Workplace Wellness – Good Food Builds Healthier People & A Healthier Workplace!

Bigstock

Are you looking for great tips to kickstart your fall? Do you wish you had more energy at work? Since many of us spend eight hours a day – and probably more – at work, let’s make them count for health and wellness!

You may be surprised to hear that eating well on the job could improve your concentration and productivity.  Other benefits of workplace wellness programs include better employee morale, reduced absenteeism and turnover and enhanced recruiting. Squeeze in some professional development before year end and at the same time reset your personal health routines. As dietitians – the food and nutrition experts – we can help!

Why Promote Wellness in the Workplace?

Work site health promotion is an investment in your most important asset: your employees. Surveys show that 87% of employees have personal goals to eat healthier foods; 57% of employees are living with at least one chronic health condition; and 45% of Canadians find it challenging to eat healthy meals / snacks at work.  Since Canadians’ interest in food and health continues to grow leverage this growing demand in your employee-wellness experience.

Three steps you can take to build healthier people and a healthier workplace through good food

The power of food can enhance people’s lives and improve health. Here are three tips to help you and your workplace benefit from the power of food. For more information, contact a Registered Dietitian – Canada’s go to food and nutrition experts.

  1. Fill half your plate with vegetables
    Wherever you are eating, look to fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Divide the rest of your plate equally between protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish, legumes and tofu, and fibre-rich carbohydrate foods like brown rice or other whole grains. This simple visual can help you manage your portions and enjoy a well-balanced meal.
  2. Make water your drink of choice
    Coffee break? You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea to help you wake up in the morning but water is the healthiest beverage choice. If caffeine bothers you, switch to herbal teas or decaffeinated tea or coffee. Be sure to replace sugary drinks with water in your beverage bottle and in the workplace cafeteria and vending machines.
  3. Enjoy a variety of foods and learn more about good nutrition and workplace wellness
    Eating well means living well. Discover more about healthy food and feel more confident in your food choices.  Consider workplace wellness programs that give employees access to dietitians, Canada’s most trusted food and nutrition experts. Here are examples of some popular workplace wellness initiatives that you can implement:        

Lunch ‘n Learn – Health Challenge in Action

Invite a dietitian to kick start a healthy food challenge with employee teams. Engage human resources and your wellness committee to focus on issues most relevant to your team. Perhaps themes like boosting energy or improving relationship with foods might be of interest. Some workplace teams may be ready to tackle key steps to prevent and control diabetes and heart disease. Working with dietitians can reduce health related lost productivity by 64% and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 70%.

Online information sessions about health risks and healthy lifestyle choices

Get up to date on the key areas of nutrition with registered dietitians who translate the science of nutrition and deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Convenient online sessions expose common myths related to nutrition and provide support for healthy living. Topics such as introduction to nutrition, food labelling and healthy eating all have a practical application to work and personal life.

As dietitians we are experts at translating the science to help you navigate through the myths and share trusted advice for healthy eating.  Contact us with your questions! We’re ready to help.

 

Coping with food allergies and sensitivities

Are you concerned about food allergies? You’re not alone since 1-in-2 Canadians know someone with a food allergy – which also means that this condition has broad impact across the country. As a registered dietitian and nutritionist I often get questions about how to manage food allergies and sensitivities to stay safe and eat well. People working in restaurants and other food businesses are also keen to stay up to date and vigilant on this important issue. Here are some top tips to help you get started on coping with food allergies and sensitivities.

What is a food allergy?

A true food allergy triggers the body’s disease fighting system into action. This usually occurs when a food protein or other compound is recognized by the body as a threat. The body releases antibodies and histamine to fight back. Symptoms vary and can involve multiple body systems such as skin, the gut and breathing. While common symptoms include swelling of the lips or tongue, in some people life threatening food allergy reaction called anaphylactic shock can result.

Did you know that only 8 to 10 foods are responsible for 90% of all food allergic reactions? This is why we talk about the top priority allergens. For example normally wholesome foods including eggs, milk, seafood, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soybeans (and soy products) may cause life threatening symptoms in people with allergies. If a food contains a priority allergen this must be shown on the food label.

