Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


2 Comments

Should dietitians use #eatclean on social media?

clean-eating

A friend shared this article with me last month. For those of you who can’t be bothered to click links or belong to the TL;DR camp (of which, I’ll admit, I’m a frequent member) let me give you the briefest of synopses. It was about clean eating, why people got so sucked in by the notion, and why it won’t freaking die already.

Reading about all of the self-appointed “clean eating” wellness gurus got me thinking about how many of us who rail against fad diets are also inadvertently complicit in keeping them alive. I see lots of well-intentioned dietitians using hashtags like #cleaneating and #eatclean on their Instagram posts. Personally, I prefer the tag #eatdirty although I don’t think it garners me as many likes as it hasn’t quite caught on in the way that I had hoped. Anyhow… I’m not here to judge my fellow RDs. I’m not even sure how I feel about this myself.

There’s a part of me that thinks it’s good for dietitians to be appropriating the “eat clean” hashtag. By doing so, perhaps they’re reaching people who are all-in on the trendy diet train but who might benefit from seeing sensible nutrition and food suggestions from a nutrition professional. On the other hand, is using these hashtags on Instagram lending legitimacy to them? Isn’t it possible that by using the hashtags, no matter the content, it’s implying that the RD posting supports the notion of clean eating? And for all I know, maybe they do, not all of us are on the same page. But let’s assume that they’re using it, not because they believe in “eating clean” (which means nothing by the way), and not because they’re just trying to get more likes (I know, terribly cynical of me), but because they want to show people who are into “clean eating” a more balanced way of approaching food. Is it cool for dietitians to be using the hashtags for this purpose? Even if it means that it lends an air of legitimacy to a silly fad diet. Does the end justify the means? Or would it be better if we risked only preaching to the choir by using hashtags that truly represent our personal philosophies toward food and our professional opinions?

Advertisements


1 Comment

Coconut ash lattes are better at cleansing your wallet than your body

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 8.08.03 PM.png

Apparently this needs to be said again (and again and probably again) because people are still drinking things like the new “coconut ash latte”.

Maybe you think drinking something that’s black looks cool? Maybe you think that drinking a beverage made with charcoal is somehow healthy? Like if you drink this beverage literally made from burnt stuff you are going to clean your body from the inside out? Who needs a Brita filter when you can just ingest the carbon directly?

To essentially repeat myself; drinking something made from activated charcoal is not a good idea. In addition to being used in water filters, activated charcoal is used in hospitals to treat some types of drug overdoses. The charcoal binds the medications preventing them from being absorbed by the body. Clearly some genius (perhaps after consuming too many recreational drugs) thought, “I know. I’m going make a drink that will just suck up all of the toxins in my body so that I can continue to ingest them without consequence.” The problem with this genius revelation is that activated charcoal doesn’t care if a medication is beneficial or harmful. It’s going to attract medications that you need as well as vitamins and minerals from your diet. It’s indiscriminate between “good” and “bad” substances. One thing’s for sure, at $6.50 USD a pop, this latte will cleanse your wallet in a flash.

Another concern that I have about these beverages is that we don’t know the long-term health consequences of regularly ingesting activated charcoal. There hasn’t been any studies on the effects of these trendy beverages. Probably because it never occurred to any reasonable researcher that anyone would willingly purchase and consume drinks made out of charcoal. My guess would be that it’s not going to be good for you. In addition to to risks caused by loss of minerals and medications, you’re consuming burnt particulate. But, this is merely speculation on my part at this point as the science has yet to catch-up with the absurd trend. Until it does, I would leave the activated charcoal in your water filter and to the physicians in the ERs.


3 Comments

Why industry shouldn’t have special input into the food guide

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 2.18.38 PM.png

With the recent public consultation on the new Canadian “food guide” just coming to an end I’ve been noticing a lot of push-back from industry. There was a letter from a MP voicing concern about the new food guide as the new guiding principles seem to be steering people away from animal-based sources of protein and encouraging the consumption of more plant-based proteins. “I am concerned that the guiding principles released by Health Canada for Canada’s new food guide may have significant negative impacts on Canada’s meat and dairy sectors, and also the health of Canadians,” said Miller.

There was also a news clip featuring a spokesman from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association voicing “concern” that Canadians will be nutrient deficient if they replace meat with chickpeas.

There’s been an entire website set-up by Canadian Dairy Farmers entitled “Keep Canadians Healthy” with the message being that people need to drink more (cow’s) milk and that the new food guide is going to “discourage Canadians from consuming dairy and meat products”. They go on to say that, “Left unchecked, Health Canada’s recommendations will not only cripple an important Canadian industry, but have long-term health consequences for all Canadians.” 

These examples are exactly why so many of us dietitians, doctors, and others have been complaining about the direct involvement of industry in developing previous iterations of the food guide. I can understand why those whose livelihood depends on the sale of dairy and beef would be concerned that the new food guide will (likely) not continue to serve as free advertising of their products. Although nobody really pays the food guide much heed anyway when they’re deciding what to put in their mouths.

