Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Follow Friday: @carrot_rewards

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A little change from the usual RD recommendations. Today I’m recommending the free app Carrot Rewards. It’s an easy way to earn points for making healthy choices that translate into real life rewards. There are simple little quizzes on things like nutrition and physical activity. There’s also a step-counter feature that can be connected to sync with a counter in your smart phone or fitbit.

You chose from their list of participating loyalty programs to decide where the points you earn will go. Personally, I’m collecting Scene points. If you want to sign-up and get bonus points (and get me bonus points too!) use the offer code dianac9618 when you register.

Apologies to all my readers outside of Canada. This app is currently only available to residents of select provinces in Canada. If Carrot Rewards is not currently available in your province you can email them at help@carrotrewards.ca and they’ll add you to a mailing list to notify you when the program becomes available in your area.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Carrot Rewards and was not asked to promote their program. You too can get a bonus points referral code to invite friends after you sign-up.


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Science is not my religion

After I wrote about the study that supposedly showed that consumption of vegetables and fruit has no bearing on cancer development someone commented on facebook that I was undermining “real science” and supporting pseudo-science hacks. I think this raises an important issue when it comes to science and faith.

You see, while I am a supporter of science and detractor of pseudo-science, science is not my religion. I think that holding blind faith in anything is dangerous. Scientific research is hugely important but that doesn’t mean that every piece of research should be taken as gospel. Scientific studies can be flawed, they can be weak, they can be biased, and they can just plain be wrong. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore all scientific studies. It means that we should look at research critically. Whenever possible, we should look at larger bodies of research, rather than single studies, to draw stronger conclusions. We should look at research critically in order to base our decisions, beliefs, and advice on the best possible evidence.

Science is not infallible. That doesn’t mean that we ignore it. It just means that we need to examine it closely before deciding whether or not we accept results and conclusions drawn. Always question things. Be skeptical.

Rather than thinking that being critical of any piece of scientific research is on-par with supporting pseudo-science and quackery, we should think of blindly accepting the results of every piece of scientific research as being on-par with blindly accepting the advice of celebs and self-styled wellness gurus.


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Follow Friday: @fatnutritionist

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This week I’m telling you all that you should follow Michelle Allison (aka @fatnutritionist). That is, if you don’t already.

Michelle is a dietitian in Toronto who is a strong advocate for loving your body, no matter its size, and for being friends with food. She has the best twitter rants. I also really admire that she’s been using her platform on twitter to advocate for resistance in the US.

You can also find Michelle at thefatnutritionist.com.

Do you know a dietitian who I should feature in a future Follow Friday post? Let me know in the comments, via twitter, or email.


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Why you shouldn’t invite an RD to an Arbonne party

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Bat illustration by Ali Haines on flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Licence 

I recently attended an Arbonne party. In my defence, I was lured by the rare opportunity to socialize in this small city. I also had managed to confuse Arbonne with Avon. Expecting an evening of apps, chats, and maybe buying a token lipstick or something, I showed up with a batch of choco coco clusters and blissful ignorance of what was to come. I was greeted with an offer of wine (so far so good) and then we were “treated” to protein shake samples. I’m not a fan of protein shakes; the flavour and texture completely turn me off. The only way I’ve ever managed to find protein powder palatable is if it’s hidden in a smoothie. Fortunately, the samples were small but I got my first red flag when the seller (or whatever they’re called) told us that their protein powder formulation is ideal for women because we don’t absorb protein as well as men. Funny, I never learned that in my 4 year nutrition degree. Even more interesting is that their protein powder is a blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, and cranberry (??) protein, providing a modest 10 grams of protein per serving (compare that to the standard 20+ grams of protein for most whey (and even other commercially available vegan) protein powders. (Note: an Arbonne rep brought it to my attention that this product is actually their “protein boost” not protein powder which does contain 20 grams of protein per serving. My apologies for this error. That extra protein also comes with a cost; $85 for a bag containing 30 servings.)

We followed up our protein shots with a salt scrub on our hands which I really have no issue with.

Following this we sat around a table and were given a spiel about a number of the products available for purchase through Arbonne. Because I didn’t want to create an incredibly uncomfortable situation I (hope) I managed to plaster a neutral expression on my face while screaming “THIS IS BULLSHIT” inside my head. Oh man. There was a big deal made about how only a few (nine I think it was) substances are banned from cosmetics in North America while there’s a huge list in Europe and that’s the list that Arbonne uses. In case you were wondering, there are a lot more ingredients banned from use in Canadian cosmetics than nine. I can’t be bothered to count them all (that’s how many) but you can see them for yourself if you doubt me or are so inclined as to count them. I try to be conscientious about buying products without ingredients that are potential carcinogens and hormone disrupters, better safe than sorry. As such, I know that it’s possible to find affordable opens at many grocery stores. You do not have to spend $67 for lotion just to avoid parabens and pthalates and whatever. We were told that vaseline is bad but she couldn’t tell us why, instead we were told to “google it, educate yourself”. Well, I googled it and it seems to me that the consensus is that vaseline (aka petroleum jelly) is safe for use. The real debate is whether it does much more than to protect your skin by creating a barrier between it and the elements. She really got me when she told us that all the other mascaras contain bat poop. Yep, bat poop, in a product that you put right by your eye. I googled that one too because I was curious where that idea would come from considering that bat guano can cause illness. Apparently the myth came from the similarity between “guano” and “guanine”. Guanine is actually derived from fish scales (which may or may not be of comfort to you but seems much preferable to me). It kind of blew my mind that we would be told such blatant and easily disprovable facts. Does Arbonne feed their sellers these lies in the hopes that gullible shoppers buy into the fear? I also found it a little odd that for a company that prides itself on “clean” ingredients none of the skincare products seemed to have the ingredients on the containers.

Okay, next up the supplements. For a company that prides itself on “clean” ingredients I was pretty shocked by the crap they were selling us. An omega3 supplement that was derived from flax so was actually very low in omega3 but was presented as being equivalent to fish oil derived omega3 supplements. There were these energizing powders (to be used like Crystal Light) which were apparently much better than coffee. The first two ingredients were green coffee bean extract and green tea extract and then a bunch of other junk. You’d be better off sticking to coffee; cheaper, safer, and (probably) tastier. There was a detox supplement that contained a variety of laxatives and diuretics. Unnecessary and potentially harmful.

I couldn’t even bring myself to buy a product to be polite after hearing all the nonsense about what they were selling and seeing the obscene prices. As if all this isn’t enough reason to avoid Arbonne, they’re essentially a pyramid scheme.

If you believe in science and not wasting your money then I’d recommend learning from my experience and avoiding Arbonne “parties”.

 


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Follow Friday: @EmKyleNutrition

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Nominated by last week’s Follow Friday, Deanna Segrave-Daly, this week’s RD to follow is Emily Kyle. Emily is a Holistic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Don’t let the “holistic” fool you, she’s an RDN with a Master’s in science. Emily’s all about helping her clients get “healthy and happy without ever having to diet again”. A sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

You can follow Emily on Twitter at @EmKyleNutrition where she shares loads of drool-worthy nutritious recipes. You can also find her at Emily Kyle Nutrition where she blogs about popular nutrition topics, shares recipes, and can be reached if you wish to work with her. You can also find her on Facebook at (you guessed it) EmilyKyleNutrition.

Do you know an RD you think should be featured in a Follow Friday post? Let me know in the comments below or via twitter or email.