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5 Common Dietary Restrictions You Should Know About When Hosting an Event

Planning a dinner party now that pandemic restrictions are easing? Enjoying a meal with your friends and family is one of life’s simple joys! As you prepare for your event, you may have some worries about what to make especially if some of your guests have dietary restrictions, which can make things feel more complicated.

What are dietary restrictions?

A dietary restriction means the person has limitations to certain foods which they cannot or will not eat. There are many reasons for dietary constraints and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones include dietary restrictions based on a medical condition such as a food allergy, sensitivity or disease management. Other restrictions are based on religious practice while some are based on personal lifestyle choices.

Here are 5 of the most common dietary restrictions you should know about and tips for hosting an event that is safe and enjoyable for everyone at the table.

1.         Food allergies
2.         Intolerances
3.         Medical nutrition therapy
4.         Vegetarian / vegan
5.         Religious dietary practices

1. Food Allergies

Food allergies are more common than you may think! Over 3 million Canadians are affected by food allergy, that’s 7.5% of the population. Allergic reactions involve the body’s immune system and can happen very quickly and in the worst cases cause anaphylactic shock or death. Watch for symptoms such as changes to skin, shortness of breath, nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and anxiety. Right now, there is no cure for food allergies so the only way to prevent allergic reactions is to completely avoid the specific foods responsible. In Canada, the most common allergens in food are known as the priority allergens and listed as:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Sesame seeds
  • Mustard

Sources:
Food Allergy Canada – Food Allergy Canada’s mission – Food Allergy Canada
Health Canada–  Food allergies – Canada.ca  and Allergens and gluten sources labelling – Canada.ca

2. Food intolerances and sensitivities

Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to food but it is not a food allergy. It does not involve the immune system and is not life-threatening. Symptoms of food intolerance can be inconvenient and painful and often involve the gastrointestinal system.  For example, nausea, pain or cramps, vomiting and diarrhea are just a few of the typical symptoms. Some chemicals may cause reactions such as headaches.  Food intolerance occurs when the body has difficulty digesting or absorbing certain foods or components of those foods. For example, intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the one of the most common food intolerances. Food sensitivities can also be related to ingredients such as sulphites, gluten and some simple carbohydrate containing foods (FODMAPS).

Sources:
Health Canada Food Allergies and Intolerances – Canada.ca
Dietitians of Canada – Food Allergies and Intolerances – Unlock Food

3. Medical nutrition therapy

Medical nutrition therapy is a nutrition-based treatment provided by a registered dietitian or doctor.  It includes a nutrition diagnosis as well as therapeutic and counseling services to help manage medical conditions such as celiac disease and diabetes.

Celiac disease: Gluten-free versus Gluten sensitivity

Celiac disease is a common disorder that affects about one percent of the population. It is a condition where the small intestines are damaged by gluten containing foods. Gluten is a group of proteins found in many grains including wheat (couscous, bulgur, spelt, kamut), triticale, barley and rye and foods that are made with them. Foods that contain gluten include breads, pastas, crackers, baked goods, many grains, and some beverages too. A person with celiac disease needs to stay on a gluten-free diet.

Some people do not have celiac disease but find that they are sensitive to gluten and develop symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.  They find that avoiding gluten-containing foods is helpful in relieving their symptoms.

Source: Canadian Celiac Association – Gluten Related Disorders https://bit.ly/3C7Esb4

Diabetes: Carbohydrate balance

Rates of diabetes continue to rise and it’s estimated that one in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes. People with diabetes have an impaired ability to metabolize carbohydrates either because they produce little to no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or can’t absorb insulin (type 2 diabetes). Food is the key to managing diabetes and healthy meal planning plays an important role. Focusing on foods with a low glycemic index can help keep blood sugar levels balanced.

