This morning I prepared a cute little Christmas Tree plate for my son out of kiwi. Banana and strawberry. I absolutely love having fun with my food and shaping it into different things. Its so exciting to create healthy alternatives for the holidays. It’s also […]
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 […]
Usually my blogs start out with some piece of Nutrition Misinformation that has been totally misinterpreted and this latest blog is no different. Recently I have heard a lot in the media about carbohydrates and fruit in particular. Anywhere from fruit is pure sugar to fruit is as dangerous to a Diabetic as crack. With information being released on how much sugar people should be consuming and how high intakes are throughout the world people are in sheer panic and tracking their sugar intakes to a tee. Well this information is in fact untrue! These days articles and information are sensationalized. It’s about grabbing attention and getting followers, it might not be, and often isn’t the case that these articles provide guidance or tips. Hence the current sugar crisis. People are throwing fruit out the window and crossing themselves when presented with fruit like it’s an unholy food sent to throw our blood sugars out of whack and kill Diabetics one banana at a time.
Natural sugars are found is a lot of products from potatoes to bread to milk to fruit! Milk you say?! Yes! I bet you have looked at your milk label since all of this sugar information came about and wondered what sugar is doing in milk. Well it isn’t added to white milk. That’s the natural milk sugar Lactose you see reflected in the nutrient label. When we look at food labels it’s really important to figure out what is an added sugar and what is a natural sugar (labels don’t differentiate). Health Canada and other regulatory bodies have recently provided recommended intakes for sugar consumption but this information is in relation to added sugars. Such as candy, juices, sports drinks, cookies, baked goods and other products that have sugar added during the production process that otherwise was not originally there. Potatoes, squash, grains, fruits and milk products do not fall under this category.
“But my Doctor told me to avoid fruit when I was diagnosed with Diabetes” ok, this is a valid point of view, but your Doctor is a primary health care provider and also a gateway to other health professionals. Nutrition is a specialty and most Doctors have little or no background in Nutrition. Recently Dr. Brian Goldman wrote an article titled “Don’t ask your doctor for advice on nutrition, unless…” He states “In a study of medical school graduates entering residency to become paediatricians, they were tested on an 18-point nutrition questionnaire. The average mark was just 52 per cent. Other studies have documented that on average, the knowledge doctors have about obesity and how to manage it is out of date.” In addition to that “A study published in the journal Academic Medicine found that in the 2008-2009 academic year, just 27 per cent of 105 medical schools met the minimum requirement of 25 hours of teaching on nutrition.” Dietitians are required to do a full course load for 4 years at 5 courses a semester which leads to hundreds of hours of nutrition education. They are also required to complete a 1 year internship before writing their exam to practice and Dr. Brian Goldman agrees that Dietitians are the nutrition experts “Registered dietitians are the ones I’d ask. They have the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job.” You can read the article here if you like.
Now, I think Doctors are great! I go to mine regularly and I trust him with my life. Most people spend their lives looking for a Doctor who is invested in their health. Mine will contact me personally if I go too long without an appointment. But he’s also the first person who said….give me your card to I can refer my patients to you. I think that is great. Being a health professional isn’t just about what you know but also referring to other people when you don’t know enough.
So getting to the nitty gritty of it all…this blog was initially about FRUIT consumption! Fruits do contain natural sugars that can impact your blood sugar, this much is true, however, it isn’t just about ONE thing that you’re eating. It’s all about timing and what other foods are being consumed with it and also about the other nutrients in the food. Unlike granola bars, chips and cookies, fruit is full of fibre and other important vitamins and minerals. Avoiding a whole food group because a personal trainer with no nutrition background or a well-intentioned doctor told you to isn’t enough. You need more information.
When a Diabetic client sits in front of me for the first time we do several things a.) discuss timing of foods b.) how many meals a day they’re having and finally c.) what things they eating at each meal and snack. It’s important to pair 2 or more food groups at each meal and snack. Carbohydrates should always be paired with a protein. Why? Because protein is low in carbohydrates and is digested slower. A carbohydrate consumed by itself is broken down very quickly. Consuming high fibre carbohydrates with a protein will slow down that process, keep your blood sugar stable and keep you full longer. Avoiding carbs is not the answer to the dilemma. It’s choosing which ones to eat and pairing them with another great food. So here are some examples of how to successfully pair a fruit with a protein source:
- Apple slices and 2 Tbsp peanut butter for dipping
- 1 cup chopped fruit and ¼ cup of nuts or seeds
- Berries and Greek yogurt
- ½ cup grapes and 1.5 oz low fat cheese
- 1 cup berries and ½ cup cottage cheese
- ½ banana, 2 Tbsp peanut butter and a rice cake
Sometimes when articles are written and new research is presented it’s important to consider the fact that researchers do research and educators use this research to develop tools and put together methods to help you. It’s important in today’s society, where anyone can post on the internet, to get the real facts from the real experts. Dietitians are nutrition experts and we work with people every day to meet their health needs from weight loss to renal failure to basic cooking skills, you will find us in Community Health, Hospitals, Private Practice, Culinary school, Universities and in the Government to mention a few. The one thing we all have in common no matter what area we practice in is, giving you the right knowledge and skills to be the healthiest version of yourself.
The take home message from this is, knowledge comes from more than one place. No surgery technique, medication prescription, or nutrition recommendation was ever decided because of one study or one magical ingredient or tool. The recommendations health professionals make were tried, tested and tested again. Seek out the real facts from the real experts.
Adrianna Smallwood, Registered Dietitian and Food and Nutrition Expert
Wow, 2017 is here already! Where did the last year go?! I think a lot of people are happy to see 2016 in the rear view mirror. So say so long and get on with the plan for this fresh New Year! A lot of […]
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 the few New Year’s resolutions…lose 5 pounds, go to the gym 3 days a week, stop eating takeout…they usually have something to do with eating!
Do you already have your resolution in mind? Have you been diagnosed with a health condition? Are you getting married? Maybe you just want to get healthier?! It all counts, no matter what your reason is you need to stay focused and on track. So why not make your resolution early! Why early? Well, what is Christmas if it doesn’t involve parties and potlucks and whiskers on kittens (the Christmas spirit has me singing a lot of Christmas carols…I apologize). So how do we avoid over-eating or gaining that holiday weight? It’s simple. Indulge!
A lot of people will eat their way through the holidays and worry about the excess weight after the fact but for some people this isn’t an option. Maybe you’re diabetic or have a heart condition. You need to learn to navigate the buffet table with finesse! So I weighed in with the experts and asked some fellow Dietitians what their tips and tricks for the holidays might be. Let’s see what they all said.
- “Alternate water with alcohol and sip slowly! Occupies the time of drinking with family and friends without the repercussions” Alcohol has a lot of extra calories…despite if you decide to drink it with water. Even pure vodka has calories and alcohol calories are not burned efficiently like food calories.
- “If it’s a potluck/supper thing, bring a salad or a veggie tray and aim for a plate with half vegetables. Wait 20 min after finishing before going back for seconds” Everyone brings treats, so don’t worry, you will still be able to indulge but you are providing at least 1 healthy option for everyone. Fill half your plate with some veggies and fruit and the other half with delicious treats. Wait to get seconds so your body and mind have a chance to communicate that you have just thoroughly indulged…and bonus you don’t get the overstuffed feeling that comes with eating too much too quickly!
- “Scout out the buffet/dessert table and go for a moderate portion of your absolute favourite indulgences instead of trying everything” Before you pick up your plate, check out the table and see which treats you like best. Everyone makes a nacho dip so maybe wait to sample dip at the party where you know your great aunt is making her famous dip and try a different treat instead!
- “I try to only eat my #1 fave foods that I can only get at holidays and skip yummy foods I can get any time of year. Ex: I’d pick a homemade “grandma bun” and skip mashed potatoes, pick a jam jam cookie and skip a cinnamon bun. I also learned to firmly say “no thank you” when everyone is just trying to feed you more, but you’re already full (Grandma!!). At first I felt so rude saying no to Grandma, and I felt like I had to explain why I didn’t want any more, but I found a firm “no thanks, I’ve had enough” usually works best and doesn’t cause her to look worried for too long”
- “I eat ALL of my favourite holiday foods and I try all of the new ones too (including beer). It’s awesome and I can’t wait! My clothes always seem to shrink a bit over the holidays and I’m OK with that! I don’t skip meals to save up for extra calories at parties because that makes me too hungry/cranky. I make sure my kids see me eating all of these foods at meal and snack times and hopefully they’re open to trying new things too” Sampling all the treats is also a healthy eating style. Feeling stressed about it isn’t. Don’t be afraid to let yourself go. Stress can cause physiological body processes that actually aid in excess fat storage! And don’t forget about the kids. They watch everything. Let them know it’s ok to have a treat. Start their minds early with healthy eating relationships with food.
- “We don’t leave the sweet nor salty treats out 24/7 over the holidays. Rather, we bring out the salty treats as appetizers before dinner, and a tray of sweets after lunch or supper. Once we’ve all enjoyed what we want, they get put away again. Helps to limit the mindless grazing – out of site, out of mind” Almost everyone has the fancy treat dishes that they keep out over Christmas (above reaching distance of little children and animals of course) but a great idea is to keep the dishes tucked away in the cupboard and only bring them out at certain times like after dinner and when company is visiting.
- “On Christmas Day we always break apart the eating by going outside for a family walk (dogs included)! When we get back to the house, a hot cup of tea and some raw veggies are offered (the other treats are put away until supper)” Add some physical activity into the mix, whether it’s a walk or an all-out family snow ball fight.
- “Permission to eat and listen to my body… stomach, mouth and heart hunger. Guess what sometime I overindulge but I don’t beat myself… no one’s perfect” Holidays are a special occasion with special food. You shouldn’t deprive yourself. If you are craving a cookie, have one. You won’t be satisfied until you eat it and you might eat double the amount of food trying to stop the craving!
So many great tips! I like indulging myself but I also have integrated each of these tips into my eating behaviors. If there are 3 or 4 different cookies and they all look amazing I am going to eat them, but if I know I have another party coming up I might limit myself to some of the other things I try like dips, chips and other food I can get all year long.
What is the biggest take home message? Allow yourself to relax and enjoy food. If you have made a New Year’s goal for yourself to eat healthy, enjoying some treats over the holidays isn’t derailing your progress, it’s part of the process. Having a treat and “falling off the wagon” isn’t a failure. It’s an expectation! We are humans with eyes, ears, noses, stomachs and brains. All of which work in concert to let us know that something is delicious and we have to eat it. So eat it. Enjoy it but eat your veggies too!
Adrianna Smallwood, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert
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 […]
My next restaurant review brings to light a very important topic…Health Inspectors overstepping their duties and working outside of their scope of practice and knowledge base. I recently had lunch at Sushi Nami on George Street. I love it there and they actually were part […]
Hey out there fellow Celiacs…or gluten intolerant readers as well! I have been baking gluten free for about 5 years now and I have had many successes…and failures…with my baking! I know it can be a struggle to find the perfect gluten free product that even closely measures up to the real thing and a lot of the commercially available products are super high in fat and sugar to try and replace those lovely textures that gluten provides…chewy, fluffy, soft, flaky…we miss those textures right?!
So here is my fool proof method for muffins, cookies and granola bars (I haven’t quite ventured in to those baking experiments that require yeast and the one time I did it was a complete flop…no pun intended ;). So stay tuned for future ideas!).
First there are a few things I keep in mind when experimenting with my gluten free recipes:
- Most gluten free recipes are low in fibre because of the types of grains they use in their products. I get around this by using Sorghum flour in my baking. It’s a higher fibre option. Also I replace flour in recipes with some ground flaxseed. I do this at a 4:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, I add 1 ½ cups of flour and ½ cup ground flaxseed instead.
- Folate deficiency can also be an issue in those diagnosed with celiac. Folate is a B vitamin found in many different sources including leafy greens but it is also in ground flax so this little ingredient has multiple benefits.
- Calcium and iron deficiencies can also be an issue in Celiac disease but once you start eating gluten free your absorption of these should increase as your intestine heals. When I can I add Chia seeds to my recipes as well. These little seeds are high in fibre, calcium and iron.
- FAT! The 3 letter dirty word. Before I was gluten free I ALWAYS replaced the fat in my recipes with apple sauce and I was still left with a delicious and moist end product. STOP! You can’t do this with a gluten free product unfortunately. Leaving out the fat makes the end product crumbly whether it’s a cookie, cake or a muffin. A little fat doesn’t hurt you and the fibre boost you get with the other ingredients will help combat the extra fat!
- Flour has different properties and not 1 gluten free flour will provide all the properties of regular gluten containing flour so it’s always best to use more than 1 flour. I usually use half rice flour and half sorghum flour. I know a lot of gluten free recipes call for 3 and 4 but this can get pricey and a little annoying. This ratio always works for me so I tend to use it the most!
- I rarely use salt…I don’t even own it and there is plenty in Xanthan Gum, Baking soda and Baking Powder I feel to make up for that.
- Usually the amount of sugar in ANY recipe can be cut in half!
- Use Xanthan gum….this is our gluten replacer to give us those textures we miss out on when we hold the gluten. The Xanthan gum package usually lists on the back how much you should use based on each cup of flour and if you are making cookies, muffins, cake, ect.
So…let’s pick a regular ol’ recipe off Pinterest and change it to gluten free! Since its berry season I am going to go with a Blueberry Muffin! I simply just typed blueberry muffins in Pinterest and grabbed the first one that came up.
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for muffin tops
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) neutral flavored oil; canola, vegetable and grape seed are great
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80 ml – 120 ml) milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries;see note below about frozen berries (about 1 cup)
Alright….this recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of flour. How does this balance out using my above techniques? Firstly we are going to replace some of the flour with ground flax. In this case we will use ¼ cup of ground flax so we are left with 1 ¼ cup of flour, half of which will be rice flour and the other half which will be sorghum flour. So you can use ½ + 1/8 of a cup of each for this recipe.
Next, we need to cut down on the sugar content. We can use 1/3 in this recipe if you want to sprinkle the extra on top like it suggests.
Leave out the salt!
Leave the baking powder (and/or baking soda, depending on the recipe), oil/butter, milk, vanilla extract and frozen berries the same. Make sure you are using a PURE vanilla extract and not an artificial one as most flavorings have gluten in them.
Lastly, add your Xanthan Gum. On the package it states that when making muffins you should add ¾ tsp of xanthan gum per 1 cup of flour. So in this case we are using 1 ½ cups of flour so we will use 1 1/8 tsp of Xanthan gum.
Voila, you made a gluten free recipe out of a regular ol’ recipe by holding the gluten. You also managed to create a lower sugar and higher fibre end product. So…gasp…a HEALTHY gluten free recipe!
Hope you enjoyed! Good luck with your experimenting!
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert