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The Dish

The Dish

With SFU's Registered Dietitian

I find it hard to get enough servings of fruit/vegetables in a day and am wondering if you can count the vegetables in a bowl of soup as one serving?

Monday, February 7th, 2011

It really depends on the soup, but yes vegetables in soup can count towards your daily servings. Each ½ cup of cooked vegetables counts as one serving and that can easily fit into a bowl. To help you visualize, measure out ½ cup of cooked vegetables just once and see how it fits in your bowl. My strategy for getting enough vegetables is having soup as part of my lunch in the winter and salads in the summer.

Check out these tips from students for getting enough vegetables and fruit, http://blogs.sfu.ca/services/thedish/?page_id=918

Topic of the Month – December 2010: Surviving holiday eating

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

So it’s that time of year again… we end up losing count of the mini quiche and cocktail snacks we had for dinner, wine is always on the menu, and any desert made with chocolate and alcohol (ie rum balls) are a must have.  Well I must say, (and you have heard me say this before), don’t forget about the 80-20 rule. Stick to healthy eating according to Canada’s Food Guide 80% of the time but allow yourself a treats for 20%. Special occasions come around once a year, but it doesn’t mean we want to overeat to the point of being uncomfortable. Find a balance that works for you and focus on the connectedness of the holiday season rather than the food. Here are a few tips:

Plan ahead and continue to eat regularly. Just because you are having turkey dinner at 5pm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat anything earlier in the day. Have balanced meals, every 3-4 hours, throughout the holidays and have a plan for what you are going to eat at the party/dinner event.

Have healthy snacks on hand. This is true during the semester when you are at school but this also goes for when you are out for a full day of shopping. Mandarin oranges are great to go, and pack some plain nuts/seeds as well.

Serve plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. For holiday flair dress up your vegetable platter with red and green peppers or add fresh cranberries or pomegranate seeds to your punch.

Enjoy alcohol in moderation. Alcohol can dehydrate you and adds extra calories. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soda water with lemon/lime.

Keep moving. Shopping can actually be a part of your daily physical activity, you can learn more my joining an upcoming health promotion program, 7 Weeks to Wellness.

Best of the season to you all,

I was wondering if there were some spices we could add into the berry banana shake? Would it be better with vanilla extract or added sugar or perhaps nutmeg? I made a banana blueberry shake today and found it didn’t taste as good as, say, Orange Julius or Starbucks. What is the difference between their recipe and ours?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Thanks for your great question, I’m glad you tried the Banana Berry Smoothie recipe.  The big difference is likely added sugar. Orange Julius and Starbucks don’t give away their recipes online but judging from the nutrition information there is added sugar. One thing I would suggest it using a very ripe banana. The more ripe, the sweeter it tastes. Also feel free to add any other flavors that you prefer, vanilla and nutmeg are great ideas. You could also try cinnamon. Also try different combinations of fruit to see what you like best. If you prefer a super sweet taste it’s okay to add a teaspoon or 2 of sugar or honey. Your homemade version would still have less sugar than the store bought equivalents.

Topic of the Month – September 2010

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Eat Vegetables & Fruit

 At some point (I hope), you may have heard of the “5 to 10 a day” campaign which started back in 1998 which has emphasized the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. While chatting with a colleague at the Heart & Stroke Foundation (one of the partners of this campaign), I was alerted to the revised website which I wanted to share. It has great suggestions for meal planning, smart shopping as well as recipes. Visit www.5to10aday.com

Also we all know we need to eat more vegetables and fruit but I think we often forget why it is so important. Check out the list below adapted from the Produce For Better Health Foundation, also featured on the above website.

Top 10 for Fruits & Veggies

  1. Fruits and veggies are delicious!
  2. Some crunch, some are juicy, some you can peel, some you can grow in your own backyard!
  3. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack.
  4. Fresh fruits and veggies – there are hundreds to choose from. Try a new one today!
  5. Eating a healthy diet including fruits and veggies can help contribute to your overall health and vitality.
  6. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
  7. Most fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
  8. Fruits and veggies provide fibre that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy.
  9. Fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits and veggies are ready when you are!
  10. Fruits and veggies add colour, texture and goodness to every meal and snack.