Source: Diabetes Canada About diabetes – Diabetes Canada

4. Vegetarian / Vegan

Vegetarian diet varies widely depending on the person’s choice.  These choices may be based on ethical restrictions or sustainability. A combination of plant and animal foods may be included, such as dairy and eggs, or only plant foods. Here is a list of restrictions for your reference:

  • Lacto-ovo Vegetarian – eats dairy, eggs and plant foods
  • Ovo Vegetarian – eats only eggs and plant foods
  • Lacto Vegetarian – eats dairy and plant foods
  • Vegan – eats only plant foods and avoids all animal products
  • Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian – eats mostly vegetarian but occasionally consumes meat, meat products, poultry, and fish

5. Religious Dietary Practices

Many religions have special dietary laws or practices. While not an exhaustive list, here are a few religions and their dietary practices to keep in mind when hosting an event.

  • Christian – Some may not eat meat on Fridays during lent.
  • Judaism (Kosher) – Kosher meat products need to be butchered in a certain manner and cannot include shellfish and pork. Guests keeping kosher will also refrain from eating dairy and meat at the same time.
  • Muslim (Halal) – Halal meat is prepared in a specific manner.
  • Hindu – Eating beef is prohibited
  • Buddhist – follows a primarily a vegetarian approach

Source: The Business of Dietetics, Dietary Restrictions of Other Religions – Journal of the American Dietetic Association (jandonline.org)

TIPS to deal with dietary restrictions

  • Ask your guests about their dietary needs
    To accommodate our guest’s needs, you first need to uncover what their dietary preferences are. Ask them! When you invite people for a meal, be sure to check with your guests about their special dietary needs and be especially mindful of food allergies.  Once you know, you can discuss the menu with them ahead of time and ask how they can best be accommodated.
  • Make simple swaps to your menu to accommodate dietary preferences
    Build your menu with food allergies and dietary restrictions in mind. Steering clear of them will minimize the chance of an emergency, and increase the peace of mind of guests.  There are easy ways to swap ingredients to accommodate dietary preferences. For example, using olive oil instead of butter means that the vegans and those with dairy allergies can enjoy the dish too. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock so more people can enjoy them.
  • Have Fun
    Remember that you don’t have to accommodate your guests for every single dish. Be sure you have a well-planned meal with a variety of foods that all of your guests can enjoy and feel well fed.

Dietitians can help

Want to discover more ways to accommodate your guests’ dietary needs? Connect with a dietitian to make healthy choices. Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Speak to a registered dietitian to manage your menu for dietary restrictions, religious dietary laws, nutritional choices and requirements, and food allergies you need to know to provide an exceptional, respectful, and safe experience for all your guests.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask a dietitian? If so, please send it along to us at Lucia@WeilerNutrition.com

Please note: The information in this series answers questions on general topics, please talk to your health care provide if you have questions about your own health.

Ask a Dietitian – What’s the Difference between Free Run and Free Range Eggs?

Small headshot of Sue Mah over-layed on a background of brown and white eggs. The Ask a Dietitian question is typed within a green box.

This is such a common question, thanks for asking us!

Eggs are a nutrient-packed food, and with so many choices these days, it can be confusing to know what they all mean.

Free run and free range describe the type of housing for the hens which laid the eggs.

Free run eggs come from hens that roam the entire barn floor, and some of these barns may have multi-tired aviaries.

Free range eggs come from hens that also roam the entire barn floor. And when the weather permits, the hens also have access to outdoors.

You may have seen these other types of eggs at the grocery store too:

Organic eggs come from hens which are raised free range and they’re also fed a certified organic feed.

Omega-3 eggs are nutritionally-enhanced or vitamin-enhanced eggs. The hens were fed a special diet with certain nutrients or ingredients (such as flaxseed), so that their eggs actually contain higher amounts of these healthy omega-3 fats.

Whichever eggs you choose, know that they all contain essential nutrients such as protein, iron, folate, choline, vitamin A and vitamin D.

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

 

– By Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC

 

 

 

Find Your Healthy with Cultural Cuisines

chicken lettuce wraps on a long white platter

Happy Nutrition Month!

This year, dietitians want you to know that healthy eating looks different for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all eating plan. Instead, the food we eat depends on so many different factors such as our culture, age, activity level, personal circumstances and health conditions.

