bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


Just because an account has a blue checkmark doesn’t mean it knows all

I don’t follow this twitter account but after a seeing a retweet of this (fortunately not in a complimentary manner):










Yes, many of us have experienced workouts where we felt like we were going to vomit. However, that’s no reason to push your body beyond its limits. Listen to your body. Enjoy exercise!

I had to peruse the timeline… I found an interesting mix of decent advice and misinformation. Here are just a few of the worst offenders I found in a quick scroll:

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There is nothing wrong with using butter sparingly. Yes, extra virgin olive oil is a healthy choice. However, at high temperatures it breaks down, making it less healthy for us. Also, consuming too much of any type of fat (or food) ignores one of the most important edicts of a healthy diet: variety.

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Again, red meat can be a part of a healthy diet. But… It doesn’t have to be. We should consume a variety of sources of protein and red meat is wholly unnecessary.

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Common myth. Previously written about here.

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Of running and hot yoga


A couple of news articles about fitness have irked me recently. So, while my main focus is obviously nutrition, I just wanted to quickly comment on them.

This article: Jogging Outside Could Make You Dumber was written back in 2012 but my friend just shared it with me as apparently it’s making the rounds on twitter. Sigh. The study compared 12 runners who were asked to run in an urban setting to 12 who were asked to run in the countryside. It was found that there were greater levels of brain inflammation, and lower IQ scores, in those who were running in the urban setting. Problem: there could be many other differences between the two groups which caused the discrepancy in IQ and inflammation. In addition, this was a very small study. It’s entirely possible that if more people were looked at that these results would disappear. It’s also important to note that, contrary to the title of the article, the researchers do not recommend ceasing jogging or running outside. Perhaps I’ve become too stupid from running outside but I don’t think that we should stop running.

The other article that bothered me was about how there were no additional benefits to hot yoga over “regular” yoga. The study found that, based on cardiovascular data, hot yoga was actually no more strenuous than traditional yoga. In a way this is actually a positive finding; it means that people who have been medically advised not to participate in hot yoga are probably safe to do so after all. Yes, it’s important to be aware that the massive amounts of sweat you accrue are not indicative of burning a massive number of calories. Still, the study didn’t look at injuries sustained during yoga practice. Many people find hot yoga loosens the muscles and makes it easier to get deeper stretches. This may help to prevent against injury. It also makes for a nice relaxing shavasana at the end of a class. Yoga is not the best activity for weight loss but it can help people with balance, flexibility, and stress; be it hot or cold.

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Doughnuts for crunches

This article is a collaboration between Diana Chard (Halifax) and Rhonda Major of You Defined. A response to the article posted in National Post: Swapping Starbucks for sit-ups: Toronto researchers offer coupons as incentive to exercise You can also read this post on Rhonda’s blog at: 11565


My twitter friend Rhonda Major alerted me to a new plan to use doughnuts (sort-of) as a reward system for exercise. The headline read: Swapping Starbucks for sit-ups: Toronto researchers offer coupons as incentive to exercise. She questioned if she was the only one who thought it was an absurd offer. After reading the article I was quick to let her know that she was not alone! As the researchers seem to compartmentalize exercise and nutrition we thought we should combine our knowledge on the subjects and write a joint blog post in response. After all, food and fitness do not exist in isolation and pitting them against one another does a disservice to ones health.


Before we get into it, a little bit about what the researchers are doing. Their theory is that getting people to exercise will greatly reduce the burden on our healthcare system. Even if people don’t lose weight through exercise they will still be more fit than if they were just sitting around on the couch. As an incentive to get people exercising, the researchers are offering coupons to Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Second Cup, as well as travel, movie, and grocery vouchers. In response to the question of whether rewarding people for exercising with coffee shop coupons is appropriate a professor in a department of exercise stated:


“We have published many papers dealing with the fit versus fat hypothesis, and it is very clear that fitness is far more important than fatness as a predictor of mortality. Those with CVD [cardiovascular disease] who are obese but physically fit have a far lower risk of dying during follow-up than normal weight people who are not fit,”

2013-08-26-804Yes, we know that it is possible to be healthy at (pretty much) every size. However, I don’t think that this is a valid argument for providing fast food vouchers as a reward for exercising. There are a number of problems with this plan. You may argue that people don’t have to use the coupon to buy doughnuts. They can use their coupons to purchase black coffee or green tea. Sure, they can, but they’re also being placed in the position of having to make that choice. We already face so much temptation with treats being presented to us at every turn, we must make hundreds of decisions about food every day, why would we want to add to those decisions? In addition, using food as a reward is a terrible pattern to get into. As a dietitian I always recommend that people find other things that they enjoy to reward themselves with. Food is already a complicated emotion-laden territory for many people, there is no need to contribute to this by using coupons for food as a reward for exercising.


