Milk with less sugar…do I need it?

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I’ve recently seen commercials for Fairlife milk and one of their big advertising points: 50 % less sugar!! With dietitians recommending less sugar, this must be a better milk choice right?

Before I answer that question, let’s take a look at what Fairlife milk is all about.

First of all, I’d like to say I have no association with Fairlife or the dairy industry. I’m just an ordinary dietitian who had some questions and decided to find out the answers.

Fairlife milk recently came to Canada but has been in the US since 2012. It is currently the only milk I have seen being advertised as being lower in sugar and higher in protein. A Canadian plant is set to open in Ontario as of Spring 2020, but until that time Fairlife has a permit from the Canadian government that allows it to import milk from the US for a limited time. While there are usually differences in the milk from the US in comparison to Canada, in this case the company has to abide by Canadian standards. This means their cows can’t use artificial growth hormones, and the milk must meet the higher quality standards for milk used in Canada. Once the Ontario plant is up and running, they will be using milk from local Ontario dairy farms.

So what’s the difference between Fairlife milk and milk that may be made by Natrel, Neilson or other milk companies?

Fairlife is marketed as having 50% more protein, 50% less sugar, and lactose free as compared to regular milk. This is not because they are using special cows or adding stuff to their product. It’s because of how the milk is processed. The milk is filtered into its components: water, milk protein, milk sugar(lactose), and minerals. Then these components are recombined in different proportions. They put back more of the protein and less of the lactose so you get a milk with more protein and less sugar. Then the milk is treated with lactase, which is commonly used to make all lactose-free milks. This breaks down the lactose into galactose and glucose to make it lactose-free. This is beneficial for people who are unable to tolerate and digest lactose.

Is milk with lower sugar a good thing?

Dietitians and the new Canada’s Food Guide are recommending that people reduce their intake of sugar. However, the sugar we are referring to is “free sugar”. Free sugar is sugar that is added by manufacturers, or when you’re are cooking, or when you add sugar to food or beverages you consume. Free sugar also includes sugar naturally found in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Free sugars do not include the naturally occurring sugar that is found in intact or cut fruit, vegetables or unsweetened milk. So you do not need to use a unsweetened milk made with lower sugar as part of a healthy diet.

However, the Fairlife product could be an option to think about in some cases.

Controlled carbohydrate eating plans: If you are in a situation where you are watching your carbohydrates, Fairlife milk does provide you the option to work in milk (if this is a beverage you enjoy) with less impact to your carbohydrate intake. Some other brands of lactose-free milks may have a lower carbohydrate content than regular milk as well; check the nutrient facts table on the label. If you do have a health condition where you are required to monitor your carbohydrate intake, please check with your dietitian for guidance on how to manage your carbohydrate goals and whether this product is appropriate for you.

Athletes: If you’re an athlete, it may be necessary to pay more attention to your protein intake, particularly after training to promote muscle recovery. While regular milk is a perfectly acceptable food option, if you are a person who likes to add protein powder to that after workout shake, this higher protein milk may be an option to investigate as an alternative instead.

Another lactose-free option: If you are lactose intolerant but don’t particularly like the taste of some lactose-free milk, this product may be something you may want to try. Lactose-free milk is normally sweeter in taste that regular milk. When lactase is added to milk, it breaks down the lactose into galactose and glucose making the milk lactose-free. Galactose and glucose taste sweeter than lactose which results in the lactose-free milk tasting sweeter than regular milk. Because Fairlife milk contains 50% less milk sugar than regular milk to begin with, when the lactase does its work, less galactose and glucose is being produced resulting in a milk that tastes may taste less sweet than other lactose-free milks.  Not all lactose-free milk have the same amount of carbohydrate; check the nutrient facts table on the label.  Try different brands…there may be subtle taste differences between them.

So let’s go back our initial question…..do I need milk with less sugar?

With regard to milk, unflavored and unsweetened milk is recommended. When choosing these types of milks….no, you don’t need a lower sugar milk on top of that. With the low carb craze these days, many would like you to believe that low carb products are necessary. Companies use “low carb” and “less sugar” marketing to sell you their products in many instances. I’m sure that the advertised “50% less sugar” of Fairlife milk has caught the eye and interest of many people who are following low carb.

That being said, this product is another lactose-free milk option that can still provide the great nutrients found in regular milk. You will notice it is a bit more expensive….Fairlife is approximately $3.11 per litre as compared to approximately $2.62 per litre for other brands of  lactose-free milk in Ontario like Natrel or Neilsen.

When you’re making your grocery list, think of it as you would for any other food product you would buy…one option. For example, the yogurt aisle has a huge variety of products these days. Some have more protein, some have less sugar, some have less fat, some are plant based, some are dairy based, some are flavored, some are plain, some are thicker. Some taste wonderful, and I’m sure some are not as flavorful. The one I choose is the one that meets my needs and that I enjoy.