Recipe: Strawberry Sorbet

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Strawberry Sorbet
(Serves 6)

1.5 cups strawberries  (fresh or frozen, unsweetened)
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cold water
4 tsp cornstarch

Wash and hull fresh strawberries or thaw frozen strawberries. Blend strawberries and apple juice in a blender until smooth. In a medium saucepan over medium hear, cook strawberry mixture, sugar and cinnamon, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Combine water and cornstarch and stir into hot mixture. Cook for 3 minutes until thick and clear. Chill for one hour in the fridge. Pour into square (8-inch) pan, cover and freeze for about 3 hours or until firm. Break frozen mixture into chunks, beat with electric mixture at medium speed until fluffy. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm. Transfer from freezer to fridge about 15 minutes before serving.

This sorbet is a perfect low-fat ending to any meal and can be made with virtually any fruit! Be creative and impress your friends!

Nutrition Tips
Per serving: 85kcal, 0 g fat, 0g protein, 21g carbohydrate and 1 g fiber.
The strawberries in this recipe are a good source of Vitamin C!

I would appreciate if you could give me some ideas on a cardio protective diet…..

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Sure thing. There are some key things to consider when aiming to eat a heart healthy diet:

  • limiting saturated and trans fat (found in commercial baked goods and many processed foods), choosing unsaturated fats instead (found in avocado, nuts and olive oil)
  • choosing whole grain, high fiber foods (such as brown rice or a whole grain bread)
  • eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables

But there are lots of details to go along with this information, check out this Heart Healthy Eating resource from HealthLinkBC’s Dietitian Services. If you still have specific questions, send me another message or you can also call 8-1-1 and speak to a Registered Dietitian.

I have some problem eating food containing citric acid such as oranges and yogurt. Every time I eat oranges or yogurt, I end up with a really bad migraine. I try to avoid them as much as possible but it’s really hard :( Anything else I can do or is there any alternatives that are available?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I would suggest making sure you are getting key nutrients like Vitamin C (which is in oranges) from other foods such as dark leafy greens, potatoes and peppers. Making sure you are drinking milk can take care of key nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D. But because your question is related to a health issue I would recommend talking to a Registered Dietitian by calling 8-1-1 (HealthLink BC).

Topic of the Month – March 2010

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Celebrate food…..from field to table!

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s focus is celebrating food from field to table. It couldn’t come at a better time as we are surrounded by messages in the media encouraging us to be more aware of where our food comes from. As well, I am sure you have heard many conversations about local or organic food as well as the 100 mile diet so here’s my perspective as a Registered Dietitian.

Canada has so much to celebrate in terms of our contributions to agriculture. Did you know that Canada’s largest fruit crop in terms of weight of food produced is apples? Lucky for us in BC, many of these apples are grown right here. Also, our smallest province produces most of Canada’s potatoes. Yay for PEI (and my friend Jenn who lives close to Charlottetown who makes the best oven baked potatoe wedges)!

I have written about organic food in the past (see Topic of the Month – June 2009). Whether you choose organic or not is a personal choice which I leave up to you but I encourage everyone to make sure they are eating enough vegetables and fruit. A study that I read this morning looks at fruit and vegetable intake in ethnic populations and found that Southeast Asian and Chinese groups had significantly lower consumption than the average Canadian (Quadir & Akthar-Danesh, 2010). This made me think about many of our students here at SFU, so make sure you check out the Nutrition Month contest.

And while we are talking about fruits and vegetables I have to let you know that frozen and canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. Just make sure your canned choices have minimal added salt and sugar. “Fresh” fruits and vegetables are often picked before their nutrient content has peaked while canned fruits/vegetables are harvested at their peak ripeness.

