news & trends

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

Intermittent Fasting – the new weight loss trend?

Clock made of spoon and fork, isolated on white background

Fasting has been practiced for centuries around the world, typically for religious reasons. Now, intermittent fasting is becoming a trendy way to lose weight. But does it really work and should you try it?

There are a few variations of intermittent fasting:

Alternate day fasting was researched by Dr. Krista Varady who is an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois in Chicago. The idea is to alternate back and forth between eating about 500 calories one day and then eating a moderate high-fat diet the next day. In her research trials, she found that adults lost an average of 11 pounds in 12 weeks. Plus, the alternate day fasting lowered the participants’ levels of the “bad” LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which helps to lower their overall risk for heart disease.

The 5:2 fasting diet is a modified version of the alternate day fasting diet. The general idea here, according to proponent Dr. Mark Mattson, is to eat no more than 500 calories on two non-consecutive days each week. On the other five days of the week, you can eat your usual diet. Mattson is a Professor of Neuroscience at the John Hopkins University. In his research, overweight and obese women who followed the 5:2 diet for six months lost just slightly more weight than women who were following a low calorie diet. Mattson is now exploring whether this diet can help improve brain health in seniors.

Time-restricted eating is another type of intermittent fasting where you only eat during a small window of time. This includes ideas such as a longer nighttime fast (for example, not eating from 7 pm to 6 am) or eating just one big meal a day instead of three typical meals. Animals who fast in these ways do lose weight, but there are hardly any scientific studies with people.

Here’s our advice:

1. Intermittent fasting is not easy.
In fact, 10 to 20% of participants who try intermittent fasting find it too difficult and quickly stopped. Those who stick with the diets admit that it is very challenging for at least the first few weeks.
2. Intermittent fasting isn’t a miracle weight loss cure. The studies show that you can lose about the same amount of weight whether you fast intermittently or just cut back on calories every day.
3. Intermittent fasting is NOT for everyone. For example, if you are pregnant, underweight or have type 2 diabetes, then intermittent fasting is not suitable and can be dangerous for you.
4. The best “diet” is the one you can stick with for the rest of your life. Healthy eating is about enjoyment, not deprivation. If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, perhaps start with the least extreme option of extending your nighttime fast. Think of the motto “Done after dinner.” Eat your dinner and then skip any bedtime snack. Refuel with a good breakfast in the morning.
5. Talk to a registered dietitian for safe and expert advice on diets and weight loss.

“Eat Less, Eat Better”…is it that simple? Rethinking our message about healthy eating and obesity

 

Will we solve the obesity crisis by simply telling people to “eat less and eat better”? A one-day health professional forum was held in Toronto on April 28th to rethink our messages about food and obesity. The event featured key leaders in obesity research/treatment and health communications:

  • Dr. Ayra Sharma (Chair for Obesity Research and Management, University of Alberta)
  • Ted Kyle (Founder, ConscienHealth)
  • Sue Mah (President, Nutrition Solutions and Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists)

Here’s what these experts were saying…

 

Dr. Ayra Sharma
Chair for Obesity Research and Management, University of Alberta

  • Obesity is a complex chronic disease.
  • Simplistic messages about obesity are misleading, can promote unhealthy weight obsession and promote bias and discrimination.
  • Prevention and intervention strategies should focus on improving health behaviours rather than on just changing body weight.

Ted Kyle
Founder, ConscienHealth

  • Use respectful, people-first language that is free of bias and stigma – e.g. “unhealthy weight” or “high BMI” instead of “fat” or “morbidly obese”.
  • “Obese” is a harmful label. “Obesity” is a disease.
  • Shift the conversation from “being obese” towards health.

 

Sue Mah
President, Nutrition Solutions and Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

  • “Eating better” means cooking, eating together and enjoying food.
  • Consumers are bombarded with food/nutrition messages that simply don’t “have the scientific muster to present as fact” (quoting Dr. Oz here!)
  • Health and nutrition communications needs to be creative to capture consumers’ attention.
  • From celebrities and chefs to dietitians and politicians, everyone has a role in being a champion for change.