Let’s learn about food and culture! Sue and Lucia celebrate the diversity of cuisines and share the meaning of food in their Chinese and Hungarian cultures.

Sue in her kitchen, squeezing lemon over a salad

Sue Mah, Co-Founder n4nn

1. What’s your cultural background? 

I am Chinese.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions?

Food is a huge part of Chinese celebrations and traditions! For example, chicken, fish and lettuce are enjoyed during the Lunar New Year because they are homonyms for prosperity, abundance and wealth. Special birthdays and weddings are celebrated with a delightful 8-course menu including significant foods like Peking duck and noodles for longevity. My paternal grandfather was a medical acupuncturist, so we also used foods, herbs and special soups for healing and health.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe?

It’s probably a tie between Har Cheung which is a steamed shrimp rice noodle roll, and Zongzi, which is a sticky rice dumpling with meat wrapped in bamboo leaves. These recipes are trickier to make, so my go-to cultural recipe are these Chicken Lettuce Wraps – see recipe below  – even my chef Dad eats these, so you know they must be good!

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

Food is delicious, nourishing and brings us together. Take time to embrace your own cultural foods as well as explore new flavours and ingredients.

 

1. What’s your cultural background?

I am Hungarian.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions?

Food is family – and food is love. Hungarians know how to cook everything – snout to tail, farm to table. Many like my grandmother and sister are excellent bakers too though that’s not my forte.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe?

Hungarian Cuisine in short! Paprika is the heart of Hungarian cuisine and the traditions go all the way back to the first Hungarians, and some of the dishes have been cooked the same way for hundreds of years.

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

Enjoy and explore how your culture, food traditions, personal circumstances & nutritional needs all contribute to what healthy looks like for you. Reach out to a registered dietitian to support your healthy eating journey.

Sue’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken lettuce wraps on a long white platter

Sue’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is an easy and delicious recipe that’s fun to eat. The secret is the hoisin sauce!

Ingredients
4 – 5 T hoisin sauce
2 T light soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pound ground chicken (or diced chicken breast)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced
1 head Bibb, Boston or romaine lettuce
Red pepper, julienned (for garnish)
Green onions, julienned (for garnish)

Directions
1. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Whisk in cornstarch. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tsp of canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and crumble it with a spoon or spatula as you are cooking it. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the internal temperatures reaches 165 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean bowl.

3. Heat 1 tsp of canola oil in the frying pan. Add the onions and carrots, and cook until tender. Add water chestnuts, garlic and ginger. Cook for about 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken back to the pan. Stir in the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce begins to bubble and the chicken is thoroughly coated with sauce.

5. Gently separate the lettuce leaves. Wash and pat the leaves dry. Place a large spoonful of the chicken mixture in the centre of the lettuce leaf. Garnish with red pepper and green onions. Roll it up and eat it with your hands! Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.

 

Lucia’s Chicken Paprikás

Serve some veggies on the side such as steamed broccoli or green beans. A fresh cucumber or tomato salad is also fitting. Enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Chicken Paprikas on a plate with broccoli and red pepper

Lucia’s Chicken Paprikás

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 – 3 lbs chicken thighs or drumsticks
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Hungarian ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp flour

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat oil and brown chicken on all sides – remove chicken to a plate.

2. Next, add onion to the skillet and cook till golden brown. Add garlic, pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and stir in the paprika and ground black pepper.

4. Return chicken to the skillet and mix well. Add water or chicken broth until chicken is mostly covered. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, mix sour cream and flour until the mixture is smooth. Add the sour cream mixture to the chicken paprikas and simmer for 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

6. Serve with Hungarian nokedli (small dumplings) or penne or rotini. [For a vegetarian version, replace chicken with tofu cubes and reduce cooking time to 10 minutes].

Makes 6 servings.

 

What to Look for in a Probiotic Supplement

A bottle of probiotics showing the bacteria content

Probiotics can have a number of health benefits ranging from reducing the symptoms of digestive disorders to supporting your immune system. Choosing a probiotic supplement though can be sooo confusing! Here are four dietitian-approved tips to help you find the best product.

