Author Archives: Tammy Lomond

Is Your Child Involved in Sports?

If your child is involved in sports, what do you bring along for snacks and hydration?

Sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade and Powerade) and energy drinks (e.g., Red Bull, Monster) are very popular, but they may not be the best choice.

In fact, according to a new position statement released by the Canadian Pediatric Society, most children and teens should not be consuming sports drinks or energy drinks at all. Follow the link below, for more information on this position statement.

This recommendation is based on the fact that these drinks are high in sugar and/or caffeine.

An excessive intake of sugar can lead to obesity and dental caries, and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.

A high caffeine intake over a short period of time can have negative side-effects including anxiety, poor sleep, irritability, heart rhythm abnormalities, and vomiting and diarrhea.

So what should children and teens hydrate with during sport activities? Simple water is the best choice!

Use the following tips to ensure your child consumes enough nutrients and energy to support physical activity, to avoid relying on sports drinks and energy drinks.

If your child will be eating a meal 2 to 3 hours before physical activity, provide a meal rich in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fibre, for easy digestion. For example:

  • Peanut butter and jam sandwich + glass of milk
  • Fruit + yogurt + small homemade muffin
  • Fruit + cottage cheese + slice of toast
  • Fruit yogurt smoothie
  • Cheese + whole-grain crackers + fruit
  • Sandwich + glass of milk + fruit
  • Small hamburger + salad

If your child will be eating within 2 hours before physical activity, provide smaller portions of the above, or try the following:

  • Trail mix + fruit
  • Fruit + cheese string
  • Small homemade muffin + cheese string
  • Hard-boiled egg + whole-grain crackers

November is Osteoporosis Month

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, leading to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture. Osteoporosis develops without symptoms, and is often diagnosed only after a fracture has occurred.

According to Osteoporosis Canada, “at least one in three women and one in five men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime”. In fact, osteoporotic fractures are “more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined”.

Consuming a healthy diet is a very important step in preventing osteoporosis. However, as we age, we tend to eat less, or not as well, due to various factors including:

  • not wanting to cook for just one or two
  • increased difficulty getting out to shop for groceries
  • increased difficulty preparing meals
  • reduced appetite
  • taste changes

To maintain healthy and strong bones, it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet, including all four food groups. Key nutrients for bone health include the following:

Protein. Protein is essential to maintain bone health, as well as muscle strength which is important for balance and fall prevention.  Yet many seniors don’t eat enough protein.

Seniors should consume a small to moderate amount of protein (about 2-4 oz.) at all meals. Sources of protein include meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans and legumes, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt.

Calcium: Calcium is essential to keep bones strong and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified soy beverages.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health, in part, because it aids in calcium absorption.

We produce Vitamin D through our skin from sun exposure; however, many seniors don’t get adequate amounts of sunlight to produce enough Vitamin D. We can get some vitamin D through diet, but the sources are limited (mainly dairy and fish). Therefore, it’s recommended that seniors take Vitamin D supplementation.

Osteoporosis Canada

The Health Benefits of Tea

Coffee, hot chocolate or tea… I love a hot drink to help warm me up on a cold fall day.

Although I drink more coffee than tea these days, I’m starting to add more tea back to my day.

Tea is a very popular beverage around the world. The three main types of tea are:

Black tea: Black teas are most popular in North America. They are usually dark in colour and have a very rich flavour.

Green tea: Green tea is most popular in Asia. It is much lighter in colour and has a mild to strong flavour. Green tea has become more popular in North America because of its health benefits.

Oolong tea: Oolong tea is popular in China. It is like a mix of black tea and green tea.

Tea has several health benefits, including the following:

Tea contains antioxidants. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and some cancers. To benefit from the antioxidants in tea, drink freshly brewed tea. Most ready-to-drink tea beverages contain very little to no antioxidants. Green tea usually contains more antioxidants than black tea. Some herbal teas also contain antioxidants; however, these are not the same type of antioxidants as herbal teas come from different types of plants.

