Resolving to get the real facts about nutrition issues for the New Year

As BC residents resolve to make a healthy start to 2009, we asked SportMedBC’s Sport Dietitian Dana Lis for her comments on Leslie Beck’s recent column in the Globe and Mail that focused on some of 2008’s biggest issues and topics that made the nutrition news headlines.

Menu Labelling:

Menu labelling is growing increasingly important as more and more Canadian rely on convenient or restaurant foods for daily nutrition. With busy lives many people seem to be eating out on a more regular basis. Often healthier meals are made less healthy with the higher fat restaurant recipes. Kelsey’s fajitas example is a perfect one. The average homemade beef and vegetable fajita contains about 310 calories and 400 mg of sodium, compared to the 1429 calories and double the daily recommendations of sodium in Kelsey’s fajitas. Providing Canadians with quick, easy to understand nutrition facts will help people to make healthier decisions when eating out and I think will force restaurants to provide healthier options on the menu.

Antioxidant Supplements:

Current findings further support the concept that you can’t pop healthy eating and wellness in a pill or powder. In addition to the studies mentioned in the Globe and Mail column by Beck, researchers also indicated that some antioxidant supplementation could actually have negative effects on training adaptations. A review of these studies can be found on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute website.

Overall, I agree with the evidence stated in Beck’s column that real food; fruit, veggies, whole grains etc. are your best for antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals. Food companies are also now on the antioxidant bandwagon. Have you noticed the artificial sweeteners laden yogurt with added green tea extract.  Hum?

Vitamin D:

Although you can get much of your vitamin D from the sun, living in Vancouver I know I have seen the sun once in 3 weeks! The Dietitians of Canada state that in Canada, for most of the winter months, there is insufficient UVB radiation from sunlight to promote vitamin D production in the skin. With regard to diet, research indicates that many Canadians do not meet their needs for vitamin D from foods, especially those over 50 years of age. Fortified dairy or soy products and fatty fish are a must. More detail about vitamin D intake and who is at risk for deficiency can be found here.

Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of The Day:

Breakfast is simply fun!  Some clients that I have worked with find making breakfast a huge chore. Get on the smoothie wagon and you’ll be jumping out of bed to create a new flavour masterpiece every morning.

Vanilla soy milk, blue berries and a drop of peppermint is my new favourite.

Check out another smoothie recipe here.

Nutrition Being More Top-of-Mind:

It is great that as Beck’s column in the Globe and Mail points out, 6 of 10 Canadians deem nutrition as “very important,” but are 6 of 10 Canadians making dietary choices to reflect this enough of the time? I hope so.

Both nutrition and activity levels are extremely important for moving towards a preventative approach to health care and wellness.  Making healthier choices is a great step in the right direction, but is it enough to reverse the upwards trending obesity scale? People need to get moving every day. Programs like SportMed BC’s Walk this Way and Sun Run In Training are perfect ways to get people motivated and provide the support they require to get moving.

As a nutrition professional I think that the general public needs specific, quick, easy and effective ways to improve their nutrition intake on a dialy basis. Simple courses of action like:

·  swap the fake yogurt covered granola bars for a kashi bars
·  try quinoa over white rice
·  swap a white potato for a yam
·  fill half your dinner plate with veggie
·  have a vegetarian day once a week

If only we could place signs around the grocery stores that said “Do Not Buy This, Choose This instead”. Unfortunately I have found out the hard way that some people are not that keen on hearing my input on what they are loading into their shopping carts – I wonder why?

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