Calling All Canadians: March for Science, Stand UP for Evidence!

April 18th, 2017 No Comments Tags: , ,

Earth Day is fast approaching. It’s time to lace up and join in the March for Science on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Mark your calendar and spread the word.

As Archie-Bunker-in-Chief south of the border rounds out his first 100 days in office our Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad world has gone “mad-er”, sadly. We now live in an era with admitted “alternate facts” in a seemingly parallel universe. I’m not referring to a Sci-Fi flick but the daily news we use…big sigh…

Life threatening climate change is plaguing our world. Instead of instituting measures to help, with one signature, he drags coal out of the dark ages and back into the picture, what gives?! I wouldn’t be surprised if he ushered Gwyneth Paltrow, promoter of Goop into a key position in the White House. Good grief. The sad thing is we can’t change the channel, this is the new world disorder.

In times of despair, do something constructive and March! Join in won’t you? You don’t need to be a science geek to take part. But believe me, a science geek has made a difference to you or a loved one by their tireless work efforts, expertise and exactness, whatever their discipline. Activate your circles of influence to get involved, calling all Canadians:

  • Calling all teachers: address these modern day issues in your class and encourage your students to participate
  • Calling all health professionals: post a sign in your waiting area and motivate your patients to join in
  • Calling all fitness instructors: sway your clients to get involved this weekend
  • Calling all parents: rally all generations of your family to share in the opportunity to walk, wheel and weigh in
  • Calling all social media mavens: post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more using #ScienceMarch
  • Calling all artists: get crafty, make some signs and lend a hand!

It’s a perfect way to take a stand and a great way to get your daily steps in. Walk, tweet #ScienceMarch, donate, don’t let it pass you by. Bring a friend or ten. See you there!

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Mirror mirror on the wall, which is the greatest superfood of all?? #NutritionMonth

March 30th, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Well folks, March is Nutrition Month. The theme this year is Take the Fight out of Food! Spot the problem. Get the facts. Seek support. Who doesn’t have a fight with food? Practically no one, that’s who!

I’m shining the spotlight on food fads. When I was a newly minted dietitian it seemed like some “people out there” in the “joe general public” followed food fads. But fast forward to today and many people I know are following so many misguided notions. Sadly the information highway is littered with “alternate facts” which are myths in disguise. Good grief…. Check out this three step approach:

Step 1: Spot the problem.
Let’s focus on super foods, shall we – one day the media goes cuckoo over coconut, the next season they go gaga over goji berries then on to accolades of acai, what gives? Reading and trying to follow these fads does one thing with certainty – they pack a punch on your pocketbook and create confusion for many consumers. One thing I know for sure is fundamental nutrition doesn’t go in and out of style like bell bottoms or platform shoes. Still wondering what food IS the greatest one of all?

Step 2: Get the facts.
You might have an urge to follow the “food fad du jour” with spring in the air. But remember, your bodacious body requires the entire array of nutrients every single day to run on all cylinders. The super foods I mentioned might be high in various nutrients, yet they cannot sustain life on their own – poof goes the magic! You still need to balance your nutritional requirements.

There are so many local foods that might not make it to the spotlight, yet are super just the same. Why not save your money and go loco over local every day of the year! Here are a few ideas:

  • Can’t beet a bargain! – Last year I found 10 pound bags of beets and carrots for under $5 in my grocery store. Every few months I haul one home, scrub ‘em up, roast, peel and freeze them in 1 pound bags. They are at my fingertips to make salads and add to dishes any old time.
  • Don’t be a diary contrarian! –  I am an self proclaimed dairy queen! Every week you’ll find milk, Greek yoghurt, various cheeses and even real iced cream in my grocery cart. Dairy’s nutrient richness fills any nutrient shortfall and tastes great. In my e-book Skinny on Slim, the little black dress of diet books, I suggest 4 NOT 44 changes to make to your diet. Check it out!
  • Finger on the pulse- Beans, peas and lentils are making their way to the centre of my plate more and more. There are so many delicious dishes that are also economical, it’s astounding! Give them a try!
  • Unpretentious potato – Sadly there are many unfounded starchy misconception about our PEI potatoes that need to end now.

Step 3: Seek support.
The bottom line: Make your diet super by ensuring it’s balanced. Save your money and find many nutrient rich foods right in your grocery store for a fraction of the cost of the marketed super food du jour, but with the many benefits for your body!

Do you want more advice? Find a dietitian near you: www.dietitians/find.ca

It’s not too late to take the pledge to Take the Fight out of Food! and subscribe to the e-News at www.NutritionMonth2017.ca

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Unchained

February 9th, 2017 2 Comments Tags: , , ,

I found myself on the quaint island of Malta recently. Time to dump the winter slump wrapped up with a side order of world chaos and fill my soul with peace and sumptuousness, ahhhhh.

Talk about well-timed. It’s a relief to be away from the epicentre of doom. In a mere two weeks there have been marches around the globe, wall-building plans and upheaval galore post-inauguration of Archie-Bunker-in-Chief. I shudder to think what the next 80 days will bring. It is a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad world, sadly. People will be getting their daily steps in though because of many marches to come (plan for the science march on Earth day!), but I digress.

Malta’s beautiful rocky, rolling hills, rugged cliffs and Mediterranean sea breeze are incredibly embracing. The northern countryside is dotted with yellow and white clad towns, family farms and an expanse of charm. The Maltese people are benevolent.

I love being in a place that’s perfectly unpretentious. There’s natural raw beauty, meandering trails and scrumptious, local, wholesome food with barely a restaurant chain in sight! Food miles are limited, spying a fishing boat in the blue yonder. It’s catch ended up on my plate. Nothing can be finer!

Well folks, next month T & T will feature the Nutrition Month theme – Take the Fight out of Food! Spot the problem. Get the facts. Seek support. The only food fights I’m having this week is what to choose from the nourishing offerings.

While the sequel to Alice in Wonderland meets Poltergeist unfolds, I’ll be chilling on this little isle of Heaven….

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My word for 2017 is ….

January 3rd, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have done a lot of soul searching this holiday season. As per my usual routine, I drafted a few New Year’s type blog posts. None have seen the light of day as they didn’t quite hit the mark for how I’ve been feeling lately. I have been inspired by what some people have chosen as “their key word” for 2017 though. That got me thinking more deeply, hmmmm.

Although I have written a lot this past year, I have not posted much. Various family members have been experiencing their share of challenges, so my usual musings about food and nutrition didn’t quite feel right to post about in the grand scheme of things.

I did host a pre-Christmas get together with one of my sisters. I connected up with my many aunts to meet our new great nephew – Russel. I reflected on this get-together with awe about how lucky I am to have so many amazing women who are fabulous role models in my life in addition to my own Mom and Mom-in-law. Each has soldiered through their fair share of life’s challenges without the helicopter-type safety nets many young folks possess today. Yet each show up with smiles, love and enthusiasm, like always.

I am out at my hide-away as I write this and have been taking in the brisk winter outdoors with deeper reflection. On New Year’s Day I took the trek up snowy Knox Mountain. It’s is a love-hate thing – love it when I’m done and hate it while I’m trudging up…. a perfect way to contemplate life….

As I plodded along, it came to me: ROBUST!

  • This word sums up what my Moms and aunties have shown in their rich lives as they take on the world.
  • This explains the gumption you need to face an extreme challenge with courage, grit and a smile.
  • It goes deeper than merely “shaking a leg” in life, but losing one and making the best of it.
  • It’s what you need to break out of your routine and follow your dream.
  • It’s not spinning the yarn of mundane pettiness of the status quo, yet implies vitality & vigor, toughness & sturdiness, health & enthusiasm, to make a difference. Yes robust is my word this 2017.

May this word have meaning for you as you grab 2017 by the horns: Go forth and be ROBUST!

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The 12 Days of Christmas Remix

December 5th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Hem hem hem…. Ok my cherished T & T followers. Another year is zipping by and the Christmas season is in full swing! Let’s sing along from the same proverbial song-sheet to get through to the other end the same jean size, shall we?

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

One Daily BreakfastSuccessful losers say and research shows it’s the most important meal of the day. Don’t miss it!

Two Little SnacksKeeping your hunger at bay will really help you from feeling ravenous and overeating.

Three Square MealsHaving a regular eating routine with balanced meals helps you fire on all cylinders while kicking hunger to the curb. Remember that hunger management project you started in November?

Four Small PlatesKeeping your eyes on your serving size by using smaller plates is an easy way to help you eat less over the holidays and everyday!

Five Quiet MomentsLet stress flow away when you find quiet times to ponder life and all it’s wonders. Ummmmmm.

Six Times a Movin’Keeping regularly active (at least six, five minute intervals of moving daily) and even taking it up a notch this time of year to offset any extra nibbling will help you burn any extra calories, keep on track, feel fit and even ease stress.

Seven Beauty SleepsGetting enough zzzzz’s helps with appetite control and allows you to be more productive. Nitey nite.

Eight Mugs a Chuggin’Always keep that water goblet of life half full and by your side. Sip, sip, sip to my Lou throughout the day to stay well hydrated. Infuse your water with fresh mint, zesty citrus or frozen berries. Bottoms UP!

Nine Ladies DancingRocking around the clock at your Christmas party like it’s 1999 will help you burn baby burn 276 calories an hour!! Bye bye extra serving of Christmas trifle calories…..

Ten Fruit & VegEating your quota of these puppies everyday will help fill you up and ease those extras out because you’re simply feeling full. Poof, like magic!

Eleven Saboteurs to Deal WithPrepare yourself with how you’re going to deal with food pushing saboteurs. Take the high road with a polite “no thank you” and HO HO HOld the attitude!

Twelve Drummers Drummin’ Marching to the beat of your own drum puts you in the dietary drivers seat. Stick with it soul sister, you’ll be glad you did!

Ok folks, if you follow this beat for the coming weeks you’ll be in good shape and feeling extra cheer by New Year. Equip yourself with my e-book for more healthy and stealthy tips for 2017.

God bless us every one!

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Want to reframe? Make a small change!

November 25th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I have written many times that it’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad world. Last season it was BREXIT, this season the Gong Show to the south….. Somehow it feels like it’s the end of the world, good grief. Quite serendipitously, I was hanging out in the Algarve, Portugal where centuries ago it was believed that the world was flat. I stood near that very edge, hmmmm.

Alas, I decided to crawl out from under the bed and face the world again. Sometimes when you feel there is little you can control, taking charge even in a small way can be uplifting. We’re staring down yet another Christmas season, followed by New Years resolution time. I say get back to that 100 Meal Journey started this past March and make a little change for the better. Are you with me?

Truth be told, I was so enthusiastic about the whole 100 Meal Journey concept that as March meandered to April, May, June with a fast forward to today the cumulative changes made have me feeling better, more energized and in better shape. Consider these ideas:

Be Adventurous
Who doesn’t love an adventure let alone someone who is adventurous? Gear up to trying something new.  Try a new recipe, such as Tangine cooking or this savoury tomato soup served with gourmet grilled cheese. How about some yummy satisfying salads to enjoy for lunch instead of fast food. Check out even more ideas.

Seal it with a KISS – better Hunger Management
Keep it simple, sweetie! Start by managing your hunger better. NO you are not going to start a diet – coconut water, eating raw or a cleanse are NOT what’s on tap now or ever. Avert your thoughts from dieting for good!
1) More Protein & Fibre at Meals – Instead of taking away food which will make you hungry, add in satisfying choices that help manage hunger optimally and make you feel fuller longer. Work in more dairy products at meals or snacks. Add nuts and/or seeds to salads. Use dinner leftovers of meat, fish or chicken in lunches in wraps or sandwiches. Include eggs as a powerhouse of protein. Up the ante on using more pulses like chick peas or lentils and choose whole grains more often.

2) Slow Down Your Eating Pace – Doing the “whoa horsey” by slowing down, tasting and enjoying food is essential. Experiencing the feeling of fullness and stopping when you begin to feel satisfied, instead of eating like a buzz saw will help you eat less almost effortlessly.

3) Strategic Snacking – If you find you’re usually ravenous at mealtime, work in a small snack or two each day in-between meal to help take the edge off. Managing your hunger more strategically will help you slow down your pace too. Forget the vending machine and choose a fresh fruit, some cut up veggies or have a handful of unsalted nuts as your perfect go-to snack.

Awareness is Bliss
Time for a reality check! Get back to facing the scale and weighing yourself regularly. Then make a routine of checking the number a few times each week. Awareness (not ignorance) is bliss!

Remember folks, one month meanders into another, then seasons come and go. We’re staring down another new year. Take it easy on yourself and embrace a small change for the next 100 meals to a healthier you. Today is a perfect day to press the re-start button!

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Scan for Solutions: Nutrition Facts for Chain Restaurant Food

June 23rd, 2016 No Comments

The pendulum has swung from consumers eating at home most of the time to eating out of the home more. I recently read that Americans are spending more on restaurants than groceries, big sigh. Back in the day eating out was considered an occasional treat. Fast forward to today and it has become a regular part of people’s eating routine. I was taking a stroll before dinner recently and heard one young girl call to her neighbour to “come outside and play’. She was met with the response, “No I need to go inside, we’re ordering dinner!” OUCH. Welcome to 2016 I guess. Time for a moment of silence…

Anyone who follows T & T will recall my stand on this issue. Some may even call me a broken record (or worse)…. All I want is for consumers to have access to the same food offering nutrition info that packaged foods provide with the nutrition facts panel. Knowledge is power and people do better when they know better. Here are a few of my posts:

I can relate though. Although I value eating nourishing home-prepared food regularly, I’ll confess that I travel a lot and consume my fair share of restaurant meals. Because of the frequency of eating out, it isn’t necessarily an indulgent treat. I aim to eat as healthfully as I can, trading off and making better choices. I’m lucky that I have a degree in nutrition and am a registered dietitian. Consumers don’t have this luxury. It is helpful that people who actively want to know what’s in their food have been used to accessing the nutrition facts panel when grocery shopping for well over a decade now.

Half of Canadians over the age of 20 live with a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease and four out of five are at risk, with diet and lifestyle being major factors. Now that people are eating out more now than ever it’s time to reconsider making this info – and not only calories – available for consumers.

We also live in an era with technological advances up the wazoo. I can now pay for a quart of milk with my Apple Watch for goodness sake. So when I hear the chain restaurant industry drag their feet and exclaim how they would only confuse consumers by providing the nutritional profile of their offerings I say “bupkis”! Of course you can’t display a nutrition facts panel on a jammed menu board, but with human ingenuity there are certainly viable solutions.

I was in a small fishing town in Italy in May and enjoyed dinner at a tiny restaurant. On each table a scan icon similar to this image was burned in the wood that accessed their website. Upon scanning it, I had an AHA moment: Perhaps scan technology can be available for people to view chain restaurant food offerings before they get in line to order!

Not only are people spending more of their money on eating out, they have health conditions which can be helped by better nutrition. When this info – especially the astronomically negative content is central in the public eye, the offerings will be reformulated. Yes another reason to mandate this info be available.

Come on folks, it’s 2016 – certainly there are solutions for making nutrient profiles available and accessible to consumers. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

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Activity Calories or Nutrient Richness?

May 20th, 2016 No Comments

I have been following the debate about adding how much activity it takes to burn a serving of packaged food to labels lately. I mulled this over while on a two hour hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, Italy recently, hmmmmm. These two quaint towns were connected by a long trail that snaked over and around hills, dales and mountains, through vineyards, lemon orchards, ascending and descending ancient stone stairways and more. When it was all said and done my activity app indicated that I took over 17,000 steps and climbed the equivalent of 99 flights of stairs, burning 575 active calories that day – phew. My quads were singing opera and my body was crying for more than just calories….

Anyone who knows me will recall that I have used active calorie figures to illustrate key points in various blog posts: ‘Blizzard to cool you’ and ’Summertime Scoop’. I have written extensively that awareness is bliss. However, when all is said and done, I am a strong advocate that there is certainly more to food than simply the calories.

By taking this narrow minded view, it’s easy to overlook the important functions of every macro and micronutrient, mineral, fibre and water that our bodacious bodies require to function optimally every single day. Each cell has a vital role to play. When you think about it, our relationship with food is the most intimate. It has life, health and wellness sustaining roles from the billions of reactions that occur as we go about our day. Each cell doesn’t only rely on energy, but also a wide array of nutrients to make our masterful machine hum.

By only focusing on calories in food we could inadvertently over simplify some bargaining to cut back. For example, you might choose diet soda pop to drink at mealtime as a quick way to save energy instead of a glass of milk. Let’s compare the two: that brown bubbly no cal drink is a concoction made in a great big vat with only the ability to hydrate you. Although the company calls it “the real thing” it is far from real, in any natural sense. Compare it with a glass of milk, which is also hydrating. In addition to the fluid, it is a powerhouse of nutrient richness – with easily absorbed calcium, Vitamin D, satiating protein, plus a vast array of 12 essential nutrients. Talk about choosing your calories wisely! From a nutrient richness point of view, milk beats diet pop hands down.

So if you keep your abacus close-by only counting calories instead of your variety of nutrients from naturally nutrient rich foods, you’re really short changing your well being where your overall nutritional status is concerned. Adding active calories to burn a serving of food doesn’t tell you how nourishing a food is and could give consumers the wrong message. If you like a numbers game, count your nutrients. While you’re at it count your blessings too. Your body, mind and spirit will surely be filled up to be the absolute best it can be. You can count on that!

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Feel the Buzz…

April 29th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I was pondering that feeling of achievement when you reach a goal, hmmmm. This crossed my mind while hiking up a mountain. You know that feeling; that special buzz you get when you set a goal and reach it. Ahhh yes, nothing can be finer! You can’t find it in a store. It can’t be bottled and bestowed. It’s something you and only you earn and ultimately reap the benefits from.

I have a few favourite trails to hike in Kelowna, BC. A more challenging one for me is an elusive slog up Knox Mountain. This walk isn’t really that much out of the ordinary as I sit here writing, all relaxed and comfy with my feet up. The mountain is situated a mile away from my hideaway – up the street, around the corner, by the park beside the lake to its base. It looks more like a hill, from the bottom. Then begins a gradual incline for a steady 40 minutes or so. It always seems so easy standing at the bottom when I spy the apex, “ a piece of cake” I scoff, until the climb begins…

The road up twists, turns and teases at points where you can almost catch your breath as you amble. I try to stay in the moment, diverting my mind from muscle pain, trying to sense any breeze Mother Nature blows my way, listening for birds sounds while soldiering on. This day I hear a wood pecker make that electric drill sound that resonates through the forest. How I love that sound. My tummy grumbles and I think of potatoes. I am merely walking this trek after all, but as the top beckons I feel my body heat rise, my legs ache, sweating, panting, my mouth parched, wondering what on earth possessed me to do this. Then I reach it. Ahhhh, I’m there, at the top, heart pounding out of my chest, gasping for air, thinking how I’d very much enjoy a ride down the other side…. as if. The ascent was 266 meters. It’s difficulty is a far cry from towering Mount Cook or the Swiss Alps, after all. I catch my breath….

