Archive for the ‘Edit-Storial By A Foodie’ Category

Clean UP on Aisle 3!

July 13th, 2015 No Comments Tags: ,

Did you read the article that appeared in the Globe & Mail last week about nutrition experts on staff in grocery stores? The writer made a boo boo lumping unregulated nutritionists together with Registered Dietitians while asking the question “…is their advice hurting more than helping?” hmmmm. It sparked a flurry of chatter among my fellow RD nutrition expert compadres. Truth be told, I had a case of indigestion reading it while trying to enjoy my breakfast. I have done my share of pondering, now it’s time to weigh in…

I cannot think of a more brilliant concept than having nutrition experts – Registered Dietitians in the grocery store setting, bravo! It’s the one place where the rubber meets the road to support optimal food choice propping up the health and well being of you and your family. Many times have I spied customers who look bewildered comparing products trying to figure out which choice is better.

I love the Metro “My Healthy Plate” program with a smile-symbol system right on the product shelves denoting what’s good and what’s better of the rows of offerings. It’s a solid scheme based on current scientific criteria mapped out by a team of sharp-minded dietitians. This system takes the guess-work out of grocery shopping by helping you make better food choices in every aisle of the grocery store. All of the nutrition figuring has been done for you, simply grab and go.

I get my knickers in a knot when unregulated nutritionists with healthy sounding titles promote unproven concepts tied to herbals, supplements, high priced organics and gluten free for non-celiacs. It bothers me to think that innocent consumers, especially seniors are being nudged into spending hard earned dollars on products they don’t need. It is THAT type of advice that is hurting more than helping.

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. These days it seems that every second youthful-looking person is starting their own blog and tweeting all sorts of non-sense. Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example. Just because someone eats, bakes, takes a few courses, watches Dr. Oz and surfs the net doesn’t make them an expert of any kind. If something sounds too good to be true, remember… it is. To spot these imposters I wish you could just listen for that quacking sound, but alas it isn’t that simple.

What I have learned over the years is that young bodies can really take a beating when trying seemingly innocuous products. Beware though, because as we age our magical machine can’t hold up quite as well and things eventually start to break down.

Case in point, I heard a story about a woman who tried a cleanse, limiting her to only drink a high-priced, special elixir to help her find her fountain of youth. After a month on this bevy blaster her hair started falling out. That wasn’t exactly the special side effect she was seeking, good grief. That’s what happens when you don’t deliver all the nutrients your body needs consistently – it eventually breaks down. Unfortunately the wisdom of eating a balanced diet and regular food can seem unsexy and highly underrated when indeed this nugget is truly the Holy Grail… The moral of that story – don’t mess with the machine – your bodacious body, as I have written many times and explain in my ebook, Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

Some nutritionists spew all kinds of folksy stuff. Make sure whoever gives you advice can back up what they’re preaching using scientific evidence and NOT the popular press. If someone tells you “…well back on the farm eons ago everyone ate all ..… blah blah blah blah”. I love a good fairy tail too, but in reality the life expectancy back then was much lower than it is now thanks to the advances in modern medicine.

Listen folks, I am now north of 50 and I’m not talking latitude here, but age. I realize how important it is for me to rely on accredited, well-trained professionals to treat my body right. After all, your body IS your temple. If you want to shop around for different shoes or styles, go for it. But when it comes to your health heed the advice of accredited health professional like Registered Dietitians any time you can get it. The years of training, high standards and demands for them to consistently stay in the know to allow them to be registered by an accredited college to protect the public holds them to a higher standard. Isn’t that what you want? Why settle for anything less?

The next time you go to the grocery store make it a point to ask for a session with a Registered Dietitian. I’d like to hear on the overhead speaker “Call the Dietitian for clean up on aisle 3!”; yes clean up the misconceptions on food and nutrition issues that lurk in every aisle…

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Get Your Game Face ON!

July 9th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Construction… check, gridlock…. check, mannequins…. check, torch lit…. check, well those Pan-Am Games are almost upon us…. double check! Come on folks it’s time to stop complaining and make our inner light shine and plan to take it all in.

