There are a few sporting events I particularity look forward to each year, and March Madness is one of them! I thoroughly enjoy watching this NCAA tournament as it is incredible and awe-inspiring how young and talented these student athletes are. The tournament is nearing the end, and we will see the battle of the Final Four very soon (I am cheering on Kansas!). Who will be the winner?!
I really enjoy working with student athletes because it is an area where Dietitians can have a huge impact. I also get to partake in their journey through their university career, and it is overall a very valuable and rewarding experience. For most college athletes, it is their first time moving away from home and living on their own. This can create various barriers to consuming a healthy diet. Barriers may include cooking skills, nutrition knowledge, limited time, limited selection if living on campus, and financial strains and these can greatly affect a young person’s nutrition intake.
Lack of time is likely one of the biggest barriers for college athletes, or everyone for that matter. Athletes spend a tremendous amount of time practicing and completing strength and conditioning plans along with traveling for their sport, going to class, studying, all while trying to maintain a social life. This can be very stressful for an athlete and unfortunately they may neglect to thinking about their nutrition plan. Poor nutrition intake can lead to decreased sleep time/quality, reduced ability to recover from their training, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, increase risk of injury or illness and thus ultimately impair their performance. I believe that providing nutrition support is important for a college athlete’s success, and in the spirit of March Madness, below are a few time and cost saving tips to boost nutrition intake of busy athletes!
Time saving tips
Cost saving tips
Writer: Stephanie Boville MSc, RD
Registered Dietitian and sport nutritionist with ESN and Athlete’s Care Yorkville. email@example.com
Stephanie is passionate about helping athletes of all ages reach their athletic goals through nutritional means. She is very interested in nutrition interventions for concussion management and joint health as these two areas are very important in sport.
Injuries are an unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable aspect of participation in sport and exercise. Treatment options for injury often include rest, ice massage, manual therapy, heat, electrical stimulation and acupuncture. An often overlooked intervention is nutrition.
To understand the potential of food to help in the healing process, we first need to understand a little bit about the stages of injury.
Most exercise-related injuries go through three main stages in the recovery process. In the first stage, which lasts anywhere from 1-7 days, pain, swelling, redness and heat draws chemicals to the injured area to start the healing process and increase blood flow to the area. In the second stage which can start as early as day 4 and last about 6 weeks, inflammation begins to settle down and the body starts to repair the damaged tissue by laying down collagen. These new collagen fibres are put down in a in the form of scar tissue, which is weaker and less flexible than normal tissues. In the third stage which starts around 2-3 weeks post injury, healing continues to progress and the collagen fibres improve in quality, organization and strength.
Nutrition plays an important role in each of these stages.
Although inflammation is a critical part of triggering the repair process, too much may cause more damage. During this phase, try to include more anti-inflammatory fats in your diet. These include:
At the same time, try to limit pro-inflammatory foods like:
Stage 2 and 3
In these stages, metabolism may increase anywhere from 15-50% to support new tissue growth. So you'll need more calories than when you are sedentary, but fewer than when you are training and exercising regularly. Over the course of the day:
Unlock Foods Potential to Heal
Next time you find yourself sidelined with an injury, consider adding a registered dietitian to your treatment team to help ensure that you are getting the right nutrients to support your body in healing.
Writer: Stephanie MacNeill (RD)
We all know how Easter and the Easter Bunny can get the better our sweet tooth. It’s a time of chocolate, candy, and all things sweet, but it doesn’t have put our pancreas into overdrive. This year, try switching up your Easter treats to be a little more balanced. Here are a few unconventional Easter treats that can be put in your kids’ Easter basket or your own:
1. Dark Chocolate
Instead of filling your Easter basket with milk chocolate, switch it out for some dark chocolate that’s 80-90% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains a much less sugar and saturated fat than milk chocolate and has some benefits to our cardiovascular system along with containing antioxidants. One little square is often enough to satisfy those chocolate cravings and the strong flavour will grow on you!
2. Herbal Tea
There are so many unique tea flavours out there that you can find teas that taste just like desserts! Herbal teas don’t contain any caffeine which children should only consume in small amounts. Find a few fun tea flavours to put in your kids’ Easter baskets for a fun new twist on Easter treats.
