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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:

 

Foods to Manage Stress

 

woman wearing glasses, looking stressed, sitting at her computer desk and chewing on a pencil

Can you believe that we’re into week 7 of physical distancing and the COVID quarantine? If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone.

In fact, a recent poll by Angus Reid found that 50% of Canadians say their mental health has worsened, feeling worried and anxious.

First of all, please know that there are many support resources available online to help you manage stress and anxiety during these tough times. Regular exercise, meditation and other healthy stress busting behaviours can help. Talk to a health care professional if you need some support.

As a dietitian, here are 5 key nutrients and foods to add to your plate which can help you manage stress.

Watch my 1-minute video summary below.

 

 

 

Carbs, especially whole grain carbs

Carbs help trigger the production of serotonin. This is the feel good chemical in the brain (a neurotransmitter). Serotonin is made in brain from the amino acid tryptophan. This is a small amino acid and has a tough time getting into the brain.

When you eat a meal that’s mostly carbs, it triggers the insulin to clear the bigger amino acids from your bloodstream, allowing tryptophan to get into the brain and make serotonin. Overall, serotonin helps you to feel calm.

Some good whole grain carb choices are:

  • brown rice
  • whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta
  • quinoa

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also helps our body make serotonin. This vitamin is found in a wide range of foods, so it’s important to eat a variety of foods. Some of the best foods for vitamin B6 are:

  • chicken, turkey, meat, fish like salmon
  • chickpeas, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds
  • potatoes, bananas, avocados

Magnesium

When we are stressed, our body (adrenal glands) releases cortisol which is a stress hormone. Cortisol actually depletes the body of magnesium. So we need to make sure we’re getting enough magnesium when you’re feeling stressed.

Some of the best foods for magnesium are:

  • leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard
  • nuts and seeds like almonds, pine nuts and sunflower seeds
  • whole grains like whole wheat bread (Fun fact: whole wheat bread contains 4x more Mg than white bread)
  • dark chocolate!

Omega-3 fats

You may already know that omega-3 fats are good for our heart health. But did you know that the animal sources of omega-3 fats also help to boost our mood!

Some of the best sources of omega-3 fats are:

  • fatty fish like salmon, trout, arctic char, sardines. Try to eat fatty fish at least twice a week
  • omega-3 enriched eggs

Tea

Tea contains a special amino acid called L– theanine. This actually triggers the release of another neurotransmitter in the brain (called GABA or gamma-amino-butyric-acid) which gives you a relaxed feeling. Black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea all contain this special amino acid.

Stay well and stay safe. We are all in this together to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

foods to manage stress with images of bread, lettuce, fish and tea

 

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

Be Well! Navigate the grocery aisles efficiently during COVID19

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

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

Here is how you can use it:

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

Keep well and good luck grocery shopping!

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

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

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

COVID-19 Q-A on food and nutrition

Food is essential and unites us all. You may have some questions about how to eat, prepare and shop for food during these uncertain times. Here are top five COVID-19 related food and nutrition Questions and Answers  to help you manage. Dietitians are registered health professionals who translate the science to deliver reliable life-changing advice.  What’s your food and nutrition question?  Send them to us here or via social media Twitter/Instagram @Nutrition4NonN   

