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The Dish

The Dish

With SFU's Registered Dietitian

Gluten-free expo

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Many of you that have sent in questions or that I have seen individually in the past have asked about the best places to purchase gluten-free products.  If you are interested check out the Gluten-Free Expo this Sunday January 22nd, http://www.glutenfreeexpo.ca/

Let me remind others that gluten-free doesn’t mean the product is “healthier”, it’s indicated especially for those with diagnosed celiac disease. See another gluten question here: http://blogs.sfu.ca/services/thedish/?p=1234

I had a question about gluten, is it bad for you? I know wheat is a major source for gluten, so is 100% whole wheat bread non-digestible because of gluten? Should I be switching to sprouted grain bread which is advertised as gluten free? How much gluten is allowed in a typical diet?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Gluten is not bad for you, gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  It causes trouble for people with Celiac disease who are unable to digest gluten and therefore must avoid these foods to manage their disease. For the average person, gluten free foods are not healthier. I see many products advertised as gluten free and this can be confusing for consumers. Even my friend’s boyfriend bought a gluten free cake mix once and he doesn’t have Celiac disease! If you can tolerate regular wheat, rye, oats and barley – eat them! Sprouted grain bread is not actually gluten free, it is made without flour but it still uses wheat. On Silver Hills breads for example, you will see it on the ingredient list as “Organic whole sprouted wheat”. Sprouted grain bread is an excellent source of fiber though and a true whole grain, it’s definitely worth a try – just not for the reasons you asked about. There is no recommended amount of gluten in the diet. Canada’s Food Guide recommends making half of your food choices whole grain, so choosing a 100% whole wheat bread (as long as it is made with whole grain whole wheat flour) or sprouted grain bread will both help you meet this guideline.

Hi, I just wanted to know if Fuze shape drinks are healthy. They say that they help metabolize carbohydrates and fats, do you think that these beverages are beneficial?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

No I don’t think these beverages are beneficial. The drink is “flavoured with real fruit juice” which means it is not 100% juice and does not fit into Canada’s Food Guide. It is sweetened with artificial sweeteners which I do not recommend for the general population. It contains Vitamin C and Chromium. If you drank a cup (250ml) of orange juice or better yet, just ate an orange you get near the amount of vitamin C in this drink. Chromium is a mineral that is found in whole grains, broccoli and green beans. From my experience it is unlikely for the average adult to experience chromium deficiency. Chromium has a role in moving glucose into cells. Basically it enhances the action of insulin and is important in the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. Vitamin C can help your body absorb chromium. But, that is not to say you need to drink Fuze Shape to get chromium and Vitamin C. You will get enough if you are eating well according to Canada’s Food Guide.

The way these products get away with these claims and not having a nutrition facts table or traditional ingredient list is because they fit into the category of “Natural Health Products”. See more about what Fuze has to say here or Health Canada’s information here.

Lastly, this product and many like it are just marketing schemes aimed at the health conscious consumer. Why pay for water with artificial sweetener and a sprinkling of nutrients you don’t need? Go for plain water, have a piece of fresh fruit or vegetables as a snack instead and save your money.

PC Thins Bagels

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I don’t often promote products but I feel a strong need to tell you about President’s Choice(PC) Thins Bagels. Cinnamon raisin bagels are one of my favourites but often times regular bagels are too doughy and an appropriate portion is only half the bagel. Well, PC has come out with a great product. Check it out and try it for yourself. I know the rasin cinnamon flavour is not made with whole grain but they also have a 4 seed version with a little more fiber. And having the whole bagel is comparable to 2 slices of bread so the portion size is perfect! Last week I couldn’t wait to eat breakfast every morning, I have to do another Superstore run to stock up.

PC Thins Bagels – Raisin Cinnamon

Topic of the Month – November 2010: Breakfast Basics

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Breakfast Basics

You have been hearing this since elementary school, “Eat a good breakfast” but there is a good reason. Studies continue to show that eating breakfast affects concentration, problem solving, mental performance, memory and mood. And if that’s not enough, breakfast is an important way to get in key nutrients especially vitamins C and D, calcium, iron and fibre. So hopefully you have left your excuses not to eat breakfast back in elementary school but if not, here are some tips.

Think about high fiber carbohydrates and protein. Also try to include 3 of the 4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide.

Here are a few examples:

–         Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts

–         Whole grain toast/bagel and peanut butter with milk to drink

–         High fibre cereal, milk & sliced banana or glass of 100%juice

–         Yogurt mixed with high fibre cereal and diced fruit

–         Toasted whole grain bagel with cheese and a glass of 100% juice

–         Granola, yogurt & fruit

–         Egg with whole grain toast and 100%  juice

–         Scrambled egg sandwich with a glass of milk

–         Breakfast Shake – 1 cup milk (or yogurt and milk), a ripe banana, ½ cup fresh or frozen berries (+/- tofu or skim milk powder for added protein)

If you are not a big breakfast fan, left over dinners can make a great breakfast! How about stir-fry & rice, casserole or pizza?

