Unapologetic Expert…Time to Speak UP

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

Canada Day is fast approaching, our 150th, no less. We Canadians are know for being polite, watching our p’s and q’s and for apologizing, “oops, sorry”. We are bombarded with an avalanche of misinformation almost everywhere we turn which has amped up over the decade… big sigh. Whether at the family table, the hair salon, social media or any sort of gathering with fellow humans, life feels like an information battlefield sometimes – one I prefer to retreat from.

Years ago when someone checked out alternative medicine as a last resort when everything else failed, I thought, “Why not, what harm could that do?” But fast forward to today and I know too many people who choose alternate therapies as their first line of treatment then bring in the “trained guns” – doctors, dietitians, for example – those of us who are registered professionals governed by a college to protect the public, when things goes south. Sadly many of us sit by in silence.

Case in point, I visited my neighbourhood salon recently. I asked a simple question “how are you?” and got a long and winding tale. Happy to be an ear, I heard about the plight of my stylist visiting a chiropractor for various ailments. I was told how this person tried various maneuvers, yada yada yada…. I was also told that before starting anything she had to sign a release form “in case I had a stroke or died”. Say what??!! Instead of sitting in silence I decided to politely weigh in. I asked whether her medical doctor requires her do the same thing and noted that if THEY did something wrong they could get their licence revoked, sued or charged. Then I asked “so why did you go in the first place?” and she told me “because it’s covered by my insurance”. Great big sigh.

Well my fellow experts, I say it’s time to break the silence and weigh in on such conversations. When everyone out there claims to be an expert, it’s time for the real experts speak up, unapologetically. You with me??

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Tails of Trails

June 4th, 2017 No Comments Tags: , ,

I have been having meandering thoughts while on meandering walks of late. June 4th marks #NationalHealth & Fitness Day so I felt it was a fitting day to feature this. Let’s keep in mind though that ANY day is perfect to start your own “movement movement” and pay attention to your health and fitness!

Exercise and activity provide a whole lot of benefits. For starters there’s an endorphin boost which can provide that “runner’s high” and lift your mood, decrease stress, ward off depression, boost self esteem while improving sleep to name a few. Fit in moves you enjoy so you will vamoose your caboose more often!

Over the past year I have been lucky to wander along some enthralling paths from Cinque Terre, Italy then Sagres Portugal, then Malta trails to scaling up Table Mountain in Cape Town and then back in Kelowna trekking the Mission Creek Greenway, Kalamoir Park, Paul’s Tomb trail, Myra Canyon trestles and up Mt. Knox – phew. When I reflect on my progress or lack thereof I continue to be a self proclaimed tortoise. It really isn’t getting any easier. I have won no prizes, received no fan fare and at times had my Apple Watch not register the full extent of my moves. Despite that I go forth!

I have had my share of bonding with Mother Nature when walking these picturesque trails. I love how your thoughts get lost in Mother Nature’s glory feeling sand between your toes, admiring lovely wildflowers as the pollen tickles your nose, get shaded by towering pines, inspired by a soaring eagle, feel the power of a river’s rushing water. On this fine day I had a chuckle after hearing a sassy quail’s mocking call outing this city girl as I struggled to catch my breath.

As I rang in the New Year I professed my word of the year to be robust and I stand by that. I decide where my walk will lead me today. With robustness in mind I will snake up a trail even if the incline is a few kilometres up, up and up; boot me to get my weights lifted and mat routine finished; assist me to improve my balance and assist me to overcome my fear of heights.

If activity hasn’t edged into your calendar lately, evaluate how you can find 15 minute here and another there. Surely you can schedule it in. Our bodacious bodies were meant to move! Get your masterful machine moving more often throughout the day each and every day – walk, mosey, sache, samba, climb, dance, shimmy, jog, saunter, run….. Do it for someone who cannot, but do it. There’s really no excuse not to!

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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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