It’s also false that you can out-exercise a poor diet. By placing an emphasis on exercise in this intervention, and by offering food as a reward, the researchers are essentially implying that what people eat is unimportant to their health. This isn’t just a matter of weight, although part of it is. People do tend to consume more calories than they burn after a work-out. This is why exercise is often seen as secondary to food when it comes to weight management. It’s certainly important to good health but, for most, has very little effect on body weight. Also, we’re not just talking about weight here; we’re talking about health, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think that we can eat scones and drink pumpkin spice lattes all the live-long day and still be healthy. Consuming a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is essential to achieving optimum health.


Reunite Your Body With The Joy of Movement


Exercise can’t compensate for a poor diet. Straight goods, what you feed your body is the ultimate outcome for your body.


2013-09-09-1339For the body to be physical, to initiate movements such as accessing your leg muscles when you run, cycle, walk: this requires solid nutrition. When the body is fatigued from lack of nutrition, it does not operate properly.


Our bodies were designed to move. Joints were designed to propel us into action.


For almost half a century now, we have been creating a negative environment for the will to be physical human beings. Not only do we spend at least 50% of our day strapped to a chair in front of a computer or other electronic gadget, we then loath going out and being physical.


How many times have I heard clients or people on the street complain about the fact that they have to drag themselves to the gym. Here’s where our thinking about activity and the body creates a disconnect.


How can we get everyday folks to get excited about moving their bodies again? It’s all that we have on this earth and we are allowing them to erode. We have lost our fun, our will to play and be free in our bodies.


If you hate the gym – great – don’t go to the gym. There are so many other options for keeping the body physical everyday. Walking to work. Taking the stairs at work. These things may seem trivial, however when strung together it can mean the loss of 10+ pounds per year. It means circulating oxygen and blood properly in the body.


It means being happier. It means not craving sugar and crap as incentive.


We have to make moving fun again. Doughnuts are not the answer.


RhondaRhonda Major, owner of You Defined believes that training needs to be approached from a multidisciplinary perspective. She started off as You Defined’s first client over 10 years ago when she decided to radically change her life. Rhonda is a certified Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Nutrition & Wellness Consultant.


An open letter to personal trainers


Dear personal trainers,

I am begging you to please stop giving your clients nutrition advice and meal plans. Unless you also have a degree in nutrition you are often causing more harm than good.

As a dietitian, I know my scope of practice. I have never provided clients with exercise advice or training routines. This, despite the fact that I feel like I know a fair bit about exercise and fitness. I realise that there are others, such as yourselves, who are far more qualified to provide that expertise.

It’s hard enough to combat the nutrition misinformation provided by the media, celebrities, and the general populace, without having to deal with misinformation provided by other healthcare professionals.

Please stop telling your clients that sweet potatoes are a “super food” and “regular” potatoes are nutritional no-noes. Please stop telling your clients that carbs are the food of the devil and that protein shakes are suitable for everyone. The diet you follow for a fitness competition is not actually healthy and is not advisable for the general population. Please stop telling your clients to eat tuna at every meal as part of a detox diet. Besides the fact that there is no such thing as a detox diet, tuna, with its mercury content is not going to do anything to aid in detoxification. Just stop.


Diana Chard, RD

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Not so sweet sweat


I was struggling for blogspiration this week. Fortunately a friend and fellow dietitian came through by sharing this post about Sweet Sweat with me.

This product purportedly encourages localized fat-loss during exercise. The post claims that if you touch an area of your body with little or no fat that it will be much warmer to the touch than an area of the body with “stubborn fat”. This difference (which I’m not buying – my tummy feels warmer than my arm) is attributed to the “fact” that there is less circulation to the area of your body with the greater amount of fat. Supposedly, applying Sweet Sweat to your troublesome areas before a workout will increased the circulation to the area and thus the fat will pretty much melt away.

What are the magical ingredients in Sweet Sweat? Their website doesn’t say. It doesn’t really matter anyway. Lotion or no lotion, you can’t target specific areas of your body to reduce fat. If you want to know the truth about exercise and health you should read The Cure for Everything by Tim Caulfield and  Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights by Alex Hutchinson. The short of it is that you can’t control which areas of your body to lose fat from when you’re working out. The harder you exercise, and the healthier a diet you consume, the more likely you are to achieve the results you want. Sweet Sweat is not going to help you reach your fitness goals.