The most important message to remember is that food allergies can cause serious illness and even death and can’t be taken lightly. The only way to avoid an allergic reaction is to COMPLETELY AVOID the offending allergen. It’s also important to note that cooking or freezing does NOT remove an allergen.

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance implies a negative reaction to a specific food but it DOES NOT involve the immune system. This is an important difference because intolerances and allergies may prompt many of the same symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps,) and food intolerances are often mislabelled as allergies. The symptoms of food intolerance are generally localized in the gut and can be quite painful and uncomfortable, but they are NON – allergic and NOT-DEADLY.

An example of food intolerance is when someone can’t properly digest the sugar in milk due to a lactase deficiency; or can’t tolerate gluten due to celiac disease. Certain foods and spices may trigger cramping, diarrhea or constipation especially in people with irritable bowel syndrome.

Depending on the type of intolerance, many people may be able to eat SMALL amounts of the problem food without unpleasant side effects. In Canada sources of gluten and sulphites must be clearly indicated on food labels.

Living with food allergies and

Living with allergies and food sensitivities can be challenging, stressful and even life-changing for people and their families. Limiting and restricting many foods over time could also affect nutrient intake and may cause deficiencies. This is why nutrition monitoring and education are important for people living with allergies and intolerances. Registered Dietitians are trained health professionals who can help people living with food allergies. Some of the important skills a dietitian can help with include:

  • Identifying troublesome foods and ingredients
  • Reading food labels – what to avoid keeping the reactions at bay
  • Listing food & beverage substitutes to replace the offending food
  • Creating an allergen- friendly diet and meal plan
  • Cooking with recipes that are free of the offending allergen

In foodservice operations dietitians guide and certify professionals in allergy awareness and standards of practice to help chefs provide safe food for people and their families. We work closely with clients to help them navigate the new labelling requirements for food allergies and sensitivities.

As dietitians we are experts at translating the science to help families and food professionals navigate the tricky field of food allergies. Contact us with your questions! We’re ready to help.

Healthy food tips for your game day party

Hey Sports Fans! Are you ready for the big game day party? When you’re gearing up to enjoy a big sports game, food, beverage and fun times come to mind. Whether you’re actually there for the game or just for the fun of the party you can gather ‘round without giving up on your healthy eating plan.

Here are some savvy food tips aligned with the latest recommendations of Canada’s new food guide for you to enjoy food and keep connected to your healthy eating goals.

Boost the veggies

This is the number 1 healthy eating recommendation in Canada’s new food guide.

  • Let veggies take the starring role at your party food platter. Serve lots of colour, crunch
  • Whip up tasty and nutritious dips such as hummus or guacamole.

Choose whole grain foods

Looking for a crunch?

  • Slice up and toast some whole grain fajitas to swap out the chips for a healthier option.
  • Air-popped popcorn is a great whole grain snack and source of dietary fiber. Serve it plain, or try adding different popcorn flavors such as smoked paprika or chili powder.

Get creative with your protein

Are you making crown pleasing party foods such as meatballs or chili?

Drinking

Okay, so it’s a party and alcoholic drinks are on the menu. Simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Canada’s low risk alcohol drinking guidelines for special occasions suggest no more than 3 drinks for women; no more than 4 drinks for men on any single occasion.
  • Set your limits and stick to it.
  • Drink slowly ex 2 drinks in any 3 hr period and have water between alcoholic drinks. Try a flavoured water. Try adding citrus fruit or cucumber slices to fresh tap water for a great flavour booster with zero calories.
  • EAT before and while drinking.
  • Lower the alcohol content of your beverages by making a wine spritzer using 3 oz white wine and 2 oz of carbonated water to keep your head clear during a sports party and to cut back calories too.

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat!

Bottom line – your relationship with food matters more than you might think!

  • Your culture and food traditions are an important part of healthy eating. Relax and enjoy!
  • Stay on track of your healthy eating goals by taking time to eat and following your hunger cues.

Enjoy the game. Go Team Go!

 

Introducing the NEW Canada’s Food Guide!