Tip #1 – Look for a probiotic that is enteric-coated

The acid in our stomach can destroy probiotics. Enteric-coated probiotic capsules, like New Roots Herbal probiotics, are completely sealed allowing them to survive the acid in our stomach and make it all the way down to our large intestine / colon where probiotics do their beneficial work. Some other probiotics are “delayed release”, meaning that the capsules will open up slowly to release their contents. However, the delayed release may only last about 30 minutes. In this case, the probiotics can still be destroyed by the stomach acid and may not reach the small intestine to deliver full benefits. Another benefit of enteric-coated probiotics is that you can take them anytime, with or without food.

Tip #2 – Look for the bacteria count at the time of EXPIRY

Probiotics will list the bacteria count in Colony Forming Units (CFUs). The key is to make sure that the CFU count is guaranteed at the time of expiry, not just when they’re manufactured. Look for the phrase “Potency guaranteed at date of expiry” on the bottle or package.

Tip #3 – Look for probiotics in the refrigerated section

Probiotics by definition are living micro-organisms. Keeping probiotics in the fridge helps to preserve the lifespan of the bacteria. That’s why you’ll find New Roots Herbal probiotics in the refrigerated section at the natural products store. When you get home, remember to keep your probiotics in the fridge too!

Tip #4 – Talk to a dietitian or your health care professional

Probiotic supplements can contain billions of probiotics! The two most common groups of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – and there are different species and strains within these groups. Talk to a dietitian or your health care provider to figure out the best ones for you and your health concerns.

 

Watch Sue’s TV interview about Prebiotics and Probiotics 

TV host Annette Hamm chatting with dietitian Sue Mah

 

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC

Disclosure: I have participated in a paid partnership with New Roots Herbal. Opinions in this post are my own. 

 

5 Smart Snacks

snack ideas that combine protein with produce

Want to stay fueled and alert? Our dietitian tip is to combine protein with produce at every snack! Protein foods give you staying power, satiety and alertness. Produce offers a medley of antioxidants to boost your health and wellness. That’s a powerful combo, right?

Try these snacks the next time you’re heading out on the trails, camping or even studying for exams. Which snack combo is your favourite?

 

Be Well! Navigate the grocery aisles efficiently during COVID19

Getting in and out of a grocery store fast is more important than ever during the COVID19 pandemic. Health experts ask us to stay at home as much as possible which means limiting the number of shopping trips to a minimum. Once you arrive at the grocery store keeping a safe 6 foot distance from others is a new skill for many people including myself. It’s also important to navigate the aisles efficiently. Somehow it doesn’t seem OK any more to forget something and have to run back through the store to find it.

To help you stay well we created an efficient grocery shopping list. We really like this template because it prompts meal planning so you buy only what you need. We also limited the number of items to make your trip more manageable.   You’ll notice the list is organized in categories that follow the grocery store layout to help you get in and out of the store fast.

Here is how you can use it:

  1. Create a meal plan.
    Before going to the grocery store consider the meals you’d like to make in the upcoming week. Make a note of the most important items you need in case your trip is stressful and you don’t get through your whole shopping list.
  2. Complete your efficient grocery shopping list *
    Print out a copy of the Be Well! Efficient grocery shopping list (see link below) and keep it in your kitchen. You can ask others you live with to help complete the list so everyone contributes to the eating plan. When the list gets full, you’ll know it’s time to go shopping.
  3. Navigate the aisles efficiently
    When you arrive at the store pick the aisles with the least number of people and keep your physical distance 6 feet from others. Make your way through the store quickly and efficiently. Because your shopping list is short you won’t need a pen to check off the list.

Keep well and good luck grocery shopping!

