Archive for the ‘Policy for the People’ Category

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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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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Does the Food Guide make my butt get fat?

April 8th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have heard the debate about Canada’s Food Guide and whether it’s causing obesity. My initial thought about this (or any guide for that matter) is to remind myself that this tool is a guide. It is not a diet plan. It is not a prescription. It is not a meal plan. It’s a guide. A guide needs to be used like a guide, you know for guidance. The Apple dictionary’s definition of “guide” is “a thing that helps someone to form an opinion or make a decision or calculation”. If you want it customized for you, then make an appointment with a dietitian to make sense of it.

If you have ever created a nutrition-related handout for a subset of the population, it inevitably morphs into a more daunting task with the many permutations and combinations of considerations even if it’s intended for the most homogenous group of people. I like to remind myself that Canada’s Food Guide was created for over 30 million Canadians from the age of 2 years old and up, while the Food Pyramid in the US was created for over 300 million Americans. How different is its application in one household, let alone on one city block, yet this guide was designed for most of us from coast to coast to coast.

Put that nutritional nugget in your noodle folks. One food guide created for different ages and stages: growing children from toddlers to teens, adults aging, an array of cultures with varying beliefs and practices, likes and dislikes, living in urban or rural areas with different food availability, activity levels and more. I sometimes wonder why governments even go to such great lengths to create such guides. They are perfect fodder for the media, that I’m sure we can all agree on because inevitably there’ll be a nuance (or 10) someone doesn’t agree with….

I was surprised by the seemingly collective buy-in of Brazil’s Food Guide. For simplicity sake “The Brazilian” is broken down into 10 steps, as follows:

  1. Prepare meals using fresh and staple foods
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-eat food and drink products
  4. Eat at regular mealtimes and pay attention to your food instead of multitasking
  5. Eat with others whenever possible
  6. Buy food in shops and markets that offer a variety of fresh foods
  7. Develop, practise, share and enjoy your skills in food prep and cooking
  8. Decide as a family to share cooking responsibilities and dedicate enough time for healthy meals
  9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes. Avoid fast food chains.
  10. Be critical of food-industry advertising.

Headlines touted its simplicity with marvel and applause. It felt like a good start to me but I experienced that “good from far, but far from good” feeling, niggling in my gut. In fact, I had one of those “Emperors New Clothes” moments. Over the years I have helped people make sense of many kinds of diets and guidelines. I feel that if I was counseling someone using The Brazilian guide I’d face some push back because inevitably the overwhelmed client will look me straight in the eye and say “That’s all well and good, but what am I supposed to eat?” Consumers, especially the shoppers in the family, demand details!

I have written about and strongly believe that we should do all that the Brazilian guide outlines. I have articulated many times that HOW you eat is as important as WHAT you eat. But at some point a Food Guide needs to map out what and how much food to eat so the user isn’t groping in the dark. One of the things this guide is lacking is well, guidance on that. It reads more like a proclamation than a guide and could be considered the “Brazilian Food Commandments” of sorts! Consumers need specifics about food choice and serving sizes to ensure nutritional balance is achieved. If it doesn’t I’ll wager there’ll be another food-related epidemic looming right around the corner.

Perhaps we need to step back and figure out who is actually using this tool and how they interpret it. We certainly do live in different times. Alas, undertaking the redevelopment of this may be passé given current issues that have leached through our culture.

Back to the original question: does the food guide make my butt get fat? I have heard Dr. Diane Finegood make this exclamation many times about obesity “It isn’t rocket science. It’s more complex!” There are plenty of potential causative factors, such as:

• highly processed, cheap food being available everywhere you look
• the emergence of mindless eating
• eating patterns that have morphed with the insurgence of snacking
• eating out and using convenience foods have become routine
• serving sizes, food packages and dinner ware have burgeoned
• the proliferation of calorie laden beverages lining miles of aisles at the grocery store
• product reformulation to tantalize consumers bliss point making some highly processed, low nutrient dense food addictive
• cooking skills have done a disappearing act in people’s repertoire while traditional family recipe use is fading
• the rise of celebrity endorsed unscientific diets, products, fads, cleanses and supplements have infiltrated people’s lives like a bad boyfriend you can’t dump
• consumers adopting freakish foodie foible eccentricities and proclaiming them like a cult
• the built environment with the expansion of suburbia
• insidious marketing strategies that have permeated our lives
• featuring the “food demon du jour” by media adding to consumer fear and confusion
• society’s inception of the “busy contest” often resulting in a heightened degree of stress with negative metabolic consequences for some
• the multitude of everyday energy saving conveniences
• then there’s that other global epidemic, sitting disease.

