Author Archives: Tammy Lomond

The role of Dietitians continues to evolve and expand. For Dietitians with an interest in technology, there is no shortage of opportunities in technology – in both traditional and non-traditional Dietitian roles.

The use of technology is growing in the Dietitian role of nutrition counselling. More and more Dietitians are using email, private chat rooms, video calls and/or telephone services to provide remote nutrition counselling services. There are also a number of nutrition software applications available that allow Dietitians to manage their business, as well as communicate with clients within the application. This allows Dietitians to reach more clients, save time, increase their flexibility, and streamline their work, as everything can be done electronically.

At a corporate or Food service level, hospitals, long-term care homes and other healthcare and educational organizations are using nutrition software applications to develop and manage their menus, as well as manage their food service operations. This provides great opportunities for Dietitians to be involved in technology – on both the development and user end of nutrition software applications.

Dietitians can use their expertise on food and nutrition in the development of nutrition software applications, to ensure nutritional accuracy, and that the applications meet the needs of the customers.

On the user end, there are plenty of opportunities for Dietitians to use their expertise to create and manage menus that meet the nutritional needs of the customers. This is what we do here at mijava – we use nutrition software to provide corporate clients with menus that exceed required standards, menu support and consultative services.

Using nutrition software (Mitrition), we can easily develop and revise menus using our database of over 3000 recipes; retrieve nutritional information for items, recipes and menus; manage item, recipe and menu costs; and generate order forms and production sheets to help reduce waste – with just a few clicks of the mouse.

When it comes to menu development and management of food service operations, it is very important for organizations to embrace nutrition software technology – it is key for greater accuracy, cost management, and saving an enormous amount of time.

Too Busy for Health?

You probably have a million things to do each day – there’s no end to your to-do list at work, then you get home and have to make dinner, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, etc. etc. You’d love to make health a priority, but there’s never any time.

But the catch is… how do you maintain the energy you need to keep going all day long, if you don’t have time for health? At some point, it’ll all come crashing down – if it hasn’t already!

You might start feeling tired and drained… and find it more and more difficult to get through that to-do list.

You might start feeling exhausted by the time you get home… And end up ordering pizza for dinner (and feeling guilty about it afterwards).

And you might end up feeling rundown, completely stressed-out, and overall lousy about life in general!

This is NOT where you want to end up!

Wouldn’t you rather have loads of energy and feel great… to get through your workday, and still have energy to cook a healthy dinner, look after your house, and enjoy some time with your family or friends, or doing something you love?

You can! Here are 3 steps that can help you fit health into your day.

Make a Plan. A little planning can go a long way. Decide the night before what you’ll have for dinner the next day. Pull items out of the freezer. Precut some vegetables. Prep a few healthy snacks for the next day as well.

Keep It Simple. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Keep it simple by having a few quick and easy go-to recipes and snacks on hand. Make a quick stir fry with a frozen vegetable mix. Have a sandwich for dinner. Have fruit and pre-portioned nuts on hand for easy grab-and-go snacks.

Schedule It. Make health a priority by including it in your schedule. Schedule in a 20 minute walk at lunch time. Schedule in a healthy snack at 3 PM – to keep from reaching for the donuts at 4 PM.

Rickets Is Still a Concern for Canadian Infants

Rickets is a common childhood disease in developing countries. But did you know that it is still a health concern amongst infants in Canada?

Rickets is a bone disease that primarily affects infants and toddlers. It is caused by severe Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is needed for bone growth and development.

Without adequate amounts of vitamin D, bones become soft and weak, which can lead to rickets. Symptoms of rickets include susceptibility to fractures, stunted growth, thickened wrists and ankles, bowed legs and knock knees.

What are the risk factors for rickets?

  • Inadequate vitamin D intake of the mother during pregnancy (e.g., lack of prenatal vitamins, avoidance of dairy products, limited exposure to sunlight).
  • Inadequate vitamin D intake after birth (e.g., exclusive breast-feeding without supplementation, avoidance of dairy products, limited exposure to sunlight).

Rickets is easily prevented. You can protect your baby from developing rickets by ensuring that your baby receives adequate amounts of vitamin D, both during pregnancy and after birth.

