Monday, January 31, 2011

Eat...and teach your kids to eat well

As my little one turned six months old last week (don't even get me started on how quickly the time has gone) thoughts have turned to feeding baby. When it came to planning his introduction to solid foods, I chose not to feed him the ubiquitous white rice cereal. 

Why? A few reasons:

1. Aside from the iron that is added to it, plain rice cereal doesn't have a lot going for it, nutritionally speaking.
2. Since it will take a while for a new eater to eat substantial amounts, breast milk is still supplying 99% of his energy. I wanted to focus on nutrient dense foods instead of caloric filler.
3. During this phase of learning to eat and accept new foods, I wanted the foods I introduce to be preparation for the foods we are going to eat as a family, namely fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. 

So far he has eaten a variety of organic produce: carrots, acorn squash, garnet yams and avocado. The only food that got an amusing reaction was the avocado (kind of like a pucker and a shudder!) but after each squirm he still opened his mouth, eager for the next bite. I have been doing veggies before I go for fruits, with the idea that giving sweets first might make a child less willing to accept the more complex flavours of veggies.

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: while I am a dietitian, I am no expert on infant nutrition. I am speaking in this post from my own opinions and experience. 

In my work I often get questions from moms about how to get their kids to eat more vegetables. The question I always ask is, "have you fed your child vegetables from the very start?" The answer is usually "no". As parents, we tend to project our ideas about food onto our children such as "there is no way little Sally will like broccoli...". You want to know a secret? You teach your child what to like and dislike! It is all about what your child is accustomed to eating. How can you expect your child to want to eat vegetables if they were introduced to sweet, bland foods? Or worse, if you don't eat many vegetables yourself?  Consider your baby's first foods an opportunity to introduce them to the healthiest way of eating possible. It might even rub off on the entire family...

A couple of links you might find interesting:

I came across the White Out campaign today, spearheaded by Dr Alan Greene, a pediatrician. He is hoping to convince parents to substitute white rice cereal for whole grain rice cereal. This is a small step in the right direction of breaking our culture's obsession with super processed carbs. You can learn more about the campaign at WhiteOut Now! |

For those of you in the greater Vancouver area looking to learn more about feeding your baby, check out Vitamin K Nutrition by a colleague, Kristen Yarker Edgar RD who teaches classes on feeding your baby so that you can have yourself a champion eater!

In good health,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

UnDiet...Week Five

Hello UnDieters!

My apologies for the late post...another week, another little nutrition tweak. Let's talk yogurt. Specifically, you. Eating yogurt. Good yogurt. Not "yogurt": a vague dairy like substance with a pound of sugar and a bunch of stabilizers holding it together because the manufacturer cannot seem to make proper yogurt. 

Yogurt is a simple super food. Just milk mingling with your friendly neighbourhood bacteria to enormous benefit. Probiotic bacteria in yogurt help to colonize your gut with happy bacteria and compete with and crowd out the kind of bacteria that no one wants: bugs that cause localized inflammation and reduce the integrity of that all important gut barrier between the inner you and outer you. The extent to which gut health affects overall health and the role that regular yogurt, not standardized supplements, plays is still up for debate in the research community. To read more about the immune enhancing effects of yogurt, see my earlier blog post

Let the lab rats first, I always belly up to the bar and enjoy 3/4 cup of plain organic yogurt every single day. Yes, plain. If you can't afford organic, stick to nonfat. The ingredients should read: milk and probiotic cultures. No gelatin, no sugar, no modified milk ingredients. If your sweet tooth can take the beautiful tang of yogurt au naturale, stir in a bit of honey or chopped fruit. 

In addition to probiotics, yogurt offers calcium, magnesium and protein which are three nutrients we all need more of. Here are 3 super quick ways to enjoy your daily yogurt:

1. For breakfast: with your bran cereal and a cup of chopped fruit and a drizzle of honey.
2. In a snack smoothie: blend yogurt with a bit of skim milk or not-from-concentrate berry juice, 1/2 cup frozen berries and half a banana.
3. For dessert: topped with a bit of good granola, a bit of honey and maybe a few dark chocolate chips.