The bottom line….

If you prefer Fairlife lactose-free milk, for whatever reason, compared to other brands of lactose-free milk…then buy it. If you prefer another brand of lactose-free milk, then buy what you prefer.

In the big picture of healthy eating, if you choose to drink milk you don’t have to worry about the natural milk sugar found in it. Whether it be regular or lactose-free, if you are selecting unsweetened and unflavored milk …you’re on the right track.

Lynda, RD

 

For more information:

Canada’s Dietary Guidelines: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/guidelines/section-2-foods-and-beverages-that-undermine-healthy-eating/

How marketing can influence your food choices: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/marketing-can-influence-your-food-choices/

Fairlife product site: https://fairlifecanada.ca/

Natrel product site: https://www.natrel.ca/en/products/lactose-free

Neilson product site: https://www.neilsondairy.com/en/products/sans-lactose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to cook with your kids (or teens) without losing your mind!

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One reason I like writing about nutrition month is it gives me a chance to think not only how to relay information to others, but it also makes me think about how the info might relate to my own life.

Unlock the potential of Food: Potential to discover

I don’t remember exactly when I learned to cook. I asked my Mom about this the other night and she said she didn’t really remember teaching me and my sister to cook…we just sort of picked it up.  When I spoke with my sister, she remembered the same thing as me…making chocolate chip cookies, being asked to help start dinner for my Mom, but not actually being taught by anyone.  Maybe we learned some of it in Brownies and Girl Guides; maybe we learned in home economics class at school; or maybe we just had the knack for learning it. I do remember being surprised at finding out that some of my friends didn’t know how to cook, so maybe we were just lucky.

I still love to cook, and while I hate the clean-up part, finding and trying new recipes is hobby that I never tire of. Because cooking is my thing at home, I often forget that it might be helpful to share the work…and apparently I am not the only one.

What the Research says….

In a study completed for Dietitians of Canada in 2017, it was found that “while 68% of Canadians say they often prepare food for a meal or snack, most don’t get their children involved in the process”. This can make it difficult for kids to learn how to cook.  Lack of time, and lack of food prep skills can lead families to eat out more or rely on packaged or convenience foods more often which can lead to less opportunities for children to learn how to cook.

Food choices in preschool years can be strongly associated with food choices in later life.  Snacks may make up a large proportion of total energy for children so it’s important to consider how snacking can influence health not only as a child but how it may translate to eating habits in later years.

In a study involving Canadian teens and young adults, it was found that teens and young adults involved in shopping at least once weekly and more frequent participation in dinner preparation were associated with more frequent consumption of vegetables and fruit and breakfast. Those who prepared dinner also consumed meals prepared away from home less often.  All of these factors have been associated with better diet quality and skills that they can assist and carry over to healthier behaviors as they move into adulthood.

So how do we include our kids into meal preparation without losing out minds?

Here’s a few tips that may help:

  • Pick activities that are appropriate for your child’s age. Children as young as 2 can help wash fruits and vegetables or dump items into casseroles. Young school age kids can mash vegetables, cut soft foods with a plastic knife, or stir ingredients together. Older children can help make salads or their own school lunches, or perhaps use the stove with supervision. Remember safety first! You know best what your child is capable of.

 

  • Think of it as an activity with your child instead of a lesson. Kids may just enjoy doing something with Mom and Dad. They still learn by observing and doing, but have fun too. They could accompany you to the grocery store and pick out a new fruit to try. They could help you make your grocery list so they have some healthy snacks available for school lunches. They can help you with a task during supper. My 13 year olds son’s job now is to make the guacamole when we do a Mexi night. Very important though…make sure you’re both in the mood for to do this together. Tired and cranky people doesn’t make for a fun time.

 

  • Give them lots of room. Start with a clear and clean work area. There’s nothing more frustrating for me when I’m trying to squeeze in cutting boards and mixing bowls on a packed table or counter. Having a clear space also means things are less likely to be accidently knocked onto the floor, or bowls and measuring cups broken.

 

  • Expect that they’ll need some help to learn. Sometimes I’ll divide whatever I’m doing in half…half to me and half to my son. That way we can do it at the same time and he can watch me and try it himself. As they get more confident and skilled, they could eventually do the task by themselves while you supervise and do something else.

 

  • Don’t expect perfection. Unless you have a Master Chef on your hands, their peeled carrots may not be the same as yours. Their diced vegetable may be more like chunks. That’s OK. If you really need an ingredient in a particular way, you can always make a few adjustments yourself before you go onto the next step.

 

  • Fit it in where you can. It doesn’t have to be every single day, and it doesn’t have to be just you. A trip to Costco can be an opportunity to sample new foods. Lots of grocery stores have kid’s cooking classes throughout the year. Encourage your child to join a cooking club at school if they have it. YouTube….a great resource for both parent and child to learn how to learn about certain food prep skills. Spring (if it ever comes) can be chance for you and your child to try a garden. I tried it for the first time last year with cherry tomatoes and herbs and it turned out awesome. I also learned you pretty much can’t kill mint!

