Dietitian's Blog

Eat According to Your Genes

An article published this week in the Huffington Post hailed the benefits of nutrigenomics as the “future of personalized nutrition.” Nutrigenomics is the study of how our genes react to nutrients in the foods we eat.  Recent research has found that not all

people respond to food in the same way, and that these differences are based on variations in their DNA. For example, some people contain a gene variant that makes them inefficient at metabolizing omega-3 fats. As a result, they may not reap all the benefits of this healthy fat even if they’re consuming the recommended amount.  Or perhaps they have a variant of the TCF7L2 gene, which means that their bodies don’t respond to whole grains in the way individuals without this variant would.  Nutrigenomics allows for a personalized nutrition plan that is based on your DNA. As a dietitian, I am extremely interested in this area of nutrition as it allows me to offer dietary recommendations that are based on the individual’s genetic makeup.  I have found that clients are able to develop a deeper understanding of how food uniquely impacts their health, performance and disease risk.  Currently, there is one standardized nutrigenomics test available in Canada, and it was developed by researchers at the University of Toronto. It is available only to Registered Dietitians, and only a handful of dietitians are trained to use the test.  Fueling With Food is the only location in Kelowna that provides Nutrigenomix testing.  I have been using the tool for a few months now and am thrilled with the level of personalization it allows me to provide my clients. If you’re interested in letting your genes determine what you eat, set up an appointment with me for Nutrigenomics testing, using a small saliva sample. More about the package can be found here.  You’re one simple DNA test away from personal nutrition recommendations!

Lets celebrate the sandwich!

In case we needed another reason to celebrate, Sunday November 3 is International Sandwich Day!  It’s no wonder that we need a day to celebrate this staple lunch item when you consider that a national survey by Udi’s Healthy Foods has discovered that Canadians eat approximately 3.6 billion sandwiches each year.  I personally think that the sandwich is under-rated.  It is the ultimate convenience food and can be filled with wholesome ingredients to sustain you throughout the day. But I’m not talking just the traditional peanut-butter and jelly or meat and cheese varieties. Virtually any type of leftovers can easily be thrown between 2 slices of hearty bread to make a lunch the next day.  Looking for some inspiration for the beloved sandwich? Here’s a recipe from fellow dietitian Stephanie Clairmont  for a veggie sandwich on hearty millet-chia bread:

  •  4 slices Udi’s Gluten Free Millet-Chia Bread
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp.) gluten-free hummus
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp.) hulled sunflower seeds
  • 30ml (2 Tbsp.) crumbled Feta cheese
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fresh sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, or a mixture
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) avocado, sliced
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp. shredded carrots
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp.) sliced cucumber (about 8 thin slices)

Bon appetit!

The difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

Over the past few weeks I have been immersing myself in the nutrition world in the Okanagan. While much about being a dietitian is the same between here and Nova Scotia, one major difference exists. In Nova Scotia, only Registered Dietitians can call themselves ‘Nutritionists.’ Here in BC, anyone, quite literally, can claim the title ‘Nutritionist.’ What does that mean for clients? It means that if you seek out the services of a Nutritionist, you may not be getting someone most qualified to give nutrition advice.  For example, Registered Holistic Nutritionists, or “RHNs,” are not educated to the same standards as Registered Dietitians. RHNs may use the designation “Registered” in their title  because their program of study paid the required fee to Industry Canada to legally trademark the title of the program. However, RHNs are not regulated under the Health Professions Act.  Dietitians on the other hand must be part of a regulatory body, just like doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Dietitians are regulated under the Health Professions ActDietitians Regulation and the CDBC Bylaws. In order to become a Dietitian, an individual must complete at least 4 years of study in Science at an accredited University, followed by a year long internship, where the student gains experience in a variety of clinical settings both within and outside the hospital.  Many dietitians further their knowledge by pursuing a graduate degree, which provides a more in depth analysis of current nutrition knowledge and may help them focus on specialized areas within the dietetics field.  You certainly do not want to take short cuts with your health. When looking for nutritional advice, be sure to seek out a Registered Dietitian to guarantee you receive the highest quality care.  To learn more about Dietitians in BC, visit The College of Dietitians of British Columbia. 


