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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

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

What are your thoughts on the Dirty Dozen?

 

A women shopping for veggies at a grocery store. A headshot of Sue is overlayed with the text.

Have you heard about the Dirty Dozen? Let’s take a closer look at this and what it means for you and your family.

What exactly is the Dirty Dozen?

The Dirty Dozen is an annual list created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a United States-based environmental advocacy organization. The list ranks the top 12 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables in the United States that they claim should be avoided due to pesticide residues.

But what the Dirty Dozen list doesn’t tell us is how much residual pesticide is actually on the produce. We need this information to figure out if the amount we’re eating is at a level that could harm our health.

So what about pesticides?

Pesticides are substances that can be from either synthetic or natural sources, and are used on foods to protect them from diseases and pests such as insects and weeds. With the help of pesticides, farmers are able to grow safe, affordable and abundant food for Canadians.

As a dietitian, I worry that the Dirty Dozen list may cause food fear. The fact is both organic and conventional farmers use pesticides to control pests. Just because a pesticide residue is present, doesn’t mean that it poses a risk to our health. In fact, detection technology is now so sophisticated that it can detect parts per billion (think a drop of water in an Olympic size swimming pool). And, Canada has one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world for pesticides. Before a pesticide can even be used on a food product, Health Canada assesses the health impact of any pesticide residues that may be in or on the food. It even takes into account the sensitivities of specific subsets of the population like infants, children and pregnant women.

Health Canada also sets Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), which is the maximum amount of pesticide residue that is allowed to remain on a product when it is used according to the pesticide label – and these residue limits are typically set at least 100 times or more below levels that would have any impact on human health.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspects domestic and imported foods for pesticide residues. Over 99% of the food that is tested is below the MRLs. And in rare cases where the residue level is above the MRL, it does not pose a health risk as the MRL is set significantly below any level of concern.

My advice

We all want and deserve safe, nutritious and affordable food for ourselves and our families. Here are some things to consider if you’re concerned about pesticides.

  • Put the Dirty Dozen list in perspective. Health Canada states that there is no health risk from eating conventionally grown foods because of pesticide residues. Use this Pesticide Residue Calculator which shows you the number of servings of different fruits and vegetables that we could eat and still not have any adverse effects from pesticide residues. For example, a child could eat 181 servings of strawberries a day (or 1,448 strawberries) without any adverse effects from pesticide residues!
  • Wash fruits and veggies very well under cold water. This helps to remove dirt, bacteria, and any tiny amounts of residues which may be on the outer layers of the produce. There’s no need to use soap or detergent. You can also peel the skin on fruits and veggies, however keep in mind that you’d also be peeling away some fibre and nutrients, as well as contributing to food waste.
  • Feel good about the food you eat! Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables every day that are tasty and affordable. Whether they’re organic or conventionally grown, both options are safe, nutritious and important for good health.

 

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

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with CropLife Canada. The information shared in the blog are my opinions based on my review of this topic. I consult only with companies which align with my personal and professional values.

 

What’s the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides?

Ask the dietitian image of Lucia Weiler RD over a heart shaped bowl with berries and stethoscope

You’ve probably heard of high blood cholesterol, but have you heard of high blood triglycerides?

Cholesterol and triglycerides are important measures of heart health.  Both cholesterol and triglycerides are different types of lipids that circulate in the blood, but elevated levels of both can raise your risk for heart disease. Here is a rundown of the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides, and why they matter for your heart health.

Definitions & Why it Matters

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in some foods and in your blood. Your liver makes most of the blood cholesterol and it produces enough for your needs. Cholesterol is part of every cell in your body and some hormones. Cholesterol is needed to help your body digest and absorb fat.

Too much cholesterol in the blood can build up inside arteries, forming what is known as plaque. Large amounts of plaque increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in some foods as well as in your body. Triglyceride is a term that describes the structure of a fat, which is made up of 3 fatty acids and a glycerol backbone. (See summary chart for diagram). When you eat, your body converts any excess calories you don’t need to use right away into triglycerides for a longer-term energy source. Triglycerides are mostly stored in your fat cells and are commonly deposited beneath the skin and around some internal organs. Some triglycerides circulate in the blood.

You need some triglycerides for good health. But high triglycerides might raise your risk of heart disease. High blood triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

What’s the best way to lower your blood cholesterol and triglycerides?

Healthy lifestyle choices are KEY low lower the risk of heart disease.  Bringing your blood cholesterol and triglyceride numbers down takes effort and commitment. Here are some things you can do.

Top 5 ways to lower cholesterol:

  • Choose foods that are lower in saturated fats like fish, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and lower fat milk and dairy products.
  • Eat a variety of heart healthy foods. Choose more vegetables, fruit, high fibre whole grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soy products, nuts and seeds.
  • If you smoke – quit all types of smoking.
  • Be physically active on most, preferable all days of the week.
  • Maintain a body weight that is healthy for you.

Top 5 ways to lower triglycerides:

  • Limit fast releasing carbohydrates like candy, sweet snack foods, and baked goods made with highly refined white flours.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Even small amounts of alcohol can raise triglycerides.
  • Include heart healthy fats such as olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.
  • Focus on boosting veggies and high fibre foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds and whole grains every day.
  • Enhance your fitness routine. Find moderate to vigorous activities you enjoy (such as cycling, running, brisk walking, swimming, etc.) and aim for at least 150 minutes per week which is about 40 minutes 4 times a week or 50 minutes 3 times a week.

Talk with your registered dietitian or contact us to discuss your blood lipid numbers and develop a personalized plan for keeping a healthy heart.

summary chart cholesterol and triglycerides

References:

 

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

 

How Healthy is the Canadian Preschoolers’ Diet?

 

We know that good nutrition in the pre-school years is important to help develop good eating habits that can last a lifetime. A study from the University of Guelph suggests that 86% of the preschoolers in their study could benefit from dietary improvements.  These results point to an opportunity to support families with young children.

Preschool nutrition

Around the age of 4, toddlers explore the word though all their five senses and food is no exception.  They may not be able to control much in their lives, but they can decide whether to eat or not, and how much. Toddlers are masters of expressing their desire for independence at mealtimes. Many parents worry about their children’s daily intakes; however health professionals recognize that at this age it helps to think of a balanced diet as something a child eats over a few days, even a week, not necessarily daily. Mealtimes are excellent opportunities for parents and caregivers to provide healthy food choices for children and create a positive atmosphere where healthy food attitudes can develop (Sizer et al.).

Evaluating healthy eating

Many researchers focused on studying the daily intake of specific nutrients or foods. In addition to recommendations about eating specific foods and nutrients, a measure of overall diet quality is useful.  Few studies have looked at the overall quality of the diet in children 2-6 years of age which makes this study a valuable reference. University of Guelph researchers used the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) as a measure of diet quality to assess how well the preschoolers’ foods aligned with key dietary guidelines and recommendations. The overall HEI score is made up of 13 dietary components that reflect different food groups and key public health recommendations. The scores range from 0 to 100 maximum, and a higher total score reflects that the set of foods aligns better with dietary guidelines. For this study, three-day food records were collected to calculate HEI scores for 117 children from 83 families as an indicator of diet quality.

Healthy eating results

The mean Healthy Eating Index score reported in this study was about 68% which falls under the ‘needs improvement category (56-80 out of 100). This can be attributed to lower than recommended values in ‘adequacy components’ such as fruits, vegetables, protein foods, seafood and plant proteins and dairy.  Also, ‘moderation components’ that were higher than recommended scores included refined grains and sodium. The 2021 Guelph Study’s HEI score of 68% is similar to findings of a 2004 Canadian preschool study, but higher than the 60% diet quality score found among US preschoolers published in 2019.

University of Guelph researchers also reported that parental education was positively associated with HEI scores. Children of higher educated parents tended to have a higher diet quality that aligned more with public health recommendations such as including adequate vegetables, fruit and protein foods. Specifically, the study highlighted that parents’ socioeconomic status was positively associated with total fruit score. One limitation of this study was that it looked at a relatively small sample of mostly Caucasian families. However, other studies have reported similar findings that fruit intake scores were lower in families with lower income status. Researchers suggest that fruit intake may be particularly sensitive to income status.

Researchers’ recommendations

‘These results underscore the importance of dietitians in supporting families with young children in establishing healthy eating habits early in life. Dietary intervention and additional supports are indicated to improve the diet quality of children with parents with lower socioeconomic status and education’ (Leme et al).

n4nn & healthy eating support

Are you interested in discussing professional nutrition guidance for children so they can grow into healthy adults? At n4nn we offer services to support families with the development of healthier eating habits. We also work with foodservice providers and can help evaluate how well the mix of foods made available to kids (and adults) align with dietary recommendations. Contact us @ info@n4nn.ca  to evaluate diet quality and receive valuable expert advice to inform your food purchases, programs and menus.

References

  • Leme et al., (2021). Diet Quality of Canadian Preschool Children: Associations with Socio-demographic Characteristics, Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. 82(3): 131-135. Accessed December 12, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.3148/cjdpr-2021-009
  • Sizer et al., (2021). Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, Fifth Canadian Edition,  Nelson
  • USDA, Food and Nutrition Service (2020 update) Healthy Eating Index (HEI). Accessed December 12, 2021 from https://www.fns.usda.gov/healthy-eating-index-hei

Food, Your Gut and Lower Blood Pressure – What’s the Connection?

Cardiovascular disease remains the world’s number one cause of death. With World Heart Day just around the corner on September 29th, new research points to the beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on blood pressure.

A study just released reveals a link between flavonoids and the gut microbiome in improving blood pressure.

Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland found that consuming higher levels of flavonoid rich foods including berries, apples, pears, and red wine may be associated with a reduction in blood pressure levels. This can be explained in part by the characteristics of the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome are the good bacteria that live in the digestive tracts. The gut microbiome has been studied for its role in gut health, immunity and behavior and now heart health can be added to the list! There is mounting evidence to the importance of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. This research suggests that the composition of the gut microbiome can play a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their benefits on heart health.

This study looked at over 900 adults and was published in Hypertension, the scientific journal of the American Heart Association. Those who had the highest intakes of flavonoid-rich foods had lower systolic blood pressure levels as well as a greater variety of bacteria in their gut compared to participants who consumed the lowest levels of flavonoids.

Lead researcher, Professor Aedín Cassidy explains that ‘These blood pressure lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet. Eating  160 g of berries a day (which is about 1 cup sliced berries) was associated with a 4.1 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, and 12% of the association was explained by gut microbiome factors. Drinking 700 mL red wine per week (which is about one glass of red wine 3 times a week, where a glass is 233 ml), was associated with a 3.7 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure levels, of which 15% could be explained by the gut microbiome.’

Researchers say that the ‘strength of their study was that they could examine the association between the intake of flavonoid rich foods, blood pressure and the composition of the microbiome concurrently.’

Are you interested in leveraging World Heart Day for your business?  Check out their 2021 playbook for information and ideas.  Let’s connect to help make a difference.

References

 

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.

World Health Organization tackles salt reduction with first ever global benchmarks

Sodium background

Did you know that you’re likely consuming significantly more than enough sodium every day?  According to Health Canada, we eat about 3400 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day. This is more than double the amount we need, yet most people don’t know how much sodium they consume or the risks it poses, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Sodium is an essential nutrient found in salt and many foods but our bodies need only a small amount of sodium to be healthy.  Due to its link to high blood pressure and other illnesses, sodium is a nutrient of public health concern. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. High sodium intake has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and severity of asthma. (Health Canada)

Sodium in the diet

Research shows that processed food contribute 75% of the sodium in the Canadian diet. Here’s a quick pop quiz: Which of these food groups do you think contributes THE MOST sodium to the Canadian diet?

  • a) Fruit and vegetables
  • b) Breads
  • c) Soups
  • d) Processed meats

This is a tricky question, and the answer is b) breads. Breads are the food group that contributes the most sodium in the Canadian diet. This not because breads are high in sodium, but the sodium adds up since we eat breads in high amounts.  Soups and processed meats tend to be high in sodium but we consume them in lower amounts, hence they contribute less sodium to the total diet.

In the new global benchmarks, the WHO identified ‘processed and packaged bread, savory snacks, meat products and cheese among the categories of high-sodium food products.’  In the detailed Global Sodium Benchmarks report, the WHO targets 18 categories of processed and packaged food products that contribute significantly to sodium in diets.

Sodium reduction focus on processed foods

National guidelines and sodium reduction recommendations have been in place for a while, but these are the first ever published “global sodium benchmarks” according to the WHO. This is because sodium reduction a global issue!   WHO stresses that “reducing sodium content by reformulating processed foods is a proven strategy to reduce population sodium intake, particularly in places where consumption of processed foods is high. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General also states “we need the food and beverage industry to cut sodium levels in processed foods,”

Sodium – recommended intakes for health and wellness

Sodium and Salt intake Guidelines (Sizer 2021)
2019 Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Recommendations 1500 mg/day
Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) level 2300 mg/day
Canada’s food guide ‘Choose foods with little or no added sodium’… Compare Nutrition Facts table on foods to choose product that are lower in sodium. NOTE: 5% DV is a little, 15% DV or more is a lot.

When you are shopping for food products, look at the Nutrition Facts table and choose foods that have the lowest amounts of sodium.  Consider the  % Daily Value (%DV) on the Nutrition Facts table to compare similar products and see if the food has a little or a lot of sodium. Here is a good guide:

5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot. Look for products with a sodium content of less than 15% DV per serving.

Bottom line

Too much sodium raises blood pressure. Diets rarely lack sodium and most Canadians eat more than double the amount of sodium they need. You can make healthier choices when grocery shopping, cooking and eating out to help lower the amount of sodium you and your family eats.

Would you like more information? Contact us for guidance on lowering the sodium levels in your diet and in your processed foods. As dietitians we are trusted and credible food and nutrition experts on raising awareness and providing education to support sodium reduction as an important public health priority.