Tea is low in caffeine. Generally, tea has less caffeine than coffee – but the amount of caffeine will depend on how strong you like your tea. Green tea contains less caffeine than black tea.

Drinking tea may help with weight loss. Tea contains very few to no calories. Drinking a cup of tea instead of a soft drink or other high calorie beverage will help reduce calorie intake. Drinking a cup of tea between meals can also help keep you feeling full and help keep you from snacking on sweets and treats.

Check out the following links for some delicious tea recipes.

Zero-Waste Grocery Stores

Canada’s first permanent zero-waste grocery store – Green grocery store on Salt Spring Island – opened in early 2016. Since then, zero-waste grocery stores have been opening up across the country, including pop-up stores such as Vancouver’s Zero Waste Market and Halifax’s Unpacked Halifax.

Earlier this summer, Ottawa opened its first zero-waste grocery store – Nu Grocery.

The goal of these zero-waste stores is to minimize waste by selling products without packaging – typically there are no plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic containers or any type of unnecessary packaging.

Customers can bring their own reusable containers – or borrow or purchase them from the stores.

Zero-waste grocery stores are just one way to help reduce household waste.  If there isn’t a zero-waste grocery store in your area, there are still things you can do – use the following tips to help reduce your household waste.

Shop in bulk when possible.

Avoid food waste by buying only the amount you will need and use.

Choose foods and products with the least amount of packaging.

Bring your own reusable shopping bags when shopping.

Be sure to recycle any recyclable products.

Find ways to reuse products. The following are just a few ideas.

  • Reuse glass jars and plastic food containers to store dry foods that should be kept in airtight containers such as flours, pastas, rice, cereals, nuts and seeds.
  • Reuse plastic food containers to store leftovers and to pack your own lunch.
  • Save your milk bags and give them to a group that uses them to make sleeping mats and handbags to donate to developing countries.
  • Reuse box containers and plastic liners and trays to organize and store small items such as nails and screws, or buttons and other sewing items.
  • Reuse bread bags and sturdy plastic grocery bags for used kitty litter or bathroom garbage bags.

Diabetes and Physical Activity

Being physically active is a great way for everyone – including those with diabetes – to stay healthy and feel great.

For those with diabetes, physical activity can help:

  • Manage blood glucose levels
  • Reduce medication needs
  • Manage weight
  • Avoid diabetes-related complications

Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes per week – or at least 30 minutes a day for five days per week. Choose activities that you enjoy so that you’ll be more likely to stick with it. For example:

  • Go for a walk or hike.
  • Swimming or cycling.
  • Fitness or yoga classes.
  • Strength training.

You can also increase your level of physical activity by making small changes throughout the day:

  • Take the stairs more often.
  • Have a walking meeting at work.
  • Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park at the far end of parking lots.

Something to consider when increasing physical activity with diabetes.

If you engage in prolonged (longer than 1 hour) and/or vigorous physical activity, you may be at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) – especially if you take insulin. However, the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risk. You just have to be sure to fuel your body for physical activity.

Follow these tips to safely add physical activity to your day:

Before physical activity – About 30 to 90 minutes before physical activity, eat a small meal or snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates (e.g., fruit and cheese, peanut butter and banana sandwich, small handful of nuts).

During physical activity – If you engage in prolonged and/or vigorous physical activity, you may need to eat carbohydrates during physical activity. Get into the habit of having fast-absorbing carbohydrates (e.g., glucose tablets, hard candy, fruit juice) nearby, in case your blood glucose levels go too low.

Check your blood glucose levels – It is important to check your blood glucose level before, during and after physical activity – especially when increasing physical activity or adding new activities.

November is Diabetes Month

According to Diabetes Canada, 11 million Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes – that’s 1 in 3 Canadians!

Some of the key elements in diabetes management include education about diabetes, medications, regular physical activity, weight management and nutrition.

Nutrition (your eating habits) plays a very important role in regulating your blood glucose levels.

