news & trends

Navigating the Changing Landscape: Labelling Regulations in the Supplement Industry

As the world becomes more and more health-conscious, the interest and use of dietary supplements has increased. From vitamins and minerals to herbal remedies, these products promise to enhance well-being and fill nutritional gaps, but they are not without risks. As a result, the supplement industry faces scrutiny over its labelling practices, and recent changes aim to address these concerns. In this blog post, we’ll highlight the changing landscape of supplement labelling regulations and discuss their impact.

The Natural Health Products Dilemma

What Are Natural Health Products (NHPs)?

Natural Health Products (NHPs) encompass a wide range of products, including herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, and other natural remedies. Unlike prescription drugs, NHPs are available without a prescription and are often self-administered by consumers.

The Regulatory Framework

In Canada, NHPs fall under the Natural Health Products Regulations. These regulations recognize the lower-risk nature of NHPs compared to prescription drugs. Companies that manufacture, package, label, or import NHPs must adhere to specific guidelines, including holding valid product and site licenses and following good manufacturing practices (GMP).

The Need for Improved Oversight

While NHPs are generally considered safe, they are not without risks. Health Canada continually strives to create a safer marketplace for Canadians. Here are some key initiatives aimed at enhancing NHP oversight:

  1. Improved NHP Labelling: Clear and accurate labelling is crucial. Consumers need to know what they’re ingesting, potential interactions, and proper usage. Recent changes focus on ensuring that NHP labels provide comprehensive information.
  2. Extending Vanessa’s Law to NHPs: The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law) has been effective in enhancing drug safety. Extending its provisions to NHPs would strengthen reporting requirements, adverse reaction monitoring, and recall procedures.
  3. NHP Inspection Program: Regular inspections of NHP manufacturers and distributors help maintain quality standards. Rigorous inspections ensure compliance with GMP and identify potential risks.
  4. NHP Cost Recovery: Funding NHP oversight requires resources. Implementing a cost recovery mechanism ensures sustainable regulatory efforts.

Balancing Safety and Accessibility

Critics argue that stricter regulations may lead to price increases and reduced availability of certain NHP brands. However, the trade-off between safety and accessibility is a delicate one. As healthcare professionals, we must weigh the risks and benefits. While some products may become scarcer, essential supplements like vitamins and minerals will likely remain accessible.

Bottom Line

As the supplement industry evolves, so must our regulatory approach. Striking the right balance ensures that Canadians have access to safe and effective NHPs. Let’s continue the dialogue, advocate for evidence-based practices, and work towards a healthier future.

Feel free to share your thoughts! If you have any questions or need further information, please reach out.

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

Nourishing Smoothie Recipes with 3 Key Ingredients

Unlock Optimal Nutrition with our dietitian recommended smoothie recipes. Whether you’re a busy professional, fitness enthusiasts or health connoisseur, this recipe is for you! Let’s dive into the world of vibrant colors, flavors, and nourishing choices!

Makes 500 mL (2 servings of 250 mL each)

Ingredients

  1. 1 Cup Liquid:
    • Choose from options like milk (dairy or fortified soy milk) or 100% fruit juice. These provide a hydrating base for your smoothie.
  2. 1 Cup Fruit or Veggie:
    • Fresh or frozen fruits work wonders. For an extra boost, try adding leafy greens like spinach or kale. They’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
  3. Protein Boost:
    • Protein is essential for muscle repair and overall well-being. Opt for ONE of these choices:
      • Whey powder or skim milk powder (1/4 cup)
      • Soy: 3/4 cup of silken tofu or edamame
      • Nuts: 1/4 cup (choose from Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, or peanuts)
      • Nut or Seed Butter: 2 tablespoons (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, or pumpkin)

Optional Flavour Enhancers

  • Get creative! Add flavors, herbs, and spices to elevate your smoothie experience. Here are some ideas:
    • Vanilla: A classic flavor that pairs well with many ingredients.
    • Cinnamon: Adds warmth and a touch of sweetness.
    • Fresh mint leaves: Refreshing and invigorating.

Instructions

  1. Cleanliness Matters:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food.
    • Clean all surfaces, including the blender, cutting board, and utensils, to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Gather Your Ingredients:
    • Assemble your liquid, fruits/veggies, and protein boost.
  3. Blend It Up:
    • Pop everything into a blender.
    • Blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Enjoy! 🥤
  5. Refrigerate promptly any leftover smoothie and perishable ingredients for up to 24 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

Remember, safe food handling ensures that your meals are not only delicious but also safe to eat! For more detailed food safety guidelines, check out these resources:

Safe Food Handling Tips – Canada.ca

Food safety and you – Canada.ca

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

 

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

 

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.

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

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

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

 

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 Eating Veggies Protect Your Heart? Trending Research Translated for Wellness

Image Source: Bigstock, Canva

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?

Image Source: Bigstock, Canva

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

Ingredients for a healthier tomorrow – Nutrition Month 2022

Image Source: Dietitians of Canada

 

Canadians are looking for healthier ways of eating, a healthier planet and affordable food. To celebrate the 40th annual Nutrition Month, dietitians are focusing on the connection between food, public health and the environment. The sustainability movement has been growing in Canada and around the world. In this blog we define some key ingredients for a healthier tomorrow and sustainable food system.

Key Ingredients for a healthier tomorrow [1]

You probably know that dietitians provide life changing advice on nutrition and food choices to manage illness and promote health. But many dietitians are also involved in these areas of sustainability that could help create a healthier tomorrow.

  • Improved Food Security
    • “Food and nutrition security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to food, which is safe and consumed in sufficient quantity and quality to meet their dietary needs and food preferences, and is supported by an environment of adequate sanitation, health services and care, allowing for a healthy and active life.”[2]
  • Food Literacy
    • “Food literacy includes five main interconnected components: food and nutrition knowledge; food skills; self-efficacy and confidence; food decisions; and external factors such as the food system, social determinants of health, and socio-cultural influences and eating practices.”[3]
  • Food Sovereignty
    • “Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”[4]
  • Sustainable Food Choices (Diets)
    • “Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources”[5]
  • Sustainable Food Systems
    • A food system that delivers food and nutrition security for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.”[6]  Figure 1 summarizes what sustainable food systems look like in Canada.

Figure 1. Source: Dietitians of Canada (2022) Nutrition Month Activity Guide

How to join the conversation and support action  

It can be challenging to know where to start with change towards a healthier you and a healthier planet. The Dietitians of Canada share 5 tips for reducing the environmental footprint of your diet:

  1. Reduce food waste
    Check out our tips to Double down on reducing food waste, Put the freeze on food waste, and
  2. Eat to satisfy your hunger and support your health
    Read more tips on 5 smart snacks and What’s Your Food Personality? 
  3. Buy local products
    Read more about the meaning of local!
  4. Choose a healthy and balanced diet
    Read our highlights from a sustainable eating conference
  5. Talk to a dietitian for credible, life changing advice
    Read more about Why work with a dietitian?

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] Dietitians of Canada (2022) Nutrition Month Activity Guide https://www.dietitians.ca/News/2022/Nutrition-Month-2022-Ingredients-for-a-Healthier-T

[2] Committee on World Food Security, Food and Agriculture Organization (2012) https://www.fao.org/3/MD776E/MD776E.pdf

[3] Nutrition Connections. Effective education strategies to increase food and nutrition knowledge in children and youth (2019) https://nutritionconnections.ca/resources/effective-education-strategies-to-increase-food-and-nutrition-knowledge-in-children-and-youth/

[4] What is Food Sovereignty. Food Secure Canada (Accessed 2022) https://foodsecurecanada.org/who-we-are/what-food-sovereignty

[5] Burlingame B, Dernini S. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action. (2012) https://www.fao.org/3/i3004e/i3004e.pdf

[6] Nutrition and Food Systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security (2017) https://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-12_EN.pdf

Why work with a dietitian?

DIETITIANS SERVICES (SOURCE DIETITIANS OF CANADA)

Nutrition is a hot topic. You may have a growing desire for better nutrition as a way to improve your healthy and productivity.  Research shows that nutrition counselling with a dietitian is a good investment for your health and wellness. Here are some common questions we get asked about working with a dietitian.

Why should I consult a dietitian?

Dietitians translate scientific research into practical solutions. They work with you to help you feel your best. Dietitians can provide:

  • Tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop for and cook healthy meals for your family
  • Information to help you interpret food labels, the latest food trends and diets
  • Support to improve your relationship with food and be mindful of your eating habits
  • Individualized Counselling to help you:
    • manage your weight, food allergies and intolerances or digestive issues
    • get the most from your workouts
    • prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease
  • Guidance on how to feed your baby, a “picky” eater, or an active teenager
  • Advice on whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement based on your health needs.

Why are nutrition services important?

Health concerns are on the rise

  • 44% of Canadians over age 20 have at least 1 chronic health condition
  • 11 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes
  • More than 2.6 million Canadians suffer from food allergies

Canadians want better nutrition

Canadians are increasingly more aware of their food choices, shopping smarter, and opting for better nutrition now more than ever before.  Although provincial health plans don’t provide adequate coverage, many employee and private health insurance plans cover Registered Dietitian led Nutrition Counselling sessions.

Manage your Health

Good nutrition improves health and reduces health risks that can lead to illness or high prescription drug use.

  • Lowers risk for and helps manage type 2 diabetes
  • Improves weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels
  • Controls digestive issues and food allergies

Your best choice for nutrition services are Registered Dietitians…hands down!

Dietitians are Specialized

Dietitians must pass university and licensing exams, undergo rigorous practical training, and commit to staying on top of emerging research, skills and techniques in food, nutrition and health.

Dietitians are Regulated

Dietitians are the only nutrition practitioners that are licensed and regulated in every province in Canada. Just like a nurse or physiotherapist, dietitians hold a protected designation. Look for the letters RD (registered dietitian) or PDt (professional dietitian) DT.I or Dt.P, after your health care professional’s name depending on the province.

Dietitians are Health Care Professionals

Dietitians belong to a national association that promotes the highest level of professional standards through extensive training, knowledge sharing and a powerful evidence-based nutrition database – a leading resource for nutrition professionals around the world.

A Dietitian can unlock the power of food for your healthy living. Ask us how. Connect with us

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.

 

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.