Archive for August, 2015

Follow the Loser – Dining Out…

August 27th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Summer and the fun that comes with it isn’t over yet! I’m sure there is more dining out to come in the near and far future. I thought it would be timely to tap into our successful weight loser logic on strategies they use when eating out.  Continuing on the “successful weight loser” theme written about in July, here are more juicy tips, this time about dining out.

My good friend and colleague Cara Rosenbloom and I conducted a survey on successful weight losers a few years ago. These women provided pearls of wisdom on many aspects of their lives and today the spotlight is on how they approach dining out:

  • I do my homework before I go to the restaurant by looking up nutritional information and decide what I’ll order. This takes the guess work out for when I get there.
  • The portions have gotten out of hand. I either choose something from the kids menu or I just cut my plate in half and eat that portion only, bringing the rest home.
  • I eat lighter during the day. If I’ve over-indulged, I try and cut back the next day, and increase my activity level.
  • If there’s wine at the meal, I have a spritzer first, or alternate drinks with sparkling water. I choose to spend the calories on the food rather than the beverages. If I do choose to have wine, I’ll begin drinking it after the food arrives.
  • I have found that because I have maintained my weight for about 6 years now, that I don’t have to think about controlling my appetite. I use strategies that have become second nature to me such as make sure to put down my fork and talk to the company I am with.
  • I stop and monitor if I am hungry and decide if I will continue eating or not.
  • I box up any extra food left and take home for someone else to eat, or for my lunch the next day.
  • I am watchful of portion sizes. I don’t mind asking for a container to take the remainder home.
  • Serving size is my biggest challenge. I try to eat slowly and talk lots!
  • I try to take an extra walk during the day. I am to eat less and keep busy during the day , plus I drink lots of water.
  • I wear a fitted waistband!
  • I try to avoid being overly hungry for the meal. I’ll eat something before I leave home like a piece of fruit, or some yogurt, or even some bean salad so it will stay in your system for a while. So if I’m not that hungry I’ll eat less.

If you’re eating out way more than usual, paying attention to the finer details will surely help you manage keeping a handle on your handles and your weight more effectively while getting maximal enjoyment from eating out.

Check out Chapter 9 in my ebook Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books with an array of tips and tricks for “Facing Routine Curveballs and Challenges” that everyday life brings. Cheers!

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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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Snap Back to Normal Post Vacation

August 13th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Who doesn’t love a vacation? The readjustment once you return home isn’t for the faint of heart though. After you’ve clicked the heels of your proverbial ruby slippers it’s time to hit the ground running after being in la la land – don’t you think? Gone are the breakfast buffets, lunch choices galore and over flowing glasses of wine. You can still hear Billy Joel sing “..bottle of white, bottle of red..” Time to change the tune; we will overcome!

Vamoose Your Caboose – My most important rule of thumb is to vamoose yourself back into your pre-vacay eating and activity routine and FAST. Porridge anyone? Though get thee to the grocery store to stock up on a multitude of healthy choices STAT. Bye bye truffles on your pillow, a fond and tasty farewell.

Ignore the Gypsy Music – It is also imperative to be mindful of the grumbling games your stomach will be making. Don’t confuse this gypsy music as hunger, but from overeating day after day. Yes folks reality bites! I usually find it takes a few days to get my tummy stretch receptors back to normal by eating smaller amounts. Ensure half your plate is fruits and veggies at every meal and stick with water as your go-to beverage. Be patient and tune out the grumbling.

Bend, Stretch & Move – It’s also time to to blow the dust off your mat and weights and resume your full array of exercises with GUSTO. I’ll confess that sometimes when I’m away the only sit up I’ve done is rolling out of bed in the morning. Time to feel the burn by reigniting your routine.

Is a Cleanse On your Mind? – Some people wonder if a GI cleanse is in order. Hmmmm good question. The only maneuver like that I’d recommend is booking your colonoscopy if you haven’t scheduled it. Other than that your own liver and kidneys will do the job for you while you load up on fresh produce, home cooking and water.

Here’s a little rhyme on the topic….

A mound of laundry
A pile of mail
My porridge bowl
And bread gone stale

A grocery list
In need of stuff
The long flight home
Now enough is enough!

A dinner offering
Not paired with wine
Back to my walk
When the morning sun shines

Time-change adjustment
Need a fast switch
My mat and weights
I’m feeling the itch

It’s great to travel
Love a change of scene
But snap back to normal
With your trusty routine!

Really though, there’s no place like home…..

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin', Rhyme Time!, Successful Loser Logic | 2 Comments »

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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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Nutrition News, Policy for the People, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »