bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Caffeine Champion

I recently had a conversation that irked me. Someone I had just met said that he was going to go home and have some green tea to wake up. I expressed surprise as green tea does not have a particularly high caffeine content. He insisted that it has more than coffee. My friend piped up with the fact that I’m a dietitian. He said he has friends who work in tea houses. I countered with the fact that I used to manage a small chain of coffee shops. He said “I bet you didn’t sell a lot of tea.” I said “touche” and let it go as clearly this was not an argument I was going to win. Anyway… Just in case you’re wondering… The caffeine content of tea and coffee can vary considerably, mostly due to the method of preparation. On average though, coffee is the caffeine leader at roughly 95 mg per serving (which is a tiny 8 oz). In close second is black tea with an average 88 mg per 8 oz. Coming in third is green tea, at a mere 32 mg per 8 oz. Vindication. Regardless of caffeine content, there are different health benefits related to each when consumed in moderation, and detrimental effects when consumed in excess.


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Shocker: most Canadians don’t exercise because they are lazy

You probably heard about the results of a study commissioned by the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the news today. The shocking results of the study indicate that most Canadians are aware that healthy eating and exercise are important in reducing risk for many chronic diseases. Even more surprisingly, these same Canadians claim that the main barrier preventing them from doing these things is a lack of time. In conjunction with these results were results from Stats Can showing that many Canadians spend hours of their leisure time every day watching t.v. or playing on their computers. Clearly, there is a disconnect here. I’m sure you’ve all heard that when it comes to exercise, doing even a little is better than doing none. I’m not going to regale you with ways to sneak your exercise in by doing leg lifts while you brush your teeth or squats while your food heats in the microwave. Sure, go for it if you want, sneak it in where you can. I think what we need to do as a society is to reprioritise. Getting exercise should be as much a given as eating, working, showering. Find the time in a way that works for you. Get up earlier, go out during your lunch hour, use active transportation (like walking or biking) to get to work, join a gym, play a sport. Just find a way to do it. As for the lack of time to eat healthy food… Make the time to cook. If you plan and prepare it really doesn’t have to take that long. I’ve made delicious healthy meals in under half an hour. There are so many benefits to these simple activities, it baffles me that everyone doesn’t make them a top priority.


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Baby making

What with all this talk about babies, I thought that I should talk a little bit about related nutrition. Let’s start with preconception. Provided you’ve actually made the conscious choice to conceive, both of you need to think about your nutrition. It’s not just about cutting out alcohol and it starts months before conception. What a man eats affects sperm production quality. If you want a good product, it just makes sense to use the best ingredients. There’s enough pressure on the woman to do things right, the man needs to assume some responsibility here too. Potential dads: if you want to make a better baby then make sure your diet includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and consider cutting out alcohol. Exercise is also important. The healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be, both at birth and years down the road. The other thing that really annoys me is hearing women say that they’re “eating for two.” Or using pregnancy as an excuse to eat loads of high calorie, low nutrient foods. You’re not eating for two! Your foetus is tiny. You do not need to double or triple your caloric intake during pregnancy. Sure, if you have a craving, go ahead and indulge yourself, but do so with the same restraint that you would if you were not carrying a small person around inside you. Also, there is an increasing body of research showing that what you eat during pregnancy can affect your child’s health throughout their entire lives. Check out the study of nutrigenomics if you’re interested in learning more about how nutrition can affect gene expression. Sure, it’s a lot of pressure, but you are responsible for this unborn person’s future. It is a lot of pressure.