3. Arts and Crafts
Who says the Easter Bunny only brings chocolate and candy? Why not fill your Easter baskets with some fun arts and craft supplies to keep your kids (or yourself) busy and exploring their creativity? Colouring books, pencil crayons, markers, paint by number, water colours, and sidewalk chalk are all fun supplies to get their creativity flowing.
4. Chocolate Covered Fruit/Nuts
Chocolate covered fruit and nuts (provided there aren’t any allergies in your home) are great little treats and include more nutrients and fiber than plain old chocolate would. Fiber helps to keep you full longer, meaning you’re less likely to eat more than a handful because they’re so filling. Dark chocolate varieties are also available and will contain less sugar than their milk chocolate counter parts.
5. Lip Balm
Who doesn’t have dry lips after the long Winter months? Adding some lip balm to your Easter Basket creation can help ease those chapped lips. You can even go with some shimmery lip gloss to add some fun colour.
6. Reusable Water Bottle
A fun reusable water bottle can help people stay hydrated throughout the day and is great for people on the go. An insulated one will help keep your water cold for most of the day. Natural flavours can be added to your water with the use of a water bottle that has an infuser like berries, lemon, lime, or cucumbers.
7. Jump Rope
Since the weather will be getting warmer, some equipment to help the whole family get outside and get active is a great idea. A jump rope, sidewalk chalk, or a new basketball are all great options to persuade the whole family to get outside and enjoy the warming temperatures.
To protect everyone in your house from the increased amount of UV rays while they’re enjoying the warm weather, throw some sunscreen into their Easter Basket. There are so many different varieties nowadays to keep everyone happy. An SPF between 30 to 50 and any sunscreen medium (lotion, dry-spray, etc.) will do the trick.
Although Easter is traditionally a time of chocolate filled Easter Baskets that often lasts for weeks, non-food items can become a new tradition. But don’t get me wrong, if you feel like enjoying some chocolate or sweets, allow yourself to enjoy those foods in moderation and not feel guilty about it. Foods that are solely eaten for pleasure are an important part of our diet and allow us to feel satisfied and not deprived. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Allow yourself to listen to your body and how it’s feeling, it can tell you a lot. Happy eating and healthy Easter!
Writer: Jessica Salomon, MAN, RD
Lifestyle factors, including good nutrition and adequate exercise, have the potential to influence our health. A nutritious diet can help prevent illness and can help lower the risk of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and certain types of cancer. In fact, almost 80 per cent of premature stroke and heart disease can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviours (such as eating healthy, being active and living smoke free).
There are many diets or eating patterns, some healthier than others. So you may be wondering, which eating pattern is best?
The reality is that there is no one absolutely, positively best diet for everyone. Everyone differs in terms of their:
Building a Balanced Diet
A basic healthy diet for disease prevention includes the following foods:
Work With a Dietitian
Consider working with a dietitian if you have health goals or concerns about your risk of chronic disease. We will work with you to embrace food, understand it and to enjoy it while considering your overall objectives, needs and challenges. As dietitians, we look beyond fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.
Writer: Stephanie MacNeill (RD)
In this, the second week of Nutrition Month, I'm going to discuss foods potential to discover: Foster healthy eating habits in children by teaching them to shop and cook.
In a culture that is increasingly relying on heavily processed, packaged and take-out foods, many children are growing up lacking basic food skills, including how to shop, cook and build a balanced meal. Teaching children from a young age, how to shop for and prepare healthy meals can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Cooking is also a great way to spend some extra time with your children or to reconnect after a long day apart at work and school. You can also use it as an opportunity to keep your cultural roots alive by teaching your children some of your favourite traditional family recipes.
Getting children involved in meal preparation is fun and rewarding! For an easy school lunch that you and your child can make together, give this Rockin' Ranch Roll Up a try!