  • Q 1: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food or food packaging?
    A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.  Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, please be mindful when shopping. If you touch it you buy it!  Also continue to follow general food safety advice including these:
    1.  Wash hands thoroughly after handling shopping bags and before preparing food.
    2.  Clean food preparation surfaces with soap and water.
    3. Wash fresh food well before eating it, especially if you eat the skin and are not cooking it.
    4. Cook meat thoroughly and separate cooked and uncooked foods.
    5.  Refrigerate cooked food within 2 hours and at eat leftovers within 3 days or put in freezer for later use.
  • Q 2: Can I boost my immune system through my diet?
    A: Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19/Coronavirus. Good hygiene practice remains the best means of avoiding infection.  Many nutrients are involved in the workings of a healthy immune system and dietary recommendations are to eat a variety of healthy foods each day to support the body’s immune function.
  • Q 3: Can eating garlic help prevent infection?
    A: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties, however, there is NO evidence that garlic protects people from  COVID19 infection.
  • Q4: How do I wash my hands properly?
    A: With soap and water (warm and cold are both OK). Take your time…20 seconds and use the WHO approved techniques shown in this image:
  • Q 5: What could I do to prepare for Covid-19 food-wise?
    At this time, it makes sense to stock up on non-perishable food items so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick, but avoid panic buying.  Add a few extra items with a long shelf life to your grocery cart that are easy-to-prepare foods you already enjoy.
    1. Veggies & Fruit – any of fresh, frozen, canned are OK. Fresh carrots, potatoes, onions, squash, beets and cabbage tend to last longer at room temperature.
    2. Grains – dried pasta, rice, oatmeal, popcorn
    3. Protein – canned or dried beans, canned fish, meat, powdered milk or shelf stable milk alternatives.
    4. Ready to eat, heat and serve foods are OK. Veggie soups, ready to eat frozen meals can help fill the gap.
    5. You can still ENJOY your meals; COOK more often, EAT TOGETHER in your home as much as possible while practicing social distancing.

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

 

That Study about Milk and Risk of Breast Cancer – 6 Questions to Ask Before Jumping to Conclusions

Glass of milk

Image: Pixabay

You may have seen the recent media headlines about a study looking at drinking milk and its impact on breast cancer risk. It’s easy to get caught up in the news. But with any nutrition research, it’s important to read it with a critical eye and ask yourself a few important questions before jumping to conclusions.

Question #1 – Did the study involve humans, animals or cells in the lab? Who were the participants and how many? How long was the study?

Human studies are always the most applicable. This study looked at almost 53,000 adult women across North America. The average age of the women was 57 years and they were all initially free of cancer. The study lasted almost 8 years.

Question #2 – What is the source of the study? Was it published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal? Was it preliminary research that has yet to be published? 

This study was part of the large Adventist Health Study-2 and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, which is a peer-reviewed journal. Researchers were from the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California.

Question #3 – How was the study designed?

The study design has a big impact on the type of conclusions that can be drawn. This study about milk and breast cancer was an “observational” study meaning that researchers observed participants’ diets, collected data and then came up with a summary of their observations 8 years later.

The problem with observational studies is that we can’t make strong conclusions about cause and effect – in other words, we can’t say with certainty that “A causes B.” We can really only say that “A may be linked to B.” This is a big limitation of observational studies. A better study design would be “experimental”. In an “experimental” study, researchers randomly ask the participants to either undergo treatment A (such as drinking milk) or not undergo treatment A (such as not drinking milk), compare the results, and then see if treatment A causes outcome B (such as an increased risk of breast cancer). Of course, ethics are highly considered ahead of time, and the study needs to include a good number of participants for a decent duration. The advantage with experimental studies is that conclusions can be made about cause and effect.

Also, this study left out some important factors that could have affected the results. For example, the women were only asked if they ever smoked and how long they’ve used alcohol. The researchers didn’t ask for the amounts of tobacco smoked or the amounts of alcohol consumed. In addition, only “vigorous physical activity” was considered, not moderate physical activity (which might be more realistic) or even total minutes of physical activity. Social determinants of health weren’t considered either – like income, education or employment – and we know that these can all affect one’s health and risk for chronic diseases.

Question #4 – How was the nutrition information collected?

This study used self-reported food frequency questionnaires and 24-hour food recalls. In other words, participants told researchers how often they ate certain foods as well as what foods / beverages they consumed in the last 24 hours. There are a few problems with this type of data. First of all, this information was only collected ONCE, and at the beginning of the 8 year-long study. One has to ask if the participants ate exactly the same way years later? (Think about your own diet – has it changed over the last 8 years?) Secondly, self-reported data isn’t entirely accurate since it’s easy to under-estimate or over-estimate the amounts of food eaten. (Can you remember what and how much you ate yesterday or the day before?) And finally, a 24-hour food recall may have been taken on an “off” day, such as a weekend – which may not be an accurate picture of your true dietary intake.

