adults and 12 years of follow up. There are strengths in the diverse team and sample size. The study initially found that the people who consumed the highest amount of vegetables had a 10% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease compared to the people with the lowest vegetable intakes. However, when they adjusted for socioeconomic and lifestyle factors (including physical activity, body weight, high blood pressure, smoking and other nutrients) any protective effect of vegetable intake became much less important. [2]  This surprising finding resulted in the headlines ‘Eating vegetables may not protect against heart disease.’

Low quality evidence

  • Very low vegetable intakes
    The study says the “Mean intakes of raw and cooked vegetables were 2.3 and 2.8 tablespoons/day, respectively”. This amount is very low, less than half a serving per day!  Healthy dietary guidelines recommend much more than this. For example, the WHO suggests consuming at least 400 g (i.e., five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots to improve overall health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. [3]
  • Observational study errors
    One of the limitations of this observational study was that all data was self reported and vegetable intakes may not have been reported accurately, causing measurement errors. It is possible that the study participants had difficulty visualizing their vegetable intakes as their number of “heaping tablespoons”, which the questionnaire asked them to estimate for their vegetable intakes.1
  • Inconsistent with current evidence
    This is one surprising study whose findings are not supported by the significant amount of existing data. Current mainstream evidence shows higher vegetable consumption promotes health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Our Recommendations

Keep eating plenty of vegetables and fruit for health including your heart health! Make veggies and fruit half your plate at each meal. Pile your plate with colour and eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us! Registered Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

[1] Feng Q, Kim JH, Omiyale,  Bešević j, Conroy M, May M, et al. Raw and cooked vegetable consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a study of 400,000 adults in UK biobank. Front Nutr. 2022 Feb; 9:831470. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.831470. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.831470/full

[2] Dietitians of Canada, PEN Nutrition (2022) Available at: https://www.pennutrition.com/TrendingTopic.aspx?id=29382 (PEN registration required to access)

[3] Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003. Available at: WHO_TRS_916.pdf

Why Does Magnesium Matter for Health?

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Magnesium is a hot topic and clients are asking what does it do?

Magnesium is an important mineral in the body. It plays a role in over 300 body enzyme reactions. Its many functions include producing energy, making body protein, and building bones and teeth. Magnesium also supports muscle and nerve function by helping our muscles relax and contract. Magnesium has a role in regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels and may help protect against heart disease. Magnesium helps maintain a healthy immune response.

Magnesium is becoming a hot topic lately because research shows that many people are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. More than 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consume less magnesium that would meet their nutrient requirement. [1] Although a true deficiency is rare in healthy people, because the body can compensate for lower magnesium intakes by reducing its loss in the urine and taking magnesium from deposits stored in your bones.  If you don’t consume enough magnesium, a concern is that you may not have enough of this important mineral stored to keep yourself healthy and protect your body against heart disease and immune disorders. [2]

How much magnesium do you need?[3]

Adult men need 400-420 milligrams daily and adult women need 310-320 milligrams magnesium every day.

Supplements provide non-food sources of magnesium. The tolerable upper intake level for non-food sources of magnesium is 350 milligrams / day. This amount would be in addition to the magnesium provided by food. Consult with your doctor or dietitian if you have any questions about non-food sources of magnesium in your diet. This is especially important because magnesium supplements can interact with some medications, so do discuss supplements with a health care provider before taking one.

Where is magnesium found in food? [4]

Magnesium is found in many foods.

The best sources of magnesium are nuts and seeds. Here are some examples:

  • Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup (60 mL) of has 317 mg magnesium (about 10 medium nuts) [5]
  • Brazil nuts ¼ cup (60 mL) has 133 mg magnesium
  • Nuts (almonds, pine nuts, cashews, mixed nuts etc.) ¼ cup (60 mL) have 79-98 mg magnesium
  • Soybeans (edamame) frozen or prepared ¾ cup (175mL) has 73 mg magnesium

Other magnesium-rich foods are dark green leafy veggies including spinach and Swiss chard with
½ cup (125 mL) cooked dark greens delivering about 80 mg magnesium.

Magnesium is also found in legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils), grain foods like fortified breakfast cereals, bread, rice; soy foods like soymilk and tofu; peanut butter, avocados, potatoes, dairy yogurt and milk.

Bottom line

About one third of Canadians consume less than the average requirement for magnesium. Be sure to include plenty of magnesium rich foods in your diet. Inadequate nutrient intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies that may negatively affect the quality of your life.

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us and we’ll feature it in our Ask a Dietitian posts. Registered Dietitians are the most trusted food and nutrition experts who are committed to helping Canadians enjoy nutritious, sustainable, and affordable and healthy eating.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

[1] Health Canada (2012) Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone? Available at

art-nutr-adult-eng.pdf (canada.ca)

[2] Duyff Academy of Food and Nutrition (2017) Complete Food & Nutrition Guide

[3] Dietitians of Canada-UnlockFood.ca (2019) What You Need to Know About Magnesium Available at What You Need to Know About Magnesium – Unlock Food

[4] Alberta Health Services (2019) Magnesium and Your Diet. Available at Magnesium and Your Diet (albertahealthservices.ca)

[5] Government of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File https://food-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/serving-portion.do?id=2544

How to raise kids to have a positive relationship with food

Diet culture is everywhere, but we can change that for ourselves and our kids.

Here are Sue’s Do’s and Don’ts for raising kids to have a positive relationship with food as seen on national TV.

Click to watch below or view on  Sue’s YouTube Channel!

Looking for a media ambassador or spokesperson for your brand? Contact us!

Sue Mah is chatting to TV host Lindsey Deluce

What are plant sterols?

A heart shaped bowl filled with broccoli, blueberries and kiwi. A small headshot of Sue is in the photo with the caption reading "What are plant sterols?"

Plant sterols are also called “phytosterols” (phtyo means plant). They’re like cousins to cholesterol because they have a similar structure, and are found naturally (in tiny amounts) in plant-based foods – such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and vegetable oils.

If you have high blood cholesterol, plant sterols may be beneficial because they’ve been shown to decrease the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol) – this is the type of cholesterol that is a risk factor for heart disease.

In the body, plant sterols partially block the absorption of cholesterol. The cholesterol gets removed as waste (i.e. in our feces) which then results in an overall lower level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.

So, how much plant sterol is needed for this benefit? Research shows that eating 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) of plant sterols every day can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 8-10%. This amount is nearly impossible to get with regular foods since a typical healthy diet only contains about 200-400 milligrams of plant sterols.

To get 2,000 milligrams of plant sterols a day, you’ll need to consume foods and beverages that are fortified with plant sterols. In Canada, foods fortified with plant sterols include mayonnaise, margarine, salad dressing, yogurt, yogurt drinks, vegetable juice and fruit juice. A serving of these foods may contain up to 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) of plant sterols, so read package labels to check the exact amount. Plant sterol supplements are another option.

Plant sterols from food and / or supplements are not a substitute for a heart healthy diet or cholesterol-lowering medications. Always check with your doctor first before consuming foods or supplements with plant sterols because your medications may need to be adjusted.

Want to learn more about heart health?

What’s the difference between cholesterol and trigylcerides?

World Health Organization tackles salt reduction with first ever global benchmarks

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn