It’s Nutrition and this year’s theme is Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!
Healthy eating starts with the choices you make at the grocery store. Selecting healthy ingredients that are easy to prepare makes healthy eating a breeze. Here are some practical tips help you put healthy food on the table!
Make a List
You can save time and money by writing down the things you need to buy. Look through the flyers for deals and stock up on necessary items while they are on sale. Wandering the aisles is time consuming and you often get home with a cart load of things you don’t need and have to go back to the store for the items you do. Staying focused on the list may also keep you from wandering down the treat aisle!
Don’t Shop Hungry
An empty stomach is always bound to lead to a cart full of unnecessary snacks and drinks!
Shop the perimeter
Start in the produce aisle and stock up on seasonal vegetables, then move on to the bakery and grab some whole grains, next the meat department where you can pick out lean cuts of meat, then wander on to pick up eggs and dairy. Up next is the freezer where you can grab some frozen veggies- they are always good to have on hand! Now head through the aisles and pick up the things you need to stock up on like cereal, canned legumes/vegetables, cooking oils, flour etc. Always check for products that have whole grains, no added salt and are limited in added sugars.
It is important to know how to read a label and any Dietitian can teach you. Start by reading the ingredient list- you should be able to pronounce the words! Now check the serving size on the nutrition facts label and find products without excessive amounts of calorie, fat, sugar, or sodium.
Save money, skip the meat
Protein is important at meals and snacks but meat can get expensive. Try meatless meals a few times a week by substituting with eggs, lentils, beans, chickpeas or other legumes. Canned legumes are convenient; you can purchase them without added salt or rinse regular canned versions.
Ask for help
Dietitians are regulated care health professionals trained to give you the best advice about food and nutrition. Ask a Dietitian to take you on a tour of your local grocery store and help take the guesswork out of healthy eating!
Take a cooking class
Many grocery stores offer healthy cooking classes with great tips and ideas for preparing healthy meals. Purchasing a healthy cookbook or searching for healthy recipes on the internet can also be a great tool.
Nutrition Month is a great time to get motivated and start making small maintainable changes to your eating habits. The best place to start is right at the grocery store.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association more than 9 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. In my experience with counseling clients who have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes there is a lot of confusion around what diabetes is, how it is caused and how to treat it. I have seen everything from the people who choose to ignore the disease to those who go to the extreme trying to manage it. Let’s set the facts straight on Diabetes!
To put it simply diabetes is a disease in which the body does not make or properly use insulin. It is not caused by eating too many sweets or drinking excessive amounts of sugary drinks. Instead, it is a complex disease with many risk factors including but not limited to: age, ethnicity, weight status and family history. Diabetes is often dubbed as a “silent killer”, because many people don’t feel sick. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to severe complications including: heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, nerve damage and erectile dysfunction. What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the amount of sugar in our bloodstream. In a person without diabetes
- Sugar from the food we eat moves from the stomach to the bloodstream.
In a person with diabetes
- The brain senses the sugar in the blood and sends a signal to the pancreas to start producing insulin.
- That insulin goes into the blood stream, picks up the sugar and carries it to the cells in various organs in the body.
- Insulin acts like the key to a door. It lets the sugar into our muscles and brain where it can be used for energy.
- Sugar from the food we eat moves from the stomach to the bloodstream.
- The brain senses the sugar in the blood and sends a signal to the pancreas to start producing insulin.
- For some reason the pancreas is unable to do its job. Why?
- At times, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin
- Other times, the pancreas does not produce any insulin
- Most often, the pancreas produces enough insulin, but the body cannot use it properly. This is known as insulin resistance.
- Also, in those with Type 2 Diabetes, the liver often overproduces sugar when you don’t eat regularly, causing high fasting blood sugar levels.
There are 3 different types of Diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes-
occurs when the body produces little or no insulin; it is often diagnosed in adolescents but can occur at any age. A person with Type 1 Diabetes therefore requires insulin or is “insulin dependant”. 10% of diabetics have Type 1 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes-
is a progressive disease that occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin produced. It is often diagnosed in adults, but as childhood obesity becomes more prominent so does the diagnoses of Type 2 Diabetes in children. A person in the early stages of Type 2 Diabetes can often manage their blood sugar through diet, exercise and weight loss. As the disease progresses there are many different types of medications and insulin to help manage blood sugars. 90% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. Gestational Diabetes-
is a temporary condition in which blood sugars are impaired during pregnancy. If left untreated, high blood sugars can lead to complications during pregnancy including: birth defects, increased risk of miscarriage, high birth weight, pre-term delivery, respiratory distress syndrome, hypoglycemia and jaundice. Approximately two to four percent of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes, putting both the mother and child at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life. What is Prediabetes?
A normal fasting blood sugar ranges between 4.0-6.0mmol/L. Diabetes is diagnosed when a fasting blood sugar is 7.0mmol/L or greater. If fasting blood sugar is running between 6.1 and 6.9mmol/L a diagnosis of prediabetes is made. At this point a healthy diet and exercise are prescribed to help manage blood sugars. Many people who are diagnosed with prediabetes go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
How can a healthy diet and exercise help treat diabetes?
If people with diabetes are overweight, a modest weight loss of five to ten percent of your body weight results in a significant improvement in blood sugars. A healthy diet along with at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week is recommended.
Healthy eating for diabetes is no different than healthy eating for people without diabetes. Eating 3 balanced meals per day every 4-6hours plus a healthy bedtime snack will help keep your sugars under control. Limit sweets to special occasions and keep the portion size small. Fill half of your plate with non starchy vegetables, ¼ of your plate with grains or starches and ¼ of your plate with protein. A bedtime snack with 1 serving of starch and 1 serving of protein (such as: 4 whole grain crackers and 1oz of cheese) will prevent the liver from overproducing sugar while you sleep; resulting in lower morning blood sugars. If your schedule makes it hard to fit meals in at regular times just remember to eat a healthy meal or snack every 4-6hours while you are awake. A registered Dietitian can help you get on the right track! When should you test blood sugar?
If your doctor has provided you with a glucometer you need to know what numbers to aim for. When testing your blood sugars first thing in the morning or before meals you should aim for a fasting blood sugar of less than 7.0mmol/L. It is also important to know if your sugars are staying too high after you eat. You can monitor this by testing your sugar 2 hours after a meal and aiming for a result of 10.0mmol/L or less. If you are not on certain medications or insulin there is no need to test daily. Try testing before and 2hours after the same meal a few times a week (alternate between breakfast, lunch and supper). If you are not reaching these targets consistently you should talk to your healthcare team.
Although testing your sugars at home helps to monitor your diabetes, it is still important to get regular blood work done. Every 3-6 months you should have your fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C tested. Hemoglobin A1C measures your average blood sugar over a three month period and should be less than 7.0%. On a yearly basis you should have complete blood work to monitor your cholesterol, kidneys, thyroid, and urine. This is also a good time to have your home glucose meter tested for accuracy. It is also important to tell both your dentist and eye doctor that you have diabetes and make regular visits. Diabetes is a disease that you can take control of! Start by choosing a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy body weight and taking any medications (if prescribed) on a proper schedule. If you would like to learn more about diabetes, visit the Canadian Diabetes Association Website at www.diabetes.ca.
Summer is almost officially here which means shorts, tank tops and bathing suits. This is the time of year when we all like to look our best for summer fun at the beach, parties and barbecues. However, many of us start diving into copious amounts of tempting food and beverages instead. This summer why not stick close to your healthy eating and exercise routine. It may take a bit of work but you can barbecue healthy foods instead of high fat greasy foods and there are tons of fresh fruits and vegetable to choose from. Thinking about that bathing suit may get you motivated but don’t let that motivation start to wane by keeping these 5 things in mind.
1. Hungry or Bored?? Before you reach for that unnecessary treat ask yourself if you are hungry or bored. Try brushing your teeth and entertaining yourself for 20minutes by going for a walk or dancing to your favorite song. (This is also a great opportunity to put in a load of laundry or do the dishes). If you are still hungry after 20 minutes then prepare yourself something healthy to munch on. This will keep you from taking in extra calories due to feelings of boredom, insecurity, fear or cravings.
2. Toss the Junk. Everyone knows their vices! If you can’t stay away from chocolate, potato chips or ice cream, keep them out of the house! I always tell my clients if they really want a treat they can take a walk to the nearest store and pick a single serving of their favorite treat. Many people admit they don’t feel tempted if the food isn’t in the house.
3. Drink Up! Believe it or not, the first sign of thirst is hunger. If you are not properly hydrated you may be eating extra calories when all your body requires is a glass of water. If your aren’t a fan of plain water, try adding sliced citrus fruit, a handful of berries or even slices of cucumber for flavour. For a nice refreshing beverage brew your favorite herbal tea and pour over ice.
4. Think Positive. Plan ahead and quit making excuses. “I don’t have time to cook a meal.” “I don’t have time to work out.” Do these phrases sound familiar? If you plan healthy eating and activity into your day then you won’t have a reason to skip your workout or pick up take-out.
5. Plan for emergencies. Make sure you always have healthy portable snacks on hand such as fruit leather, 100cal granola bars, yogurt, and cut up fruits and veggies. There is a good chance that on certain days you’ll be running behind and won’t have time to make a healthy, nutritious meal; so plan for it!
I consider myself lucky…when my head hits the pillow it is just moments before I am off to dreamland. Unfortunately, over 3 million Canadians are not so lucky and suffer from insomnia. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty falling or remaining asleep, waking up too early or non-restorative sleep. It is hard to pin point why people have trouble sleeping due to many contributing factors including: dietary habits, activity levels, weight status, stress, chronic disease/pain, and alcohol/drug use just to name a few. Before you reach for those sleeping pills, you may want to take a look at your lifestyle.
Eat Well and Play Well
Proper diet and exercise lowers stress, prevents chronic disease, increases your energy levels and helps you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Here are some tips for healthy living:
- Start your day off with a balanced breakfast
- Eat regular balanced meals and healthy snacks every 3-5 hours, do not skip meals!
- Slow down and enjoy your food, make sure you chew well.
- Don’t get stuck in a rut- go outside your normal meal choices and enjoy a variety of foods from all food groups.
- Avoid junk- chips, pop and pastries should be a treat!
- Cut back on salt to prevent or treat hypertension.
- Load up on veggies and fresh fruits (half a plate!)- it is always beneficial to eat whole fruits or vegetables than to drink juices.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily- try slices of fruit to add flavor.
- Don’t forget about dairy! Calcium is not only important for bone health, studies have shown that low calcium intake is associated with higher weight status.
- Slow down on alcohol- although a moderate intake of alcohol (1-2drinks/day) has little effect on sleep, higher intakes can lead to insomnia and other health problems.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise each day- walking, biking, swimming or climbing the stairs are all easy ways to get active.
Last but not least…enjoy a healthy bedtime snack!
Many people are afraid they will gain weight if they eat a night snack. In fact, weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than you are burning throughout the day. As long as you are not exceeding your caloric needs, you can eat a healthy bedtime snack and still maintain a healthy weight. The best night snack consists of protein and carbohydrate and this may explain why!
Protein rich foods such as meat, nuts and dairy contain small amounts of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a role in the brains production of the sleep agents, serotonin and melatonin. When protein is eaten with carbohydrates the tryptophan is transferred across the blood brain barrier, making it available to be converted into serotonin and melatonin. Therefore, a small night snack such as 3-4 crackers and 1oz of cheese, 3/4cup of cereal with milk or 1 slice of toast with peanut butter may help you achieve a better nights rest!
Welcome to Nutrition Month!! Each year in March, Dietitians work together and make a special effort to promote the importance of healthy eating and nutrition; while focusing on a theme. This year’s theme is an exciting one, “Get the Real Deal on Your Meal”; we are striving to bust common nutrition myths.