The purpose of the food guide is to help Canadians to eat healthy. The food guide should be based on the best possible evidence. If you think that the dairy and beef (or any other food industry for that matter) has your health at heart you are sorely mistaken. Their goal is to make more money by selling more product.

As a dietitian, it’s my professional goal to help people to eat better. I don’t have any products to sell. I consume dairy products and meat (although I don’t consume much meat). I’m not trying to destroy the beef or dairy industries. I can honestly tell you that most Canadians would benefit from consuming less meat and that it’s not necessary to drink milk to meet specific nutrient needs. Most of us could stand to consume more plants and more plant sources of protein. It’s highly unlikely that anyone in Canada is going to suffer from nutrient deficiencies because Health Canada finally grew a backbone and stopped allowing industries to shape the food guide. Also, the food guide is not going to be telling people to become vegan or vegetarian, it’s hopefully (and rightfully) going to encourage people to consume less meat and more plants.

No food guide is ever going to be perfect. It’s never going to satisfy everyone and I’m sure that I’ll find something wrong with it when it’s released. However, as I’ve said before, it’s a guide, not a bible. It’s a tool to help people to make healthier choices. By using current evidence to inform the content, we’re already a step closer to a better tool.


Leave a comment

Planet Fitness, judgement-free or lacking judgement?

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 11.14.33 AM.png

A new gym just opened in town and I was considering joining after not having a gym membership for years. I was attracted by the $10 monthly membership fee (that’s less than one visit to Goodlife!) and I thought that it might be nice to augment my running and home workouts with access to more equipment. Even if I only went once or twice a month I figured I’d be getting my money’s worth.

I hadn’t done anything more than toy with the idea though and yesterday my friend texted me suggesting that I write a blog post about them because “they truly don’t have your health at the centre of their business plan”.

Apparently when you enter their facilities you’re met with literal buckets of tootsie rolls at the counter. Their website proudly proclaims “Welcome to Planet Fitness. Home of the Judgement Free Zone®”. Yes, their judgement-free zone is trademarked. No one else can have judgement-free zones. Anyway… I’m passing judgement right here because presenting people who are (presumably) going to the gym to be fit and healthy with buckets of tootsie rolls is certainly devoid of good judgement.

Wait. It gets even better. In addition to the copious quantities of free tootsie rolls, “black card” members are also entitled to such perks as half-price gatorade after a workout. No matter that gatorade is really only worthwhile for endurance athletes and of no benefit to most gym-goers. In addition to the unnecessary gatorade, Planet Fitness also offers weekly “reward” free bagel and free pizza days.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with bagels, pizza (especially not pizza), and tootsie rolls as part of a balanced diet. My issue here is with the clear cognitive dissonance. How does a company that’s supposedly in the business of encouraging people to be healthy and active not realize that promoting the consumption of candy, and using food as a reward, is actually detrimental to the health of their members?

On top of all of the disappointing food promotion, Planet Fitness also offers unlimited tanning for an extra $9.99 a month. This despite the indisputable fact that tanning beds increase your risk for melanoma and the World Health Organization has classified tanning beds as a known carcinogen. They also offer this bizarre “total body enhancement” which is some sort of therapy involving red light that ostensibly results in “fat loss”. Which I can tell you is complete and utter bullshit. For a company that is so proud of being A Judgement Free Zone® that they’ve trademarked it, they sure do push a lot of treatments to transform our “unruly” bodies.

Planet Fitness says in their mission statement that they are, “A diverse, Judgement Free Zone® where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built”. It’s a shame that they don’t take the entire lifestyle into consideration, only the active piece.


Leave a comment

How not to be the next Tom Brady

629098615_1280x720.jpg

So you want to be the next Tom Brady. Sorry to burst your bubble but buying his latest book on nutrition and training (out this September) is not going to help you.

I haven’t read his book. Can you believe his publisher didn’t send me a a free copy for review?? As such, it’s really not fair for me to comment on its content but given his notoriously wacky nutrition beliefs, imma go right ahead and tell you that it’s going to be a whole lot of nonsense.

As ridiculous as I think Brady’s nutrition regimen is, as long as he’s happy and healthy adhering to it, I say “power to him”. What I take exception to is promoting this as The Way to eat healthy and be a star athlete. As if what works for Tom Brady will work for everyone. The same for the fitness training component of his book. This book is purported to be an “‘athlete’s bible’ that reveals Brady’s revolutionary approach to sustained peak performance for athletes of all kinds and of all ages.” How many Ironman competitions has Brady completed? Is he a star tennis player? Curler? Gymnast? What does Brady know about female athlete triad? The needs of children and seniors? People from different ethnicities? I mean, come on now. What works for Tom Brady when it comes to fitness and nutrition is not going to work for everyone. There is no way that this book can address the wide-ranging needs of athletes (and aspiring athletes) of all ages and sexes and from all sports. Even for male football players the content of this book may not apply.

Tom Brady writing a book for all athletes is like the person who’s lost a bunch of weight counselling people on weight loss. Just because he’s had success does not make him an expert. What works for one person, even Tom Brady, is not going to work for everyone. Save your money, Tom Brady doesn’t need it.