During pregnancy. Health Canada recommends that pregnant women consume 600 IU of vitamin D each day – through diet and/or supplementation – to meet their own vitamin D requirements. It is also recommended that pregnant women take prenatal vitamins to allow the baby’s body to build up vitamin D stores before birth.

After birth. Health Canada recommends that babies under the age of 1 year should consume 400 IU of vitamin D each day, and those between 1 and 3 years of age should consume 600 IU of vitamin D each day – through diet and/or supplementation. Provide baby formulas, cow’s milk, and milk alternatives that are fortified with vitamin D. Infants who are exclusively breast-fed should be given 400 IU of vitamin D daily through supplementation, as breast milk is very low in vitamin D.

How to Survive the Workplace Eating Environment

Are workplace birthdays, meetings and events sabotaging your weight loss goals?

You try so hard to stick to your healthy eating plan… But there’s another birthday cake tomorrow… The team is ordering pizza on Friday… Your co-worker loves to bring in baked goods and treats every week… You’re all-day meeting provides muffins, bagels, cookies and soft drinks for meals and snacks.

It seems like there’s no way to avoid high-sugar and high-fat foods – that sabotage your healthy eating plan and make you feel like you’ll never reach your weight loss goals.

Use the following tips to take control of your workplace eating environment so that you can stick to your healthy eating plan and reach your weight loss goals:

  • Celebrate birthdays just once each month for everyone with a birthday that month. That’s just one birthday cake each month, instead of one – or more – each week.
  • When the team is ordering pizza, order salad as well. Have just one piece of pizza along with salad. Or skip the pizza and bring your own lunch.
  • Skip sweets at meetings and events – opt for fruit instead.
  • Choose water instead of sugar sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and juices.
  • Eat a healthy snack before the meeting or bring it with you (e.g., yogurt & fruit; cheese & crackers; small handful of nuts; protein bar).
  • Bring your own small healthy treat so that you can avoid the treats in the break room.
  • Get everyone involved – start a workplace healthy eating challenge.
  • If you are hosting a meeting or event that includes meals and/or snacks:
    • provide healthy options – such as a light lunch including salads and sandwiches or wraps filled with vegetables and protein (chicken, cheese, eggs, beans, lentils)
    • provide fresh fruit and yogurt for dessert
    • provide pitchers of water rather than soft drinks and juices

5 No-Fail Strategies to Cut Calories

Sugar and cream in your coffee, gravy on your mashed potatoes, creamy dressing on your salad… Calories can add up quickly! And if you don’t use up those calories, they’ll end up being stored as fat.

But there are easy ways to cut calories from your diet, without eating less or going hungry. The following are just 5 no-fail strategies that can help you reduce your total calorie intake each day.

  1. Eat More Vegetables. Fill up on vegetables to help you feel full. Vegetables are very low in calories, yet packed full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. You really can’t go wrong with eating more vegetables.
  2. Balance Your Meals. Fill at least ½ of your plate with vegetables, then fill ¼ with protein and ¼ with carbohydrates. This way, you’ll get the nutrients you need without an overload of calories from oversized protein and carbohydrate portions.
  3. Ease off on Batters, Sauces, Gravies and Other Added Fats. Quite often, a very healthy, low-calorie food becomes a high-calorie, fat laden mess because of what’s added to it. Caesar salad, battered fish, potato skins anyone? A salad, fish and potato with skin should be healthy options, right? Watch all those added fats – they add a lot calories!
  4. Use Smaller Plates. Dinner plates have gotten a lot larger over the years – and, like most of us, you likely fill your plate no matter the size. Stick to smaller plates to help keep your portion sizes in check.
  5. Manage Your Appetite. Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid getting too hungry, which often leads to overeating. Ever notice that when you’re really hungry you tend to crave high sugar and/or high-fat foods? You’re less likely to choose the side salad instead of fries when you’re famished.
  6. Don’t Drink Your Calories. Liquid calories don’t make you feel full, but they do add up quickly. So don’t sabotage your goals with a boatload of liquid calories. Sorry, this also includes alcohol. If you get bored with drinking water, add flavour by adding a lemon or lime wedge or experiment with other fruits such as berries.


Vitamin D and type I Diabetes

Recent research, published in the journal Diabetes, indicates that vitamin D may help decrease the risk of type I diabetes.

Researchers found that children who were genetically susceptible to type I diabetes had reduced risk of developing the disease with higher levels of vitamin D.

With type I diabetes, the body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin, which is needed to regulate blood glucose levels. Type I diabetes most often develops in childhood; however, it can develop at any age.

In light of these recent research findings, let’s review the best sources of Vitamin D.

The Sun. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because our skin makes vitamin D through sun exposure.

Dietary Vitamin D. We can also get vitamin D from food; however, there are only a limited number of foods that provide vitamin D. These include:

  • fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods such as cow’s milk, yogurts and cheese made with fortified milk, goats milk, some milk alternatives (e.g., soy beverages), orange juice, margarine and infant formula

To consume adequate amounts of vitamin D, Canada’s Food Guide recommends that everyone over 2 years of age drink 500 mL (2 cups) of milk or fortified dairy alternative beverage daily.

Vitamin D Supplements. We can also get vitamin D through supplements. Vitamin D supplementation may be required for those who:

  • do not get enough sun exposure to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D (due to staying indoors or living in higher latitudes such as Canada), and/or
  • do not consume enough dietary vitamin D.

Due to Canada’s higher latitudes, Health Canada recommends that all Canadians over the age of 50 take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.

Managing Menu Costs in Long-Term Care

In most Canadian provinces, the Ministry of Health establishes a raw food cost allowance for long-term care facilities.  In Ontario, the current raw food cost allowance for long-term care facilities is $8.33 per resident per day, plus $.12 per resident per day for eligible therapeutic food supplements. This allowance must provide for three nutritious meals and three nutritious snacks per day. A small portion of this amount must also cover sample plates, second servings and food waste.

With the continual rising food costs, creating menus that fit within these raw food cost allowances can be challenging!

How do you ensure that your menus fall within the raw food cost allowance, while meeting the nutritional needs of your residents? Do you have a system in place to calculate the daily average cost of your menu?

With our mitrition software solution, you can easily generate a report to quickly analyse your menu costs. Each food item within the system has an associated cost based on the supplier. Therefore, each menu item and recipe has an associated cost, which is automatically generated. Simply click on the cost tab to quickly view the cost per serving, as well as the total cost of the item or recipe per yield.

As you build your menu within the system, the menu cost is automatically generated. Once your menu is built, simply run a cost report analysis on your menu to get a detailed cost report.

With this detailed menu cost information at your fingertips, you can quickly scroll through the document to find any meals or days where the cost may be too high. For any items or recipes that are too high in cost, simply search through the system for suitable substitutions. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can make your menu substitutions, then generate a new menu cost report analysis.

My Go-to Meals… That Are Quick, Simple and Healthy!

I don’t generally spend a lot of time in the kitchen – but I also don’t eat out, order in, eat fast food or use convenience and prepared foods.

So what do I eat? Here are some of my quick, simple and healthy go-to meals.

Breakfast: I usually have a protein smoothie made with a vanilla flavoured vegan protein powder mixed in water or almond milk, fruit (apple, berries or frozen fruit), a source of fibre (ground flaxseed or chai seed) and some healthy fat (about ¼ avocado or a tbsp. of olive oil). I also add cinnamon, ginger and turmeric for flavour… And their health benefits.

Lunch: I often have a leafy salad with a variety of raw veggies, sprinkle of dried fruit, nuts and/or seeds, and a protein source such as boiled egg or canned fish.

I sometimes have tuna salad, a slice of toast or a few crackers, and some raw vegetables (usually tomato and cucumber).

Or I may have tortilla chips with hummus and raw vegetables, and a piece of fruit.

Dinner: I eat a lot of fish. I usually coat it with a mix of cornstarch, pepper, salt and paprika, and pan-fry. If it’s not fish, it’s likely chicken – which I roast in the oven. With the fish or chicken, I typically have roasted, boiled or raw vegetables.

I often make a stir-fry using a variety of raw or frozen vegetables, and chicken or shrimp for the protein. I sometimes eat the stir-fry on its own, or with rice or quinoa.

I sometimes make a pot of chili. I usually have a few tortilla chips or a piece of homemade cornbread on the side.

When I do cook, I always cook enough for 2-3 meals, or more. This way, I don’t have to cook for the next day or two, or I freeze some of the leftovers. So whenever I don’t feel like cooking, there’s always something available and ready to go.


Do You Suffer from Migraines?

If you suffer from migraines – as I do occasionally – this will sound familiar…

  • Throbbing pain on one side of your head that gets worse when you move around
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
  • and the need to lie down in a dark quiet room

These are my typical migraine symptoms. Other symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Vision or hearing disturbances
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Dizziness

If you don’t suffer from migraines, it may be difficult to understand the difference between a migraine and a regular headache.

A migraine is more severe than a regular headache, can be very painful, and can last up to 72 hours. Many migraine sufferers cannot carry out their daily activities once a migraine comes on – activities such as working or driving a car can become impossible.

What causes a migraine?

Migraines can be triggered by certain foods, drinks or food additives, or by environmental factors – each person has their own trigger or variety of triggers.

Some common food related migraine triggers include:

  • Alcohol (especially red wine, beer and sherry)
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame and sucralose)
  • Sulphites (e.g., dried fruit, canned vegetables, jam, wine and beer)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (e.g., Chinese food, soy sauce, some salad dressings)
  • Aged and fermented cheeses (e.g., blue cheese, feta, Swiss, parmesan)
  • Smoked and pickled foods
  • Canned soups
  • Canned, cured, or processed meats
  • Certain beans such as chickpeas, fava, broad, lima and pinto
  • Fatty foods

Other common migraine triggers include:

  • Not eating enough, fasting or skipping meals
  • Not drinking enough fluids and becoming dehydrated
  • Not getting enough sleep – or getting too much sleep
  • Bright or flickering light
  • Loud noises
  • Changes in weather
  • Strong scents
  • Allergic reactions
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Stress
  • Certain medications (e.g., birth control pills).

Some people can avoid migraines by knowing their triggers. Two of my common triggers are not eating enough (especially earlier in the day) and being dehydrated. These are two triggers that are easily fixed, and now I don’t get migraines nearly as often as I used to.

If you’re not sure what your triggers are, try keeping a diary of your food and fluid intake, sleeping patterns and other potential triggers, and when you get migraines – there may be certain things you can change or avoid to help reduce your risk of developing a migraine.


“Healthy” Foods That May Contain Too Much Sugar

Determining whether a food is healthy or not can be tricky – and many supposedly “healthy” foods are not as healthy as they may seem.

Be careful when choosing the following foods. They can be healthy options – or they may be loaded with sugar!

Breakfast Cereals. Many breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar – even some of the seemingly healthy ones. Check the label and choose those with the least amount of sugar – a good rule of thumb is less than 10 g per serving.

Yogurt. Some flavoured yogurts are loaded with sugar – even some Greek yogurts. Check the labels and choose those with the least amount of sugar.

Dried Fruit. Fruit naturally contains sugar. When fruit is dried, it becomes a more concentrated source of sugar – and some have sugar added on top of that. Stick to small portions of unsweetened varieties.

Protein Powder. Some protein powders are loaded with sugar to add flavour – check the labels and choose those with the least amount of sugar.

Protein Bars. Some protein bars are loaded with sugar and are more like candy bars than healthy snacks or meal replacements – Read labels carefully.

Soy, Almond, Coconut, Rice or Cashew Beverages. Many of these contain added sugar, especially flavoured varieties. Read the label and choose unsweetened versions.

Flavoured Water. While some flavoured waters contain natural flavours, some are flavoured with sugar. Stick to those that have natural flavours, or buy unflavoured sparkling water and add fruit slices.

Smoothies. A smoothie can be a very nutritious meal or snack – or it can be a high-sugar (and high-calorie) explosion. Make your own smoothies and choose your ingredients wisely. Use the amount you would normally eat in one setting – such as 1 cup of milk, ½ – 1 cup of fruit, 1 – 2 tbsp. ground flax seed and ¼ avocado.