I love taking in all things sports. I did some pondering about what this means in our lives, hmmmm. Take the flame for instance. It’s a perfect symbol of motivation as it travels over hills and dales, towering snowcapped mountains and cavernous valleys to the host city. Each day that flame is passed represents that internal glow in our own lives to be better, go further, get stronger, don’t you think?

I chuckled when I did my mat routine recently with weights and flexibility exercises in deep contrast to those buff beach volley-ball players’ routines. I bent and stretched to just touch my toes and lifted those weights tightening my core, cause I too can do just a little bit better. How about you?

I won’t be joining a Viking iron woman team any time soon because tortoises don’t qualify. I will however be more mindful of how I can do my body right one baby step at a time. Maybe I’ll sneak out for an extra stroll at lunch in the day; perhaps I’ll forgo those excessive food offerings at special occasions; how about getting down on my mat an extra day or two in the week to tighten my core or make my lunch with the seasonal fare adorning my fridge. Every positive step in the right direction is a good thing.

Some Pan-Am Game food for thought, that’s for sure. Enjoy watching and ensure you take your routine up a few notches from the inspiration garnered by the athletes.

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Take Me to Your Leader, a Father’s Day Tribute

June 19th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I did some reminiscing about my Dad lately with Father’s Day right around the corner. He’s been such a positive force and stellar role model for me. This applies to all aspects of my life, but of course I’ll focus on the health related part, mostly. It’s a good time to toot his horn and turn the spotlight on my family’s silent soldier. He’s a silent soldier in part due to living in a household with 5 women who barely allowed him to get a word in edgewise…. When I hear about the importance of various family factors resulting in positive health outcomes for kids, it warms my heart to know how lucky I’ve been.

Family MealtimesHe knew about prioritizing what was important in life despite being a busy accountant (and still does). We consistently ate meals together as a family – breakfast and dinner. Fathers can play a very important role in the health of their family by scheduling work accordingly. It was our time to eat a home cooked meal together, catch up on our day and connect.

Family Activities – We learned activities we can all do together – tennis, swimming, badminton and made time to do them.

Leading by Example – He is a master time compartmentalizer even when work was super crazy. He had a very busy job yet always made time for physical activity. He was in good shape and used to jog a few miles a day and play squash. My sister and I took up jogging too, following his lead. We figured if He can do it, we can too!

Showing Tough Love, Setting Limits as a United Front – My Mom and Dad always worked as a team and he supported my Mom with the limit setting. They weren’t our best friends, they were our parents and secure enough not to cross that line.

Encouragement with a Reality Check – My Dad encouraged us to be the best we could be in whatever we chose to do in life. He didn’t flower up reality and would give you the straight goods when you needed it. He expected we get part time jobs and work, save money and pay for what we could. We learned the value of a dollar and not to spend what we didn’t have. All important life skills.

What does all of this have to do with eating and lifestyle… well, everything??!! When your life is properly balanced, wisely prioritized with good examples to follow it’s easier to make sound decisions. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book reflects how my Dad conducted his life naturally.

Thank you Dad for being such an amazing father and role model to me. I kept the family name as a testament of my pride for what you built on our branch of the family tree. You’re the best and I love you bushels full!

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My Mother’s Like No Other…

May 6th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , ,

Well it’s almost Mother’s Day. A day to pay homage to the one woman who brought you into this world. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world – riddled with work, guilt, wonder and more guilt. Mothers are tied to their offspring long after the apron strings have been cut, poor bunnies. Always thinking, hoping, praying did “I do enough?” when it’s evident they have done so in spades.

I did some reflecting on my Mom, like I’m sure you have about yours. I am the youngest sibling of four daughters within five years of age who shared 1 bathroom going through the teenage wormhole. She mastered the art of homemaking as my “at home” mom and is a living saint while my Dad is even saintlier… living under 1 roof with 5 women…but I digress.

One benefit of being the youngest was having a few years of one-on-one time together while the others were at school, just her and me. Whether we were doing household chores, grocery shopping or having some downtime in the afternoon over a movie like Three Faces of Eve we always had fun together. I vividly remember her turning on Jack Lalane on our black and white TV and exercising together along with him “…5 more, 4 more, 3 more…” Sometimes we’d work out listening to Connie Francis swooning on our turntable. She was the one who put a tennis racket in my hand and encouraged me to hit a few balls. This was well before the fitness craze…move over Jane Fonda!

I am very thankful for everything she has done for me to this moment. I am most thankful for the things I didn’t much appreciate way back when – like her setting and keeping limits (“yes, and don’t call me her”), showing us tough love by standing her ground, giving us regular age-appropriate chores like joining in with food preparation, making lunches, clean up and such. She’s a 4’11′ Ninja who knows how to get her point across. I always loved her line “… you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on me!” and she was right. We had unspoken rules like eating breakfast and dinner together as often as possible… and so much more. So many beautiful gifts from my Mother Extraordinaire.

Take the time to show appreciation to your Mom – that one woman who gave you life, opportunity, potential and who will always love you unconditionally. Show it not just on Mother’s Day but everyday of the year.

Thanks for all of the fabulous gifts you’ve given me Mom, I love you.

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Family Table

April 22nd, 2015 4 Comments Tags: , , ,

I’ve been thinking about the importance of the family table lately, hmmmm. A lot is learned there believe it or not. It’s so simple really – it’s an assembly of furniture – table and chairs, usually an overhead light. But set that table, put on some background music and arrange the food, family and friends and you’ve created a dynamic place that’s wonderfully complex.

It’s a time to break bread, literally or figuratively. A time to focus on what’s important. Fill up on food and stories – old and new. Nothing like rehashing the old hash for the umteenth time…

I remember when I was young having dinner at my Grandma’s house on Sevenoaks. Everyone was always welcome. My Mom upheld that same tradition when on some Sunday’s we’d keep making more room, extending the table further for people who were welcome at our family table. My Ukrainian Connection enjoys the same pleasure with many memories at their family table. I love that table scene on The Grinch Who Stole Christmas because it reminds me of the many fond memories of family gatherings around our family table – now at my home, still at my Mom’s, Mother Dearest’s, sisters’ too and of course my Uncle Jay’s…

I was reflecting more deeply about what I have learned through the years:

  • Keep the peace at the family table
  • Share a piece at the family table
  • Make conversation at the family table
  • Try something new at the family table
  • Pitch in around the family table
  • Learn to listen at the family table
  • Show appreciation to the hostess and host at the family table
  • Welcome everyone around the family table

You know there’s a slew of literature touting the benefits of the “family meal” for kids, linking the following which is so compelling (adapted from Dietitians of Canada, Nutrition Month 2014 material):

  • Improved food choices
  • Better nutrient intakes
  • Healthier weights
  • Reduced risk for eating disorders
  • Better social adjustment; and,
  • Improved school performance

If your schedule has gotten the better of you where this family tradition has slipped away you might want to slip it right back into your routine. Make it a priority. I don’t know about you, but after a busy day I need to “find my center”. Well it’s easily found by breaking bread together around the family table.

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Treat Your Body Right, Build a Healthy Lifestyle

February 25th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

When you’re in good health it’s easy to take it for granted. That ability to take on the day like a bull fighter is great. When you’re totally on your game it’s a snap to add more “to-do’s” to your day because you have the time and zest to do them. You embrace your day effortlessly with vim and vigour.

Take a few weeks ago; I joined a special someone on a business trip to Geneva. My down time was spent taking long walks in the old town, along the serene Lake Geneva looking for Shania Twain, meandering near the United Nations building and more. Each evening was spent taking another stroll to and from dinner, not giving walking an extra few miles a second thought. We probably clocked 7 to 11 miles each day to’ing and fro’ing.

Coming home on the plane I sat near a fellow who coughed the entire flight. I was doomed. The next day I succumbed to this year’s flu bug, UG. I truly can’t remember the last time I was so sick. You know the score, high fever, achy muscles, a splitting head ache and left with little energy even to sip water. I turned from a free spirit who could walk 10 miles in a day to a shut in who was winded after shuffling 10 steps, what gives!