Makes: 1 serving
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
1 10inch whole wheat flour tortilla
2 tsp light ranch style dressing (or honey mustard)
2 slices deli turkey, chicken or ham
2 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 large leaf of iceberg, Romaine or Bibb lettuce
2 slices of tomato
1. Spread ranch dressing on tortilla.
2. Top one half of the tortilla with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato.
3. Starting with the meat/cheese edge of the tortilla, roll up and enjoy!
Notes: serve with a side of baby carrots and cucumber slices
Visit Cookspiration or download the app for more great recipe ideas!
Writer: Stephanie MacNeill (RD)
That's what you may be saying to yourself if you've seen the news recently. Cricket powder has gone mainstream as it hit Canadian shelves this week.
The idea of eating bugs may be new to you, but entomophagy (the consumption of insects) is actually a common practice that has been taking place for tens of thousands of years! It's estimated that insects are part of the traditional diets of around 2 billion people. There are more than 1,900 edible insect species and the most commonly eaten bugs are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers and you guessed it, cricket.
If you really think about it, it's not even that big of a stretch. Bugs are arthropods (they don't have an internal skeleton) and are closely related to crustaceans* like shrimp, crab, crawfish and lobster. So crustaceans are really just bugs of the ocean. Also, consider the fact that honey only becomes honey after nectar from the flowers is passed mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee. So if you really think about it, you've been an entomophagist most of your life.
But seriously, what's so great about cricket powder?
Crickets have a myriad of health and performance benefits, while also being eco-friendly. Let's first look at some of the health and performance benefits:
Consuming insects is also more environmentally friendly. The resources required to produce 10 grams of cricket powder are 12 times less than the resources needed to produce 10 grams of beef protein. Crickets also require less land and water and produce fewer green house gas emissions than traditionally farmed animals. Over the span of a year, if a family of four ate one meal a week using cricket (or insect) protein, they would save the earth 650,000 litres of fresh water.
I'm sure what you're really wondering though, is how they taste. Well, I haven't actually summoned up the courage to try cricket powder myself (although it is on my to-do list). I'm told that cricket powder adds a subtle nutty/earthy flavour...so maybe if someone just told me it was a nut I wouldn't even think twice.
So, what do you think? Can you get behind these bugs in the grocery aisle?
* A word of caution, people who are allergic to crustaceans and shellfish may have an allergic reaction to crickets. Additionally, if you have a pre-disposed allergy to insect bites or stings you should proceed with caution.
Writer: Stephanie MacNeill (RD)
2017 was a monumental and widely publicized year for feminism with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Making this year’s International Women’s Day theme that much more fitting: #PressforProgress. This year’s theme is aimed at striving for gender parity within society. Although gender parity is a very important aspect of equality and women’s rights, it’s only one aspect. There are many areas we can Press for Progress, within society as a whole and within our personal lives.
International Women’s Day should mark the beginning of a year full of pushing for progress for yourself and women everywhere. I challenge you to spend the year following Women’s Day learning to love yourself and your body. Feminism, by definition, is an act of rebellion. It’s the act of rebelling against current societal and patriarchal norms for gender equality. What’s more rebellious than going against everything society tells us about our bodies, and loving who we are?
I know firsthand how disheartening looking at any form of media can be to your self-esteem. There are articles and ads everywhere about how to get ready for bikini season, how to make yourself as thin as possible, and how being anything other than in impeccable shape is viewed, each alongside images of scantily clad, unrealistically super fit, modelesque women. On top of it all, cosmetic, supplement, and fitness companies profit from our feelings of poor self-worth. It is in their best interest for us to feel poorly about ourselves. This deserves to change.
Here are 4 rebellious acts you can do to Push for Progress and learn to love yourself this Women’s Day:
1. Change how you talk about yourself
As women, we have a terrible habit of talking poorly about ourselves and our bodies. We are our own worst critics and we would never say the things we say about ourselves to our friends. They would probably punch us for it. To truly change how we see ourselves, a great first step is to cut out all that negative self-talk. It’s damaging and not beneficial to our self-esteem. Instead, replace those negative comments with things you are proud of doing or skills you possess.
2. Unfollow social media accounts that damage your self-confidence
Social media has become a huge part of our lives. We passively consume so much information and images throughout the day because of the amount of time we spend on social media. Because of this, we’re bound to come across accounts or posts that aren’t beneficial to our self-esteem. Whether it be a celebrity that is always posting about the latest diet to lose those extra 5lbs or an account that shames people for being anything other than perfect, you don’t need that in your life. Cut that garbage out of your life and don’t look back.