Big sigh. Somehow it would seem the movie Wal-ii is coming true in technicolour…. good grief.

After considering this laundry of issues, somehow the aged and rusty Food Guide seems like it’s the least of consumers’ worries in the obesity department. Perhaps future iterations need to come with a consultation with an RD Life Coach and a side order of The Brazilian. Food for thought…

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As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum…”

October 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We have all heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This saying came to mind recently when the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s press release exclaimed “Cut the crap!” They revisited their nutritional recommendations for a healthy heart and slightly shifted their position suggesting we eat more whole foods and less highly processed, low nutrient junk food, AKA “crap”! How wise is that? Very!

Well, well, well, what a breath of fresh air these well thought out, new recommendations are for everyone! Over the past decades the masses have complicated matters of the heart and the diet, transforming the innocent act of eating into such a complicated affair. We got to focusing too much on micronutrients, while losing the essence and joy of food and eating somehow. It’s time to put “the bread” back into “breaking bread together”!

I am not proclaiming that nutrients in the food don’t matter. Our masterful machines – our bodacious bodies need all nutrients to function optimally. Changing our focus to one overarching goal – to consume mostly whole foods in a balanced fashion, is sage advise. Aiming to cook these whole foods at home more often can be life changing and for some life saving.

Instead of needing to remember a wide array of complicated food and nutrition rules – “…more of this, less of that, this percentage of the other… ” you simply have to ask yourself, “Is this a whole food or not?” When you look in your fridge, freezer, pantry and grocery list you can easily see if you are on the right track. Make small changes to move in the direction of eating whole foods more often in balanced proportions.

A few weeks back I made a vat of tomato eggplant sauce and froze it in smaller containers. Last week I made a lasagne with ground beef & mushrooms, spinach & ricotta and noodles using that trusty tomato sauce. This week I assembled this cinchy dinner of smoked salmon & brie, whole grain bread with a side salad. Next week I plan to create some calzones and dip them into my tomato sauce. Trust me, I am no Julia Childs and approach this to make food prep as easy and enjoyable as possible.

It’s helpful to take stock of your whole food enjoyment right now. If you have been falling short during this harvest season get a move on to your grocery store or market and load up.

Because it’s true, the whole IS greater than the sum of its parts. Eating more home-prepared, whole foods is better for you than consuming your nutrients from a bottle or elixir and following a plethora of illogical food rules, don’t you think?

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Heir Condition – Food Labels & Kids’ Food

August 18th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , ,

Well folks, this will be my final instalment about food product labels for a while. By now you are well aware that the deadline to submit your comments about Health Canada’s latest proposal for food labels is August 26, 2015. I trust you will weigh in with your valued feedback given how rare this opportunity is. I weighed in about my initial thoughts a while back then again a few weeks ago discussing the need for clear information for added sugar and rethinking their portion size plan, ending my post encouraging you to “…weigh in for the betterment of our health and for generations to come.”

I have done more thinking on this from the perspective of new parents purchasing food for infants, toddlers and children. You may know I used to be a paediatric dietitian at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. You don’t yet know I’m about to become a great aunt. I had the opportunity to catch up at a family gathering recently with my nephew and his wife Surf and Nature Girl. They have a bun in the oven due as they celebrate 5 years of marriage. This little fireball will be part Irish, part Scottish and part Italian, codename Pancetta(o). This gives me a new reason to view this topic from a new and very important perspective with our baby on my mind, hmmmmm.

I took another look at Health Canada’s food label proposal and realized that toddler foods do not have to list industrial trans fat. We know unequivocally that industrial trans fat is bad for every Canadian especially kids. In addition, I stand by my comments about needing added sugar to be on its own line of the Nutrition Facts table. While grocery shopping this past weekend, I decided to do some label sleuthing with my trusty iPhone camera of some of the infant and toddler foods.

I found some interesting sounding products from “Mother Hen”, “Love Child Organics”, “Baby Gourmet” and that trusty “Heinz” that I was raised on before being fed my Mom’s famous meatballs.

Brooding Over Baby Food
I assumed the most benign product would have been the Heinz Peaches meant for babies. Sadly I was dead wrong. In a 4.5 ounce bottle, those peaches were 100 calories with 25 grams of sugar. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Because the added sugar does not have its own line on the panel (nor will it, if this Health Canada proposal goes through). I was left wondering why these numbers were so high for such a simple food.

