Take your food and nutrition learning to new heights in 2020!

Are you noticing the rising level of misinformation about food and nutrition as we head into the new decade?   Invest in getting the facts straight for your business and yourself! Join leading Dietitian experts Lucia Weiler and Sue Mah at the 13th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course at the University of Toronto on April 28, 2020. We’ll unlock the science behind the power of food to help your business meet the growing consumer demand for healthy foods, and help you eat better for optimal health and wellness.

Credible nutrition information is based on scientific evidence and the practice of nutrition communication is complex. Since 2007, the Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course has supported hundreds of food and beverage professionals across North America.

Make investing in your food and nutrition learning a priority for 2020. We challenge misleading “quick fix” promises and promote credible nutrition science and food education strategies that empower true, long-term health and business benefits. You and your business teams will benefit from the hands-on learning, case studies and innovative sparks.

The 2020 Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course is ideal if you want to:

  • Recognize nutrition fundamentals
  • Discover current nutrition / health trends relevant to your business
  • Maximize the success of your product innovations and nutrition communications

Join us for a day of hands-on learning, networking and knowledge building!

Date:               April 28, 2020
Time:              8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Location:       University of Toronto, 81 St. Mary Street

Thinking about your budget?

Register by Jan 31 to can catch the Early Bird discount and enter the draw for a chance to win a cookbook!

Take advantage of the Past Course Graduate rate or Group rate too.

For more course information, visit our website or contact us.

Healthy Eating for Celebrations

Lucia shares tips on how to navigate the holiday season with mindful eating and nutrition strategies

Do you face holiday food and eating challenges? You’re not alone! Canadians tend to spend more on food and beverages during the holidays. Did you know food and beverage purchase at large retailers go up by about 16% in December compared to other average monthly sales?

This abundance of food in a celebratory environment can be challenging when your plan is to eat healthy. However, there are many ways to enjoy get-togethers and keep up with your healthy eating goals.

Here are some tips to help keep up healthy eating during celebrations:

  • Healthy eating means making a habit of eating a variety of healthy foods each day. During celebrations continue to try eating plenty of vegetables and fruit, whole grain foods and protein foods.
  • Keep an eye on portion size. It’s usually not WHAT you eat but HOW MUCH of a food type you eat that makes a difference. Enjoy all the foods you like and remember to keep treat foods portion sizes small – such as one small piece of dessert or deep fried food.
  • Be choosy in what you eat. Limit the sweets and choose more vegetables. Skip the chips and creamy dips and go for bean dips or hummus instead. Read nutrition fact labels when choosing packaged foods. Check the % Daily Value (DV) and remember 5% or less DV for a nutrient is a little and 15% DV or higher for a nutrient is a lot. Look for foods with LESS saturated fat, sugars and sodium. Choose foods with MORE fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make water your drink of choice.
  • Enjoy celebrations & practice mindful eating. Savour the moment, the flavours and enjoy the get together. Depriving yourself of special holiday or party foods, or feeling guiltily when you do enjoy them is neither a healthy strategy nor part of the spirit of a festive get together. Let go of any food related guilt. Embrace and nurture your relationship with food. Share your love of food – it unites us all!Wishing you happy holidays and joyful celebrations which are wonderful times to bring people together.

Food as Medicine Update 2019: Hot Topics in Nutrition Through the Lifespan

We were delighted to attend the 2019 Food as Medicine Update: Hot topics in nutrition through the lifespan, hosted by the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital on November 15, 2019. This third annual full day symposium for healthcare professionals addressed emerging issues in food and nutrition science that impact chronic disease prevention. Participants considered the role of nutrients, dietary patterns and identified best practices and nutrition policies to promote health. Below we offer a few highlights from some of the speakers.

A special feature of the symposium was the keynote address by Harvard professor Dr. Walter Willett, MD, DrPH on diet and health across the lifespan. Dr. Willett also received an award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to scientific research and education. It was our honour to connect with Dr. Willett and Dr. David Jenkins who is a pioneer of nutrition science research from the University of Toronto.

Image: Lucia and Sue shared good conversations about hot topics with Dr. David Jenkins and Dr Walter Willett at Food as Medicine Update 2019.

“Diet and Health Across the Lifespan” – Dr. Walter Willett

“We are on a path leading to ecological disasters and a sick and unstable global population,” says Willett. The good news is that healthy and sustainable diet is possible by changing the way we eat, improving food production and reducing food waste. Willett highlighted the Eat-Lancet commission’s report which emphasizes the critical role diets play in linking human health and environmental sustainability. Integrating the health of people and the planet through food systems is modeled through the ‘planetary health plate’.

