Its almost Christmas! The holiday season can be full of stress for some people. You worry about eating too many treats, drinking too much alcohol and perhaps an ever expanding waistline…fear not for I have some tips to sneak extra nutrients into your diet that […]
Tag: healthy living
The holidays are coming! It’s almost December and I bet most people are struggling between making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in some capacity and tallying up the calories of all the food they will eat over Christmas. I myself have made quite […]
Fruits and vegetables are full of tons of nutrients! Here in Newfoundland we have some of the lowest rates of fruit and vegetable intake and for sure a lot of different options aren’t readily available on this wonderful island we call a rock…BUT there are definitely ways we can get more fruits and vegetables into our diet! So why haven’t we? Let’s get to the root of the problem!
Firstly…before you get a chance to ask…”but what about all that stuff they said in the media lately about sugars and how we need to cut back because we are all consuming too much and it’s leading to obesity and other associated chronic diseases? I stopped eating fruit!” I will tell you. There is a huge difference between added, processed sugar and natural sugar! The biggest sources of added sugar are regular soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks, cakes and cookies, candy, ice cream and pie but there are also some products that are hiding added sugars and masquerading as healthy foods, these would be flavorings added to coffee and tea, cereals, flavored yogurts and granola or cereal bars. These are the products you need to be watching out for and cutting back on!
Fruit is full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fibre is a complex carb and is still counted on your Nutrition Facts Table as a carb. Fibre however is not processed or broken down by the body so when looking at your Nutrition Facts Table it’s better to choose something high in fibre because the high carb count would be less likely due to added sugars! Check out my previous blog on cutting down on added sugar for more info (here).
Ok, so why the focus on fruits and vegetables?! Well, eating high amounts of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower incidence of some cancers and cardiovascular disease, PLUS it can be super helpful in maintaining a healthy weight or in assisting with weight loss. So many amazing benefits!
Now that we have all this info, how can you get more, how can you cook/prepare it, is fresh better than frozen?
Adding More Fruits and Vegetables to your diet (how much should I eat?):
- Try to have a serving of fruit with each meal. Cut down on your portion of cereal and add fruit to the top. Berries, cut up banana and apple all make delicious toppings on cereal, oatmeal and pancakes!
- Fruit is an excellent desert. You can still have cake on your birthday (and everyone else’s too) but try having fruit for dessert most days of the week.
- Have a serving of vegetables with lunch and supper. 1 cup of raw vegetables and ½ cup of cooked vegetables is equal to 1 portion.
- Visualize your supper plate, add your veggies first and try to fill half of the whole plate with veggies and then add your meat and starch/grain/carb afterwards.
- Grate fruits and veggies and add them to your favorite baked goods. Zuchinni and carrot can be grated and added to muffins, cakes or breads. Fruit can be substituted for both oil and sugar. Cut the sugar content of any recipe in half and add pureed fruit like mashed banana or apple sauce.
How should you cook or prepare your Fruits and Vegetables?
- Cooked or raw it’s really your preference!
- Avoid boiling vegetables (unless you are making a soup or stew). A lot of the nutrients in vegetables are water soluble and get lost during the cooking process in the water which you then throw out.
- Try steaming vegetables. Veggies like broccoli and green beans taste amazing steamed and it only takes 6 minutes total.
- Roasted vegetables are also delicious. Veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts lose their super strong flavor when roasted. Especially if you cook them along with potatoes and an onion, add a little oil and some basil and oregano! Roast them on 375F for approx 30 minutes! Turn halfway through.
- Fry them in a frying pan for stir fry! Tip: Green veggies should be bright green, when they start to turn olive green they have been cooked too long and have lost some of the essential nutrients.
Is fresh better than frozen?
The Great Debate (after the added sugar fiasco of course). Newfoundland is an island so, much of our produce is shipped. Now the nutrients in vegetables and fruits break down over time. Each day after they are harvested they degrade and add handling and transportation to that…by the time the food gets to our plate a lot of the nutrients have been lost. Enter frozen and canned foods. Prior to being frozen or canned, produce is blanched. This means it is dipped in boiling water for a timed interval and then removed quickly and flash frozen or dipped in ice water to stop the cooking process. This blanching process is required to stop the enzymes present in produce which cause the produce to rot over time. Side note: the browning that happens to an apple after it is cut is an enzyme process. The blanching and freezing keeps the produce at the peak of their nutrition. So…prepare yourselves for this…frozen fruits and vegetables can sometimes be a healthier option! If you don’t believe me I would encourage you to read some articles on the subject such as this one: here. This time of year makes it particularly important for this little tid bit of information because fresh fruit and veggies basically double in price during the winter.
