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Unlock the Potential of Food – here’s what FOOD can do for YOU!

Unlock potential of food

As dietitians, we are passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health! For March – Nutrition Month, and all year long, celebrate these benefits of delicious, wholesome, nourishing food.

Food can FUEL your body and mind. According to the Dietitians of Canada, almost half of Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is challenging for them because they are so busy, and nearly 30% turn to snacks to stay fuelled. The right food choices will not only energize you but also maximize your creativity and productivity! For a healthy snack, we love combining produce with protein – try egg and avocado toast, peanut butter on apple slices, or tuna with veggie sticks. Work with me to create wellness foodservice menus or to build a positive nutrition workplace environment.

Food can help kids DISCOVER healthy eating. Did you know that 38% of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack? Let’s get kids in the kitchen! Kids are more likely to eat what they’ve made, so take the opportunity to help kids discover and be adventurous with food. Find a recipe that you can make together. Try new foods and flavours. Shop for groceries together too.

Food can PREVENT health problems. Healthy eating, being active and living smoke-free together can prevent about 80% of premature stroke and heart disease. There are many different “diets” or “eating patterns” such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet and the MIND diet. Find out more about these diets at my upcoming 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 18th. We’ll look beyond the fad diets and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Food can HEAL. Dietitians believe in and understand the potential of food to help you heal and feel your best. Work with a dietitian to heal during illness and enhance your health. As the trusted food and nutrition experts, dietitians can help you: manage your blood sugar levels, lower your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol, manage the side effects of cancer care treatments, navigate a gluten-free diet, reach / maintain a healthy weight, and stay nourished when eating/swallowing is a challenge.

Food can BRING US TOGETHER. Eating together has benefits for everyone! Children who eat with their families tend to eat more veggies and fruit, consume fewer less sugar-sweetened drinks, have better academic performance, are at a lower risk for being overweight and have a lower chance of developing eating disorders. Teens who eat with their families get better grades and are less likely to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or engage in serious fights. Adults who eat with friends and family eat more vegetables and fruit, drink less pop and have a healthier weight. Older adults who eat as part of a group setting have better overall nutrient intakes and lower rates of malnutrition. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snack or yes, even dessert – take time to sit down and enjoy food in the company of others!

Happy Nutrition Month – Who Wants Some Crickets?

03 - Nutrition Month pledge image
Every March, dietitians across the country celebrate the joy of good nutrition and healthy eating! This year’s Nutrition Month theme focuses on taking a 100 meal journey and making small changes at each meal to build better eating habits.

I started by pledging to take a 100 Meal Journey. Throughout the month, I’m aiming to try new recipes and new foods, and generally be a bit more adventurous with my foods. And that’s when I found them – chocolate covered crickets – just $5.99 for a small pack! I must have been feeling brave at the time because I also bought a pack of the barbecued crickets too. Why crickets? With growing concern for the environment and sustainable eating, crickets provide protein, iron, magnesium and zinc, and produce little CO2 and methane gas.

crickets

To help bolster my confidence to try these little critters, I tweeted about them, looking for some virtual support. One of my friends replied, “Gross! Anyone who wants to try crickets needs to get a life!” OK, so not a whole lot of love there!

Another follower replied, “We eat crickets all the time where I come from.” I could hear my self-talk, “That’s right Sue, you can do this, crickets are no biggie!”

My dietitian buddy out in Winnipeg told me that she used to feed crickets to Harry, the family’s pet tarantula. (I tried hard to not compare myself to Harry, or maybe it’s name was “Hairy”?) And then a few of my other dietitian colleagues inquired, “So, how did they taste?” One of my colleagues in fact confessed that she had actually (knowingly) tried deep fried lamb testicles! OK, without a doubt, she’s got one up on me in the food adventure department!

So, with a glass of red wine handy and a plate of my chocolate covered crickets, I gave them a try….and….watch my reaction!

If you haven’t yet signed up for the 100 Meal Journey Pledge, it’s not too late – just sign up here and join the thousands of Canadians who are eating their way to better health, one meal at a time! Pledge to eat more fruits and veggies! Try a recipe from a new cookbook! Or experiment with a different spice. Crickets are totally optional!!

How does a dietitian eat from 9 to 5?


Almost half of Canadians find it challenging to eat healthy meals and snacks at the workplace. From rushed mornings to back-to-back meetings to never ending deadlines, it’s easy to fall victim to brain drain and the mid-day slump!