Question #5 – How were the results interpreted?

This question is a bit tricky but crucial to the overall interpretation of the research. The researchers found that as milk intake increased, so did the risk of breast cancer. One news story stated that “women who drink as little as one cup of dairy milk per day could increase their risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50 per cent.” While this sounds alarming, we need to look at the statistics a bit closer.

At the end of the study, 1,057 women out of the 53,000 women developed breast cancer – this is a risk of 2% or 2 cases per 100 women. When women drank 1 cup of milk, their chances of developing breast cancer increased to 3% or 3 cases per 100 women. The difference is 1% and this is called the “absolute risk”. Since the risk of breast cancer went up from 2% to 3%, the overall increase is indeed 50% and this is called the “relative risk”. So while 50% sounds like a big number, the more important and more relevant number for YOU is the absolute risk which is only 1%.

Question #6 – What are other credible authorities saying about this topic?

Dietary guidelines are shaped by evidence-based studies, not just a single study. Always check to see what other credible, professional authorities are saying about the topic. When it comes to preventing cancer, both the Canadian Cancer Society  as well as the American Institute of Cancer Research recommend eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans and lentils as a major part of your everyday diet. Sounds like great advice to us!

As always, feel free to reach out to us if you’d like our help in translating the science of nutrition into easy to understand, practical advice.

Written by: Sue Mah & Lucia Weiler, Co-Founders n4nn

 

 

Top 10 food & nutrition trends for 2020

Image: Canva

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

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

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

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

Register at www.NutritionForNonNutritionists.com

Spot the Nutrition MYTHS & ask for the FACTS

Image: Bigtsock

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

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

Top 10 tips to spot the Nutrition MYTHS:

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

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

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.

 

Healthy and Sustainable Eating: Leading the Shift – Event Highlights

Sue Mah with Dr. Fiona Yeudall and Dr. Cecilia Rocha

Sue Mah with Nutrition Connection Forum speakers Dr. Fiona Yeudall and Dr. Cecilia Rocha. Image source: Lucia Weiler

Hosted by Nutrition Connections, this year’s annual forum explored the shifts that will be required in eating habits and food choices in order to benefit the health of current and future generations as well as the health of the planet. Here’s our summary of a few of the presentations.

What is Sustainable Eating? – Dr. Cecilia Rocha

Dr. Rocha is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, a Professor in the School of Nutrition and a researcher at the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University.

Sustainable diets, defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations 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.

Rocha reminded us of the 17 sustainable goals proposed by the United Nations, in particular, goal #12 which focuses on responsible consumption and production. Consumers have the potential to be agents of change through their healthy and ethical choices of what to eat. Through responsible consumption, ordinary people can effect change by carefully selecting the products they buy. However, price, convenience and brand familiarity are often the most important decision for most consumers, rather than fairness, sustainability and health.

In a world in which food is mostly a commodity, bought and sold through markets, how do we make the transition from unsustainable and unhealthy food systems to sustainable diets? Can consumers, through their choices of what food to buy, lead the way to that transformation? Rocha further posed this thought-provoking question: Is it realistic or reasonable to put this heroic task on the shoulders of consumers?

Rocha acknowledged that alternative food markets such as Community-Supported Agriculture (CDA), famers’ markets and fair-trade may offer consumers a more sustainable, healthy and ethical model of food production and consumption. Her opinion is that these alternative markets are still viewed as niche and alone, aren’t the answer. Rocha suggested that public policy is needed in at least three areas to facilitate responsible consumption:
– taxes and regulation (e.g. on sugar-sweetened beverages, use of chemicals, ultra-processed foods, and advertising)
– subsidies (e.g. for ecologically-friendly processes and alternative markets)
– information, education and nudging (e.g. food-based dietary guidelines).