Today, Federal Minister of Health, Ginette Petitapas Taylor launched the new Canada’s Food Guide. The new Food Guide takes a modern approach to communicating guidance to consumers, health professionals and policy makers. This first suite of resources includes a document Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers, as well as a Food Guide Snapshot.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s new in the Food Guide:

1. Positive key messages for Canadians in a modern format. Key messages are: Eat well. Live well. Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. The new Food Guide delivers healthy eating information in a mobile-friendly web application.

2. Beyond food. Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. The new Food Guide offers advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat. Tips include cooking more often, eating meals with others, being mindful of your eating habits, enjoying your food, limiting foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, using food labels, and being aware of food marketing.

3. Food groupings instead of food groups. Bye bye rainbow and the four food groups. A healthy meal is comprised of a variety of foods from three key food groupings: vegetables and fruits; whole grains; and protein foods. These foods should be consumed regularly.

4. Proportions not portions. There are no recommended servings to eat or serving sizes of food. A plate snapshot of the Food Guide gives at-a-glance information on what to eat. In the plate snapshot, 1/2 the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits; ¼ of the plate is comprised of whole grain foods; and ¼ of the plate is made up of protein foods.

5. Water is the beverage of choice. To help Canadians stay hydrated without adding calories to the diet, water is recommended. Alcoholic beverages are also flagged as potentially adding calories with little to no nutritive value.

The suite of online resources replaces the old “all-in-one” version of the previous Food Guides. Additional consumer resources are expected to be released later this year.

Want to discover more about how to make the Food Guide work for you and your business?

Save the date for our upcoming webinar on The New Canada’s Food Guide – Tuesday, April 16th, 1-2 pm ET. We’ll share:
• The science and rationale behind Canada’s Food Guide
• A closer look at the recommendations and considerations
• How to apply Canada’s Food Guide to your business plans

Can’t wait? Contact us now for an in-house presentation / workshop.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc and Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc
– Co-Founders of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists TM

5 learnings from the Food and Nutrition Forum at The Royal Winter Fair

Lucia at royal 2018

Do you love food and care about how it’s grown, handled and brought to market? We do! As part of staying on top of emerging trends and new research we joined experts in food and nutrition to engage in conversation at the Royal Winter Fair Food and Nutrition Forum. As a Registered Dietitian, Lucia was invited to welcome delegates to a day of learning, getting ‘agricultured’ and celebrating the power of farming, food and nutrition. Inspiring speakers included professors, farmers, authors, dietitians and home economists. Working hand in hand, our passion for wellness and good food united us all!

Here are 5 top learnings from the sessions:

1. Farmers feed Cities
An amazing panel of 3 women farmers shared about their lives and the challenges they face in working on their farms of grain, eggs & beef. Taking care of their land and livestock is a passion and a profession. Their stories showed how deeply they care about the work they do, and how much environmental stewardship matters to each of them. Thank you Jenn Doleman, Tonya Havercamp and Sandra Vos for being the farmers who feed cities!

2. Taking care of the planet
Biodiversity & food production are deeply connected. Dr. Christian Artuso studies grassland birds and found that an important way to preserve their biodiversity is linked to cattle farming. His Grassland Bird studies are part of an award winning conservation movement in South America.

3. Teach Food and Nutrition to Students
Food and nutrition know-how are life skills with significant short and long term benefits. Although healthy lifestyle is a trend, it’s evident that many of today’s young Canadians lack even the most basic food preparation skills. Let’s give kids the best chance possible to nourish their bodies. An important consideration is expanding high school curriculum to include some mandatory food education. The Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) calls on the Government of Ontario to make at least one food & nutrition course compulsory. To support this petition or for more information visit www.food-literacy.ca

4. Translating the science – how to spot the fake news and alternative food facts.
Bestselling Author, Dr Joe Schwarcz shared stories of science misuse. We were reminded that correlation is an easy sway for the scientifically challenged consumer and it does NOT mean cause and effect. His latest book, A Feast of Science is an entertaining read of fact vs fiction. To help you navigate through fake nutrition news reach out to your nearest Registered Dietitian, the experts who can translate the science of nutrition and help you unlock food’s potential to support healthy living.

5. What’s next?
Let’s keep the farm to table conversations going! The more we know about where our food comes from, how it’s grown and handled the more grounded we will be. We also love sharing credible insights and resources! Check out our blogs and writing at  and Contact us about your questions on the power of food and its connection to health.