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Top 5 Food & Nutrition Trends from FNCE 2018

Sue FNCE expo

One of the best things about my job as a food and nutrition expert is going to conferences to learn about new trends and share our learnings with YOU! This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Washington DC did not disappoint! It’s the world’s largest food and nutrition event, attracting well over 10,000 delegates with hundreds of speakers and exhibitors. Here are my top takeaways from the event.

1. FODMAP Friendly. This was by far, the biggest trend at the show. FODMAP is an acronym for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyphenols”. These are different types of carbohydrates found naturally in everyday foods such as fruit, veggies, grains, beans and milk product. For some people, eating foods containing high amounts of these FODMAP carbohydrates may cause gas, bloating and other digestive symptoms. Dozens of products at FNCE sported a “FODMAP Friendly” logo, including Prego’s Sensitive Recipe pasta sauce (made without onions or garlic) and Lo-Fo flours.

fodmap friendly logo

Prego fodmap friendly

fodmap friendly foods

2. Protein Power. I’ve been emphasizing the importance of getting enough protein at every meal for a while now. Protein continues to be a strong nutrition buzzword. This year’s FNCE show featured several protein packed products such as a peanut-based protein shake and a protein enriched pancake mix.

Peanut protein shake

Pancake protein

3. Probiotics. At last year’s FNCE event, exhibitors flaunted countess probiotic products. This year, there were even more innovations ranging from infused probiotic beverages to a combination protein/probiotic hot oatmeal.

probiotic drink

probiotic oatmeal with protein

4. Plant-based. Following this trend were plant-based beverages such as “sesame milk”, “banana milk” and yes, even plant-based maple water. When it comes to calcium, vitamin D and protein though, not all of these products are equivalent to cow’s milk or fortified soy beverage

Sesame milk

banana milk

maple water

5. Snacking. Among the countless numbers of protein bars, I found snacks such as barley bars, flavoured chickpea snacks as well as single serve, shelf stable bean dips for on-the-go energy.

barley bars

chickpea snacks

Black bean portable dip snack

Which one of these trends are you most excited about? Leave a comment and let me know.

Food and Nutrition Trends from FNCE 2017

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We were thrilled to attend the centennial Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) – the world’s largest annual nutrition meeting hosted in Chicago by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics! With over 13,000 attendees, FNCE did not disappoint! The Expo trade show featured hundreds of food and nutrition products. Here are the ones that caught our eye!

PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS

Gut health is a growing trend! Prebiotics and probiotics work together to keep the gut healthy. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that actually act as food for probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in our colon where they help to maintain a balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria. From crackers to drinks to powders, these innovative products are designed to keep your gut healthy.

Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots – probiotic beverages and foods made with fermented veggies. Slogan: We’re here to ferment a food revolution!

Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots – probiotic beverages and foods made with fermented veggies. Slogan: We’re here to ferment a food revolution!

Go Live Probiotic & Prebiotic Beverages – the probiotic is housed in a foil-blister cap which can be added to the beverage when you’re ready to drink. Slogan: Think outside the bottle, look inside the cap!

Go Live Probiotic & Prebiotic Beverages – the probiotic is housed in a foil-blister cap which can be added to the beverage when you’re ready to drink. Slogan: Think outside the bottle, look inside the cap!

Regular Girl – prebiotic fibre and probiotics for the women whose life is anything but regular. Can be sprinkled on food or in beverages. Slogans: Eat, drink and be regular! You go girl! Déjà poo!

Regular Girl – prebiotic fibre and probiotics for the women whose life is anything but regular. Can be sprinkled on food or in beverages. Slogans: Eat, drink and be regular! You go girl! Déjà poo!

PROTEIN

We’ve been watching the protein trend grow for the past decade now. Featured at the FNCE show were protein packed pancake mixes and protein enhanced beauty products.

FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking Mix – boasting 19 grams of protein per 60 g serving from whey protein isolate and pea protein.

FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking Mix – boasting 19 grams of protein per 60 g serving from whey protein isolate and pea protein.

Vital Proteins – from free range bone broth collagen to wild caught marine collagen to collagen beauty water…with the belief that collagen will support bone health, joint health, gut health and a glowing skin, nails and hair.

Vital Proteins – from free range bone broth collagen to wild caught marine collagen to collagen beauty water…with the belief that collagen will support bone health, joint health, gut health and a glowing skin, nails and hair.

PLANT-BASED BEVERAGES

Move over soy, almond and rice. Make way for new plant-based beverages made from nuts and pea protein.

Elmhurst Milked Peanuts – 2 new beverage options: straight up peanuts (made with 21 peanuts) or peanuts plus Dutch cocoa. Contains 8 g of protein per cup however not fortified with either calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B12.

Elmhurst Milked Peanuts – 2 new beverage options: straight up peanuts (made with 31 peanuts) or peanuts plus Dutch cocoa. Contains 8 g of protein per cup however not fortified with either calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B12.