Double Down on Reducing Food Waste


Image Source: Shutterstock

Addressing food waste at home is a priority issue for the National Zero Waste Council.  Did you know that Canadian households waste more food than they realize?

Think for a moment – What foods do you throw away most often?  Fruits & Veggies?  or Milk?  or Meat? or Cereals?  If you said ‘fruit and veggies’ you’re not alone! So much is wasted each year! Recent research in Canada tells us that almost two thirds of food scraps that end up as kitchen waste could have been eaten. (National Zero Waste Council 2017)

The good news is that there are many things you can do help ensure that the energy, water, and land resources that go into growing our food are not wasted. Here are 5 tips to help you save your food, money and reduce waste:

  1. Think differently about food waste
    Because fruit and vegetables have the highest rate of waste, think differently about the food you would usually toss out. How can you use up the broccoli stems, cilantro stems, and maybe even banana peels in recipes that taste great and reduce waste?  Use all the edible parts of produce – leaves, peels, seeds, stalks and stems. For some creative and fresh ideas, check out a new IKEA cookbook filled with recipes that use kitchen scraps.
  2. Make sustainable food decisions
    Caring for the environment is everyone’s responsibility. Consider ways you can bring food to your table while protecting some natural resources. Can you build a healthy relationship with food, and value its origin and quality? Can you buy foods with less packaging or recyclable packaging when possible? Learn more about making impactful choices from credible sources like Dietitians of Canada , 2020, Advocacy /Priority Issues and Actions/ Food and Nutrition Policy and Health Canada 2021, Health Canada Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy.
  3. Talk to farmers
    Take a moment to remember farmers who work to produce our food every day. If you get a chance, talk to farmers at farmers’ markets or farm stands to discover more about the food they produce and how they manage resources and care for their environment.  Farmers can tell you the story behind the foods they grow. Take a farm tour either virtually or in person to meet the farmers and see things first hand. Be curious and open minded – you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn to support your informed and confident food choices. In the meantime if you’d like to discover more about Canadian food and farming stories check out Canadian Food Focus at https://canadianfoodfocus.org/about-us/ where we share our food and nutrition blogs.
  4. Plan out your meals
    Buy and eat the amount of food that you need to help reduce waste. Resist the urge to overbuy fresh produce because it’s the food that’s most likely to get tossed.  Plan a weekly ‘Must-Go’ meal that cleans out your fridge. In a recent study by Hellmann’s, food waste was reduced by one- third when participants planned just one weekly meal that used up soon-to-expire ingredients.  In your meal plan you can also use perishable foods and leftovers to create ‘planned over’ meals.  Cook and eat once then create an entirely different second meal with the same ingredients for your next meal or two.  For some quick and tasty examples of “cook once, eat twice” recipes that will help you reduce food waste, check out the Guelph Family Health Study’s cookbook: Rock What You’ve Got Recipes for Preventing Food Waste.
  5. Minimize wasted food at your table
    Serve sensible, smaller portions. This way, you’re not scraping uneaten food into the waste bin or encouraging overconsumption as a way to reduce food waste. Alternatively, consider serving food family style where everyone can serve themselves and take the amount they wish to eat. If you cooked too much food you can repurpose it or freeze leftovers for another meal.

Let’s reduce food waste together! Contact us to discover more! We also offer virtual workshops and cooking demos on how to minimize food waste at your organization and your family table.

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.

 

Introducing the NEW Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025

On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025. Every five years, these science-based guidelines are updated to offer the most current advice on “what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.”

Key message – Make every bite count!

Americans’ health is suffering.  According to the USDA, 6 in 10 adults are living with chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis that are often related to poor-quality diets. Following the Dietary Guidelines can help improve Americans’ health and it’s never too late to start dietary improvements.  People at any stage of life can make every bite count and benefit from changing to more nutrient-dense forms of foods and beverages.

How are Dietary Guidelines used?

The US Dietary Guidelines have a significant impact on nutrition in the United States.  The Dietary Guidelines form the basis of all federal nutrition policy and programs including nutrition resources. They also guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines are adapted by health professionals to meet specific needs of groups and individuals.

What’s new and what’s the same?

Here’s a snapshot of what’s new and what’s not in the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 and what it means to people and businesses.

  1. NEW – 4 overarching Guidelines in the 2020-2025 edition
    • Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
    • Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
    • Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
    • Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
  2. NEW – Guidance across all life stages now includes infants and toddlers.

    From pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to older adults, nutrition advice is provided in the Dietary Guidelines for all life stages. The edition also emphasizes that it is never too early or too late to eat healthy!

    • For first time ever the guidelines include advice for children less than 2 years of age. This will help parents know how to start their infants and toddlers out with a healthy diet. Specific recommendations include:
    • Introduce potential food allergens including eggs, peanuts and dairy to children early to help reduce the risk of developing food allergies.
    • Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
  3. NEW – Call to action: ‘Make every bite count’ with same 5 food groups and ‘MyPlate’ model 

    USDA continues to use 5 food groups including dairy, unlike the Canadian Food Guide. Both Food guides recommend half the plate be filled with vegetables and fruit.  Here is how the key consumer messages appear based on the new guidelines ‘Small Changes Matter, Start Simple’ resource:

  4. SAME – Key recommendations limit saturated fat, added sugars, sodium and alcohol
    • Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
    • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older; Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
    • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than age 14).
    • If consumed by adults, alcoholic beverage guidance remains the same as previous years:
    • 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women. Pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Some experts are disappointed because the Scientific Advisory? Committee recommended further limiting alcohol intakes to just one drink a day for both men and women however this was not reflected in the final guidelines.
  5. SAME – Lack of mention about food insecurity and food systems.

Some food and nutrition advocates were hoping to see guidance on sustainably, climate change and information about food systems including activities involving the production, processing, transport in addition to the consumption of food.  The Dietary Guidelines received some criticism for these exclusions.

The bottom line:

This is a comprehensive 164-page guidance document on what the average American should eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease. For most people the takeaway from these guidelines should be forming healthy dietary patterns. “For lifelong good health, make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans”.

Consult with Registered Dietitian to discover what the guidelines mean for your nutritional requirements, personal health and wellness or your food and nutrition business.

Want to discover more about how to make the Food Guide work for you and your business? Contact us now for a presentation / workshop.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Co-Founder Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

Understanding the Most Confusing Words at the Grocery Store

women pushing a grocery cart with overlay text of blog title

Natural versus organic. Free run versus free range. Made in Canada versus Product of Canada. These terms can be oh-so confusing! We decipher these terms so that they all make sense!

Watch Sue’s TV interview on this topic (and see a few food examples) or read the details below.

Dietitian Sue Mah speaking via SKYPE to TV host Lindsey DeLuce

Whole grain versus Multi-grain

Whole grain means that you’re getting all three parts of the grain kernel or grain seed. The three parts are:

  • Bran – this is the outside layer of the grain and contains most of the fibre as well as B vitamins and some protein
  • Endosperm – this is the middle layer and it’s the bigger part of the whole grain. It’s mostly carbohydrates with some protein
  • Germ – this is the smallest part of the grain kernel and is rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals

On the other hand, multi-grain simply means that the product contains more than one type of grains, and they may or may not be whole grains.

Choose whole grains when you can for extra fibre and nutrition. Some examples of whole grains are oats, barley, corn, rye, brown rice and quinoa.

Grass fed versus Grain fed

These are terms that are sometimes used to describe the beef you can buy. All cattle eat grasses and forages which includes grasses, clover and alfalfa.

Grass fed beef means that the cattle was only fed grass or forages their entire life.

Grain fed beef means that the cattle were raised on grass or forages for most of their life and then grain finished. This means is that about 3-4 months before going to market, the cattle are fed a diet that is mostly grains like corn or barley. The grain helps to produce a more marbled quality grade of beef

When it comes to nutrition, both grass fed and grain fed beef are excellent sources of protein, iron and vitamin B12. Grass fed beef is leaner than grain fed beef, and may have slightly higher amounts of omega-3 fat and vitamin K. Some say that grass fed beef has a slightly different taste too.

Free range versus Free run

These are terms that are used to describe the eggs you buy.

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

Free range eggs come from hens that also roam the entire barn floor. And when the weather permits, the hens go outside to pasture. So in the winter when it’s cold, access to outside may be limited.

From a nutrition point of view, there are no differences in the nutritional content of these eggs compared to regular eggs. All eggs are a super source of protein, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Made in Canada versus Product of Canada

Made in Canada means that a Canadian company was involved in some of the food preparation.

Product of Canada means that all or nearly all of the food and processing used to make the food is Canadian. In other words, “Product of Canada” foods were grown or raised by Canadian farmers, and prepared / packed by Canadian food companies.

Natural versus Organic

Natural means that nothing has been added or removed. The food does not contain any added vitamins or minerals or artificial flavours or food additives. The food also has not had anything removed or significantly changed.

Organic refers to the way foods and ingredients have been grown and processed. For example, organic chicken means that the chickens were raised with a certified organic feed that contains no animal by-products or antibiotics. Organic also means that there are no artificial colours or flavours, no preservatives or sweeteners. The “organic” logo, shown below, can be used only on products that have 95% or more organic content.

Body Weight Words Matter! Reflecting on the New Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines

For most people their body weight is a personal issue. However people living in larger bodies face hurtful stigma including language surrounding obesity and overweight.  Developed by Obesity Canada and the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons, the new Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines represent the first comprehensive update in Canadian obesity guidelines since 2007.[1]

Decades of research in behavioral and nutrition science suggest that it’s time to update our clinical approach and recognize that some patterns of communication about body weight are more helpful than others. Registered dietitians are deeply involved in this discussion and here are some of the topline messages from leading experts that stood out to us:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI) is NOT an accurate tool for identifying obesity related complications [2]
    BMI is a widely used tool for screening and classifying body weight but it’s been controversial for decades.  A person’s BMI number is generated by considering their height in relation to their weight and it tells us about the size of the person’s body.  Experts now agree that more information than BMI is needed to determine whether a person is sick or healthy.
  2. Patient-centered, weight-inclusive care focuses on health outcomes rather than weight loss 1,2
    Remember to ask permission before discussing body weight and respect the person’s answer. Health issues are measured by lab data and clinical signs. These can include blood pressure, blood sugar or reduced mobility. Shift the focus toward addressing impairments to health rather than weight loss alone.
  3. Obesity is NOT simply a matter of self-control and the ‘eat less, move more’ advice is insufficient1
    The effects of a dieting lifestyle are burdensome. Evidence-based advice must move beyond simplistic approaches of ‘eat less and move more’. For example, in recent years researchers gained a better understanding of clinical evidence and body weight biology. These include the amount of food energy absorbed through the gut, the brain’s role in appetite regulation and the thermic effect of eating.[3] Environmental factors such as where people live, work and food availably also have an influence on body weight.
  4. People of higher weights should have access to evidence informed interventions, including medical nutrition therapy
    There is a lot of misinformation about body weight so evidence-based health management is key. One of the recommended interventions is to include personalized counselling by a registered dietitian with a focus on healthy food choices and evidence-based nutrition therapy.
  5. Recognize and address weight bias and stigma
    People with excess body weight experience weight bias and stigma. Weight bias is defined as negative weight–related attitudes, beliefs and judgements toward people who are of higher weight. This thinking can result in stigma which is acting on weight-based beliefs such as teasing, bullying, macroaggressions, social rejection and discrimination towards people living in larger bodies. People may also internalize weight stigma and criticize themselves or others based on body weight.
    Experts consider that changes to language can alleviate the stigma of obesity within the health-care system and support improved outcomes for both people living in a larger body and for the health-care system. 3,[4],[5],[6]

In our Body Weight Words Matter! chart below we provide several examples of communication interventions to help assess your attitude and reduce body weight bias. Body Weight Words Matter INFOGRAPHIC N4N (Click here to download your copy of the PDF Body Weight Words Matter INFOGRAPHIC N4NN ) Body Weight Words Matter

References:

[1] Obesity Canada (2020) Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) https://obesitycanada.ca/guidelines/

[2] Obesity Canada (2020) CMAJ Obesity in adults: a clinical practice guideline https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/192/31/E875.full.pdf

[3]   Rubino et al. (2020) Joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity. Nature Medicine  www.nature.com/medicine

[4] Obesity UK (2020) Language Matters: Obesity https://cdn.easo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/31073423/Obesity-Language-Matters-_FINAL.pdf

[5] Puhl, R. et.al (2016) Cross-national perspectives about weight-based bullying in youth: nature, extent and remedies. Pediatric Obesity,

[6] Puhl R., Peterson J. L., Luedicke J. (2013). Motivating or stigmatizing? Public perceptions of weight-related language used by health providers. Int. J. Obes.  https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2012110

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. 

 

Peach & Tomato Summer Salad

white bowl with salad made from diced peaches and diced tomatoes, garnished with basil leaves

Celebrate Food Day Canada on August 1st with delicious local peaches or nectarines! Prep time: 5 minutes

Peach & Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients

2 peaches or nectarines (leave the skins on)

10 cherry / grape tomatoes or 1 small tomato

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt / pepper to taste

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Directions

Dice the peaches and have the cherry tomatoes. Toss gently with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add salt / pepper if desired. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Makes 2 small 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?

 

The Science of Comfort Foods

aerial image of kitchen counter filled with baking supplies like flour, eggs, and measuring spoons

[Image: Piktochart]

Can you believe that we’re into week 11 of quarantine now? We’ve been seeing plenty of homemade comfort food pics posted on Instagram lately. In fact, the hashtag #QuarantineBaking has over 208 THOUSAND posts and the hashtag #ComfortFood has over 7.1 MILLLION posts.

There has been so much about comfort food lately in the news too:

  • In Toronto, Bradley Harder started the #PandemicPieProject – he’s baked over 200 pies and given them away to members in his community;
  • In Halifax, Amy Munch who owns Cake Babes, a wedding cake shop, has now baked over 2000 cupcakes and delivered them to front line workers; and
  • In Italy, an 84-year-old Grandma is on lighting up YouTube, demonstrating her recipe for Lockdown Lasagna.