“You should avoid carbs if you want to lose weight”
Although low carbohydrate diets may help you lose weight fast, it is not a long-term solution. Low carb diets are hard to stick to, due to the foods they restrict. This puts you at a high risk for failure, and you are likely to gain back the weight you have lost (and sometimes more!). Carbohydrates are your body’s number one source of energy. By cutting them out, or drastically cutting them back, you are missing out on sources of energy and important nutrients including fibre and B vitamins.
To lose weight and keep it off, choose a balanced diet including a variety of healthy carbohydrates (fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains). Eat regular meals and follow the plate method – ½ Vegetables (low carb), ¼ grains/starches and ¼ protein. Last but not least...don’t forget to exercise!!
“Late night snacking leads to weight gain”
Weight gain is the result of taking in more calories than you are burning in the run of a day. The reason many people lose weight when they stop eating at night is because they are cutting out high fat, high calorie foods including chips, high fat popcorn and pop. These late night offenders tend to be people who skip meals throughout the day, and therefore overindulge at suppertime, followed by an uncontrolled urge to eat until bedtime. After being neglected all day our bodies are starving for nutrition, and this causes us to give in to the “junk foods” we all love. We are designed to eat regular balanced meals, and should never go longer than 6 hours (during your waking hours) without food. In fact, a small healthy bedtime snack (ideally consisting of protein and carbohydrate) can help keep your blood sugars stable and give you a better nights rest.
“Processed foods have no place in a healthy diet”
Many processed foods are high in fat, salt and sugar and should only be consumed in moderation. However, there are many processed foods that make preparing healthy meals and snacks less stressful and time consuming. The important thing is to read labels, and stock your pantry with healthy choices including: whole wheat pasta and brown rice (try brown Basmati, you will love it!), low-sodium canned meats and fish, salt free canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, and more. If label reading confuses you, consult a Dietitian for a label reading session or grocery store tour, and set the record straight!
This Nutrition Month help Dietitians spread the truth about your food by busting myths with your family and friends. Nutrition can be confusing, if you need help sifting through the facts, remember that Dietitians are your number one source for trusted nutrition information.
Cold temperatures and snowstorms can give us all the winter blues. As a result we often turn to comfort foods that warm us up and bring a smile to our face. Comfort foods are different for everyone; they can range from main dishes like stew or macaroni & cheese to warm desserts like blueberry crisp or hot apple pie. Unfortunately, many “comfort foods” are culprits for being high in fat, calories and sodium; but don’t give up on the recipes your Grandma used to make just yet. With just a few substitutions, many of your favourite recipes can be modified so you can enjoy them guilt free!
My go-to comfort food is a nice hot bowl of baked macaroni and cheese. However, just one cup of traditional baked Mac & Cheese can pack in 836 calories, 53g of fat and 896mg of sodium. The only thing that will comfort is my waistline! Instead, check out this recipe that has been modified to provide just 416 calories, 13.4grams of fat and 551mg of sodium per 1 cup serving. Serve 1 cup along with a side salad or steamed vegetables for a well balanced meal.
Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and Cheese
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups homemade or low sodium chicken stock
1 ¼ cups low fat milk
1 ¼ cups light cheddar cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cups (cooked) whole wheat elbow macaroni Topping
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp canola oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a saucepan whisk flour, stock and milk until smooth. Place over medium heat; cook, whisking for 3 minutes, or until hot and thickened. Stir in cheddar, Parmesan, mustard; cook 1 minute longer or until cheese melts. Remove from heat
- In a large pot of boiling water cook macaroni until almost tender but still firm (about 8 minutes). Drain Toss with cheese sauce. Pour into prepared casserole dish
- To make topping: In small bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil. Sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until top is golden.
Nutritional Information: 416 calories, 13.4g fat, 27g protein, 48g carbohydrates, 551 mg sodium, calcium 592mg