Thanks to Ljudmila Petrovic for including my quote in the below article.
Archive for the 'Topic of the Month' Category
I often turn to this report to highlight that many British Columbians (including students) don’t have enough money to buy healthy food. When addressing food insecurity in training the SFU Food Bank volunteers, it is extremely helpful as well. I hope you will take the time to see what you can do to help. These are just a few ideas from the report:
- Log onto the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition website at http://bcpovertyreduction.ca . This site is a wealth of information on the cost of poverty in BC (watch the videos at http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/category/video to find out more)
- Email the Premier and add your voice to the call to the Government of British Columbia to reduce poverty and homelessness in our province at http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/take-action-2
- Support the Living Wage for Families campaign in BC (find out more at http://livingwageforfamilies.ca )
The Cost of Eating in BC 2011 Report (as well as previous years) can be accessed here: http://www.dietitians.ca/Secondary-Pages/Public/The-Cost-of-Eating-in-British-Columbia.aspx
As part of National Nutrition Month, Dietitians of Canada have busted some popular nutrition myths. Check out the following link:
My favorite is #34. I’ve been enjoying some Cadbury’s Mini Eggs and love to have a few jalapeno cheddar kettle chips with a veggie sandwich:)
Many of you at the Burnaby campus may have just responded to the “Food for Thought” survey. As part of my response I included an emphasis on having nutrition information available for students and the broader community at SFU’s Burnaby campus. I realize that even though you may have the knowledge about healthy eating, a supportive environment can help you exercise that knowledge. A new initiative which ties into this, led by the Government of BC, is called Informed Dining. As part of this program, participating restaurants will have their nutrition information available for standard menu items, before you order them. I know I might be one few people who seeks out this information currently as many restaurants have it posted online. The good news after I dined at Earl’s recently is that my mom and I shared the Roasted Vegetable Quesadilla with half fries and salad. It was perfect because instead of 1400mg of sodium and 36 grams of fat, we each only had half that amount. But I would love to have this nutrition information there to review before I ordered in the restaurant. From my conversations with others on campus, especially in areas such as Residence this would be a welcome change. I hope SFU’s Burnaby Campus is a leader in adopting the Informed Dining program, for more information visit: http://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/informed-dining-consumers.php
If you haven’t seen it already, the headline in yesterday’s edition of the SFU news is “Focus on Food”. http://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/focus-on-food.html
The current Burnaby campus food service company’s contract is up as of March next year and an advisory committee is seeking input on all aspects of food on campus. I’ve heard about many student frustrations with healthy food options, pricing and quality of choices at the Burnaby campus. This is your chance to have your voice heard. I have given my input via the survey and am also scheduled for an individual interview with the consultant organizing all of this. I realize that I can give you all of the tips and strategies for healthy eating but you have to be able to exercise that knowledge in a supportive environment; a food outlet with healthier options and nutrition information available to help you make a healthier choice. Personally I would like to see more ethnically diverse food and nutrition information available for all food outlets on campus. In fact, I have offered to provide a nutrition analysis of various foods items on campus but have not met with any support to move forward. If this is something that is important to you as well, I hope you will include it in your feedback. Please take a moment to fill out the survey which is found on the following site: http://www.sfu.ca/foodforthought.html
In addition, you may see more and more restaurants volunteering to provide nutrition information to customers as part of the Informed Dining program, provided by the BC Government and supported by my professional association, Dietitians of Canada. Look for more information on Informed Dining through the Healthy Families website, http://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/informed-dining.php
It’s mid semester and I am sure many of you are feeling stressed with all that you have to do. Stress is a normal part of being a student; some stress can be good as it motivates us to take action but we also need to manage our stressors in order to remain productive. There is definitely a connection between nutrition and stress: some of us overeat, some of us forget to eat all together. How we eat also impacts the way our body responds to stress. Review this new Nutrition and Stress resource, recently added to the Health and Counselling Services website, Hopefully the long weekend ahead gives you a chance to nourish your mind and body.