Here are 4 reasons why you might be reaching for those comfort foods right now.

Watch our 1 minute video clip below about The Science of Comfort Foods!

 

1 – Comfort foods trigger dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends messages between the brain cells. Dopamine is all about motivation, reward and pleasure. It gives us a feel-good sensation. So when you eat a comfort food that tastes good and is rewarding, you get a rush of dopamine. Your brain remembers this connection between your behaviour (the comfort food you ate) and the reward (the positive feeling). You may be more motivated to continue that behaviour i.e. eat a comfort food because it gives you that feel-good reward. Some psychology researchers think that even ANTICIPATING eating certain foods generates dopamine. So just THINKING about eating a cinnamon bun or chocolate cake can trigger dopamine!

2 – Comfort foods gives us social connection

As a dietitian, I always say that food unites us. My dad is a chef and to me, food is an expression of love. I remember when Jamie Oliver was here in Toronto in 2015, promoting his new cookbook. When he stood up on stage, he said “Food can be a hug”.  Wow, don’t you agree – food can be as comforting as a hug. Some interesting research from the Universities of Tennessee and New York State in 2015 found that comfort foods remind us of our social relationships / and helps us feel less lonesome especially when we are isolated. Comfort foods offer a sense of belonging. So it makes sense that we’re turning to comfort foods during these times of quarantine and physical isolation. On top of that, baking and cooking together offers psychosocial benefits. Think of those virtual dinner parties or virtual cooking classes we’ve been taking – they keep us feeling connected even when we’re not physically together.

3 – Comfort foods are associated with positive memories and nostalgia

Very often, comfort foods remind us of our childhood or home or friends and family. Comfort foods may also be linked to special person like your mom, dad, Nona, Bubbe or Grandma. When we eat comfort foods, it brings pack happy memories from our past. Sometimes even the SMELL of comfort foods can trigger these positive memories. Psychological research shows that smells are powerfully linked to areas in the brain that are associated with memory and emotional experiences 

4 – Comfort foods can give us a little more certainty and routine.

In these times of uncertainty, making and eating comfort foods can offer a sense of structure and control. We have control over the foods we are making and eating, and we also have a little more control over how we feel. Our brain tells us that eating that piece of homemade bread or pasta will make us feel good.

 

If you’re eating for comfort, that’s completely OK. Be mindful of how often and how much. Practice other healthy lifestyle habits to beat stress – try yoga, meditation, a walk with the dog, listening to music or calling a friend. Stay safe and stay well!

 

By Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Co-founder n4nn

4 Fridge rules for food safety & wellness

Can you think of a time when you found something in your fridge you did not recognize?  Or a special food you bought was misplaced only to turn up spoiled? Well you’re not alone!  In today’s busy home kitchens these things happen.  As a dietitian and food safety professional I can offer you some evidence based advice to help you keep your food cool safely, save you money and reduce waste. Follow these tips for safe food storage in your fridge.

1. Refrigerate perishable foods promptly.
After shopping or cooking how do you put food in the fridge? You may be surprised to discover there is a recommended safe way to store perishable foods.

  • When you return home from shopping put perishable foods in the fridge quickly. Follow the safe food storage tips outlined in this article.
  • If you have extra food after cooking refrigerate leftover foods within two hours. Use clear shallow containers or baggies to store leftovers. Pro tip: separate larger amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

2. Label cooked food containers with name of the food and date you made them.
It’s a lot to ask sometimes to remember when you ate that leftover food that’s sitting in your fridge. To help jog your memory try these foodservice professional’s practices.

  • Place a label on the food containers with the name and date when you made them before putting them in the fridge. Keep a roll of masking tape and a marker handy.
  • Use clear containers with a lid to protect the food and see what is in it.

Leftovers are safe in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you don’t have a chance to eat leftovers within this time, move them to the freezer for later use.

3. Practice safe food storage order.
Did you know there is a best way ‘hierarchy’ to store perishable foods in your fridge? Here are the foodservice pro’s fridge rules to keep foods safe and organized.

  • TOP SHELF – Keep ready to eat fully cooked leftovers here so they are at eye level. Remember to eat leftover foods within 3-4 days of cooking or move them to the freezer.
  • MIDDLE SHELVES: The mid-section of the fridge is best for dairy such as milks, cheeses, yogurt and butter, eggs.
  • BOTTOM SHELF – RAW / uncooked MEAT: Store uncooked fish, meat at the bottom – lowest shelf or meat drawer. To prevent juices from leaking and cross contaminating other foods, store raw fish, meat and poultry wrapped and place it on a plate or in a sealed container.
  • CRISPER DRAWERS – These sealed compartments are specially designed to keep the humidity right for veggies and fruit. Remember fresh fruit, many vegetables and herbs are perishable and require refrigerated storage to keep them fresh longer.
  • Mind the doors. The temperature in the door is not always consistent. So play it safe and keep items that don’t spoil easily, such as condiments, in the fridge door.

4. Clean your fridge regularly and keep it in good running condition.
A fridge is often a ‘taken for granted’ appliance and giving it a little attention helps keep it running well. After all it stores hundreds of dollars’ worth of food that must be kept cold so it doesn’t spoil as fast and make us sick.

  • Declutter your fridge contents regularly. An overstuffed fridge restricts airflow and it may hinder proper cooling. Toss out items that are past their prime and keep foods that are before their expiration date.
  • Clean out your fridge regularly. It’s not enough to just wipe up the obvious messes. Wash down shelves and drawers with soapy water and use a sanitizer to reduce germs.
  • Monitor your fridge’s temperature – it should be between 1-4 degrees Celsius (36-40 Fahrenheit.) Keep a backup thermometer in your fridge for food safety.

If you can implement some of these savvy fridge food storage tips, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your food safe, wasting less food and saving more of your money. Good luck and if you have any questions or would like more information contact us at  Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com

Interested in seeing the Instagram Live show on Fridge food storage tips? Check out the 20 min interactive chat here:

 

Nutrition & Immunity Challenge – Covid19

Your immune system is always on guard against attacks on your body. Attacks could come in many forms including virus, bacteria or even cancer cells. If your immune system trips up, you could become more vulnerable and even ill. In terms of nutrition, there are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system. The immune system is sophisticated ‘team’ with many ‘players’ involved. The best performance in defending your body happens when all ‘players are present’ and ready to do their job. That is why health experts recommend to promote your own immunity follow an overall healthy eating plan.

With Covid19 there seem to be a lot of questions about nutrition and immunity so here is a closer look at the basics.

  • No diet, supplement will cure or prevent disease. Good hygiene practice and physical distancing remain the best means of avoiding COVID19 infection.
  • Almost all nutrients help the immune system in one way or another; however some nutrient deficiencies may be more harmful to immunity than others. Malnutrition and deficient intakes of many vitamins and minerals are associated with lower disease resistance. Among the nutrients well recognized for their roles in building immunity are Protein, Zinc, Vitamins A, C and E. Below we profile these nutrients of interest that support general immunity but emphasize the bottom line:  Eat a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.

Protein:

Protein helps build and repair body tissues and forms antibodies. Antibodies are protective proteins produced by the immune system to fight foreign substances in the body.