 

Remember that learning to cook is not a sprint….it’s a marathon. You learn a skill here, a new recipe there.  Then years down the road when your son or daughter is inviting you over for a homemade supper you can say…hey we did OK.

For more information about including children into meal preparation, check out the following websites and articles:

Cooking with Kids of Different Ages: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Child-Toddler-Nutrition/Cooking-with-Kids.aspx

Cooking with Kids: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Childrens-Nutrition/Cooking-and-Meal-Planning/Cooking-with-Kids.aspx

Cooking for Young people: http://sixbysixteen.me/

 

What are your favorite tips for helping your kids?

 

Chat again soon!

 

Lynda, RD

 

Reference Note: Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at http://www.nutritionmonth2019.ca.

Meals or Snacks…which is better?

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photo by: Marcus Wallis

March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Unlocking the Potential of Food”. This month, the Dietitians of Canada campaign will explore the potential of food to fuel, to discover, to prevent, to heal and to bring us together. Food can enhance your life in so many ways!

Unlocking the Potential to fuel!

Life is busy. There’s no doubt about that. Whether you’re working inside or outside the home,  a student living at home or on your own, or taking care of yourself or a family….day to day life can seem downright crazy!  It can be hard to keep up and maintain your energy throughout the day.  The food you choose can be a huge help though.

So which is better meals or snacks?

I’m a big believer in 3 meals a day. I eat breakfast before I leave for work. I eat lunch around noon whether I’m at work or at home, then I do a sit down meal with my family in the evening. I know that if I don’t eat breakfast I’m going to be starving and running to Timmies by 9 am for caffeine, and if I don’t eat at my usual lunch and supper time I’ll have the shakes and a headache. But sometime this eating pattern changes…depending on my schedule.

Even though this may seem like a simple eating schedule, even the simplest schedule can go to hell if I don’t do a little planning.

  • If I don’t plan ahead as to what to make for supper, I spend more time thinking about what to make than actually cooking.
  • If I don’t make myself go to bed at a reasonable hour, I wake up tired, end up running behind and possibly skip breakfast or not make a lunch for work. Then I’m more likely to hit the food court at work.
  • If I don’t think about lunches when I’m getting groceries, I’m less likely to have good options to choose from at 6 am when I’m making a lunch.

It ends up being a crappy start to an already busy day. A bit of planning and organizing makes fuelling the rest of my day a lot easier.

But this is what works for me. The same plan may not work for you, and I know that.

Three meals a day may not be your thing, or maybe you may need more than three meals. This is where snacks can work for you.

  • Not a breakfast person? Take a mini-meal or snacks with you for later.
  • Is your child’s sports class going to make supper later than usual? Plan to take a snack with you to hold you over instead of waiting for the hunger headache to force you to stop at the coffee shop.
  • Do you frequently get hungry by mid-morning or mid-afternoon at work? Try keeping some shelf stable nutrient dense options in your desk.
  • Are you and athlete? Don’t be surprised if you need a snack after your training. It’s important to re-fuel to replenish energy and help the body repair its muscle tissue.

So which is better…… meals or snacks?

The answer…. it depends on what works for you and it depends on what you are choosing to fuel yourself. Also, what you need for a snack also may not be the same every day. Listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. Planning ahead for snacks and meals makes it easier to deal with your hunger so you can continue on with your day without missing a beat.

Snacks don’t need to be complicated, but healthier snacks will fuel you more steadily than quick fixes of sugar, caffeine or super processed snack foods….remember snacks doesn’t mean the snack food aisle of the grocery store.

Including 2 foods groups in your snack will provide you with a more substantial snack than using just one food…. but you need to find what works for you. (Hint: the new Canada Food Group plate groups foods as fruits and vegetables, protein foods and wholegrain foods).

Some of my favorites to beat my hunger are:

  • Fresh fruit—yes it may be boring, but the fibre will make you feel full longer than drinking a glass of juice.
  • A couple of tablespoons of almonds—sometimes crunchy is the satisfaction I need, and it has protein that can make me feel full longer.
  • A sliced apple and peanut butter for dipping—when I need a bit more than just a piece of fruit.
  • Greek yogurt with some fresh berries or canned fruit—try it instead of the flavored yogurt, and it provides a bit more protein than regular yogurt.
  • A handful of whole-grain crackers and cheese
  • Hummus or guacamole with carrot sticks or a torn up pita.

Snacks can be a healthy way to keep you fuelled during the day. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You do you!  Let other people figure out what works for them.

For more great snack ideas, particularly for adults, active lifestyles and children, check out the following articles:

Healthy Snack Ideas for Adults: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Loss/Healthy-Snack-Ideas-for-Adults.aspx

 15 Snacks for Active lifestyles: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Physical-Activity/15-smart-snacks-for-active-lifestyles.aspx

 Fuel for Fun- Healthy Snacks for active kids: http://coach.ca/fuel-for-fun-healthy-snacks-for-active-kids–p154664%26language%3Den

Chat Soon!

Lynda, RD

Reference note: Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2019.ca.

 

Why is water being pushed as the healthier choice?

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Last week we discussed some of the basics of Canada’s new Food Guide. This week we’re going to touch on beverages.

Our new Canada food guide visual focusses on a plate with a colorful array of foods….draws your eye right in there. One thing that you may miss is that little glass up to the right which is promoting water as the drink of choice.

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https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/publications/food-nutrition/educational-poster/26-18-2158-Poster-ENG-web-final.pdf

Why is water important?

Our body is made up of 60-70 % water and we need it for our body to work properly. It helps us control our body temperature, helps our digestion, carries nutrients in our body and helps prevent constipation.

Every day we lose water through our sweat, our breathing and when our body gets rid of waste (who knew there would be toilet talk, eh?). If we don’t replace the water that we lose, we get dehydrated. Fluid helps to replace water, and this fluid can come from beverages we drink and foods we eat.

 

So with so many food and beverage options out there, why is water getting all the attention?

While there are lots of beverages and foods out there that can provide fluid, drinking water is one of the best options to replace body water. It quenches your thirst, and can easily provide fluid without added sugar, salt or calories.

Studies have found that beverages that contain free sugars (i.e. sugars added as well as sugars naturally found in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates) have been associated with a higher risk of dental decay, weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Vegetable juices, while they may have less free sugar, often have a lot of sodium.

Water is an easy and convenient way to hydrate!

 

Ways to increase your water intake…and enjoy it!

You’re probably doing a lot of great things already.

  • Try setting you dinner table with glasses of water or a pitcher of cold water. Restaurants do it, why not you?
  • Carry a reusable water bottle when you’re at work or when you travel. Water bottles….they’re not just for working out.
  • Not into plain water? Try infusing it with fruit or herbs. You can buy individual water bottles or even water pitchers that have a strainer to hold your favorite flavor. Or try just adding a slice of lemon. Check out the Canada Food Guide site for some interesting flavor combo suggestions.
  • Remember to stop for water breaks when you’re working out or playing sports.  Dehydration can affect your performance, put you at risk for heat exhaustion, and make your work out seem harder.

 

So what about other beverages?

Other healthy drinks could include:

  • White milk that is unsweetened and lower in fat;
  • Unsweetened fortified plant based beverages such as soy and almond beverages; and
  • Unsweetened teas and coffees would also be a good choice.

Sugary drinks: It is recommended that sugary drinks such as fruit-flavoured drinks, 100 % fruit juice, flavored water with added sugar, sports and energy drinks and other sweetened hot or cold beverages be chosen less often due to the high free sugar content.

  • Instead of juice, try a piece fruit; it has the bonus of nutrients, fluid, and fibre.
  • Instead of a sports drink, try plain water. In most situations, water should be sufficient to replace fluid loss associated with recreational activity. If you are involved in competitive sports, it might be a good idea to discuss your situation with a sports dietitian. They have special training to promote athletic performance through nutrition.
  • Try to limit beverages containing caffeine.  Caffeine can be found in teas, coffee, colas, some other soft drinks, as well as energy drinks. Caffeine affects children more than adults due to children having smaller bodies.  The Canadian Pediatric Society actually warns that caffeinated energy drinks can pose serious health risks to children and youth and should be avoided.

 

What about alcoholic beverages?

Alcoholic beverages can provide a lot of calories and virtually no nutrients. Mixed drinks can have even more sugar and fat depending on the mix, so the same advice would apply as for sugary drinks…choose them less often.

Another thing to think about…

There are well-established health risks associated with long-term consumptions of alcohol (i.e. various types of cancers), and risks of other serious health conditions (i.e. liver disease) as well as social problems. It is recommended that people who don’t drink alcohol not be encouraged to. If people choose to partake in alcoholic beverages, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can provide you with info to reduce your risk.

 

So there you have it. All about water and beverages and the new Canada Food Guide.

Cheers!!…..so let’s raise a big glass…of ice water with a slice of lemon.    ♥

 

Lynda

 

For more information:

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-water-your-drink-of-choice

The Juicy Story on Drinks

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/guidelines/

 

 

Canada’s New Food Guide: Let’s start with a few of the Basics!!

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Even though the new food guide is being touted as simple and easier to use, you may still be thinking:

“How the heck do I use this?”

Have no fear. Today, I’m going to review some of the basics of the new guide and provide a bit more info on how to work it into your everyday eating.

Can everyone use the food guide?

Canada’s food guide and the guidelines are meant for use by Canadians two years of age and older. Individuals that have specific dietary requirements or who are being treated for certain medical conditions may need additional and possibly specialized guidance from a dietitian.

Where are my old food groups?

One of the things you may have noticed is that there are now 3 food groups instead of 4:

fruits and vegetables, wholegrains foods and protein foods

Don’t worry meat and dairy eaters….meat and dairy are still there; they’re just part of the protein food group. Protein foods actually include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverages, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium.

The new Canada’s Food Guide also recommends eating vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein foods regularly. Eating patterns that include these nutritious foods are commonly linked to beneficial health effects. In particular, they have been found to have protective effects against cardiovascular disease (for example heart disease and stroke).

While animal-based foods are nutritious, the new food guidelines are emphasizing plant based foods and plant based-proteins more often, as regular intake often results in higher intakes of:

  • Dietary fibre—this is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.
  • Vegetables and fruit—also associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Nuts—associated with decreased LDL-cholesterol which is linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease; and
  • Soy products—also associated with decreased LDL-cholesterol

Putting it into practice

What about servings sizes?

The new Food Guide now emphasizes proportions rather than servings sizes. Using proportions will help you to balance your food choices regardless of the amounts that you may need eat to meet your energy needs.

Try to fill ½ your plate being with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate with a protein food, and ¼ of your plate with as a grain (preferable a wholegrain) food.

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What if fresh fruits and vegetables are not available?

Not a problem! Did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh? And steaming vegetables in the microwave are an easy way to add them to your meal in under 5 minutes.

When choosing canned fruit, look for products that are packed in water or juice as opposed to syrup to reduce the amount of added sugar that you are eating. When choosing canned vegetables, look for products that are lower in sodium.

What exactly are whole grain foods?

Grains are the seeds of certain plants. These seeds are made up three parts called the bran, the endosperm and the germ and contain important nutrients. Whole grains contain all of these parts. To determine if a product is made with whole grains, look for the word “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain on the label, or as one of the first ingredients on the ingredient list. Examples of whole grains include whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, and whole grain bread.

Refined grains have the germ and bran removed; for example white rice, white flour and cream of wheat are all considered refined grains.

How can I include more whole grains?

Many of the grain products you already use also come in whole grain varieties.

  • Try whole grain toast or whole grain cereal for breakfast. Not ready for the full jump yet? You could try mixing your usual cereal and a whole grain cereal.
  • Try substituting your regular pasta for whole grain pasta, or your white rice for brown or wild rice.
  • Try adding whole grains like barley, bulgur or quinoa to your favorite soup or salad.
  • Not sure if a particular grain is for you? Check out your local bulk store where you can find whole grains such as farro, freekah, amaranth, and buckwheat and purchase just enough for the recipe you want to try.

How can I enjoy smaller animal protein choices?

  • If you are currently a ½ a plate meat eater, maybe try to have that huge steak only once in a while or on special occasions.
  • Try to gradually reduce your protein food choice closer to  ¼ of your plate. You’ll probably find once you add more vegetables, for example, that you still finish your meal feeling satisfied.
  • In casseroles or meat sauces, you could reduce the meat and up the veggies; people probably won’t even notice. The animal protein is also often the most expensive ingredient in the meal, so you’ll probably end up saving on your grocery bill.

How can I include more plant based protein in my meals?

Having a bit of protein at every meal will help you to stay fuller longer, but it doesn’t need to be meat or other animal protein foods at every meal.

  • Peanut butter or other nut/seed butters and whole grain toast, hummus and veggies, nuts and seeds in oatmeal are all great examples of how to include plant base protein into a meal.
  • In meals that use animal protein food (i.e. chili) you could reduce the meat and increase plant sources of protein such as beans, lentils, and texturized vegetable protein (TVP). TVP can be easily found at your local bulk store.
  • Lentils can be added to soups. Nuts and seeds can be added to salads or included as snacks.
  • You can also substitute plant based protein foods likes tofu for animal protein in stir-fries. If you are new to plant based proteins, you could try experimenting with a vegetarian meal once week. There are lots of great vegetarian recipes out there.

 

Just a few of the basics to start you off !!  Check out Canada’s Food Guide recipe section for more meal time inspiration.

Chat again soon!

Lynda

 

For more information about Canada’s new Food Guide:

https://food-guide.canada.ca/

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-vegetables-and-fruits/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/resources/healthy-eating-recommendations/eat-a-variety/whole-grain/get-facts.html

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-protein-foods/

 

 

Canada’s New Food Guide: Making healthy eating easier!

eat-variety-healthy-foods-imageIt’s been all over the news and all over social media. Canada now has a new food guide. I’m not sure how you guys feel about it.  Sure it probably doesn’t rank up there with new episodes of “Game of Thrones” and you may not have been flipping though it as excitedly as the new releases on “Netflix”, but as a dietitian, it was like getting that final Christmas present that was delayed by the Canada postal strike.

Why was I so excited? It promised a food guide that was supported by the best available scientific evidence. It promised a food guide that was directed by science and health and by not the food and beverage industry. Finally it promised a food guide that was relevant and useful.

Did Health Canada hit the mark? I think so.

First of all it’s very eye catching! No more rainbows or cartoons.  This food guide uses graphics of real food and the plate design looks like what you’d see on your table. It provides an example that people can easily relate to.  People serve meals on plates not rainbows.

It uses proportions on a plate that you could eye-ball.… ½ your plate filled up with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of you plate with protein foods, ¼ of your plate grains. Very simple. No measuring required.  Beverages haven’t been forgotten either;, in fact water is recommended as your drink of choice.  Turn on the tap and drink up.

It uses simple messages that are easy to remember. Have plenty of vegetables and fruit, eat protein foods, choose wholegrains foods, and eat a variety of healthy foods each day.

Finally, it recognizes that healthy eating more than just the foods you eat. It’s important to be mindful of your eating habits.  The guide recommends cooking more often, enjoying your food and eating meals with others.  And to better assist you in choosing healthier foods, use food labels for more info, limit foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat, and be aware of food marketing and how it’s designed to influence your food choices and purchases.

I really believe this new food guide is encouraging people to plan their eating in terms of whole, everyday foods rather than an equation of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

You may wonder “How do I put all these recommendations into action?” What the heck is being mindful of my eating habits?  How do I make sense out of food labels?  How can I figure out what is high in sugar, sodium and saturated fat?

I hear ya! It seems like a lot of info to figure out.  But I’m here to help and we can do it together a little bit at a time.  In the meantime, there are some wonderful resources and recipes to complement the new food guide at www.Canada.ca/FoodGuide .  Check it out!

Chat again soon!!

 

Lynda

5 Things that drive me crazy (as a dietitian)…..

I love nutrition. I love nutrition science. I love reading about nutrition. I love to watch programs on nutrition.  I love talking about nutrition. It’s a good thing, because I’m a dietitian. But I have to admit, there are topics that every time they come up I have to take a calming breath before I join the conversation.

1.“The War on obesity”: Every time I hear this it drives me CRAZY! I’ve read it in magazine articles. I’ve heard it as headlines on television programs. I’ve seen it in friends’ facebook posts. And every time I just want to yell STOP STOP STOP!! I am tired of people and the media painting obesity as being the root of all evil. Yes, obesity can be a risk factor for a disease, but weight is not a determination of health. You can be healthy at any weight. When I hear war, I think about fighting something bad. War on drugs….war on poverty…war on crime…I can totally understand this. There is no need for a War on obesity…phrases like this just encourage people to focus on weight rather than health, promote weight discrimination, and make people feel bad about themselves.

2. “Carbs are bad! No fat is bad! No, it’s gluten that’s the problem!” :   Newsflash….there is no one nutrient or food ingredient that is responsible for health problems. Yes, if you do have a particular health condition you may need to pay attention to particular nutrients on the advice of your doctor or dietitian. In general though, all nutrients play a role in health. Carbohydrates provide energy to your body and brain, and the foods that provide carbohydrates provide healthy nutrients as well. Fat is important for cell components and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. With regard to gluten, unless you have celiac disease or have been diagnosed by doctor as having gluten sensitivity, there is no reason to avoid gluten. Please stop demonizing particular nutrients. I really hate to see people unnecessarily giving up a food they love.

3. “It is unnatural to drink cow’s milk; humans are the only species to drink the milk of another species!”: We are also the only species that drinks margaritas, but no one seems to be concerned about that. There are better things to fight about than whether your friend does or doesn’t use milk products. If you don’t like milk or don’t agree with drinking it or eating milk products, then don’t buy it. You don’t need to have milk products as part of a healthy diet, just make sure you get nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamins D and B12 from other sources. However, if you enjoy milk products, feel free to include them as part of a healthy diet.

4. “Superfoods!”:  There are no foods that will cure your health problems either. Yes they may be full of lovely antioxidants and have healthful nutrients, but the term “Superfoods” is often used as marketing technique to sell products whether it be magazines or food. At a farmers market recently I saw these misshapen blueberries and asked the vendor about them. He explained they were haskap berries and that they were a superfood. Did I buy them? Sure I did…not because they were being promoted as a superfood but because I’d never heard of them before, and I love berries. Don’t get me wrong…there are some very nutritious food out there that is being promoted as superfoods and if it is encouraging you to try new foods and increase the variety in your diet, that’s great. But remember, no one food is going to turn your health around. If you’re eating 90% crap, those haskap berries are not going to be a magic bullet of health.

5.Clean eating”: Is it no processed foods? Is it organic foods only? Is it vegetarian? Is it juicing? There is no real definition of clean eating. It can mean different things to different people, but it doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. If you are simply referring to reducing intake of processed foods, that can be a great step nutritionally. However, if it involves eliminating entire food groups, this could result in nutrient deficiencies.