With the start of the semester you may be thinking about our goals as they relate to school or work. I know I am, I’ve just started a Master’s program in Education. Some of you may also be thinking about nutrition and active living goals. We sometimes forget that eating well and being active can help us achieve those academic goals. My plan is to go to include yoga (I’ve signed up for a class through SFU Rec) and to cook in big batches and stock my freezer so I can just grab and go for those long days. A great resource that can help you with your nutrition and active living goals is the newly re-launched Eatracker through Dietitians of Canada. After you sign up (http://www.eatracker.ca/), you can track your food and activity choices, analyze your recipes, plan your meals and set goals for healthy eating and physical activity. Have a great semester!
It’s barbeque season and I am always the one keeping everything in the cooler until the last minute and questioning my friend’s meat preparation techniques. Keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot is the key when it comes to food safety. I know everyone may not be as obsessed as I am, but remembering a few key tips can help prevent everyone from getting sick. Health Canada has a great article on Summer Food Safety. Enjoy!
Let’s get to the point with point of purchase nutrition labelling
Have you seen Heart and Stroke Foundation’s “HealthCheck” symbol or PepsiCo’s “Smart Spot”? They are examples of point of purchase (POP) nutrition labeling programs. The aim of these programs is to help you choose healthier foods when you buy foods, i.e. at the point of purchase. The trouble with POP programs is that each organization whether it is a restaurant, food manufacturer or retailer has different guidelines for foods. POP programs can help you increase awareness of nutrition and health at the point of purchase and help you choose foods that contain more or less of a particular nutrient but they can also create confusion for consumers. Recently I have seen chocolate bars with a checkmark denoting “made with real chocolate” as well as “a source of calcium”. While I don’t denounce chocolate in moderation, I also don’t recommend it as a source of calcium. I’ve written to food manufacturers to share my opinion and hope that those of you who are also passionate about nutrition will do the same. Many of us know that a chocolate bar is not the go to item for calcium, but it may not be the case for everyone including children and people of varying educational and socio-economic backgrounds. The chocolate bar is just one example of the variety of foods labeled with information that can be misleading.
So what can you do to get to the point of point of purchase nutrition labels? Understand the purpose of the program, for example foods HealthCheck program criteria include both nutrients people should limit such as total fat, saturated fat, trans fats, sodium, and sugar, as well as nutrients to encourage people to consume more of such as fibre, calcium and vitamins and minerals. An example of a HealthCheck product is Multigrain Cheerios. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other cereal choices which have more fiber or less sugar. PepsiCo’s Smart Spot program focuses on reduced fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar. Baked Lays have the Smart Spot logo but potato chips are not a food item that fits within Canada’s Food Guide. We have to keep our nutrition basics in mind when evaluating products.
You can also use the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list to assess packaged food items rather than rely just on the POP program. Some great choices may not have a POP symbol while other foods with a POP symbol are not meant to be eaten in unlimited amounts. Some of the best snack foods (fresh fruits and vegetables) come without a nutrition label, ingredient list or POP symbol.
In the past, the Health Promotion team has had its own POP program entitled Best Bite. You can continue to see part of this program in vending machines around Burnaby campus where healthier choices are denoted with an apple.
Making your way through the menu maze
A couple of weeks ago I took my 5 year old nephew and 2 year old niece out for a day with their aunt. We had a great time at Maplewood Farm but when it was time for lunch I didn’t have a plan, so we resorted to the nearest fast food restaurant. It was easy and quick but not the most nutritious choice of course. I felt like a parent (just for that afternoon) and thought about what could I have done to make a healthier choice for their lunch. It seems to be a challenge many parents are facing. The ideal would be to pack a lunch from home where you control the ingredients and nutrition. If you can’t do the whole lunch, try some wholesome snacks as a way to balance a fast food meal. I packed carrots so we could feed the rabbits that day, should have done the same for us.
Use this Cool Lunch Guide from Dietitians of Canada to help make the most of your lunches.
Check out this article from the Vancouver Sun, “Making your way through the menu maze”. Thanks to Randy Shore for the interview.