Planetary Health Plate (Image source: Harvard.edu)

Key learnings:

  • People are increasingly concerned about personal well-being and the viability of our planet
  • Eating more plants is better for health & more sustainable for the planet

“What is New with Canada’s Food Guide” – Dr. Alfred Aziz

Dr. Aziz highlighted the new food guide and the impact on public health. The food guide plate has shifted to half vegetables and fruit, one quarter protein and one quarter whole grains. The advice to Canadians is to eat in a pattern promoted by the food guide to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. The new food guide is an online suite of evidence based resources for both health professionals and consumers. Canadians have access to food guide snapshots, videos, recipes and actionable advice.

Key learnings:

  • Explore Canada’s food guide online. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
  • Subscribe to Health Canada’s monthly newsletter to get the latest healthy eating updates.
  • Stay connected on social media for tips you can use. Follow updates on Instagram – @healthycdns, Facebook – Healthy Canadians , Twitter – @govCanHealth.

N4NN TIP: Dietitians tailor the general recommendations of the food guide to suit individual preferences and dietary needs. Seek answers to your food questions from a registered dietitian, the most credible and trusted nutrition professionals.

Image: Lucia and Sue discuss Canada’s New Food Guide with Dr. Alfred Aziz at Food as Medicine Update 2019.

“Sugars and Health: What is the Right Direction for Public Policy?” – Dr. Vasanti Malik

Dr Malik unpacked significant research about the role of sugar sweetened beverages on weight gain and cardiovascular health. This work has influenced dietary guidelines and policies specifically in reducing sugars.

Key learnings:

  • Source of sugars in the diet matters. Consider the different nutritional impact & rate of absorption between sugar sweetened beverages vs juice vs whole fruit.
  • Be mindful of added sugars and sugar sweetened beverages as part of the strategy to improve overall diet quality.

“Update on Pediatric Obesity Management” – Dr. Katherine Morrison.

Dr Morrison shared evidence based practices from the Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University. The presentation helped the audience better understand the tools and language used to support children or youth and their families who face challenges with energy balance which result in health problems.

Key Learnings:

  • Discover root causes of obesity.
  • Come from a place of sensitivity and care.
  • Translate the science into small changes that families can build on and maintain over time. These approaches can lead to health improvements.

“Low Carb versus High Fat: What Does the Evidence Say?” – Dr. John Sievenpiper

After 40 years of ‘low-fat’ dietary advice now carbohydrates are under attack. The ‘Low fat’ paradigm was revisited with a reminder that low fat food does not necessarily mean its low calorie food! Much of the diet policy debate focuses on the importance of reducing sodium, sugars and fat but research about the burden of disease shows that low intake of whole grains may be a higher risk factor for poor health. The paradigm shift may be moving from ‘nutrient based’ (example low fat, low salt etc.) approaches to ‘food and dietary pattern’ based recommendations.

Key Learnings:

  • Promote increased uptake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds as these foods may have a positive effect on health.
  • Provide counselling on a dietary pattern with the most choice that best fits with the individual’s / client’s values, preferences, and treatment goals.
  • Remind clients that adherence is one of the most important determinants for attaining the benefits of any diet.

“Food for Thought: Nutrition, Cognitive Health and the Aging Brain” – Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason

Vegetables, fruit and whole grains are ‘smart carbs’ because they don’t send insulin levels soaring. Phytochemicals found in vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices and can act as antioxidants and are important compounds that support optimal health. Absorption of phytochemicals may be higher if eaten with some fat (e.g. full fat rather than reduced- fat salad dressing). Micronutrient deficiencies play a role in poor brain health. Two common deficiencies may influence cognition – magnesium and vitamin D.
Meals with quickly digested proteins and low in sugars/starch support dopamine neurotransmitter synthesis. This is significant because dopamine plays a big role in brain function for mood, focus, concentration, fine motor skills, word recall and articulation.

Key learnings:

  • Cognition may be enhanced through diet.
  • For optimal brain function during the day. eat 25-35 grams protein at each meal.
  • To keep a steady input of glucose to the brain, swap out starchy carbs for phytochemical rich vegetables and fruit.
  • Consider the benefits of extra micro-nutrient co-factors (such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium and B Vitamins.)

“The Microbiome Questions You’d Like Answered for Patient Issues Across the Lifespan” – Dr. Gregor Reid

Much has been written in recent years about the gut-brain axis. Exciting pilot studies suggest probiotic applications to the gut can reduce anxiety and depression via the vagus nerve. Definition of probiotics is based on tested products from microbiome research. Identifying new strains that provide benefits will change future approaches to health management. Applications may emerge for cardiovascular, urogenital, respiratory, brain, digestive and skin health as well as possible impact across the world’s ecosystems.