It is the carbohydrate in food that has the greatest impact on your blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates are also a very important source of energy for your body. Therefore, balancing healthy carbohydrates throughout the day is crucial to regulating blood glucose levels, while getting the nutrients and energy your body needs.

What foods contain carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are made up of three components: complex carbohydrates (also known as starches), fibre, and sugar. The main sources of carbohydrates include:

  • starches and grain products (e.g., breads, pasta, rice, cereals, and crackers)
  • starchy vegetables (e.g., potatoes, corn, yams, winter squash)
  • all fruits
  • some dairy products such as milk and yogurt
  • any food with added sugar; however, it is best to limit added sugars to better regulate blood glucose levels

What does a balanced meal look like?

A balanced meal includes a limited amount of carbohydrates along with foods containing protein, fibre and healthy fats. These other nutrients help to slow the breakdown of the carbohydrates. This results in a slow and steady increase in blood glucose levels, rather than a rapid spike that may leave you feeling unwell.

Here’s an easy way to ensure your meals are balanced:

  • fill ½ of your plate with vegetables
  • fill ¼ with protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, egg, beans, legumes)
  • fill ¼ with carbohydrate (e.g., one medium baked potato, ½ cup brown rice).

For a healthy snack, include a small amount of carbohydrate and protein. For example, a fruit and a small piece of cheese; crackers and peanut butter.

To learn more about diabetes, visit the Diabetes Canada website at

Understanding Sugar in Fruit

You’ve likely heard a lot of warnings about the dangers of consuming too much sugar – I’ve written about it a few times myself. Excessive sugar intake can lead to various diseases including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

But what about the sugar naturally occurring in fruit? Should you avoid it? Or is it somehow different?

All sugars are carbohydrates that help make food sweet. There are several different chemical structures of sugars including glucose, fructose and lactose.

But the fact is, no matter the name or source, all sugars are much the same. They all provide 4 calories per gram (16 calories per teaspoon), and are processed by your body in the same way.

So by simple definition, the sugar in fruit is no different than other sugars.

But does that mean that you should stop eating fruit? Definitely not!

In fact, Registered Dietitians – myself included – are often encouraging people to eat more fruit.

That’s because fruit contains many other nutrients including fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Eating fruit not only provides you with energy, it helps protect you against chronic diseases.

Also, the sugar in fruit causes a lower, longer-lasting rise in blood sugar (lasting energy) than the rapid spike and drop caused by sugar alone. That’s because the fibre in fruit slows down the breakdown of the sugar, reducing its effect on your blood sugar levels.

But you can still overdo it with the sugar from fruit. The key is portion size!

One serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball – such as one medium apple or orange, one small banana or one cup of berries.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about the sugar in fruit, or even which fruit might have a little more sugar than another – watch your portion sizes and enjoy 2-5 servings of your favourite fruits each day.

Are We Destroying Our Good Bacteria?

Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there are billions of good bacteria living in your gut. These bacteria play an important role in various aspects of your health including:

  • digestion
  • production of certain vitamins such as vitamins B and K
  • immune function
  • risk of obesity
  • risk of various diseases including cancer
  • mental health

When it comes to gut bacteria, the greater and more diverse the population the better. However, research has shown that the typical western diet – which is low in fibre and high in processed foods – is contributing to a decline in good gut bacteria.

But the good news is that you have the power to alter your gut bacteria! A large portion of your gut bacteria is unique to you – based on the foods you eat, the air you breathe, and other environmental factors.

Therefore, you can alter your gut bacteria by making changes to your usual diet. Following a healthy diet can help increase the presence and diversity of your gut bacteria.

Use the following tips to create a healthy diet that allows your good gut bacteria to flourish.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – aim for 7 to 10 servings per day.

Consume at least 30 g of fibre daily – high-fiber foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.

Include foods that contain added probiotics – some milks, yogurt and cheeses.

Include foods that naturally contain prebiotics – there are plenty to choose from including artichokes, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions and tomatoes; whole grains, barley and rye; fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, buttermilk and kefir. Prebiotics are also added to some breads and breakfast cereals.

Limit your intake of meat – limit portion sizes to about 3 – 4 ounces per serving.

Limit your intake of processed food – such as processed meats, boxed and canned foods, and frozen entrées.

Say Goodbye to Trans Fats

On September 15, 2017, Health Canada announced a ban on partially hydrogenated oils in all food sold in Canada. This includes all imported foods, as well as food prepared in restaurants and food service establishments. Partially hydrogenated oils are the main source of industrially produced trans fats in our food supply.

What are trans fats?

Trans fats are formed when a liquid fat (vegetable oil) is changed into a solid fat – this process is called hydrogenation. Trans fats are added to many processed foods to improve the taste and texture, and to increase the shelf-life. Trans fats are commonly found in store-bought baked goods and deep-fried foods.

Trans fats are also naturally found in some animal products, including meats, milk and butter. However, they occur in very small amounts, and these trans fats are different from manufactured trans fats and do not pose the same health risks.

What are the health risks of eating manufactured trans fats?

Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) blood cholesterol and lower your good (HDL) blood cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease – one of the leading causes of death in Canada.

This ban is a part of Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, which aims to make the healthy food choice the easy choice. It is a very important step that will help reduce the risk of heart disease amongst Canadians.

The ban will come into effect on September 15, 2018, giving the food industry time to find suitable alternatives so that partially hydrogenated oils can be eliminated from food products.

Even when the ban is in place, it is still important to make healthy food – and healthy fat – choices. Use the following tips to choose healthy fats.

  • Choose oils over solid fats.
  • Keep portions small – healthy fats are still very high in calories, and we only need a small amount.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat (round, loin), trim fat from meat, and remove skin from chicken.
  • Eat fatty fish at least twice a week.
  • Have a small portion of nuts and/or seeds most days. Have a small handful for a snack, add a sprinkle to salads, or add them to baked goods.
  • Choose skim, 1% or 2% milk and yogurts. Look for lower fat cheeses – about 20% M.F.
  • Limit added fats such as butter, margarine, gravies, sauces, creams and creamy salad dressings.
  • Limit your intake of processed meats, fried and deep-fried foods, breaded and battered foods, pastries, donuts and other store bought baked goods.

Cold and Flu Season: Can Diet Help?

Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick. But what else can you do to protect yourself during cold and flu season? Can your diet help boost your immune system and decrease your chances of catching a bug?

A healthy diet is certainly an important component in maintaining a strong immune system. A balanced diet including a wide variety of foods can help ensure that you’re getting the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients your body needs to support your immune system.

While almost all nutrients help the immune system in some way, the following nutrients and foods may give it a little boost:

Vitamin C, an antioxidant, found in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli and red and green bell pepper. Be sure to get your 5 – 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Add fruit to smoothies. Top yogurt and salads with strawberries. Add broccoli or peppers to salads, casseroles and stir-fries.

Zinc, a mineral which is important for a healthy immune system, found in meat, fish, chicken, peanuts, peanut butter and legumes (beans and lentils). Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Add a variety of beans to chili. Make lentil soup. Have 2 – 4 ounces of meat, fish or chicken at lunch and dinner.

Selenium, an antioxidant, found in meat, seafood, fish (canned tuna, canned salmon with bones, cooked salmon), whole-grain cereal, wheat germ, garlic and Brazil nuts. Choose whole grains more often. Consume fish at least twice a week. Add flavour to food with garlic. Include Brazil nuts in a healthy snack.

However, despite all of your efforts to stay healthy, you may still get a cold or flu. If you do, try the following to help ease your symptoms.

Chicken Soup – it contains helpful antioxidants, the warm liquid can soothe a sore throat and help relieve congestion, and the aroma and warmth is comforting.

Ginger Tea (made with fresh gingerroot) – fresh gingerroot can help decrease nausea and vomiting.