 

How Do Our Eating Habits Compare to Canada’s Food Guide? – Dr. Rachel Prowse

Dr. Prowse, Applied Public Health Science Specialist at Public Health Ontario, compared the recommended proportions of food (by weight) in the new Canada’s Food Guide versus Ontario adults’ intakes from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition Public Use Microdata File. Research results are expected to be published next year, however preliminary findings show that we’re not eating according to the recommended proportions of the food guide. Dr. Prowse suggests that non whole grains and “Other foods” (such as cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream and confectionary) may be displacing nutritious foods on our plates. A consumer shift towards eating a more plant-based diet may help to drive the production of sustainable food options.

 

A Deep Dive into Food Waste – Dr. Kate Parizeau

As an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, Dr. Parizeau researches the social context of waste and its management. Parizeau shared some staggering statistics:
– Canada generates 12.6 million tonnes of organic waste per year
– Canada wastes $49.5 billion of food annually – enough to feed every person living in Canada for almost 5 months.

In collaboration with the Guelph Family Health Study, Parizeau looked at food waste both at the household level. Household food waste was defined as either “avoidable” (food that could have been eaten such as whole fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, uneaten leftovers, food past it’s best before date as well as bought but forgotten food) versus “unavoidable” (such as egg shells, banana peels and meat bones).

The study found that about ¾ of the household food waste was avoidable. Most of the avoidable food waste (over 65%) came from fruits and vegetables, 24% from bread and cereals, 6% from meat and fish, and 2% from milk, cheese and eggs. Overall, this amounts to an average of $936 per year, over 175,000 calories thrown out and 1,196 kg of C02 emissions created.

 

Image source: Kate Parizeau

 

Food literacy skills can result in reduced food waste. Behaviours such as meal planning, shopping with a list, food preparation, storing food safely and cooking at home are encouraged. A new cookbook Rock What You’ve Got – Recipes for Preventing Food Waste is now available for free download. This cookbook was created by the Guelph Food Waste Research Group in partnership with The Helderleigh Foundation, George Brown College’s Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt).

 

 

 

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.

Spot the Sugars

Registered Dietitian Sue Mah quizzes TV host Ben Mulroney about the sugars in different meals.

New food labels are coming and for the first time, you’ll see a Daily Value (DV) for “Sugars”. Health Canada has set a DV of 100 grams for total sugars. This includes sugars naturally found in foods such as fruits, veggies and unsweetened milk products, plus the sugars added to foods and the sugars found in foods like honey and maple syrup. Packaged foods with a Nutrition Facts table will now show the “Sugars” content as a percent of the 100 grams Daily Value (%DV).

Nutrition Facts table showing % Daily Value for sugars

But do most Canadians know where the sugars are in their foods?

Our Co-Founder Sue Mah recently quizzed Ben Mulroney (Co-host of Your Morning) to spot the sugars in different foods. Watch the engaging interview here.

Do you have a nutrition question that you’d like us to answer? Contact us and we’ll try to answer it in our next newsletter.

Five healthy eating tips while travelling

Lucia Weiler, RD, PHEc.

When you travel for work or pleasure do you find it tricky to stick to a healthy eating plan? You’re not alone! Most people find it harder to keep up their smart lifestyle choices when away from home. However there are benefits to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while travelling and a healthy diet can help keep up your energy, reduce stress and enjoy your time while travelling for work or pleasure.

We were thrilled to present our N4NN Workplace Wellness workshop to executives who really wanted to energize their meeting. Are you travelling for business or pleasure? Check out our Travel Tip Sheet for five dietitians’ tips on how to find good food that will help you stick to a healthy eating plan while away from home.