I then sleuthed the internet for the nutritional info for a fresh peach of a similar size and volume. I found that 1 medium peach (150 grams) has 59 calories with 13 grams of natural sugar. This must mean that 3 teaspoons of added sugar was in that jar of peaches. This folks, is meant for babies. Keep in mind the benchmark recommendation of added sugar for MEN is 6-12 teaspoons/day. Good grief….

Toddler Hack Snacks
I did more meandering around the grocery store and found some “First Food Organics” yogurt yums for kids 12 months or older. “Organic sugar” was the 4th ingredient on the ingredient list. The noted serving size was 7 grams with the total sugar being 4 grams/serving. This might seem low, but over 50% of each serving is sugar. How much added sugar is in this product? It’s impossible to know. Again parents would benefit from seeing an added sugar line on the label, don’t you think?

The Happy Meal is Making Me Sad
Once I got home and put my groceries away I decided to do more nutritional number sleuthing. This time I surfed on the McDonald’s website looking at their meal for kids, namely the Happy Meal. But you might be asking, isn’t this blog post on food product labels for packaged foods? And my answer would be YES. Yes, but I like to remind consumers that only half of our food supply is mandated to have the nutritional information available for consumers which includes packaged goods. Food sold at fast food outlets are NOT mandated to have this information readily available. So may I remind you as a consumer that we should be demanding this information for ALL of the food we consume – packaged goods AND fast food.

Nothing makes me more sad than tallying up this Happy Meal combo. This included a cheeseburger, small fries, root beer and strawberry yogurt tube your little McNugget will consume 670 calories, 23 grams fat, 930mg sodium and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons). Younger kids who consume this food far surpass what they should be eating of negative nutrients.

This cheap meal is targeted at kids yet provides a gut buster full of negative nutrients that parents can’t readily find out about. If parents knew better they would do better. Like I always say “awareness is bliss.” I’m sure by now this Happy Meal is no longer making you smile.

What to do? What to do? What to do?
There’s still time to weigh in to the Gazette 1 process, as the deadline looms closer – August 26, 2015. If you agree with me, tell Health Canada you want to know how much added sugar is in products you’re considering purchasing. Tell Health Canada you demand to know the deadly industrial trans fat in your food especially those made for your toddler. And for all of our sake tell Health Canada you want to know the same information of what’s in packaged foods as fast food. Exercise your right to speak up. Our new baby and all kids deserve better!

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Tabling the Food Label, Time to Weigh In

August 5th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Anyone who has followed me on T & T and read my book has heard me proclaim “awareness is bliss” many times. Having a deeper knowledge of what’s in your food whether it be packaged goods or restaurant food is essential when you’re trying to eat better or get a handle on your handles. In fact in Chapter 7 of Skinny on Slim I suggest fab 4 (not 44) changes to make with your diet. Getting in the habit of reading food labels is one of the fab 4 suggestions.

A mammoth study was conducted at Washington University looking at people’s label-reading habits and their impact on weight loss and weight control. They found that subjects who lost the greatest amount of weight habitually read the Nutrition Facts table on food products. This shows us that knowledge is power – we do better when we know better.

You may recall that Health Canada surveyed Canadians about food label proposed changes last year that I generally agreed with. However this year they revised what they proposed on the food label. This will go to Gazette 1 with a comment period by August 26, 2015. I was rather blunt with my feedback on these latest suggested changes in my post entitled “Proposed Food Label Changes: Good from Far but Far from Good!” It is rare for Health Canada to make such sweeping changes to the label, you’d think there was an election coming… Food labels can be consumers best friend by providing an array of important nutritional information, so I take this opportunity to weigh in very seriously and I hope you do too.

In short I do not agree with two aspects of their proposal:

Getting Wise with the Serving Size?
Health Canada is proposing to standardize the serving size on the label. When it comes to comparing nutritional information of similar products, this makes things a lot easier for consumers – I agree with that aspect of their proposal. What I am concerned about is that they’re basing servings on usual intakes. Usual intakes of whom you ask, well that would be usual intakes of men. I have 2 problems with this maneuver. The first is the fact that in general (aside from teenage boys and athletes) men’s requirements are higher than the rest of the population. This would miscue more than half of the population of Canadians, a majority of whom are already overweight or obese. Next, more than 60% of Canadians are either overweight or obese so it is my assumption that they’re eating more than they should, so making this change would display usual intakes of men, a majority of whom are eating too much. This makes no sense to me whatsoever.

I feel dismayed at times that we already have an obesity epidemic and diabetes epidemic on our hands and I become very concerned what this change of serving size (if it goes through) would do for public health. What is your interpretation of what a proposed standardized serving size mean to you? Consumer perception is key. Other experts I know feel these usual intake estimations are too large and worry as well. It’s vital we all weigh in during this process, make your voice heard and take part!

Proposal of Sugar Hits a Sour Note
One of the suggestions was around added sugar so consumers could ascertain how much is in a product. You probably already heard that many notable health organizations such as the WHO and Heart & Stroke Foundation have made public recommendations to encourage consumers to eat less added sugar. The old adage “a sugar is a sugar is a sugar” no longer applies due to the alarm bells sounding on added sugar.

This iteration of Health Canada’s label proposal did NOT include displaying added sugar on a separate line on the label, when last year they suggested it. This one change would make it easy for consumers to know this info. When so many highly respected groups are cautioning us to reduce this, why would Health Canada not be taking the guess work out by simply listing it? Their current recommended change on the label makes it even more confusing to figure out how much added sugar is in a product. What’s your take on it?

It Takes A Village…
So folks DO take the time to weigh in prior to the August 26, 2015 deadline of what YOU think of this iteration of what is being proposed on food product labels. It can take a village or a country to weigh in for the betterment of our health and for generations to come.
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Proposed Food Label Changes – Good From Far BUT Far From Good

June 12th, 2015 1 Comment Tags: , , ,

Mandatory food product labelling in Canada was introduced many years ago. At a glance the Nutrition Facts panel and Ingredient List allow consumers to learn about what’s in the food they choose. Not all countries have mandatory food package labelling, so I feel lucky that Canada has this. Spoiler Alert! …. this information is still needed for restaurant food given consumers are eating out more than ever mounting a significant proportion of our intake. I have written in my ebook and this blog that awareness is bliss, simply put, people will do better when they know better.

The Nutrition Facts table has come under much scrutiny as it potentially confuses consumers. There was a public consultation on this last year and today Health Canada has announced this Canada Gazette 1 proposal of changes to the label. There is a 75 day response period where Canadians can provide comments on their proposal before it goes to the Canada Gazette 2 stage.

As I sat to pen my thoughts on Health Canada’s proposed changes to the food label, the skies became dark, thunder rumbled and rain teemed down. Here’s an overview of the main proposed changes that I feel Canadians really care about outlined in Dietitians of Canada’s press release:

  • Mandatory standardized serving sizes for the Nutrition Facts table
  • Improved legibility of the Ingredients list on the label with consistent placement for allergen information
  • Sugars grouped together in the Ingredient list plus a %Daily Value for total sugars in the Nutrition Facts table
  • Updated % Daily Values to reflect the most recent nutrient recommendations
  • An exemption for requiring a Nutrition Facts table on pre-packaged vegetables and fruits before making a Health Claim

Here are my preliminary thoughts:

Uniform Serving Size
Standardizing serving sizes is a great idea. This will make comparing various brands easier. I cannot stress enough, though, that we need to get this right.  We live in an era with multiple health epidemics – namely obesity and diabetes. If Health Canada rounds UP the sizes too much I fret what message this will give to consumers about diet quantity. I was at the Dietitians of Canada conference last week and an RD friend and colleague of mind said the company she works for is worried about this as some of the proposed serving sizes are too large. When big food industry is worried, then I become increasingly worried….

Sour About Sugar Labelling
In last year’s consultation with Canadians the notion of having an extra line on the Nutrition Facts table to highlight added sugar was a fabulous idea. Sadly though, this did not make the cut in today’s recommendation. What they have proposed appears more confusing to me as an RD and probably to consumers at large.

Firstly, cutting back on added sugar has been raised as an issue by none other than the World Health Organization and the Heart & Stroke Foundation suggesting no more than 6-12 teaspoons of added sugar daily. Our current labels AND the proposed labels make it impossible to discern the amount of added sugar in any product.

Right now the ingredient list positions ingredients from most to least by weight. Consumers can review that to get an idea what the product is made of. In terms of sugars in various forms they are scattered among the list based on amounts. What has been proposed is to group them all together in a bracket in the list. That is all fine and good to do this but consumers still don’t know how much added sugar is actually in the product. I fret for a product like milk which has natural lactose that people might cut back because they’re not really sure.