So there you have it, my 5 pet-peeves.

Now to sit down and watch a fear mongering nutrition documentary… but that’s another post in itself.

Buying Local—the newest food trend.

Ahh…summer. As soon as the weather warms, I get the urge to try my hand at gardening. I have visions of a beautiful herb garden that I can snip off tasty leaves for whatever recipe I had planned for supper, or going out into my back yard and harvesting tomatoes for a tasty salad. Then I come back to reality and realize I don’t have a “green thumb”, or maybe it was the not so subtle hint from my 11 year old son telling me to step away from the herb plant in the grocery store because “you’re just going to kill it Mom!”

One of the biggest growing foods trends is “buying local”. But what exactly does this mean? The Canadian Food Inspection Agency defines local food as meaning “food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold or food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory”.

So what’s the buzz all about?

According to Food Service & Nutrition (Vol. 1 No. 3, 2016) there are several reasons why people are more interested in purchasing locally produced food.

  1. To reduce food miles: Part of food production includes the transportation of that food. The closer food is produced, the less negative impact (such as greenhouse gases related to transportation) on the environment.
  2. Fresher, flavorful food: Food from local producers is harvested just before sale. Local producers may have more variety as they do not have don’t have to choose their products based on how well they survive transport; they can focus on flavor and diversity.
  3. To eat more seasonally.
  4. To support local economies.
  5. To know where their food is coming from, how it is produced, and its impact on the environment.

Are local fruits and vegetables more nutritious?

Nutritional content is influenced by numerous things. How it’s grown, crop variety, ripeness at harvest, and storage are all factors that could affect nutritional content. Local foods would be picked at peak ripeness and sold shortly after, so freshness is a bonus for local food. However, if you’re not storing it properly once you purchase it or letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of weeks instead of using it, you could be reducing the nutrient content of the your locally produced veggies.

Local growers may have more options with regard to diversity of crops they plant. Access to a more varied diet will result in a greater variety in nutrients being consumed which in turn is better for overall health.

Does local mean that the produce is organic?

Local does not necessarily mean organic. Local describes where it was produced whereas organic describes how it was produced. If organic produce is what you’re looking for, you need to find out more about the farming methods that is used by the grower.

Where can I buy local?

Growing your own fruits and veggies is a great option to ensure the freshest produce. But if you’re like me and you don’t have a green thumb, you still have plenty of options.

Farmer’s markets are a great place to visit whether they are formal markets or road side stands. In the Ottawa area there is a great website that is called A big list of Ottawa’s Farmers Markets that lists the locations and times of urban, suburban and rural markets in the area.

A friend recently told me about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) baskets. With CSAs, the farmer and consumer work cooperatively whereby the farmer grows food for pre-determined customers who enter a purchase agreement with them prior to the start of the growing season. The benefit of this is the farmer gains a guaranteed market for his produce and the consumer receives high quality fresh food as it becomes available during the growing season. You pay a fee, and then the farmer delivers you a fresh food basket to a pick up spot in your local community. Again the internet is great. You can easily research the CSA farms in your area. I found info on a David Suzuki site that lists links to CSA farms for various provinces across Canada.

You can also buy local within your own grocery stores. Stores may be part of provincial buy local programs. Here in Ontario, Foodland Ontario is a consumer promotion program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs which encourages grocery shoppers to purchase Ontario food. One of things it does is to help retailers such as Ontario grocery stores to identify and promote Ontario products using the “Foodland Ontario” symbol.

Tips for buying Local

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Finds at the Carp Farmers’ market–rhubarb, rhubarb pie, elk burgers, and cider.

So now that you know where to find local produce how can you make it easier for yourself?

First, become familiar with what’s in season. You’re going to be disappointed if you’ve got your heart set on local pears in July if they’re not in season until August. Taking a look at an availability chart  makes this easy.

Second, once you know what’s in season then figure out what menu/recipe you want to do.

Third, if you find something and you don’t know how to cook with it, ask the seller. One of the things I like to do at a market is just browse. You may find something unexpected. This past weekend, I saw garlic scapes at the local farmer’s market and was going to pass them by because I didn’t know what to do with them.  But I decided–what the heck, I’ll just ask. “Try stir-frying them” the vendor suggested. That night we had stir fry with garlic scapes and even my son ate them…once he realized they weren’t green beans.

So if you’re looking to jazz up your eating, why not think local.  You may be surprized by the tasty treats and selection from you local growers.

My Favorite Brunch Recipe

It’s my favorite thing to make on weekends…but I don’t have a name for it, so if you’d like to suggest a name let me know!  You can make it with or without additional meat with as many eggs as you like.  I like to add chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes because it adds a little sweetness.  You’ll notice it’s not very specific with regard to amounts…because it’s something I just like to throw together. You could even throw additional stuff like spinach in if you like!