Travel Tip Sheet

Five ways to help you stick to a healthy eating plan while away from home:

  1. Carry on & carry out
    Pack some healthy foods, high protein snacks in your bags. Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, or a granola mix are handy snacks to carry on board especially if you are travelling within Canada. When you arrive at your destination, if you can, go to a food market or grocery store to pick up portable traveler friendly foods to carry out to your hotel room. Some examples are nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies, and whole grain crackers. If you have a fridge in your room, yogurt, cheese hard cooked eggs and hummus are healthy options to keep on hand.
  2. Drink water
    Stay well hydrated and don’t drink your calories. Drink water regularly, which is a calorie free way to quench your thirst. Limit sugary drinks, energy drinks, syrup flavoured hot or cold beverages and alcohol. Calories from these types of drinks can add up quickly and undermine your healthy eating goals.
  3. Scope out foodservice options
    If you travel for work you may return to the same city regularly. Find a few places you can count on for healthy options and plan your meals there. Check menus online to find your healthy go-to preferences where you travel. In most chain restaurants, calories are listed on the menu which can be helpful to compare meals. Remember it’s not just the total number of calories that count but the quality of the calories matter too. Look for foods with less saturated fat, less sodium and less added sugars.
  4. Order mindfully
    When eating at a restaurant keep these tips in mind: double up on veggies, avoid deep fried foods and watch portion sizes (keep them small or ask for half portions). Always order sauces on the side so you can decide how much to add. If you’re watching your calories, skip the appetizers and dessert.
  5. ENJOY your food choices!
    HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat so look for ways to enjoy your food. Improving your eating habits takes time and it can be especially challenging while travelling. Find a few tips that work for you and then build on them as you journey toward making healthier choices while travelling.

Want more tips and insights on building healthier people? We translate the science of nutrition and offer life-changing advice for healthy living. Contact us for more information.

Kids are Back to School…and Eating Better

\Young child washing veggies in the sink

Image source: Bigstock

With back to school, it’s time to get those lunch bags busy again. A recent study published in the Public Health Nutrition journal found that school kids are eating better than they did 15 years ago. But there’s still room for improvement.

The study, led by researchers at University of British Columbia, compared the diets of about 7,000 kids aged 6 to 17 between 2004 and 2015. The nutritional value of the foods were judged using the Canadian Healthy Eating Index, which considers 11 dietary components such as total vegetables and fruit, whole fruit, whole grain products, saturated fat and sodium.

Overall, there was a 13% improvement in the foods that kids were eating during the school day. Specifically, school kids were eating more vegetables and fruit, as well as eating fewer calories from “minimally nutritious foods” including sugary drinks and salty prepackaged choices.

That’s the good news, but we can do better. Kids still aren’t eating enough dark green and orange vegetables (important for folate and vitamin A) – think spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots and sweet potato. Kids are also falling short on whole fruit and whole grains.

Here’s what you can do:

• Get kids involved in the food experience.
Ask them to wash veggies, chop ingredients and help with the cooking. Bonus – kids are more likely to eat the meals that they’ve made.
Set them up for success. Make lunches together. Include a variety of fruit, veggies and whole grains. Keep portions manageable for your child’s appetite.
Be a great role model. Monkey see, monkey do. When you eat broccoli, there’s a better chance that junior will too.
• Advocate for healthy eating.
Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program. With the upcoming federal election, let’s put this on the agenda to nourish our future generations.

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Registered Dietitian & Co-Founder Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

Healthful Reset for Fall

Image Source: Bigstock

Are you looking for great tips to kick-start fall? Many of our clients are looking to squeeze in some professional development before year end and at the same time reset personal health routines. As dietitians – the food and nutrition experts – we can help!

People are spending eight hours a day – and probably more – at work, let’s make them count for health and wellness! Also, travelling can do a number on even the most conscientious eaters. Many Canadians are surprised to hear that eating well on the job could improve their concentration and productivity. Other benefits of workplace wellness programs include better employee morale, reduced absenteeism and turnover and enhanced recruiting.

Here are five tips to spark your healthful reset at work and at home.

  1. Keep it real
    Set realistic expectations without black and white thinking. Consider why you are making healthy choices. List the reasons and keep it handy as a reminder to help you stay on track.
  2. Have a plan
    There is no perfect way to eat well that works for everyone. Find a healthful way to change your food journey one small step at a time. For a list of ideas that fit your goals check out credible tips from registered dietitians.
  3. Keep unhealthy foods out of your home
    If you don’t buy it you’re less likely to eat it. Stick to buying wholesome foods and put food away when you’re finished eating. Remember, drinking water is the best way to stay well hydrated.
  4. Pack & carry to eat on the go
    When you’re on the go at school or at work it can be hard to stick to a healthy eating plan. Pack some healthy foods at home and carry them with you to eat later. If you eat out, check the foodservice options in advance for healthy choices.
  5. Practice mindful eating
    Enjoy the food you’re eating and appreciate all that has gone into getting it from the farm to your table. Mindful eating helps build a healthy relationship with food.

Improving your eating habits takes time and it’s not easy. However, finding a few strategies that work for you in the long run will be your best bet for health and wellness. Are you ready to embrace healthy eating? As dietitians we translate the science of nutrition and offer life- changing advice for healthy living. Contact us for more information – we can help make it a little easier for you to choose, eat and enjoy healthy food.

Introducing the NEW Canada’s Food Guide!

Today, Federal Minister of Health, Ginette Petitapas Taylor launched the new Canada’s Food Guide. The new Food Guide takes a modern approach to communicating guidance to consumers, health professionals and policy makers. This first suite of resources includes a document Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers, as well as a Food Guide Snapshot.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s new in the Food Guide:

1. Positive key messages for Canadians in a modern format. Key messages are: Eat well. Live well. Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. The new Food Guide delivers healthy eating information in a mobile-friendly web application.

2. Beyond food. Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. The new Food Guide offers advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat. Tips include cooking more often, eating meals with others, being mindful of your eating habits, enjoying your food, limiting foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, using food labels, and being aware of food marketing.

3. Food groupings instead of food groups. Bye bye rainbow and the four food groups. A healthy meal is comprised of a variety of foods from three key food groupings: vegetables and fruits; whole grains; and protein foods. These foods should be consumed regularly.

4. Proportions not portions. There are no recommended servings to eat or serving sizes of food. A plate snapshot of the Food Guide gives at-a-glance information on what to eat. In the plate snapshot, 1/2 the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits; ¼ of the plate is comprised of whole grain foods; and ¼ of the plate is made up of protein foods.

5. Water is the beverage of choice. To help Canadians stay hydrated without adding calories to the diet, water is recommended. Alcoholic beverages are also flagged as potentially adding calories with little to no nutritive value.

The suite of online resources replaces the old “all-in-one” version of the previous Food Guides. Additional consumer resources are expected to be released later this year.

Want to discover more about how to make the Food Guide work for you and your business?

Save the date for our upcoming webinar on The New Canada’s Food Guide – Tuesday, April 16th, 1-2 pm ET. We’ll share:
• The science and rationale behind Canada’s Food Guide
• A closer look at the recommendations and considerations
• How to apply Canada’s Food Guide to your business plans

Can’t wait? Contact us now for an in-house presentation / workshop.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc and Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc
– Co-Founders of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

The new Canada’s Food Guide is coming soon – Here’s what you can expect

There’s been quite a buzz lately about the new Canada’s Food Guide, which should be released soon this year!

Our Co-Founder, Sue Mah recently shared her expert insights and answered consumer questions on CBC Morning Live national news. Check out her two interviews to get the full scoop!

Watch Interview Part 1

Watch Interview Part 2

Here are just a few expected highlights of the new Canada’s Food Guide:

  • Recommendations on HOW to eat, not just what to eat or what not to eat.
  • Recommendations to limit the 3 “S” – sugars, saturated fat and sodium.
  • A focus on plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
  • A new “protein” group which includes a variety of protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, tofu, eggs, fish / seafood, poultry, lean red meats, lower fat milk and yogurt, and cheeses lower in sodium and fat.
  • Consideration of other factors that affect our food choices such as food accessibility, food affordability and cultural diversity.

What does this mean for your business? Let dietitians translate the science of nutrition for your team! Book us now for an in-house presentation on the new Food Guide and how it will impact your business.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, and Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc
– Co-Founders of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists, nutrition experts and trailblazing dietitians who love food!

