Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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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.

 


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Cruciferous crusaders or (not so) superfoods? The truth about veggies & cancer

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Did you hear the news? Last week it was announced that there’s no evidence of a link between vegetable and fruit consumption and risk of developing cancer. This proclamation was based on the results of a large-scale analysis of data from cohort studies in Japan.

Before everyone rejoices and throws the contents of their crispers in the compost, opting instead to have ice cream for supper maybe we should take a closer look at the original research.

The first caution I’d make is that this is based on a study of people in Japan. Because the average Japanese diet and lifestyle differs significantly from our North American diet and lifestyle we can’t conclude that results seen in people in Japan will apply to people in Canada or the US, or pretty much any other country.

The second caution, and this is the big one, is that the frequency of consumption of vegetables and fruit used in the study was very different from what’s recommended here. The greatest consumption of veg and fruit recorded in the study was “almost daily”. Compare that to the recommended 8-10 servings per day in Canada’s Food Guide. Stating daily consumption of veg and fruit tells us very little about the true picture of veg and fruit consumption. This categorization allows a person who eats one apple a day (and no other veg or fruit) to be viewed as the same as a person who eats veg and/or fruit at every meal and snack and consumes a wide variety of produce. The method of categorization in this study really only allows us to conclude that at minimal consumption levels, eating vegetables and fruit doesn’t appear to provide protection against cancer when compared to eating vegetables and fruit infrequently (or almost never??). The fact that almost never is even an option makes me wonder about the accuracy of self-reporting and the possibility that people in that group could be more likely to succumb to ailments such as scurvy before cancer would have a chance to get to them.

The third point to mention (although hopefully I don’t need to) is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because this study didn’t find a relationship between the consumption of vegetables and fruit and the development (or prevention) of cancer doesn’t mean that there isn’t a connection between the two. It’s possible that using different parameters might show that a greater consumption of vegetables is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer.

The final point that I think is important to make is that we don’t eat food in order to prevent cancer. Even if this study is showing us that eating vegetables and fruit doesn’t confer protection against cancer upon us (and I’m not even remotely convinced that it does) there are plenty of other good reasons to eat vegetables and fruit. Vegetables and fruit provide us with many vitamins and minerals that are vital to the function of our bodies. They provide us with fibre which is essential for gut health. They provide us with water and energy, which are both necessary for our survival. They also add flavour, colour, and variety to our diets making meals and snacks enjoyable. All this to say that while cookies are delicious they still aren’t a balanced nutritious meal. Vegetables and fruit still have important roles to play in keeping us healthy.


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Follow Friday: @tspbasil

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This week’s RD to follow is Deanna Segrave-Daly, nominated by last week’s Mary Brighton. Deanna’s a dietitian in Philadelphia who loves bread, cheese, and Prosecco. In addition to cofounding Blog Brulee (an annual dietitian blogger conference) and Recipe Redux (a challenge whereby participating RDs give recipes makeovers to improve their nutritional profile while keeping them flavourful) she also blogs at Teaspoon of Spice with fellow dietitian Serena Ball.

When I asked Deanna what she’d like me to share with you, she asked that I tell you about their Healthy Kitchen Hack series. In this series, they feature tips to help you “save time, be more confident with your cooking and make your meals more nutritious and delicious”. They share these tips regularly on their blog and you can also sign-up for extra kitchen hacks via email. A few topics they’ve covered in the past include the easiest way to remove seeds from a pomegranate, how to make homemade protein powder, and how to stop parchment paper from curling-up.

You can follow Deanna on twitter at @tspbasil for lots of great recipes and cooking tips.

If you know a dietitian who I should feature on the blog, please send me a nomination!