Evidence shows that locally grown vegetables and fruits can be more nutritious than those transported from longer distances but there is only limited evidence for meat and grains. Keep in mind there are numerous other factors which influence nutritional quality of produce such as the ripeness when harvested, handling post harvest and storage before it reaches the market.

If you are choosing only to eat local foods or foods within a 100 mile radius you can be missing out on key nutrients.  Certain foods such as spices and olive oil are not produced in Canada or in the case of grains, cannot be produced locally. Limiting to foods produced within 100 miles of where we live can make it hard to follow advice from Canada’s Food Guide. One advantage though is if you are choosing local foods, you are more likely to be preparing meals from scratch which is a good way to control amounts of added salt and fat.

Thanks to Dietitians of Canada, I have the following resources to share to help you celebrate food from field to table.

How to…Celebrate food…from field to table!

To whet your appetite

Fabulous Food Facts

Dietitians of Canada. Nutrition Month Campaign Reference Manual for Dietitians. 2010.
Quadir, T and Akhtar-Danesh N. Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Canadian Ethic Populations. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 2010;71:11-17.

Does fruit and milk sugar break down in the body the same way as regular table sugar? Are they all considered of equal “healthyness”?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The sugar found in fruit is called fructose and the sugar in milk is called lactose. Table sugar is sucrose. Sugars are broken down into monosaccharides (single units of carbohydrate) during digestion.

Lactose = glucose + galactose

Sucrose = glucose + fructose

All sugars provide 4 calories per gram. After sugars are broken down they pass through the wall of our intestine into the blood stream, to the liver and to our body’s tissues.  I would not recommend choosing foods that contain sugar based on the way our body breaks them down.

However, fructose in fruit and lactose in milk are naturally occurring sugars in foods which fit into Canada’s Food Guide. Fruit provides additional nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium and fiber while milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Sucrose (table sugar) is an added sugar and is one we want to limit, as the advice in Canada’s Food Guide states, “Limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt.” Sucrose does not provide any additional nutrients; it is often referred to as an “empty calorie” meaning it is contributing energy to our diet and not much else. So in terms of your question when we think of healthy eating, these sugars are NOT equal. See another similar question on fructose by clicking here.

I heard fructose is converted to fats more easily/often which is worrisome because I thought we’re supposed to eat a lot of fruit! I’ve also heard information saying it is not fully digested until it gets to the large intestine (where bacteria digest it) producing flatulence, and healthy? short-chain fatty acids?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Could you clarify what strategy I should be using in terms of GI/load, a healthy body composition, and cholesterol?

Wow, lots to address in your question. Firstly, yes eating 8-10 servings of vegetables and fruit is recommended for adult males in Canada’s Food Guide. Notice I am referring to vegetables and fruit, not just fruit.

Carbohydrate digestion occurs almost entirely in the small intestine. When you eat an apple for example which contains glucose, fructose and sucrose, enzymes will act on the sucrose to break it down into a monosaccharide (single unit of carbohydrate) similar to glucose and fructose. Then they pass into the bloodstream to the liver. Most fructose is converted to glucose in the liver.

Some of what you read is correct but I will clarify further. If excess amounts of fructose (or other sugars) are consumed, they can pass undigested into the colon. The recommended amounts listed above are not considered excess. Colonic bacteria will ferment malabsorbed sugars and produce gas as well as short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s). Keep in mind though, these SCFA’s provide fuel for the cells in the colon, enhance absorption of electrolytes and water and help reduce the osmotic load of the sugars in the colon. Individuals with malabsorption in their small intestine might also have excess amounts of undigested carbohydrate in their colon.

In terms of glycemic index, when you have vegetables and fruit combined with other food groups their glycemic load is reduced. I don’t really recommend using the glycemic index to dictate food choices for the average person. Eating adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit can actually improve your lipid profile, including cholesterol.

So I would advise you to consume vegetables and fruit as recommended in Canada’s Food Guide. A variety of colorful vegetables and fruit gives you a variety of key nutrients, antioxidants as well as fiber.