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The Dish

The Dish

With SFU's Registered Dietitian

Topic of the Month – February 2011: What constitutes a healthy student diet?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a SFU student, Meaghan Wilson, who is writing for The Peak. Check out what a healthy student diet is all about, http://www.the-peak.ca/article/22318

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,

When consuming alcohol, are there certain foods that one should avoid? What about if you are about to consume alcohol, what foods are good? Sometimes when I eat a veggie dinner, I still feel like the beer I had is eating at my stomach.

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Eating before or with your drink alcohol is important, it slows down the rush of alcohol into the blood. I wonder what your “veggie meal” consists of, if it is just vegetable and carbohydrate (ie pasta with tomato sauce or stir fry with noodles) there is protein missing and maybe even some fat. Any food will slow the rate of alcohol absorption but if your meal is well balanced, with protein, carbohydrate and fat, the digestion rate is even slower. For example, including meat with your pasta and sauce or tofu with the vegetable noodle stir fry would be a good idea. There aren’t specific “good foods” it is the balance that is important. Remember to aim for 3 of the 4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide for your meals.

I also wonder if you are experiencing heart burn (gastro-esophageal reflux) when you say the beer is “eating at your stomach”. The types of foods that bother people with heartburn can vary a lot. Also, alcohol is a known trigger for heartburn. Do you ever get this feeling when you are not drinking beer? If it is heart burn and it continues to bother you, try the tips below.

Tips to manage heart burn:

  • Limit or avoid beverages that contain alcohol.
  • Limit or avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea or cola drinks.
  • Remain sitting upright during meals and for 45 to 60 minutes after eating.
  • Avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large amounts of food at one time.
  • Avoid clothing that is tight across your stomach.
  • Limit or avoid foods that may trigger symptoms such as spices, peppermint, chocolate, citrus juices, onions, garlic and tomato products.

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.

Topic of the Month – August 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Hosting a Healthy Dinner Party 101
By: Stephanie Chung and Amandeep Sandhu, UBC Dietetics Students

Hosting a dinner party is a big project that requires a lot of preparation; especially if you’re thinking of planning a healthy menu.  To make your task a little less daunting, here are seven simple principles for creating a nutritious, delicious and fulfilling dinner menu with a healthy spin!

  1. A 6 oz glass of red wine has about the same amount of calories as a 1.5 oz shot of liquor.  Compared to liquor, wine has less alcohol content, making it less calorie dense. Be sure to provide fresh water for guests to keep them well hydrated.
  2. Instead of serving fancy hor d’oeuvres, why not put together a simple fruit and cheese platter surrounded by whole grain crackers. This healthy appetizer provides a nutty flavor, a chewier texture, plus fiber.
  3. Since soups can be easily prepared a day in advance, this means less hassle for you on the day of the party.  Soups are a great way to start dinner because they can be quite filling for your guests. The secret to creating a light, yet creamy soup is to puree beans or root vegetables into a smooth and luscious texture. 
  4. Buy pre-washed mixed greens and toss them with a homemade dressing (mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice, a pinch of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste).  Skip out on the commercial salad dressings because they are often high in sugar and fat, not to mention the numerous additives that you cannot pronounce.
  5. Cuts that have “loin” or “round” in their names tend to have lower amounts of artery-clogging saturated fats. Selecting white meat such as poultry or fish can be another way to cut saturated fats from your menu.  Try choosing fatty fish, since it provides a good dose of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  6. Instead of preparing mashed potatoes saturated with butter and sour cream, try mashing potatoes with low-fat milk or use low-fat Greek yogurt as a topping.  Better yet, include a serving of roasted root vegetables with the entree, or even bring back the salad bowl to the table. 
  7. Desserts are a must-have. A quick, light and satisfying dessert can be a scoop (or two) of low-fat frozen yogurt in a small bowl, topped off with chopped nuts and fresh fruits.  You can even add a dollop of whipped cream for decadence.

Hosting a healthy dinner party doesn’t have to be stressful! Follow these simple, delicious guidelines and you’ll quickly become an expert on healthy eating without compromising flavour or presentation.  Cheers!

Stephanie Chung is a third-year student at the University of British Columbia, working toward her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics so she can become a Registered Dietitian in the near future.  She has a strong passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to share her interests with everyone around her. At times when she is alone, she enjoys spending her time blogging about healthy eating at her blog, Juicy Fresh Bites, with the goal to provide healthy recipes and practical nutrition tips to help people achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle!

Aman Sandhu is a third year Dietetics Major at UBC.  Her attraction and excitement for nutrition and health has stemmed from her interest in food and it’s implications on the physiology of the human body.  She is quite intrigued by the relationship people have with food and how that translates into physical and mental health.

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.

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.

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.

Like many people here at SFU, I’m on the Chartwells meal plan card. I eat dinner there pretty much every day (and occasionally for lunch or breakfast). I’m looking to lose a bit of weight while here at university, and was wondering if you knew about how some of the Chartwells food is prepared?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Specifically, I was wondering about how foods such as the mixed vegetables were prepared. Are they prepared in butter, steamed, boiled? What kind of oils are used to prepare the food? Is there a place where I can find nutritional information for the meals prepared at Chartwells? I’m trying to make healthier, balanced, choices while lowering my calorie intake a little. What do you suggest food-wise for a girl on the mealplan? What foods at Chartwells should I try to avoid?

Great questions!

I contacted the manager at the Residence Dining Hall, Lisa, and she said “at the dining hall our vegetables are steamed then tossed in seasoning with a bit of olive oil. We do also steam vegetables to order if requested by our customers these would be just vegetables no seasoning. Fryer oil is trans fat free. The general nutritionals are on the web site but unit specific are needs to asked at the unit. We all have very diferent & diverse menus. Chef Dav is is free to answer any questions that a student may have for this location.”
The Chartwells website is http://www.dineoncampus.ca/sfu/ 

It’s great that you want to eat healthy, I would encourage you to focus on health rather than your weight and cutting  out calories. See other questions in the “Healthy Weight” category.

Lastly, I worked with Residence and Dining Hall staff to put together a resource for students called Eating Right in Rez. It’s also accessible from the top right menu under “Healthy Eating at SFU”.