Eat protein foods at each meal. Recommendations for most adults are to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. Examples of protein rich foods include fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meat, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), tofu (edamame), eggs, nuts, seeds, greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

Vitamins and Minerals:

All vitamins and minerals promote good health and many protect against infection and diseases. Research suggests that certain vitamins and minerals may have bigger roles in immune health. Examples include Zinc, Vitamins A, C, E. For most people, however, there is no good evidence that taking more of these nutrients than what you can get from a varied healthy diet will improve your immune system. For reference, here is some information about vitamins/minerals of interest for immune health.

    • Zinc:
      A wide variety of foods contain zinc. By far, oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food. More good sources of zinc are lean meats, fish or poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, cereals (fortified) and dairy products
    • Vitamin A:
      Vitamin A is naturally present in many foods and most people get enough Vitamin A from the foods they eat. The most active form is retinol, a fat soluble vitamin found in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body is found in yellow, orange and dark green vegetables and fruits.
    • Vitamin C:
      Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is found in fruits and vegetables. Among its many other roles, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit). Red and green peppers and kiwifruit also have a lot of vitamin C as do other fruits and vegetables.
    • Vitamin E:
      Vitamin E is found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant that helps protect the tissues from damage. Rich sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower), nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds), seeds (sunflower), fortified cereals.Watch our one minute VIDEO summary and tips on the immunity challenge here:

Sources:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2020 Health Information Facts
  • Health Canada (2019) Nutrient Function Claims
  • Duyff Academy of Food and Nutrition (2017) Complete Food & Nutrition Guide
  • Sizer et al (2017) Nutrition Concepts and Controversies

Put the FREEZE on Food Waste

🌎 Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

One way to protect the planet is to reduce food waste by freezing leftover ingredients. It helps you save money too.

Here are some ingredients that we’ve been freezing a lot these days.

🍅 Tomato paste – Most recipes call for about 1 T of tomato paste. Freeze in ice cube trays or in 1 T portions. Ready for a tomato sauce or stew. Lasts 2-3 months in the freezer.

👍 Onions & Green onions – How many times have your green onions wilted in the fridge? Slice them or chop / dice onions and freeze them. Perfect for an omelet, casserole and fried rice. Lasts 10-12 months in the freezer.

🍋 Lemon juice and Lemon zest – Why toss out flavour? Freeze these and add to salad dressings, pasta or baked items. Lasts 12 months in the freezer.

🌿Herbs – Cut them and freeze in ice cube trays water, stock or even oil. Simply toss into soups or defrost for a salad dressing when needed. Lasts 2-3 months in the freezer.

🍌 Bananas – We love making banana bread, so any leftover bananas go straight into the freezer. You can freeze them whole with the peels on (the peels will turn black). Or you can peel the banana first and freeze slices. Thaw and add to baked goods or use frozen in a smoothie. Lasts 2-3 months in the freezer.

🍓 Berries – Freeze them in a single layer first and then place them in a container or bag. (If you freeze them all at once, they may clump together.) Perfect for smoothies or baking! Lasts 12 months in the freezer.

🍞 Bread – Slice it first and then freeze about 6-8 slices in a freezer bag. Same thing with bagels. This makes is so much easier to use or toast. Lasts 2-3 months in the freezer.

🍎 You can freeze so many other foods too! What’s your favourite item to freeze?

Happy Earth Day 2020!

[Freezer storage times – sourced from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app]

 

– By Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC & Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc

Clean and sanitize your kitchen surfaces like a food safety pro during COVID-19

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by preventing the spread of germs. Although there are not many studies on COVID-19 specifically, scientists suggest that what we know works against other coronaviruses could work against this new strain too. Well known food safety cleaning and sanitizing practices can kill many different kids of harmful germs that cause disease.  Consider these expert tips for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces you use for food handling and preparation to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure.

3 Food safety rules to sanitize kitchen surfaces

  1. CLEAN: Remove dirt by washing down surfaces using warm soapy water & rinse with clean water.
  2. SANITIZE: This step reduces the harmful germs to safe levels on surfaces so illness is less likely to occur. Before preparing meals food safety pro’s make sure that counters, cutting boards and work surfaces are sanitized first. Chemicals approved as sanitizes for food-contact surfaces in food-service are chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonium. Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer that is easy to make at home too. You can make your own sanitizing spray using 1 tsp (5 mL) bleach for every 3 cups (750 mL) of water. (Ministry of Health & LTC Ontario)  This sanitization method works for both plastic and wooden cutting board, taps, sinks and other surfaces. (Note: Bleach is NOT recommended for marble or stone countertops!)
  3. AIR DRY: Let surfaces air dry or dry with a clean disposable paper towel.

 

More tips on cleaning and sanitizing in the kitchen are available at this link: https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/kitchen-sanitize.pdf

Dietitians’ tips to stay fueled and focused when working from home

 

desk with vase of flowers

 

The doorbell rings. The dog is barking. A load of laundry sits in the hallway. There can be a lot of distractions when working from home! Here are a few tips to help you stay fueled and focused.

Stick to a regular eating schedule. Get into a routine by eating your meals at the same times every day if possible. Routine gives us a little sense of control during these uncertain times. Plus, you’ll keep your energy levels steady to power through your work day. (Ditto the routine message for sleep and exercise.)

Cook extra for tomorrow’s lunch. Now that you and everyone else in your family are staying home, you’re likely eating all your meals at home too. No more lunch meetings or buying lunch at the food court. Plan to cook extra and portion them out so they’re ready to reheat for tomorrow’s lunch.

Snack on nourishing foods. During times of crisis, we all stress eat. Food can offer us both comfort and nourishment. Give yourself permission to enjoy ALL foods without guilt. If you’re finding that you’re frequently eating to deal with stress or emotions, reach out to a friend, family member or health professional for support.

Stay hydrated with water. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Keep your water bottle nearby. Other beverages like coffee, tea and milk count towards your fluid intake too.

Take a break. Stand up and stretch. Do some shoulder rolls. Go out for a walk. This helps minimize mindless munching at your desk. To reduce eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Keep well, everyone!

 

Eating well during COVID-19

Sue Mah shares her tips on national TV to make the most of your food during times of COVID-19.

Watch Sue’s TV interview here with CTV Your Morning. 

 

TV host Lindsey Deluce interviewing dietitian Sue Mah in her kitchen

 

Buy foods with a long shelf life. Fresh, frozen and canned foods are all OK. Some ideas: fresh carrots, potatoes, squash, onions and parsnips; frozen fruit, veggies, meat and fish; canned fruit, veggies, beans, soup and pasta sauce; shelf-stable milk or non-dairy beverages. Having these foods can help you get through tough times in case you become sick and can’t leave your home. I write the best before date on a green piece of tape and stick it right on the can for easy visibility! (See my pantry photo below.)

Keep a food inventory to remind you of what have. Go through your fridge, freezer and pantry. The kids can help with this too! Plan your meals using the foods you have on hand. Try new recipes using your pantry staples. Check best before dates and practice the “First In First Out” rule – use the foods that have the earliest best before date first. Circle or highlight items with an approaching best before date so you know to use them soon. Cross the items off the inventory as you use them so you know when you might need to buy more.

Wash your hands before and after cooking / eating. Wash all fresh fruits and veggies before eating, especially if you’re eating the skins. Cook foods to the right temperature. Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods, and use separate utensils / cutting boards for each. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours or freeze leftovers to eat later. Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3 days. For more food safety tips, go to Canadian Public Health Association. 

Don’t share eating utensils. Avoid sharing food from the same container (e.g. avoid sharing popcorn or grapes from the same bowl.) No double dipping please. 🙂 Wash utensils in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.

Sue's pantry with best before dates labelled on cans

Sue’s pantry

 

Serving food safely during COVID-19

Since COVID19 arrived, you already know about the importance of hand washing. This is a great first step in handling food safely. Remember to use the WHO method to wash your hands every time before touching food or setting the table.

When it comes to serving food safely there are some additional simple steps you can take to help you keep germs at bay. For example, don’t let your fingers touch the surfaces of of dishes or utensils that come into contact with mouths or food. Here are some examples and tips to help you build your healthy habits and serve food safely during COVID-19 and beyond.

  1. Don’t put your thumb on top of a plate to hold it.
    Hold plates underneath with your thumb on the rim.
  2. Don’t touch the inside or lip of a cup.
    Use the cup handle instead
  3. Don’t let others touch the lid of your beverage container that comes in contact with your mouth!
    Ask the cup to be handed to you and place the lid on yourself.
    If others bring you a lidded cup consider removing it before you drink it.
    Pour canned or bottled beverages into a clean cup instead of bringing the can or bottle to your lips.
  4. Keep your hands off  the bowl of a spoon or prongs of a fork.
    Grip utensils by the handle and don’t let handles touch the food.
  5. Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils.
    Wash your dishes well in hot soapy water after each use.

Keep well and remember it is important to get information from credible, trustworthy sources during this time. Dietitians are regulated health professionals committed to providing evidence-based advice and information that is tailored to your personal needs and challenges. For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit Health Canada at www.canada.ca/coronavirus

n4nn in action – everywhere!

Did you know as dietitians we’re collaborating, driving innovation and informing Canadians? Our influence runs deep and it continues to grow! See below examples of how we unlock food’s potential and support healthy living for all Canadians.

CTV Your Morning – As a regular dietitian expert featured on national TV, Sue shares timely and trendy nutrition info. Watch Sue’s national CTV interview – “5 Nutrients You Might Not Know You Needed.”


Dietitian and n4nn Co-Founder Sue Mah chats with national TV host Lindsey Deluce on Your Morning

Restaurants Canada (RC) Show 2020 – March 1-3
Lucia is honoured to be a speaker on March 3rd for an expert panel presentation called Food is Medicine: Capitalizing on the Health Food Movements. Come and learn about the power of food for health and wellness – foodservice edition! n4nn is pleased to offer you 50% off the show pass registration fee. Use promo code WeilerNutrition when you register for the RC Show. Can’t make it? No worries. Reach out to us for our tips and sparks to boost your healthy menu development.

WFIM – 1st International Women’s Day Summit – March 5

We’re thrilled to be speakers at this inaugural event to empower others to be their best inside and out. As food and nutrition experts, we’ll share proven healthy and mindful eating tips. Congratulations to WFIM (Women in Food Industry Management) for organizing this sold out event! If you didn’t get a ticket for this event, contact us to bring this engaging presentation to your team.

Simple Ways to Boost Your Fibre

Dietitian Sue Mah talking to TV host about fibre

With the start of the new year, one way to eat better is by eating more fibre!

We need 25-38 grams of fibre every day, but most of us are only getting about half of that amount! There are generally 2 main types of fibre:

  • Soluble fibre – this is the type of fibre that can help lower blood cholesterol and control your blood sugar. It’s found in foods like apples, oranges, carrots, oats, barley, beans and lentils.
  • Insoluble fibre – this is the type of fibre that helps you stay regular. It’s found in fruits, veggies, whole grains and bran.

How can you get enough? As the in-house dietitian expert on Your Morning, our Co-Founder Sue Mah shared a few simple tips for boosting fibre at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Take a peek at the before and after meals below, and watch the TV interview here!

 

original breakfast plus breakfast with fibre boost

original lunch plus lunch with fibre boost

original dinner plus dinner with fibre boost

[Images: @YourMorning]

 

Canadians’ Eating Habits

People eating together

Since 1989, the Tracking Nutrition Trends (TNT) survey has been looking at the self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of adult Canadians with respect to food and nutrition. It’s believed to be the longest standing nutrition tracking study in Canada!

The survey sampled 1,500 Canadians online in August 2018 and the results were recently released. Here are a few highlights:

 

8 out of 10 8 out of 10 Canadians rate their eating habits as good to excellent (43% good, 28% very good, 8% excellent). This represents very little change from the last TNT survey in 2015.

 

6 out of 10

 

6 out of 10 Canadians use food and diet to manage health conditions. The top five health conditions of concern include: obesity/overweight, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes/diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and food allergies.

 

58% of Canadians have made changes to their diet

 

 

 

58% of Canadians say they have made changes to their eating habits in the past year. The key changes are eating MORE fruits and vegetables, fibre and protein, as well as eating LESS sugar, salt / sodium and fatty foods.

 

 

 

Preparing food

 

 

2 out of 3 Canadians prepared their last 10 meals from scratch most of the time. Millennials are most likely to purchase foods that are ready to eat or ready to re-heat.

 

 

woman eating lunch alone at desk

 

Almost 25% of Canadians say they eat alone most of the time. This trend was seen across all age groups.

 

 

Interested in learning more survey results and how they can impact your business? Join us at our 13th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 28 at the University of Toronto. Course details and registration are available now.

 

(Images: Bigstock, Tracking Nutrition Trends, Kasasa.com, NewsTalk1010)

 

Take your food and nutrition learning to new heights in 2020!

Are you noticing the rising level of misinformation about food and nutrition as we head into the new decade?   Invest in getting the facts straight for your business and yourself! Join leading Dietitian experts Sue Mah and Lucia Weiler at the 13th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course at the University of Toronto on April 28, 2020. We’ll unlock the science behind the power of food to help your business meet the growing consumer demand for healthy foods, and help you eat better for optimal health and wellness.

Credible nutrition information is based on scientific evidence and the practice of nutrition communication is complex. Since 2007, the Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course has supported hundreds of food and beverage professionals across North America.

Make investing in your food and nutrition learning a priority for 2020. We challenge misleading “quick fix” promises and promote credible nutrition science and food education strategies that empower true, long-term health and business benefits. You and your business teams will benefit from the hands-on learning, case studies and innovative sparks.

The 2020 Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course is ideal if you want to:

  • Recognize nutrition fundamentals
  • Discover current nutrition / health trends relevant to your business
  • Maximize the success of your product innovations and nutrition communications

Join us for a day of hands-on learning, networking and knowledge building!

Date:               April 28, 2020
Time:              8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Location:       University of Toronto, 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto ON M5S 1J4

Thinking about your budget?