* Print off your copy of the shopping list by clicking on this link and then the image.  Be Well! Efficient Grocery Shopping List N4NN dietitians

Watch our one minute VIDEO summary and tips on efficient grocery shopping here:

Top 10 food & nutrition trends for 2020

Image: Canva

Are you looking to keep up with food, beverage and nutrition trends? As dietitians we love helping people unlock the power of food for health and wellness. Our team is on top of food and nutrition movements and we know how to translate the latest science on key trends. Here we share some highlights that are of interest to many of our clients.

  1. Fragmented food communities
    Consumers are splitting into ‘tribes’ to meet their health goals based on philosophies and preferences. Wellness communities are emerging that bring people closer together.
  2. Food as medicine
    What’s a fact what’s a myth? Celebrity opinions, friends/family, blogs and social media influence food choices but there are risks! Personal beliefs and opinions may be confused with scientific evidence and hold people back from achieving their health goals. To unlock the power of food for health, look for credible science based facts from registered health experts.
  3. Fat has rehabilitated
    What are healthy fats and how are they good for you? Discover fat quality for health and culinary arts.
  4. Protein sources are pivoting
    Plant forward proteins are all the rage, but do you know how to get enough? What’s happening to meat, dairy and alternatives?
  5. Carbohydrates are under the microscope
    Are all sugars created equal? Discover the dietitians’ Carb quality meter for best bets.
  6. Vitamins, Minerals and phytochemicals have important health impact
    Vitamins and Minerals are powerful partners in health & wellness. Which are of key public health significance? Determine the latest science behind other food compounds such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
  7. Shifting focus to food relationships & mental health
    Healthy eating is about so much more than food – how people eat is important too. Look for mindful eating, enjoying food and the power of planning to eat well and live well.
  8. Digestive comfort
    Get to know your microbiome & how to be a good host to your friendly gut bacteria.
  9. Taking care of our planet
    Sustainability and waste reduction are here to stay. What can you do to make a positive difference?
  10. Taking care of people – health and wellness as a business strategy
    The future is bright for integrating health science and wellness into workplaces. From recruiting to retention and employee assistance programs (EAP) dietitians help people and businesses unlock the power of food for healthy living.

Do you want to leverage food and nutrition trends for yourself and your business?
Studies show the strength and benefit of interprofessional, collaborative teams in business and education. Dietitians can enable a culture of change that supports healthy living for all Canadians. We translate the science, look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life changing advice. Contact us with your questions! We’d love to hear from you.

Join us for the 13th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 28, 2020.
Get our expert nutrition insights, trends & sparks!

Register at www.NutritionForNonNutritionists.com

Spot the Nutrition MYTHS & ask for the FACTS

Image: Bigtsock

Spring is in the air, a perfect time to take a fresh look at what’s hot and what’s not in food and nutrition. As speakers, teachers and consultants, we’re always connecting with professionals and nutrition students. We find there is a surprising increase in questions about myths and misleading nutrition advice. More and more people come forward with confusing nutrition information that hold them back from achieving their goals. According to a recent survey of dietitians the top sources of nutrition misinformation for consumers are celebrities, friends/family, blogs and social media. Don’t get trapped by myths – ask for science based facts from the experts.

Here are our top ten tips to help you spot misleading nutrition advice. Watch for these warning sings in the language used to provide you with information.

Top 10 tips to spot the Nutrition MYTHS:

  1. Quick fix promise
  2. Extreme warnings about a food or food group
  3. Sensational claims that sound too good to be true
  4. Personal beliefs /opinions presented as facts (Notice the use of language like “I believe” and don’t confuse someone’s confidence in their belief with credible scientific evidence.)
  5. Advice based on a single study or from a ‘study under way’ or observations
  6. Statements that are not supported by credible scientific associations (e.g., Dietitians of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Canada, Health Canada)
  7. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
  8. Testimonials endorsing the product, often from celebrities or highly satisfied customers
  9. Aims to sell food products or supplements
  10. Undermines a healthy, enjoyable relationship with food

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for credible food facts check out blogs, social media tips and recipes written by registered dietitians. Dietitians are the most trusted credible food and nutrition experts who understand the science behind food and its connection to health. Contact us for help to translate the power of food for your team and business.