Hopefully you’ve learned a little after reading this article! Fruits and Veggies are an important part of our diet. Eat more, experiment with new kinds and eat them the way you enjoy them!
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert!
I have been asked so many times ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist,’ but I hadn’t realized until this weekend past what it meant to people. I was speaking with a gentleman and the topics of our respective occupations came up. When I told the man I was a Dietitian he asked me ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?’ He continued on by saying, ‘I would much rather go to a Nutritionist than a Dietitian because a Nutritionist is going to go over all of my nutrients, vitamins and minerals and tell me what I need to be healthy, a Dietitian is just going to put me on a diet and I won’t be able to eat anything. A Dietitian sounds so much scarier.’
This is of course when I had my “AH HA” moment. For some time now, Dietitians have been trying to figure out why individuals seek out the advice of a Nutritionist, Nutritionalist or other nutrition related professional rather than a Dietitian. This might seem like a fruitless effort to some. Why do us Dietitians worry about where the public might be getting their nutrition information? It’s because Dietitians have to complete a four year degree program, followed by a competitive one year internship with a Healthcare system, for example I completed mine with Eastern Health, and only then can we write our National Certification exam which allows us to practice if we pass. The Dietitian profession is also regulated. This means that a governing body is responsible for insuring that the universities we attend are accredited and giving us the tools we need to complete our internships and our internships are accredited and giving us the tools to not only help our patients and clients but to also do them no harm. After a Dietitian completes and passes their registration exam, education does not stop there! Dietitians must register with their provincial college yearly to continue to practice. One of the purposes of this college is to make sure Dietitian’s keep their knowledge current. Every 3 years we need to have completed 45 education credits which comes from attending workshops, conferences, and completing research among other things. The College also acts to investigate complaints from the public to insure that a Dietitian is doing their jobs properly. If a Dietitian brings harm to a patient or client there will be repercussions and sometimes a Dietitian can lose their ability to practice. Lastly, because a Dietitian has to go through this strict process, the term Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian is protected. This means that legally, only a person who has gone through the above process can call themselves a Dietitian and write the initials ‘RD’ after their name.
With all this being said, I go back to my original question, why are Dietitians worried about where individuals are getting their nutrition info? It’s because any person who wishes to call themselves a Nutritionist can! The title Nutritionist isn’t protected and you never need even do a nutrition course to call yourself that. Now, all this being said, I have met some Nutritionists who are extremely educated and our Community Dietitians are called Nutritionists but it isn’t a regulated profession so there is no governing body to insure that every nutritionist is giving their clients safe and accurate information. Dietitians can call themselves Nutritionists if they like but Nutritionists cannot call themselves Dietitians. When in doubt, look for the initials ‘RD’ after the professionals name to confirm they are a Dietitian.
So, with all these thoughts in my head I look at the man who tells me a Dietitian sounds scary and I say ‘I never thought of it that way’ and I hadn’t! I thank him and I tell him that a Dietitian is what he is thinking of. We look at what nutrients you are taking in, what you might be missing, how you can get what you need and we also educate clients and patients about creating a healthier relationship with food.
Bringing all this together, a Dietitian’s job is to:
1. Give you tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop for and cook healthy meals for you and your family
2. Give you information to help you interpret food labels, the latest food trends and diets
3. Give you support to improve the relationship you have with food
4. Create a customized meal plan to help you
a. Manage your weight
b. Manage any food allergies or intolerances
c. Get the most from your workouts
d. Prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease
5. Give you individualized counseling for stages throughout the lifespan including young “picky eaters”, active teenagers, pregnant women and elderly.
6. Give you advice on whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement based on your health needs
At the end of the day, as a Dietitian and lover of all food, my motto is to enjoy all foods in moderation and I would never “put anyone on a diet” or tell a patient or client to cut something out of their diet unless eating it would be harmful based on an allergy or health concern they specifically have. Dietitians are here to help you make decisions about food. We love food and we love to help!