It got me thinking about what a blessing good health truly is. During one of my usual daily Twittersphere scans I read a brash tweet that read “I know what’s good for my health and choose NOT to do it.” Hmmmm, I thought how strange it is to deliberately do the opposite of what’s good for me. As I recuperated that week how good it felt to do things that made me feel better. As I tend to say, “don’t mess with the machine!

It was wonderful to regain my energy to bundle up and head out for a daily walk again. It felt great to unravel my mat to bend and stretch and reach for the stars. I also listened attentively to my body’s cues for the whole foods it craved to help whip my systems back into shape – one day I yearned for homemade apple sauce; another homemade soup; then to eggs and toast; to fresh berries and plain Greek-style yogurt. I knew I was really coming around when I pined for ribs!

Establishing a healthy lifestyle is the best gift you can give yourself. Having it helps you be the best you can absolutely be. Your body truly is your temple, so treat it right!

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One Plan to Rule them All?

January 20th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , ,

We all wish that there was one simple plan to guide us to nutritional nirvana, don’t we? If there were, we wouldn’t have a perplexing global obesity epidemic on our hands. You’ve heard that saying “viva la difference”. It’s true, we are all so different, so how can one plan be “it” for all of us. Simply put, it cannot.

1,000 Ways to Do the Same Thing Right – I have learned from counselling numerous families that there are a thousand ways to do the same thing right. When someone tells me they lost weight following Weight Watchers and someone else touts positive results by embracing Bob Greene’s regimen, I say “good for you!”. I believe the essence of success lies in owning whatever plan you choose and superimposing it into your everyday life. It may sound cliche, but it’s true.

The Other Holy Grail - The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) tracks key details of people who have lost weight successfully and kept it off for two years or more; as I tend to call them “successful losers”. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go to Bernie Madoff for financial advise, but would listen to a successful guru like Arlene Dickinson, wouldn’t you? The NWCR found that 45% of their study sample lost weight on their own plan while 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program. As I said, there are many ways of doing the same thing right.

Own It! – If you want my wisdom on what could be helpful for you, be an active participant in whatever you decide to do. If you want an easy-peasy plan, start right where you are and try to move a few small steps for the better, such as trying the 3 x 3. It’s kind of like dietary Snakes and Ladders where you do your best to land on the ladders as you progress! For me, many years ago, I wasn’t willing to “give up” any of my favourite food, but I was willing to work on small behavioural changes bit by bit. Examples included slowing down my eating pace, focusing on my degree of fullness and only having one serving of each type of food at meals (if I wanted seconds and was still hungry I’d have more veggies). I also made a pact that I would commit to a slow weight loss. After all, what’s the rush!

Biology & Physiology Prevail! – The other important element is that whatever regimen you choose, it needs to be in alignment with basic biology. Some people like the sound of a new fangled plan because it’s novel, in vogue and has cache. The last time I checked the fundamentals of biology and physiology, they haven’t changed….. for thousands of years. I’ll break it to you, our bodies need all nutrients consistently to function optimally. Period. Some people gloss over this important fact, yet it is essential to our health and well being. Ensure your plan is balanced nutritionally whatever you choose. Follow the manual and don’t mess with the machine… your bodacious body!

Save the date? NOT! – Also, dash the notion of losing weight by a certain date, occasion or season. Stay in the moment and do the best you can do “just for today”. When we focus on all of our “todays” all of the tomorrow will fall into place sooner or later. If you need a breather and want to work on maintaining for a while, take the time and do this the last time… ever!

Follow the Loser! – Check out the National Weight Control Registry for more information and learn from those who have succeeded already. It’s a perfect place to start! If you want some reinforcements, check out my ebook Skinny On Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

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Go Team…. Team Darko’s Best Tournament Yet!

August 25th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Another year has come and gone. That special nephew of mine who’s part of Team Darko organized an even bigger and more successful fund raiser golf event in memory of their fave fab university friend Darko. They pulled up again in their party bus but it was all business as they raised more funds for the Miracle Network.

Mother Nature was threatening rain but lost her battle as the sun peered through the clouds and the butterflies fluttered about while everyone finished the final 9 holes. More teams than ever signed up, played and donated for such a worthy cause.

Can I be more proud of these twenty somethings who seem like they can run this event with their eyes closed and their hearts wide open? I don’t think so! It warmed my heart to see so many people take part from near and far. It was terrific to see these kids form families of their own as they grow in number as the circle of life turns. With these types taking charge our future is bright as they lead our society as our new “We Generation”.

Thanks Team Darko for inspiring me, yet again, this fine summer’s weekend. I salute you all. And remember “No giving up EVER!” DD

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Genie Out of a Bottle

July 7th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Genie Bouchard is my inspiration for this fine Monday motivation. I’m sure she’s yours too! The Wimbledon fortnight was topped off with Genie in the ladies final, Vasek Pospisil winning the men’s doubles final, while Milos Raonic was in the men’s semi’s. How uncharacteristically, unapologetically Canadian with the red and white splattered on the various draw sheets. You see, I grew up playing competitive tennis (a different brand of course) so my household’s interest was piqued this fine weekend.

I loved the display of confidence, finesse, strength and determination sprinkled with polite classiness out on centre court. There is more that goes into 1 match than you can ever imagine. The hours of practice, training, commitment, family support and mental workouts to reach that point and continue to rise like a sphinx from clay dust is astounding. It got me thinking about each and every one of us. Most not professional athletes (or even close) but each with a little bit of Genie bottled up inside of us ready to splurt out, hmmmmmm.

Even though I retired my racket some time ago, my exercise routine has morphed over the decades. I did my best way back when but my frame was no longer able to endure that side-to-side, up-and-back play so I have subbed in an activity repertoire that fits my age, lifestyle, helps my flexibility, strength and fitness which I commit to each and every season of the year. In my ebook Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books I talk about building a love affair with activity and exercise, that I speak of first hand. How’s your relationship with your routine shaping up this summer?

Our bodies were meant to move. So if you’ve been a winning spectator lately watching more soccer, tennis, football, baseball and the like than getting outside to play yourself, unleash your inner Genie and make a pact to get and keep moving today and every day.

And to Genie, Milos and Vasek, thanks for being such fabulous role models and inspirations to us all. You’re world-class winners in my book, eh!

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The Dr. Oz Cause! Snakeoil or the Real Deal??

June 18th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , ,

The twitter sphere was chirping about Dr. Oz’s grilling by a senate subcommittee. It got me mulling all of this over, hmmmm. The crux of the offensive dissed his use of the term “miracle” when featuring any new products on his show. I get steaming mad when experts use this approach and even more irate when consumers fall for them looking for fairy dust to solve a problem when there is none. Instead of boring you with those gory details, let’s get our head around how to spot a snake oil salesman and how to spot the real deal:

Street Cred – When you hear about any magical claim ask yourself what the credentials are of the source of the information. In this case Dr. Oz is an MD, a heart surgeon to be exact. I have had many “emperor’s new clothes” moments when I’ve heard him talk about an array of topics from clearing nasal congestion to analyzing your poop wondering why in heaven’s name is he going there, he’s not a GP. Experts ought to stick to what they know.

Backed by Evidence – If you are planning to ingest anything into your bodacious body consider why you would do that? Is it backed by scientific evidence, or are there just loose testimonials touting it? “Here ye, here ye, on the topic of weight management if food, activity, eating pattern, behaviour and psychology aren’t part of the equation to solve it, don’t give it another thought!”

How the Body Works – Consider the basics of how your body works. Remember what I often exclaim in my e-book Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books – Don’t mess with the machine if it isn’t in-keeping with basic biology and physiology!!

Turn the Other Cheek & Save Your Moula – Every time you’re tempted to buy a magical remedy put these pennies in a piggy bank and spend it on a reward for yourself as you progress along your course to weight loss success, which I discuss in Chapter 6.

I have been fortunate to work with many fabulous professionals and MD’s in my career, including heart surgeons. It’s a great idea that each know the boundary around which they practice and avoid the fringes. I won’t be making any recommendations as an RD about putting in a stent, I promise!

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