I make haste to begin the trek back. This time down a pebbly walking trail. It always seems like a faster route. “Who am I kidding?” pops in my head half way down, every time I make this decision. This steep, dry, rocky, dusty, walking trail snakes and curves, sometimes gradual and other times steep where at various points I get that “off the edge of the earth feel” where one slip will send me tumbling down the side, AHHH! Not a good feeling when you’re quietly afraid of heights. “What on earth were you thinking?” crosses my mind, again as I try to get my footing on solid ground, my arms flailing, looking like a surfer of sorts, more awkward like a penguin. May I remind you, that although I do exercise regularly and am a self proclaimed “move maven” I am not the least bit athletic. Like a holistic health care person saying they’re a nutritionist because they eat…. So while others around me seem to own the trail and look the part, I slip and slide and cuss until I descend the eventual 266 meters back to the base. Those muscles I used on the way up got a break while I tax another set on the way down.

Ahhh, I’m on flat ground, catch my breath, feel that pinging in my legs reminding me that they have not been used like this since my last mountain trek. They give me a scolding. The lake breeze cools me down as I fill up with that feeling of satisfaction of achieving yet another goal – a mountain walk – YES! I head back by the lake, past the park, down the street, then around the bend, to my hideaway. I press the “stop” button on my Apple Watch, recording the trek’s metrics. Then a “bing” sounds; an award pops up – a gold star: “You earned this award for the most calories burned on a walk, 427″. I smile, an extra bonus, double good! I think about my hike as I rehydrate before hitting the shower.

I scroll through the metrics:
Walk Time: 2:05:42
Distance: 10.09 km
Ascent: 266 meters
Calories: 427
Steps 16,204
Walking Workout Record – “You earned this award for the most calories burned on a walk, 427”

I’ll be returning to my hideaway in a few months. Hmmm, I think confidently, “surely I’ll walk this twice the next visit”. Why wouldn’t I? Until then……

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Unchain the Nutrition Facts, Chain Restaurants!

April 15th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I woke up this morning reading about “….why health advocates want calorie counts on your menu and in your face” on the CBC website. Ahhh yes, my favourite subject “menu labelling” on a sunny Friday. Who needs an espresso to wake up with when there’s a headline like that – thank you world!

Fact: Ontario chain restaurants must post calorie counts on menus by 2017. In my opinion this move is ‘good from far, but FAR from good’. Hear me out will you??

Food Package Labelling – Canadians and Americans have been exposed to and are used to having the accessible array of nutritional information on food package labels for over a decade. Industry’s argument that giving more information than only calories will cause confusion is a foot dragging tactic that makes no sense whatsoever. This information is NOT new. As a consumer and health expert, I’m left scratching my head wondering why the food package sector needs to disclose all of this information and the fast food sector does not. There are people who want this information, need it and use it.

Why is the Fast Food Sector exempt? Because of this lack of convenient disclosure of nutritional information, the fast food sector is like the wild west. If you have read any of my posts on this topic one thing will jump out at you in spades: the numbers are absurdly astronomical. Check these posts out: Mulling Over Menus; Blizzard to Cool You; Summertime ScoopAwareness is Bliss. When this array of information is eventually disclosed in an open and user-friendly fashion, this sector will be motivated to reformulate their offerings. So mandating disclosure of this information is good for consumers who seek it and good for everyone else because in time I’d wager many of the offerings’ nutritional info will improve and be easier to swallow…. on many levels.

Multiple Health Epidemics – You have been living under a rock if you didn’t know our world is facing multiple health epidemics. Knowing how many calories is in your food is a start, but we need full disclosure of chain restaurant offerings, the same as what’s on the food labels – why should we expect any less as consumers? The industry will argue about how difficult it is to make this info available. Please! Yes it’s true a menu cannot post nutrition facts tables with their menu board. Given human ingenuity however, I’d wager we can come up with a solution that is doable.

Consumers’ Changing Habits – Convenience and Fast Food – We know that consumers’ habits have changed dramatically being time starved and seeking convenience. We also know that people are eating out more and more where it has become routine and not just a treat. Because of this people really need to know what’s in their food if they want it. As I have often said – awareness is bliss. Anyone who has driven by a fast food restaurant at dawn or dusk has seen the drive thru line snake out of the parking lot. I don’t think the cars are empty, do you?

So folks, we need to keep banging the gong on this one. We deserve to know what’s in our food, the same information that is available on food package labels. Don’t settle for anything less.

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