3. Embrace self-care
In the last year, there has been a huge boom for self-care and it’s amazing. Nothing screams love for ourselves and rebellion like providing ourselves with the self-care we deserve. Carve out time in your schedule to unwind and relax by reading, having a bath, knitting, preparing your favourite meal, or ensuring you get enough sleep. Self-care is individualized and non-prescriptive and should include something that’s important to you. Self-care should be a regular part of your lifestyle to help you feel grounded and to realize all you’ve accomplished in a day is worth celebrating.
4. Be proud of your body
Our bodies are capable of so many amazing things. It allows us to move the way we want, tells us what it needs, allows us to feel and explore within ourselves, to learn, and our bodies can even bear children. That’s amazing stuff. How we treat our bodies should be a reflection and celebration of all it’s capable of, not punishment for everything it’s been through. Don’t shame your body for showing its age or the scars it bears. We have such unrealistic expectations of how bodies should look and we will go to great lengths to keep it looking young, scar free, flat, toned, and tanned. Why not just be proud of your body for getting you this far?
As International Women’s Day is here, I challenge us all to be aware and cognizant of how we can make progress. And I challenge you to think differently about yourself and what your body is capable of. Take part in the rebellion and flex those feminism muscles with me. Happy International Women’s Day. #PressforProgress
Jessica Saloman, MAN, RD
Sports Dietitian with ESN and Athlete's Care Yonge and Eglinton and Liberty Village
Jessica has a unique interest in women’s health, specifically managing hormonal changes, treating PCOS, gut health, and the female athlete triad. She works alongside women to reach their individualized goals in realistic and manageable ways.
I'm so excited to be part of this year's Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign! We are celebrating Nutrition Month 2018 by helping Canadians unlock the potential of food to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.
Dietitians all have one thing in common: we love food! Shocking, right? Whether we are counseling a patient recovering from a heart attack, teaching a cooking class or taking students through a tour of a grocery store, we are all passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health. You will learn so much this month about the amazing potential of food!
To kick off Nutrition Month, I'm going to discuss foods potential to fuel.
Almost half of all Canadians say they find it challenging to eat a balanced diet because they are so busy. They often skip meals and close to 30% of Canadians say they eat of lot of snacks to stay fueled throughout a busy day.
Snacks sometimes get a bad rap. To some, snacking means eating when you're not hungry and to others it means loading up on unhealthier foods like chips, cookies and candy.
Nutritious snacks, in the right portion sizes can be part of a healthy eating plan and is a great way to get all the nutrients the body needs each day.
Five Smart Snacking Tips:
Fueling your body with healthy snacks between meals can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and lead to more consistent energy throughout the day. Snacks can also curb your appetite and prevent overeating at meals. Make snacking a piece of cake (okay, maybe that was the wrong analogy here) with these five tips:
Healthy Snack Ideas:
Next time you're looking to fuel up between meals, skip the vending machine or coffee shop and give one of these tasty snack suggestions a try:
Visit Cookspiration or download the app for more un'beet'able snack ideas!
Writer: Stephanie MacNeill (RD)
It’s close to 2 weeks after the one of the best played super bowls in years. Minimal penalties, great plays and a historical win by the Eagles (of which I predicted back in week 4, seriously! Primarily because I love Carson Wentz). The only thing that could have made it better was a surprise throwback to NSYNC with Justin Timberlake at Halftime. Aside from that, the two teams were relatively evenly matched, except for the quarterbacks and their diets.
Now before I go further into this article I should definitely warn you about my bias against Tom Brady. Many of you will regard him as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) but in my eyes, it's Peyton Manning.
What happened? There was more than 2 minutes left in the fourth and the final possession was with the Pats at roughly the 50 yard line and they needed 8 points. Pats and Brady fans knew the game wasn’t over because he had clutched this kinda thing multiple times before. Furthermore, it was one of Brady’s best statistical Superbowl performances. He threw 505 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions but only 28/48 completed attempts (that’s only 58.3% compared to last year at 69.3%!) So, what happened?