Healthy Diets & Weight – Highlights from the Canadian Nutrition Society Conference

Highway Signpost Image with Health related wording

With the start of the new year, there’s always a buzz about diets and weight.
But what is really fact and what’s fiction? At the annual thematic conference of the Canadian Nutrition Society, researchers, physicians and dietitians shared their perspectives to deepen our understanding of this complex topic. Here is just a snapshot of our top takeaways from the event.

Links Between Mental Health and Obesity: from Biology to Behaviour
– Valerie Taylor, MD, PhD, FPCP, Professor & Chair of Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary

  • Mental illness such as bipolar and depression is linked with a 25-45% higher chance of obesity.
  • Late night sleeping leads to short sleep duration, which is associated with obesity. Reducing sleep by 2 hours lowers the levels of leptin (the hormone which makes us feel full). At the same time, levels of ghrelin increase (the hormone which makes us feel hungry).
  • Sleep loss is a new risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Diets and Body Weight Management: Trying to Make Sense of it All
– Eric Doucet, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa

  • Calories still count in weight loss. Either you manipulate the macronutrients or restrict the caloric intake.
  • It’s very challenging to keep the weight off. Very often, most if not more of the weight lost is gained back over time.
  • Doucet’s research found that for every kg of weight loss, a person’s appetite increased by 100 calories per day.

Weight Loss and Client Centred Care: Perspectives in Nutrition Counselling
– Andrea Miller, MHSc, RD, Consulting Dietitian

  • When it comes to weight loss, most people are looking for a simple solution to a very complex problem.
  • Practice nutrition counselling without blame or judgement. Even dieting can sometimes improve a person’s nutrition and mindful eating behaviours.
  • Understand and listen to your client’s story about their weight and their relationship with food.

Turning the Tide with Health at Every Size – Time for Change
– Maria Ricupero, RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, Toronto General Hospital

  • Weight stigma includes: negative weight-related attitudes/beliefs/ assumptions/attitudes; unequal/unfair treatment of people due to their weight; social stereotypes and misconceptions about obesity.
  • Health at Every Size (HAES) is about: weight inclusivity, size acceptance, self-acceptance, body respect, well-being and healthy day-to-day behaviours whether weight changes or not.
  • Change the culture around weight rather than change our bodies. There can be health benefits without weight loss.

Kids on Diets: How the Culture of Fad Diets Influences Parental Feeding and Children’s Eating Behaviours
– Jess Haines, PhD, MHSc, RD, Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph

  • Parents feel stigma when they have a child with overweight or obesity. 75% of these parents say that other family members make comments to them about their child’s weight. And 89% of these parents report negative feelings about themselves such as “I feel less of a mom.”
  • Focus on healthy behaviours for kids, not their weight as an outcome.
  • Healthy habits for kids include: Eat more meals together as a family, with the TV off; Set a bedtime routine aiming for 11 hours of sleep; Remove the TV from the room where your child sleeps; Limit TV time to less than 2 hours per day.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, and Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc
– Co-Founders of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists, nutrition experts and trailblazing dietitians who love food!

Questions, Comments? Contact Us

8 Ways to Get Through the Holiday Eating Fest!

Take a deep breath, it’s December! The countdown is on for the holiday parties, cheery celebrations and food fest overload. So what can you do to enjoy the joyous season yet not overindulge? Here are my top eight tips.

1. Give yourself permission to enjoy. First of all, let go of the guilt. Follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of the time, choose the healthy fare; 20% of the time, enjoy your favourite indulgences – in moderation.

2. Be a picky eater. Do a once over of all the choices. In your head, rate each dish as either “I must try this!” or as “I can pass on this today.” Then, take a small portion of your top five “must try” foods, including at least one veggie dish. Go back for seconds only if the food was WOW!

3. Tell a story. You’ve heard that saying, “No talking with your mouth full”? Put it into practice now. Set your fork down, chat with others and tell a story. This slows down your eating and allows time for your brain to register that you’re getting full.