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Lynda’s Yet Un-named Eggs

1 onion,sliced
Sliced mushrooms
green pepper, diced
red pepper, diced
diced fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
bacon, cooked and diced
eggs

  1. In a large frying pan (preferable with a cover), sauté onion in a bit of oil or butter on med-low until they caramelize a bit. Remove from pan and put aside.
  2. Add a bit more oil or butter to pan and sauté mushrooms. Once browned, add green pepper, red pepper.  Cook until softened. stirring frequently.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
  4. Add onions back into mixture, and bacon.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir to distribute all ingredients. Flatten out veggies into a layer in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Crack eggs on top of the veggie layer. Cover and cook until whites are opaque.
  6. Once eggs are cooked, until into pieces; each piece has an egg over a veggie layer.
  7. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese if desire.  Serve with toast.

Enjoy!!

Looking to make a switch to healthier eating habits? Try this…

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I went to bed earlier and now I’m eating healthier. Sound too simplistic?? 

It is.    

 So you need to hear the whole story…. 

Back in the fall, one of my resolutions was to eat healthier and to bring my lunch to work.  But here’s how my day would frequently go.  I would wake up in the morning, typically exhausted. I would hit the snooze button which left me less time to get ready.  I would quickly get ready for work, but inevitably I would end up running around looking for things like my work ID, keys, wallet, gym gear…etc. In the end I would run out the door, without breakfast, without a lunch. Great start! I’d get to work and have to rely on the food court. Yes, there were healthy choices, but after doing this day after day the options were less and less appealing and expensive. After work, my hubbie and I would take our son to his martial arts class.  Finally we’d get home for a late supper, the menu not yet decided on. Before long it was time to get our son off to bed, and even though I was tired, I would stay up watching tv or reading, or surfing the internet to enjoy some ”me time”.

I knew I needed to make changes and inspiration can come from anywhere.  Recently, I read two books that changed my perspective on making healthy changes.

Towards the end of December, like many other people, I started to think about New Year’s resolutions.  Coincidently, I also came across the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  In her book, she describes how over year she tackled 12 resolutions in order to appreciate and amplify the happiness that already existed in her life.

One of the things that caught my attention was her first resolution:  Boost energy by going to bed earlier.  Her reasoning was that if she had more energy she would be easier to stick to other resolutions, and if she felt more energetic she would feel happier. While not scientific, it seemed like good common sense.

So I made the resolution to go to bed earlier, and not surprisingly some small changes happened.  I woke up without my alarm clock and felt rested.  I felt happier and less cranky. I felt better able to cope with what may happen that day. I felt more productive because I wasn’t wasting time doing mindless things just to stay awake.  

Soon after I read her follow up book “Better than Before” where she took on habits.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a habit can be defined as:

  1. a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance
  2.  an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary

 Rubin believes that she personally has a limited amount of self- control for a day and the more she uses the more it drops. So if she relies on will power to prevent herself from doing something, she needs to use it over and over to ensure a particular result. The result….she eventually runs out of resolve.  Rubin suggests that the defining aspect of habits is not will power but “decision-making” or the lack of decision-making that is eventually required.  If you rely on decisions, you decide on an action and that’s it.  The next time the situation arises you don’t need to evaluate it again because you have already decided and this helps preserve willpower for other things.

Interesting….so I decided, regardless of what type of day I had, I would be in bed by 1030 pm. And so a new healthy habit for me began.

The funny thing about having success with a new habit, it motivates you to make more changes.  So after a few days, I thought “what else could I do to make life a bit easier?”.  I resolved to get everything I needed for work ready the night before….clothes, gym gear in my knapsack, lunch containers washed, keys/wallet/sunglasses/ID in my bag.  Again, small changes happened.  I was more organized. I was less stressed in the morning. I had more time in the morning. The pay-offs were motivating.

So I decided, regardless of how I felt, before I went to bed at 1030 I would make sure that all my stuff was good to go for work the next day.

So now I was waking up in the morning rested, and in a good mood, and not rushed or looking for things. Because I had plenty of time, there was no excuse not to have breakfast and make a lunch for work. See where I’m going with this? Making lunches led to me to decide to make a better plan for groceries so I would have more options for meals. My plan for groceries led me to figure out meals for the week ahead of time….and so on and so on.  Soon I found that my eating habits were healthier than they were back in November.

So while initially I saw my issue as my eating habits, there were actually others issues that I was overlooking. One…I was tired.  Two…I was disorganized. Three…I didn’t have enough me time.

My point is that in order to change your eating habits, you may need to consider more than what you are eating. Instead, take a look at your life as a whole and figure out what changes could benefit you personally.  You may be surprised how one change may impact other areas of your life and lead to other changes. 

Then all of a sudden you wake up and realize that getting a good night sleep resulted in healthier eating!!