Also, adding a % Daily Value after sugar on the panel sends me the message “…that although 15% might be deemed as “a lot” I can have more to make it to 100%…” when this is the last thing we want consumers to think. If consumers are told simply by WHO and HSF to eat no more than 6-12 teaspoons of added sugar each day throw them a bone and help them discern this without the need to play Where’s Waldo? making it impossible to figure out. At least in Where’s Waldo? you can eventually find him, on the label you have no clue whatsoever….

What Can YOU DO?
Take advantage of the comment period and weigh in on these recommendations by August 26, 2015 when our window of opportunity closes. Don’t lose heart!

I love our country but it’s times like these I find myself saying “OH Cana-DUH”! Let’s get this right, shall we?

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Don’t Mess with the Machine… Especially a Baby’s!

November 27th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , ,

I wrote a blog post recently exclaiming NOT to – mess with the machine… your bodacious body, that is! I devoted an entire chapter in my e-book Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books generally explaining how the body works with the hope of convincing readers NOT to mess with biological and physiological principles or with Mother Nature in general. There certainly could be dire consequences.

It drives me nuts when people will treat their tech toys and muscle machines with greater care than their own unique being by trying crazy diets, pills or potions, some purchased off the internet. My hair stands on end when certain practitioners preach wonky methods to innocent consumers who are seeking nutrition nirvana in our complicated world.

I was really seeing red though when I read about the latest trend of well-meaning parents who opt out of breast feeding, looking to make their own batch of infant formula at home instead of using those commercially available. Good grief in spades. I spent my first 10 years of being a dietitian specializing and practicing in the paediatrics arena at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, so I know of what I preach.

I cannot stress boldly enough that the nutritional needs of infants are so highly specialized compound with how fragile babies are biologically, immunologically and physiologically. I understand deeply when parents’ want to provide the best for their families whether though supporting organic, local, and balk commercialism etc. But do understand the hugely regulated and controlled environment of the infant formula sector – one sector providing Mother Nature’s human milk replacement – infant formula. As a consumer, you may want to use as few packaged foods as possible – I get that. But this is one specialized class of food developed for infants that needs to be precise every single feed of every single day of your precious baby’s life. Concocting a CONSISTENT and SAFE replacement for breast milk is no small feat. It is one not to muddle with in your kitchen from basic ingredients.

This is not any usual rant folks and has nothing to do with supporting commercial infant formula but has everything to do with supporting the well being of infants. This is a plea to all parents: if you cannot or choose not to breast feed your baby, use infant formula that is commercially available knowing when you follow the directions it will be CONSISTENT and SAFE every single feed of every single day of your precious baby’s life you choose to use it. Their life and well being depend on it. May I proclaim again: Don’t mess with the machine, especially a baby’s!

And please, spread the word.

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Posted in Foodie Fundamentals, Francy Rants, Nutrition News, Policy for the People | 2 Comments »

Awareness is Bliss on Menu Labelling, Headway to Enlightenment

November 26th, 2014 3 Comments Tags: , , , ,

Did you hear that the FDA announced new requirements of chain restaurants, movie theatres and pizza parlours to post calories on their menus of their food and drink offerings? Did you hear the alleluia chorus that followed, “fa la la la la, la la la la”?! That’s a little something more to be thankful for this US Thanksgiving week.

In Canada and the US consumers have been accustomed to having access to the ingredient and nutritional information on food package labels for more than a decade. You might have heard about plans to improve this back in July. This information needs to be available for consumers for ALL food they access whether from a food package or a fast food outlet. Don’t you think?

Data shows that consumers now eat out more and more. About a third of the calories consumed come from outside of the home. That’s a significant proportion of energy eaten blindly without a clue of what’s in it.

I have written many times and explain in my ebook Skinny on Slim The Little Black Dress of Diet Books that awareness is bliss. When we know better we do better. I have been in line in a coffee shop in the US and changed my order because I didn’t realize how energy dense the choice I was about to make was. Consumers deserve to know. On the flip side, it has been shown that restaurant outlets will reformulate their products when they need to reveal these nutritional nuggets to the world, hmmmm.

I strongly believe that just fessing up to the calories in offerings is not good enough. They need to disclose the SAME information the food package industry has provided us for years. Revealing the calories is the first step down a long road to consumer enlightenment. In this era of technology why not create an app for that!

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Policy for the People, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | 3 Comments »