Bolthouse Plant Protein Milk -  made with pea protein, contains 10 g protein per cup and fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Bolthouse Plant Protein Milk – made with pea protein, contains 10 g protein per cup and fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Veggemo – veggie-based  non-dairy beverage made from pea protein. Fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, but only 3-4 g protein per cup.

Veggemo – veggie-based non-dairy beverage made from pea protein. Fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, but only 3-4 g protein per cup.

5 Ways to Up Your Protein

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Want to build those muscles? For optimal muscle protein synthesis, aim to have 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. For most of us, this means pumping up the protein at breakfast and dialing down the protein at dinner time.

Watch my TV interview to see if you’re getting enough protein at every meal.

Here are 5 easy ideas to help you get enough.

1. Egg Sandwich – Start with 2 large eggs and add 2 T of grated cheese. Whip up some scrambled eggs or an omelet with veggies. Roll it up in a whole wheat tortilla. 20 grams of protein.

2. Greek Yogurt Smoothie – Make your favourite smoothie with 1 cup of Greek yogurt. Easy! 20 grams of protein.

3. Soup and Sandwich – Warm up to a bowl of minestrone soup and 1/2 veggie sandwich. For the sandwich, try Canadiana Rustic Bean Bread (made by Country Harvest) with with 2 T hummus and your favourite fresh veggies. Add a slice of cheese to the sandwich or add 3/4 cup Greek yogurt for dessert. 30 grams of protein.

4. Super Salad – Fill at least half your plate with leafy salad greens and colourful veggies. Top it with 3 ounces of cooked lean meat (about the size of a deck of cards). 20 grams of protein

5. Protein Power – Grab a handful of nuts and team it up with a latte made with 1 cup of milk or fortified soy beverage. 20 grams of protein.

10 Things I Want for the New Canada’s Food Guide

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It’s been nine years since the release of the last Canada’s Food Guide and based on emerging research and trends, it’s sure time for an update! In fact, Health Canada is in the process of revising the Guide. Help all Canadians eat better and fill in this online questionnaire from Health Canada to help shape the new Food Guide.

Here’s my wish list of the top 10 wants for the new version.

1. Create age-specific Food Guides – how about a different one for kids, teens, adults and older adults. Each Food Guide could address the specific nutritional needs and issues for each of these age groups. For example…
• The Food Guide for young kids could include tips for feeding picky eating and food literacy/cooking skills.
• In the teens’ Food Guide, there could be messages around sodium and sugar sweetened beverages, maximizing bone density, and the benefits of cooking and eating meals with your family.
• The adult’s Food Guide could include tips for meal planning and healthy eating in the workplace.
• For older adults, the Food Guide could highlight the need for certain supplements, bone health, and the important role of protein in the prevention of age-related sarcopenia.
2. Take the emphasis off “low-fat” foods. Highlight foods that naturally contain healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds and olives in addition to healthy oils.
3. Include advice about eating protein – evenly throughout the day, at every meal, and especially breakfast to help with satiety and to maintain muscle mass.
4. Include visual images of portion sizes – for example, a fist is about 1 cup (250 mL) and the size of your palm is about one serving size of meat, poultry or fish. Encourage Canadians to fill half their plate with vegetables and fruit to help keep other foods in the right proportions.
5. Add ideas for eating sustainably and locally. We are eating for the health of ourselves, our families and our planet.
6. Encourage individuals and families to connect with food. Cook meals, grow a garden and create healthy eating environments at work, home, school and play.
7. Focus not just on what to eat, but also how to eat. Sit down and eat mindfully. Enjoy meals with family and friends.
8. Consider creating a vegetarian Food Guide or include more vegetarian options in the new Guide.
9. Add a message about alcohol that echoes the national low risk alcohol drinking guidelines.
10. Include lifestyle messages about the importance of sleep and physical activity that are essential partners to a healthy, wholesome diet.

Revising the Food Guide is no easy task! It requires an extensive review of the evidence-based research as well as consultation with health professionals and consumers. Here’s hoping that some of my top 10 – and your comments too – will make it to the final round!

Happy Nutrition Month – Who Wants Some Crickets?

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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!!

My POV on Health Canada’s proposed new nutrition labels

On June 12th, Health Canada released a proposed new Nutrition Facts table aimed to improve nutrition information on food labels. While I agree that nutrition labels can provide useful information to help Canadians find healthier choices, I’m not 100% sold on all of the proposed changes. Even after tuning in to Health Canada’s webinar on the proposed changes last week, I still have a number of questions and a long wish list. Here are just some of my comments which I’ll be sending to Health Canada during the consultation phase.

Realistic serving sizes – LIKE – If you’re a cereal lover, you’ll know that the current serving sizes are based on a weight of 30 grams. This means that a serving of cereal could be anywhere from 1/3 cup to 1 1/2 cups, depending on the density of the cereal. On the proposed new label, the serving size of all cereals will be 1 cup. With this type of standardized serving size, it will be easier for us to compare the nutritional profile of one cereal to another.
Wish list: Let’s change the serving sizes on Canada’s Food Guide so that they’ll finally match the serving sizes seen on nutrition labels. For consistency, we should also keep the serving of bread at 1 slice (which is currently a Food Guide serving) instead of upping it to the proposed 2 slices.

%DV (Daily Value) for carbohydrates and fibre removed – DISLIKE – Oh boy, I have so many question marks about the %DV on the proposed new labels, starting with carbs and fibre! The current nutrition labels include a %DV for carbohydrates and fibre. So why will these be removed in the proposed new label? When I asked Health Canada, they replied that carbohydrate is not a nutrient that Canadians need to limit. And that the %DV would only be listed for nutrients of public health concern for which our intakes are either insufficient or excessive. I have a few issues with this argument. First of all, no where on the proposed new food label does it say that the %DV is only given for nutrients that we’re missing out on or getting too much of. So how’s a consumer supposed to know? To me, including the %DV for some but not all of the nutrients is essentially withholding important information and does not provide the full picture to consumers. Secondly, there may be some folks who need to watch their carb intake, so providing a %DV for carbs would be helpful. Thirdly, we know that Canadians are only getting about 1/2 the fibre they need in a day and we know very well about the health benefits of fibre. So doesn’t that qualify fibre as a nutrient with an insufficient intake?? Health Canada’s rationale is that the definition of fibre has broadened and that consumers can still use the “source of fibre” claims to help guide them in their decision making. Lastly, the proposed new nutrition label would only provide a %DV for one macronutrient – fat – with the rationale that we need to be limiting our fat intake. OK, so here’s the super confusing part: If Health Canada wants us to limit our overall fat intake, why did they INCREASE the daily recommended dietary allowance of fat from 65 to 75 grams (from 30% of the calories in a day to 35% of calories in day)? If the proportion of fat is going UP in the diet, then which macronutrient is going down – carbs or protein or both??
Wish list: Full disclosure. Give consumers the full picture. Add a %DV for carbohydrates and protein too, and while you’re at it, re-assess the daily recommendations for protein. OR completely remove the %DV fat.

Changes to the %DV of nutrients – LIKE BUT CONFUSING! – I applaud Health Canada for lowering the daily recommended intake for sodium from 2400 mg to 2300 mg (some health professionals might argue that the recommendation should even be as low as 1500 mg) and for increasing the daily recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D from 200 mcg to 800 mcg. But here’s the confusing part. The 800 mcg amount of vitamin D is the recommended daily amount for a 70+ year old adult. The proposed new calcium %DV of 1300 mg on the other hand is based on the needs of a growing teenager, and the proposed new iron %DV at 18 mg is based on the needs of a woman in her child-bearing years.
Wish list: How about basing the %DV for these nutrients on the needs of an average adult who’s eating 2000 calories. That’s what it is now. Why are we making it more confusing for consumers?

Sugars grouped together in the ingredients list – LIKE – I agree that all sugars should be listed together. However, I wondered why “Added sugars” was not added to the proposed new nutrition label. Health Canada tells me that not many foods would have a different value for “Total sugars” and “Added sugars”, and that the ingredients list could help consumers determine how much added sugar is in the food.
Wish list: We break down saturated and trans fat under the “Total fat” category. We should do the same for “Total sugars” and “Added sugars”.

Cholesterol on the nutrition label – DISLIKE –
We know that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have as much impact on our blood cholesterol as we once thought. Do we need to label the cholesterol content of a food anymore?
Wish list: Nix the cholesterol. Use the space on the food label to put back “Added sugars”

Vegetable and fruit health claim – LIKE – Vegetables and fruit don’t need a Nutrition Facts table and can state the claim “A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Yes, finally!
Wish list: Tell us if/how processed vegetables and fruit can carry this health claim on their packaging.

I encourage you to send your comments too by August 26, 2015. You can email or fax your comments. For more info, see Health Canada Consultation on Proposed Food Label Changes.

Would you pass the breakfast test?


In a recent TV interview with CBC National News, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting award-nominated journalist Heather Hiscox and rate her favourite morning meal. As the anchor for the national morning news, Heather starts her day at 5:30 am with “a handful of Shredded Wheat, some bran buds, half a banana and 2% milk.” It’s been her breakfast for the past ten years, and it tides her for at least four hours.

In rating her breakfast, I used the following five-point criteria:
1. Variety – does the breakfast contain foods from at least three of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide? Bonus points if veggies are included at breakfast!
2. Fibre – is there at least 4 grams of fibre?
3. Protein – is there about 20 grams or more protein?
4. Healthy fats – do any of the foods provide healthy fats?
5. Whole grains – are the choices whole grain?

So did Heather pass the breakfast test? Well, her breakfast included foods from three food groups; the meal contained at least 4 grams of fibre, thanks to the cereal and bran; and her cereal choice was a whole grain. When it came to protein though, Heather’s meal was shy of the 20 grams of protein that’s often recommended to help with satiety. Including a sprinkle of nuts or seeds would not only pump up the protein, but also add some healthy fats to the meal.

My overall grade for Heather’s breakfast: A-

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