Well the completion thing isn’t really related to nutrition (or is it?) but his performance was. For those of you that know Brady, you’ll know of his commercialized diet, TB12. Which bases it’s primary principles around a combination of Plant-based and Paleo beliefs. TB 12 is primarily drawn up by a “body coach” (what ever the hell that is), Alex Guerrero, that has been under investigation by his own regulatory body for pretending to be a medical doctor, making false and irresponsible health claims to sell his supplement; of which he claims could cure AIDS and cancer (the book obviously doesn’t mention that). His degree in Chinese-Medicine is from the now defunct Samra University of Oriental Medicine in LA.
Here’s the problem, Brady and Peyton (See? I’m being objective!) were never quarterbacks that their nutrition mattered as much as Russel Wilson or Colin Kapernick. The reason why? Brady and Peyton throw the pig skin, they rarely ever run it.
To understand why the diet was to a factor let's look at the energy pathways for these Quaterbacks. For quarterbacks that throw they’re primarily using the Phosphocreatine system; this includes Brady and Peyton. The Phosphocreatine system fuels explosive movements that are typically under 10 seconds and takes about a minute to “reload” the creatine in muscles. The nutrient that feeds this pathway is Creatine which is found in animal protein sources or supplements.
For Quarterbacks that throw and run the ball they use a combination of the Phosphocreatine and Anaerobic energy metabolism systems, depending on how far they run of course. The Anaerobic system fuels intense physical activity for under 2 minutes and has different “reload” time depending on physical fitness, resting heart rate, mitochondira (the power house of the cell) content in muscle, lactic acid thresholds and of course nutritional intake. Not to mention that carbohydrates are the preferred and most optimal fuel source for the brain.
Why is this important?
Well for Brady’s Superbowl performance, it starts to explain the final 2 minutes of his game. You see the final 2 minutes is so fast paced to get the final snap before the clock hits 0. Now take what I wrote above and start to think about this. TB12 is primarily plant based and may not be enough Creatine to fuel the Phosphocreatine stores. Does TB12 have carbs? Yup! But the swearing off of quickly absorbed carbohydrates during game time means that we can’t refuel Brady properly between quarters or even between offensive and defensive possessions, which means his fuel tank is empty by the 3rd or 4th.
Now let me explain one thing very clearly, I am not saying you need animal protein or fast digesting sugars in your diet but there is one very important distinction here; the difference between optimal sports nutrition and healthy eating. Because I can agree with a lot of what Brady says about the philosophy of nutrition in his TB12 method. There’s obviously some crazy stuff in there like why he doesn’t eat strawberries or nightshade vegetables without providing an actual allergy or intolerance. But messages like eat less sugar, less processed foods, more plant based and quality foods; I can definitely get behind that. The issue I have with TB12 is that it confuses general healthy eating advice with optimal peak performance advice, because those are two very different things.
You see, we can think of it this way using a car analogy. Let’s say Tom Brady is a peak performance car (eg Ferarri, Maclaren or Porsche) that’s fueling up with diesel instead of high octane fuel, the car will still run but not optimally. When Tom is playing he needs foods that break down faster so they can get to fuel his performance and his brain to make fast decisions. Re-watch the final 2 minutes of the super bowl, he wasn’t thinking fast enough and his final throw to Gronk was predictable, of which the Eagles defense knew to pull a blitz defense on Gronk. Had Brady been properly fueled to think, he may have chosen a different receiver, like Cooks, that open and may have made the run into the end zone with a 2 point conversion to win or a 1 point kick to push it into overtime. But nope! Brady wasn’t thinking or playing optimally.
So yes, Tom Brady’s nutritional choices may have caused him to not function optimally and his diet is a factor because the Pats played really well. Now I’m definitely factoring in the number of sacks he takes and the multiple concussions he gets every season – I’m not even going to get into how PROPER nutrition can help prevent concussions or assist with concussion recovery (Brady had 35 sacks in the 2017 season and Peyton had 16 sacks in his final 2015 season). So Tom, just a piece of advice; get rid of your snake oil peddler just like Belichick did earlier this season by banning his access to games, locker rooms and being available on the sidelines. Get some credible nutrition advice from a Sports Dietitian and learn more about physiology from a physiotherapist or manual therapist.