For bonus points, check out Liberte Kefir, a traditional Russian drinking yogurt. Makes a nice healthy "cocktail" when mixed one-to-one with a not-from-concentrate juice like blueberry or pomegranate.

Healthy Dreams,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

UnDiet...Week Four

Water, Water of the Calanques in the Mediterranean.

Good Morning UnDieters!

Time flies, doesn't it? Right about now, many people's New Years Resolutions are waning. Days of celery and chicken breasts are getting boring. And no one wants to slog out to the gym in the snow. You? You are coasting through the detritus of abandoned resolutions. You might even be enjoying the Hot Chocolate Festival and Dine Out Vancouver with nary a care in the world, knowing that you are on the path to better health. 

We are already eating an apple a day, skimming the fat off our milk and getting comfortable with roughage. Now is probably a good time to hydrate. So what's next?

Water: some people love it, others hate it. Regardless of your opinion, water is critical to life. Our body is essentially a liquid medium and dehydration of even 2% can lead to significant declines in mental and physical performance. Feeling tired, foggy and sluggish? Could be dehydration. Feeling snacky? Could be dehydration. Skin slack and dull? Water might be contributing to that too. Last week's fibre not working that well? Try water. Water is critical for healthy bowel movement and dehydration can significantly slow things down, down there. 

So this week, we are going to start drinking a glass of water before every meal. If you are already drinking plenty of water, pat yourself on the back and kick your heels up for the rest of the week! How do you know if you are drinking enough? Your urine should be clear or very pale yellow (except if you take B vitamins and then you might have a couple of day-glo voids) all the time. Drinking a glass of water before each meal may also help you to feel a bit more full after you eat. 

Don't like the taste of plain water? Try a generous squeeze of lemon or lime. Need a bigger flavour boost? Add a splash of juice...and make it a good not-from-concentrate blueberry, cranberry or pomegranate to get some antioxidants in there. Need a bone health boost? Try a mineral water rich in calcium and magnesium, like Gerolsteiner.

Until next that my big presentation is over, I might even try to get a midweek post done! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

UnDiet...Week Three

Good Morning, UnDieters!

As of this morning, you are eating your apple a day and have sneakily trimmed some fat from your diet (and soon, your hips). Now it's time to get serious about fibre. The average Canadian only consumes about 14 grams of fibre a day, which is a far cry from the 25 to 38 grams recommended for better health. 

"Fibre, blah blah blah...." you say. "I have no issues in the 'going' department, so I must be fine when it comes to fibre" you say. 

Sure, staying "regular" is a key benefit of getting enough fibre but the benefits of roughage go way beyond logging bathroom time. Fibre ensures that the waste your body produces moves on out quickly, minimizing the amount of time you are exposed to potential toxins in your waste. That is why fibre is a key component to detoxification. 

On the way through your gut, fibre also grabs on to a few things you may not want sticking around. Like cholesterol. And fats. Fibre also helps to physically stretch your stomach and slow down the rate that your stomach empties, making you feel full and satisfied. Fibre helps delay the release of sugars into your bloodstream, helping keep blood sugars on an even keel to keep you energized and make weight loss easier to achieve.

So I am going to give you a trick to boosting your fibre intake. Get to know All Bran Buds with Psyllium. This dietitian's secret weapon delivers 11 grams of fiber in an 80 calorie, 1/3 cup serving along with a hefty dose of iron, magnesium and thiamin, a B vitamin. You can toss the buds on your favourite breakfast cereal, stir them into yogurt (or on ice cream....just not everyday please!) or hide them in a smoothie. No massive diet change required. Just a simple addition.

Check out the ingredients and nutrition facts for All Bran cereal. Looking for an organic option? Nature's Path Smart Bran is great...Gluten Free? I've got you Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax

To your health!

PS...I should mention that whenever I feature a product on my is NOT solicited by the company who makes the product. I will never feature any product I would not use myself and if ever a company asks me to feature something I already adore, I will be sure to be up front about it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

UnDiet...Week Two

Hello UnDieters! 