4. Chew your food. Research shows that chewing food up to 40 times before swallowing may actually help you feel fuller and eat less. Alright, this may not apply to that tiny shrimp appetizer, but the point here is to pace yourself and savour every bite rather than wolf down your food.

5. Power on with protein. Eat protein at each meal. You’ll feel full for longer and have sustained energy to keep up with the holiday hustle and bustle. Remember that milk and milk products provide high-quality protein too and can be easily included at brekkie, lunch, dinner, snacks and yes, even desserts! If you’re looking for festive-coloured, protein-packed recipes, try a hearty Lentil Kale and Feta Salad, or this refreshing Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Raspberries – both from www.dairygoodness.ca.

6. Eat until you’re 80% full. This is a practice in mindful eating. At 80% full, you don’t feel stuffed and in fact, you could probably eat a few more bites. But you’re no longer hungry and you don’t have to loosen your belt. Over time, you’ll get accustomed to eating to the 80% mark which can be a bonus if you’re watching your waistline.

7. Hold your drink / cocktail in your dominant hand.
This makes it trickier (and messier) to eat with your non-dominant hand while you’re socializing. Stick to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: no more than 3 drinks for women and 4 drinks for men on any single occasion. For each alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic one.

8. Use smaller plates and glasses. The bigger the plate, the more food we’ll pile on it. Research also shows that we drink more from short, wide glasses rather than tall ones. So use the short glasses for water and save the tall glasses for cocktails and sweetened beverages.

All the best for a happy and healthy holiday season!

Sue & Lucia

(This story was written by Sue Mah, RD and originally appeared in the Toronto Sun, Dec 8, 2017.)

5 Learnings from the Food and Nutrition Forum, Royal Winter Fair

Do you love food and care about how it’s grown, handled and brought to market? We do! As part of staying on top of emerging trends and new research we joined experts in food and nutrition to engage in conversation at the Royal Winter Fair Food and Nutrition Forum.  As a Registered Dietitian, Lucia was invited to welcome delegates to a day of learning, getting ‘agricultured’ and celebrating the power of farming, food and nutrition.  Inspiring speakers included professors, farmers, authors, dietitians and home economists. Working hand in hand, our passion for wellness and good food united us all!

Here are 5 top learnings from the sessions:

  1. Farmers feed Cities
    An amazing panel of 3 women farmers shared about their lives and the challenges they face in working on their farms of grain, eggs & beef. Taking care of their land and livestock is a passion and a profession. Their stories showed how deeply they care about the work they do, and how much environmental stewardship matters to each of them.  Thank you Jenn Doleman, Tonya Havercamp and Sandra Vos for being the farmers who feed cities!
  2. Taking care of the planet
    Biodiversity & food production are deeply connected. Dr. Christian Artuso studies grassland birds and found that an important way to preserve their biodiversity is linked to cattle farming. His Grassland Bird studies are part of an award winning conservation movement in South America.
  3. Teach Food and Nutrition to Students
    Food and nutrition know-how are life skills with significant short and long term benefits. Although healthy lifestyle is a trend, it’s evident that many of today’s young Canadians lack even the most basic food preparation skills. Let’s give kids the best chance possible to nourish their bodies. An important consideration is expanding high school curriculum to include some mandatory food education. The Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) calls on the Government of Ontario to make at least one food & nutrition course compulsory. To support this petition or for more information visit www.food-literacy.ca
  4. Translating the science – how to spot the fake news and alternative food facts.
    Bestselling Author, Dr Joe Schwarcz shared stories of science misuse. We were reminded that correlation is an easy sway for the scientifically challenged consumer and it does NOT mean cause and effect. His latest bookA Feast of Science is an entertaining read of fact vs fiction. To help you navigate through fake nutrition news reach out to your nearest Registered Dietitian, the experts who can translate the science of nutrition and help you unlock food’s potential to support healthy living.
  5. What’s next?
    Let’s keep the farm to table conversations going! The more we know about where our food comes from, how it’s grown and handled the more grounded we will be. We also love sharing credible insights and resources! Check out our blogs and writing at N4NN.ca and Contact us  about your questions on the power of food and its connection to health.