Eating mindfully

Mindful eating is a big part of my practice with clients. What is mindful eating you ask? It is the practice, quite simply, of honouring your body’s hunger and fullness cues. It’s about fueling your body with the food it needs to thrive, without questionning or second-guessing those urges. It’s not about using food to deal with emotions. It’s not about eating simply because there’s still food on the plate. It is also referred to as intuitive eating, meaning that it is eating according to physical needs. Many of us approach eating as a side project, something to be done while we catch up on emails, work, or our favourite television shows. But research shows that if we eat while we’re distracted, we tend to feel less satisifed with our meals and often eat up to 50% more! Mindful eaters are more likely to be at a healthy weight, less likely to suffer from eating disorders and overeating, and are more satisfied with their diets.  Here are some tips to approaching eating more mindfully:

  • Tune out distractions. Turn off the television, phone, computer and whatever else may distract you from the task of eating.
  • Focus on the flavours of the food and eat slowly to savour the moment.
  • Before eating, always check in to see if you’re truly hungry or simply looking for a way of escaping a particular emotion, such as boredom, anger, stress, loneliness.
  • While eating, check in with your level of fullness. Are you comfortably satisfied? Are you still hungry? Choose to stop eating or continue eating based on your answers to these questions.

To see if you are a mindful eater, take this quiz.

If you’d like guidance on becoming a more mindful eater, make an appointment today!

Navigating the holiday season

The season is rapidly approaching – the one where our pantries are filled with holiday baking and our weekends booked with dinner parties and family gatherings.  While I love this time of year and revel in the opportunity to share good food with those I love, there are ways to have your holiday cake and eat it too.  There’s a word that we throw around all too freely, but rarely give it the weight it deserves – moderation.  It’s not about denying yourself the pleasures of good food; rather it’s about being choosy.  Think of your calories like a budget – you want to get the most flavour and enjoyment while not spending more than you can afford.  That means choosing food that stimulates your senses and savouring each bite.  Here are 5 tips to keep in mind while we are soaking up all of the season’s offerings:

  1. Know when to indulge, and when to hold back.  When faced with a buffet of choices, fill up on turkey, ham, and veggies, but go easy on gravy, stuffing, and finger-foods.
  2. Feed your sweet tooth, not teeth.  It is very easy to think, “Oh I’ll just have a small taste of everything.” But before you know it, you’ve had an entire day’s worth of calories on one dessert plate.  Instead, choose the 2 sweets that look most appealing to you, and half each of them with a friend (that’s right, for the equivalent of ONE dessert). Remember that there is often more than one occasion to enjoy such delicacies, so choose the best of what each has to offer and truly enjoy it.
  3. Beware of high calorie drinks.  A traditional Rum and Egg Nog can cost you over 400 calories and almost 20 grams of fat! That’s more than a typical slice of pizza! Alternatively, opt for lower calorie mixers, such as a club soda, or cranberry juice mixed with water.  This will save you over 300 calories, and all the fat, which you can then put toward that dessert you’ve had your eye on all night.
  4. Never arrive to a party on an empty stomach.  That is like going to battle without a weapon.  Instead, have a light, high fibre snack 1-2 hours prior and drink at least 2 cups of water. A salad topped with a boiled egg, or a bowl of cereal with fruit and
    skim milk are great options.  That way, once you’re surrounded by temptation, you’re more likely to resist overindulging.
  5. Stay active! The holidays offer us plenty of opportunity to get moving, which will help us avoid the dreaded January weigh-in.  Instead of making the meal the focal point of the gathering, why not organize an ice skating party? Or make a family event out of snow shoeing.  Even a simple walk allows you time to catch up with friends and work off some calories at the same time.

Keep these tips in mind during the next few weeks, as you celebrate with family and friends.  Lose the all-or-none belief that you must either abstain from every delicacy offered or gorge on all that you can get your hands on.  Be selective.  Allow each flavour, and each moment, to linger just a little bit longer.