It's week two...still eating your apples? Good. Now it's time to build another healthy habit into your diet. The strategy this week: switch to skim!

I am all about cutting out calories and fat where they don't really matter so you can indulge when they do ( Hello, cheese plate! ). So this week, if you aren't already drinking skim milk, it's time to make the switch! If skim seems too drastic a change, take a single step down on the milk fat going from homo to 2%, 2% to 1% and then 1% to skim. Why bother? Each glass of skim milk saves you 41 calories and 5 grams of fat. Doesn't seem impressive until you do that for a full year and save yourself 14,965 calories which equals a potential weight loss of 4.2 pounds. Without cutting back on portions! In addition, milk fat is a source of dioxins, which is a major dietary toxin. Skim the fat, remove the dioxins. And all you did was switch your milks. 

Already drink skim milk or a vegetarian alternative? Make sure you get a glass a day, you healthy vixen you. 

Keep with it, UnDieters...although it may feel like you aren't doing anything, that's the point! The weeks will build and you are making over your diet for good. And since rewards are always fun, look for giveaways for UnDieters...coming soon!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year...New You!

It’s resolution time again…whether your goal for the New Year is to lose weight, learn to sail or finally get that promotion, your body is the vehicle for all of your ambitions. So how are you fueling that body? Busy lives can leave nutrition on the back burner, as we mistakenly think that any food that fills our belly will help us get to the finish line. If you find yourself constantly relying on takeout and “instant” meals, soon you’ll be running on empty. Good food is the foundation of good health and a healthy body has the energy to help you achieve all that you want out of life.

I am all about the much so that I created a special 10 week plan for Choices Markets, where I am the Nutrition Operations Manager when I am not at home with a little bambino! You can check out the Choices Markets "New Year, New You!" Program on their Facebook Page at where each week you will view a new challenge. It is a great plan to get a jump start on the New Year (if I do say so myself)...and then continue you can continue the success each week back here on my blog with a full year of UnDiet!

To help you reach your goals, Choices Nutrition Team is offering informative seminars throughout the month of January and personalized nutrition consultations by donation in Vancouver, White Rock and Kelowna. Look for more helpful resources in store and at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Eat Drink...Be Local!

We talk a lot about local food here in Vancouver...but when it comes to eating, it is far more fun to use your mouth to actually eat! I am a proud East Van girl and 5 East Vancouver restaurants have collaborated to celebrate all that is great about eating and drinking in our's called Eat Drink Local Week! 

Between January 9 & 12 and again between January 16 & 19, for just $20 you can get a entree and a drink at Boneta, The Diamond, Cork & Fin, Two Chefs and a Table or Au Petit Chavignol. A thank you to Au Petit Chavignol and Boneta for vegetarian options (Wild Mushroom Mac & Cheese at Au Petit Chavignol? YES!!!)

Go have fun...go local!

Learn more at 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The UnDiet...Week One

Apples from my grandparent's trees

Good Morning and welcome to the UnDiet. 

No pills, powders or complex philosophies. Just one year, 52 simple changes and one healthier, more vibrant (and maybe tinier) you. 

This week's goal is "An apple a day". It really can keep the doctor away. So go buy 7 of your favourite apples and eat one every single day. That's it. I told you it would be easy.

Why apples? They are inexpensive, a local food for many of us and far overlooked in the nutrition department. A good source of fibre with plenty of antioxidants, they are an easy and delicious way to boost your defenses. You may eat the apple anyway you want as long as you consume the whole thing, so no peeling or just eating half. It would probably be better if you didn't bake it into a cake...but you're the boss.

If you like apples, keep eating one apple every day this month or even this year. Display your weekly apple supply in a nice fruit bowl on your counter as a reminder of your commitment to your health. Like all of the goals, the idea is to build goal upon goal so by December 31st you will have completely remade your diet one day at a time.

Learn more about BC apples at 

Now go back to sleep....Happy New Year!