P.S. Ben’s pick is New Orleans Saints for 2018 Superbowl Champs! Unless Brady gets some proper Sports Nutrition and Manual Therapy
Ben Sit, RD, Sports Dietitian
President of Evolved Sport and Nutrition
The Greatest Wealth is Health
The word macronutrients or macros for short is a fancy term for nutrients that we as humans need to consume to survive. There are 3 essential macronutrients; carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Each individual food contains different proportions of all three macronutrients. Counting macros has gained popularity recently, replacing traditional calorie counting. Let’s breakdown what each of these essential macronutrients are and where to find them.
Carbohydrates A.K.A. “carbs”
Carbs are your bodies main energy source. They provide 4 calories per gram. We need carbohydrates for brain function, muscle recovery and growth, digestion, basically all of the functions to keep us alive. Carbohydrates are found in many plant based foods and processed foods. When you think of carbs, these are foods that are traditionally thought of as sugary or starchy, be it natural or processed.
Examples of carbohydrates are: fruit, vegetables (especially potatoes, corn, squash), legumes, grains-based food (rice, pasta, breads, quinoa), dairy (milk, yogurt), and processed items like crackers, granola bars, juices, and candy.
Understanding the role of carbohydrates in your diet is essential when it comes to performance and body composition.
Fat is another main energy source. It is the most concentrated energy source, providing 9 calories per gram. Fats are needed in many important bodily functions such as energy use and storage, satiety, insulation, and fat-soluble vitamin absorption (Vitamins A, D, E, and K).
Fat sources include oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, butter and margarines, and marbling in meats (found in red meats).
The type of fat and timing of intake can influence your hunger levels, workouts, and overall health.
Protein has many important roles in the body. It provides 4 calories per gram. Protein breaks down into amino acids in the body and are used for many functions such as maintaining lean muscle mass, skeletal mass, the structural component of all cells in the body, and energy use.
Food sources of protein include red meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, soy (tofu, tempeh), legumes, and protein powders.
Protein plays a very important role with the development and maintenance of lean muscle mass, and can be maximized with guidance around timing and frequency of intake.
Why this approach might work for you
For some, taking the focus away from “calories” and instead focusing on getting the right amounts of macronutrients can take away that feeling of restricting. It can encourage a more balanced diet by including a variety of foods that provide all three essential macronutrients. It discourages individuals from thinking a 1500 calorie diet is sustainable on only salads, egg whites and avocados. You may be feeling sluggish (I mean, where are the carbs?!) which impacts the quality of your workouts. For some it takes away the negative thought process of “I can only have” and instead allows for more positive thoughts like “wow I can eat THAT much protein?!” For those that like to plan ahead and meal prep, macro counting makes sense. Many athletes who macro count feel a sense of control over what they are having and feel more knowledgeable and in charge of their nutrition.
Why this approach might not work for you
As with calorie-restricted diets, it is another form of counting. Trying to stick to your allotted macronutrients can seem like a daunting task, think of Tetris on expert level. It can be very time consuming. Some of the food diary apps are not monitored for accuracy, so certain foods are incorrectly entered. What you think you are consuming might not be true. For example, if you type in “chocolate chip cookie”, you might get a dozen chocolate chip cookie options, all of varying carb, fat, and protein amounts. How do you know which one is most accurate? Measuring and weighing your food is needed to know exactly what you are consuming. This can be quite overwhelming for those who don’t have a lot of time for meal prep, those who don’t make their meals, or those who have little nutrition knowledge. Like calorie restricted diets, macro counting can allow for poor quality food choices, given they fit into one’s macros. It’s easier to count macros off of a nutrition label than it is weighing and measuring your fresh vegetables and lean proteins.
To learn more about macro counting and if it would benefit you in your particular sport, speak with Sports Dietitians.
Writer: Emilie Trottier (Specialties: Crossfit Nutrition Specialist, Weight Lifting, Mental Health, Chronic Disease Management, Weight Loss, Body Composition Change)