Register by Jan 31 to can catch the Early Bird discount and enter the draw for a chance to win a cookbook!

Take advantage of the Past Course Graduate rate or Group rate too.

For more course information, visit our website or contact us.

 

Food as Medicine Update 2019: Hot Topics in Nutrition Through the Lifespan

We were delighted to attend the 2019 Food as Medicine Update: Hot topics in nutrition through the lifespan, hosted by the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital on November 15, 2019. This third annual full day symposium for healthcare professionals addressed emerging issues in food and nutrition science that impact chronic disease prevention. Participants considered the role of nutrients, dietary patterns and identified best practices and nutrition policies to promote health. Below we offer a few highlights from some of the speakers.

A special feature of the symposium was the keynote address by Harvard professor Dr. Walter Willett, MD, DrPH on diet and health across the lifespan. Dr. Willett also received an award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to scientific research and education. It was our honour to connect with Dr. Willett and Dr. David Jenkins who is a pioneer of nutrition science research from the University of Toronto.

Image: Lucia and Sue shared good conversations about hot topics with Dr. David Jenkins and Dr Walter Willett at Food as Medicine Update 2019.

“Diet and Health Across the Lifespan” – Dr. Walter Willett

“We are on a path leading to ecological disasters and a sick and unstable global population,” says Willett. The good news is that healthy and sustainable diet is possible by changing the way we eat, improving food production and reducing food waste. Willett highlighted the Eat-Lancet commission’s report which emphasizes the critical role diets play in linking human health and environmental sustainability. Integrating the health of people and the planet through food systems is modeled through the ‘planetary health plate’.

Planetary Health Plate (Image source: Harvard.edu)

Key learnings:

  • People are increasingly concerned about personal well-being and the viability of our planet
  • Eating more plants is better for health & more sustainable for the planet

“What is New with Canada’s Food Guide” – Dr. Alfred Aziz

Dr. Aziz highlighted the new food guide and the impact on public health. The food guide plate has shifted to half vegetables and fruit, one quarter protein and one quarter whole grains. The advice to Canadians is to eat in a pattern promoted by the food guide to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. The new food guide is an online suite of evidence based resources for both health professionals and consumers. Canadians have access to food guide snapshots, videos, recipes and actionable advice.

Key learnings:

  • Explore Canada’s food guide online. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
  • Subscribe to Health Canada’s monthly newsletter to get the latest healthy eating updates.
  • Stay connected on social media for tips you can use. Follow updates on Instagram – @healthycdns, Facebook – Healthy Canadians , Twitter – @govCanHealth.

N4NN TIP: Dietitians tailor the general recommendations of the food guide to suit individual preferences and dietary needs. Seek answers to your food questions from a registered dietitian, the most credible and trusted nutrition professionals.

Image: Lucia and Sue discuss Canada’s New Food Guide with Dr. Alfred Aziz at Food as Medicine Update 2019.

“Sugars and Health: What is the Right Direction for Public Policy?” – Dr. Vasanti Malik

Dr Malik unpacked significant research about the role of sugar sweetened beverages on weight gain and cardiovascular health. This work has influenced dietary guidelines and policies specifically in reducing sugars.

Key learnings:

  • Source of sugars in the diet matters. Consider the different nutritional impact & rate of absorption between sugar sweetened beverages vs juice vs whole fruit.
  • Be mindful of added sugars and sugar sweetened beverages as part of the strategy to improve overall diet quality.

“Update on Pediatric Obesity Management” – Dr. Katherine Morrison.

Dr Morrison shared evidence based practices from the Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University. The presentation helped the audience better understand the tools and language used to support children or youth and their families who face challenges with energy balance which result in health problems.

Key Learnings:

  • Discover root causes of obesity.
  • Come from a place of sensitivity and care.
  • Translate the science into small changes that families can build on and maintain over time. These approaches can lead to health improvements.

“Low Carb versus High Fat: What Does the Evidence Say?” – Dr. John Sievenpiper

After 40 years of ‘low-fat’ dietary advice now carbohydrates are under attack. The ‘Low fat’ paradigm was revisited with a reminder that low fat food does not necessarily mean its low calorie food! Much of the diet policy debate focuses on the importance of reducing sodium, sugars and fat but research about the burden of disease shows that low intake of whole grains may be a higher risk factor for poor health. The paradigm shift may be moving from ‘nutrient based’ (example low fat, low salt etc.) approaches to ‘food and dietary pattern’ based recommendations.

Key Learnings:

  • Promote increased uptake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds as these foods may have a positive effect on health.
  • Provide counselling on a dietary pattern with the most choice that best fits with the individual’s / client’s values, preferences, and treatment goals.
  • Remind clients that adherence is one of the most important determinants for attaining the benefits of any diet.

“Food for Thought: Nutrition, Cognitive Health and the Aging Brain” – Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason

Vegetables, fruit and whole grains are ‘smart carbs’ because they don’t send insulin levels soaring. Phytochemicals found in vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices and can act as antioxidants and are important compounds that support optimal health. Absorption of phytochemicals may be higher if eaten with some fat (e.g. full fat rather than reduced- fat salad dressing). Micronutrient deficiencies play a role in poor brain health. Two common deficiencies may influence cognition – magnesium and vitamin D.
Meals with quickly digested proteins and low in sugars/starch support dopamine neurotransmitter synthesis. This is significant because dopamine plays a big role in brain function for mood, focus, concentration, fine motor skills, word recall and articulation.

Key learnings:

  • Cognition may be enhanced through diet.
  • For optimal brain function during the day. eat 25-35 grams protein at each meal.
  • To keep a steady input of glucose to the brain, swap out starchy carbs for phytochemical rich vegetables and fruit.
  • Consider the benefits of extra micro-nutrient co-factors (such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium and B Vitamins.)

“The Microbiome Questions You’d Like Answered for Patient Issues Across the Lifespan” – Dr. Gregor Reid

Much has been written in recent years about the gut-brain axis. Exciting pilot studies suggest probiotic applications to the gut can reduce anxiety and depression via the vagus nerve. Definition of probiotics is based on tested products from microbiome research. Identifying new strains that provide benefits will change future approaches to health management. Applications may emerge for cardiovascular, urogenital, respiratory, brain, digestive and skin health as well as possible impact across the world’s ecosystems.

Key Learnings:

  • Probiotics are defined as microorganisms proven to produce health benefits.
  • Probiotic therapy is evolving with applications for people’s health and the ecosystem.

“Weeding Through the Evidence: Marijuana and Breastfeeding” – Dr. Rebecca Hoban

Dr. Hoban summarized the science about the use of cannabis during lactation, including the epidemiology and pharmacology of cannabis during lactation and resultant infant exposure. She discussed available evidence of short and long term consequences in infants exposed during breastfeeding and suggested potential recommendations for healthcare providers and families.

Key Learnings:

  • The cannabis conversation is real and important with patients.
  • Cannabis compounds do get into breastmilk and there is limited research on the effect on babies.
  • Breastfeeding moms should be recommended to limit or cease their use of cannabis.