That’s why the Dietitians of Canada have dedicated this year’s National Nutrition Month theme as Eating 9 to 5, with a focus on strategies to help you get through the day feeling alert and productive. Here’s how this busy dietitian eats from 9 to 5!


9:00 AM – Breakfast is a Yogurt Berry Parfait that I’ve made last night. Simply layer whole grain oats, Greek yogurt and berries in a glass. I’ve sprinkled some bran and hemp hearts in between for an extra boost of fibre and protein. The oats soften overnight and require absolutely no cooking. Using Greek yogurt helps me reach the target 25-30 grams of protein.

Your strategy for rushed mornings: Make breakfast ahead of time. Design a yogurt parfait with your favourite fruit, whip up a fruit/veggie smoothie or wrap a peanut butter sandwich to go.

10:00 AM – I’m on a conference call for an hour. Thanks to my solid breakfast, I’m not hungry. My water bottle is always nearby. Plus I’m standing for most of the meeting.

Your strategy for workplace meetings: Listen to your hunger cues. It can be tempting to nibble mindlessly during meetings. Have a small snack only if you’re feeling hungry.

12:00 PM – I’ve been working on a story deadline and have been sitting for a while now. Time to get moving! Thanks to a complimentary pass to the Yoga Tree studio, I make my way to a lunchtime yoga class. With their line-up of classes throughout the day, it’s easy to find a class that fits into my schedule.

1:15 PM – Lunch is a Quinoa and Shrimp Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts. It’s actually leftovers from last night’s dinner and tastes great cold! A cup of milk and an apple round out my meal. I’m feeling energized, fuelled and ready to take on the afternoon!

Your strategy for lunchtime: Love those leftovers! Don’t be one of the 36% of Canadians who skip lunch! Pack your lunch more often instead of heading to the food court – you’ll have better control of portion sizes plus think of all the money you’ll save!

4:00 PM – I’ve been working non-stop except to take a stretch break at 3 pm. To keep me going until quitting time, I’m snacking on baby carrots and snap peas with hummus. I love pairing P+P (produce plus protein). A big bottle of water with refreshing cucumber slices keeps me quenched.

Your strategy to beat the mid-day slump: Pack your own snacks rather than taking a trip to the vending machine. Include some protein to give you staying power for the homestretch. Swap the coffee for a decaf coffee, tea or water.

For more workplace eating tips, visit Dietitians of Canada.

Get cooking for National Nutrition Month!

As the daughter of a Chinese chef, I’m a huge fan of cooking – and eating – delicious, wholesome meals! After all, when you cook from scratch, you can choose healthier ingredients and experiment with different flavours.
Get the kids involved too. Cooking helps to build their confidence in the kitchen and is an important life skill. Plus research shows that eating meals together as a family helps kids eat better and have healthier weights. So to celebrate Nutrition Month, here are some of my favourite tips to help you get creative in the kitchen.
Pick a theme ingredient or cuisine for the month. Then flip through magazines, pick up a new cookbook or surf the Internet for recipe ideas. Me? I’m always looking for easy and nutritious fish recipes. So I’m planning to try this Becel Maple Mustard Salmon recipe. It uses ingredients that I always have on hand and it’s ready in less than 15 minutes – perfect for my busy weeknights!
Stay organized. To save time, prep your ingredients in advance – chop the veggies, marinade the meat, and make the salad dressing the night before so that everything is ready to go as soon as you get home.
Cook once, and eat it twice. I’m planning to take any salmon leftovers from tonight’s dinner and toss it into a salad with red onions, green leafy lettuce, orange peppers and avocado. Leftover cooked beans, meat or pasta will instantly perk up a soup or stir-fry.
Make a few swaps. Do you love to bake? Use milk or yogurt instead of water to give muffins or banana bread a calcium and protein boost. Bake with an unsaturated fat such as soft non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter, shortening or lard. Swap out some of the sugar with dried fruit or grated sweet veggies like carrots or beets – it’s a great way to add fibre to the recipe too.
Share it. We eat with our eyes, so don’t forget to take a snapshot of your finished dish. Tweet it or post it on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. Share the actual recipe too and give it a rating out of five stars. Who knows – you might just inspire someone else to get cooking too – and that would be a wonderful thing!

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