Key Learnings:

  • Probiotics are defined as microorganisms proven to produce health benefits.
  • Probiotic therapy is evolving with applications for people’s health and the ecosystem.

“Weeding Through the Evidence: Marijuana and Breastfeeding” – Dr. Rebecca Hoban

Dr. Hoban summarized the science about the use of cannabis during lactation, including the epidemiology and pharmacology of cannabis during lactation and resultant infant exposure. She discussed available evidence of short and long term consequences in infants exposed during breastfeeding and suggested potential recommendations for healthcare providers and families.

Key Learnings:

  • The cannabis conversation is real and important with patients.
  • Cannabis compounds do get into breastmilk and there is limited research on the effect on babies.
  • Breastfeeding moms should be recommended to limit or cease their use of cannabis.

Contact us for comments or questions.

Five healthy eating tips while travelling

When you travel for work or pleasure do you find it tricky to stick to a healthy eating plan? You’re not alone! Most people find it harder to keep up their smart lifestyle choices when away from home. However there are benefits to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while travelling and a healthy diet can help keep up your energy, reduce stress and enjoy your time while travelling for work or pleasure.

We were thrilled to present our Workplace Wellness workshop to executives who really wanted to energize their meeting. Are you travelling for business or pleasure? Check out our Travel Tip Sheet for five dietitians’ tips on how to find good food that will help you stick to a healthy eating plan while away from home.

Travel Tip Sheet

Five ways to help you stick to a healthy eating plan while away from home:

1. Carry on & carry out

Pack some healthy foods, high protein snacks in your bags. Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, or a granola mix are handy snacks to carry on board especially if you are travelling within Canada. When you arrive at your destination, if you can, go to a food market or grocery store to pick up portable traveler friendly foods to carry out to your hotel room. Some examples are nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies, and whole grain crackers. If you have a fridge in your room, yogurt, cheese hard cooked eggs and hummus are healthy options to keep on hand.

2. Drink water

Stay well hydrated and don’t drink your calories. Drink water regularly, which is a calorie free way to quench your thirst. Limit sugary drinks, energy drinks, syrup flavoured hot or cold beverages and alcohol. Calories from these types of drinks can add up quickly and undermine your healthy eating goals.

3. Scope out foodservice options

If you travel for work you may return to the same city regularly. Find a few places you can count on for healthy options and plan your meals there. Check menus online to find your healthy go-to preferences where you travel. In most chain restaurants, calories are listed on the menu which can be helpful to compare meals. Remember it’s not just the total number of calories that count but the quality of the calories matter too. Look for foods with less saturated fat, less sodium and less added sugars.

4. Order mindfully

When eating at a restaurant keep these tips in mind: double up on veggies, avoid deep fried foods and watch portion sizes (keep them small or ask for half portions). Always order sauces on the side so you can decide how much to add. If you’re watching your calories, skip the appetizers and dessert.

5. ENJOY your food choices!

HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat so look for ways to enjoy your food. Improving your eating habits takes time and it can be especially challenging while travelling. Find a few tips that work for you and then build on them as you journey toward making healthier choices while travelling.

Want more tips and insights on building healthier people? Ask a registered dietitian (RD) We are nutrition experts who translate the science and offer life-changing advice for healthy living. Contact us for more information.

Thanksgiving reflection – How I became a dietitian

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Many of you know me as a registered dietitian, food scientist and professional home economist. In my work as leader, teacher and mentor I’m often asked to reflect on my career path. Do you love food? I do! That’s where it all began. My interest in the science of food and nutrition was sparked by my father (Dr. Tibor Heim), who was a researcher exploring the nutrient needs of sick children to help them grow. He discovered much about energy metabolism, types of fats and became a world leader in his field. He also enjoyed cooking and telling stories. I grew up liking family meals, eating what was put on the table and discussing how good nutrition has the power to enhance lives and improve health. At university I was naturally drawn to study nutrition science, and I specialized in food chemistry and microbiology. After rigorous training, I worked as a food scientist and helped ensure that foods sold to Canadians were safe, nutritious and tasted great. Today, I am still driven by the curiosity to understand the science behind food and its connection to health. I now work as an advisor, teacher and speaker with expertise in translating the science of nutrition to help unlock food’s potential and support healthy living. I’m also honoured to serve the dietetic profession as a Director of the Board, Dietitians of Canada and help shape the future of nutrition. I’m looking forward to celebrating food with you and sharing more tasty recipes, hot topics and stories from behind the scenes.

Originally published  by Candian Food Focus