And I can’t talk about breakfast without mentioning coffee. Check out this student question about caffeine: http://blogs.sfu.ca/services/thedish/?p=1033

Stop by Student Central (Burnaby Campus) for a FREE BREAKFAST on Tuesday Novmber 30th at 9am.

If I am trying to lose weight should I cut down the calories from carbs that I am consuming?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

No, cutting calories from carbohydrates is not an effective weight loss strategy.

  • Our bodies need carbohydrate for energy and optimal brain function.
  • Carbohydrate foods contain vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Avoiding or cutting back on carbohydrates puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies.
  • Carbohydrates are an important source of fibre, which helps maintain blood sugar, reduces cholesterol, and supports good bowel function.

Carbohydrates aren’t bad, paying attention to portion sizes is important though. Your overall energy intake and the amount of energy you burn will impact your weight. Balanced eating is key with weight management. Check out this helpful resource, Healthy Ways for a Healthy Weight.

I am a very active person who has recently been diagnosed with an overgrowth of candida (yeast) in my body. It was recommended that I eliminate as many sugars in my diet as I can, including carbohydrates found in pasta and the like. How does a very active person eliminate as many carbs as possible, yet still have enough energy to exercise?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

This is not true and I hope it wasn’t a doctor who gave you this advice. Anti-candida diets are very popular in the lay literature and alternative medicine but there is no scientific evidence to support their use. There is some evidence to support restricting refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are our primary energy source, especially for active individuals so I would never tell you to eliminate carbohydrates. You absolutely need energy from carbohydrates! Choose whole grain (as much as possible) breads, pasta and brown rice. Whole-grain grain products are less refined. Focus on eliminating more refined carbohydrates such as sugars found in sweets such as candy, cookies, pastries etc.

There is a dramatic difference between refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white flour) and whole grain carbohydrates (whole grain bread, brown rice). Even though our body breaks them all down into sugar or glucose, whole grains are providing us key nutrients such as folate and fiber while refined carbohydrates are just contributing energy.

You may also be interested in taking a probiotic supplement to manage candida. Although there is not enough scientific evidence to support this, Esther Blum (a Registered Dietitian) has a great book called, “Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous” that talks about remedying yeast overgrowth.

I am a 21 year old female who used has been practicing vegetarianism for 4 years on and off. Recently I have decided to go back to a strict vegetarian diet, however I need to be able to accomplish this while training for a marathon. Please let me know what kinds of foods I should be incorporating in my diet.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

It is possible to get your nutrient needs met through food choices alone, no need for supplements. When training for a marathon be sure you are getting enough energy or calories. As a vegetarian pay special attention to the milk and alternatives food group, for calcium and vitamin D, as well as protein rich foods such as beans and nuts. You of course need to have enough carbohydrate as well as this is your primary fuel source. Stick to the guidelines in Canada’s Food Guide or you can create your own version of the food guide at www.myfoodguide.ca and keep in mind the amount of food recommended is actually for sedentary individuals so if you are very active you will need to increase the number of servings from each of the 4 food groups.
Also see the following resource, Eating Well for Vegetarian Athletes.

Recipe: Booster Bar

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Energy bars can be smart sports snacks but some can be more like an expensive chocolate bar stuffed with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Try these easy, no bake bars that taste great and give you energy to burn!


Booster Barenergybar

(Makes 16)


1 cup (250ml) each of rolled oats, raisins, crunchy peanut butter


½ cup (125ml) each of chocolate chips, honey, oat bran, toasted wheat germ and skim milk powder


Mix all dry ingredients together. Add peanut butter and honey and mix well, you may have to use your hands.

Press mixture into a square pan. Chill and cut into bars.

Store in fridge or freezer.



You can use other nut or seed butters to change it up. For those with allergies to peanuts try sunflower seed butter.

To toast the wheat germ, spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 5 minutes.


Nutrition Tips

These bars give you a combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat – ideal to help you power up and feel great.

Per bar: 251kcal, 9g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 3g fiber and 11g fat.


This recipe adapted from the Dairy Farmers of Canada.


Printer-Friendly Version – Booster Bar

Nutrition Question: On a nutrition label, if it says 30g carbohydrates, and say 3 of those is sugars or even fibre does that mean the other 27 is starch i.e. complex carbs or the good stuff?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Yes, only some labels will include the starch but the numbers should all add up.


And to add some background to your question….all carbohydrate is broken down into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs.


Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on how fast your body digests and absorbs the sugar. Simple carbohydrates can be from naturally occurring sugars (such as honey and molasses, as well as those found in vegetables, fruit and milk) or refined sugars such as syrups, jams, jelly, table sugar and those in soft drinks and candies. Complex carbohydrates or starches are found in rice, bread, pasta, legumes and starchy vegetables like potatoes.


I hope you are not spending too much time doing math with nutrition facts labels. Keep in mind some sugars are naturally occurring and not necessarily “bad”. You need a balance of simple and complex carbohydrate choices to meet your nutrient needs. Canada’s Food Guide is a great reference to ensure you are choosing quality carbohydrate.