Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Sexifying food

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Apparently the hot new trend at the grocery stores is gender-specific food. *insert massive eye roll here*

There are breads specifically formulated for marketed to men and women. Trail mixes. Cereals. Snack bars. Who knows what they’ll come up with next. At least, unlike many personal care products, the versions for women don’t appear to be more costly than the versions for men.

The nutritionist quoted in the CBC article raises an interesting point that I hadn’t thought of, that people might treat these foods as supplements. It’s kind of a weird notion because we dietitians are usually encouraging people to get their nutrients from food and only using supplements when nutrient needs cannot be met by food alone. To suggest that it’s concerning that people might be using food to obtain their nutrients is pretty much the reverse of what we advise. However, when they’re making claims regarding specific nutrients I can see how it might be an issue. Consuming a bread with calcium, for example, is not going to meet your calcium needs.

I wanted to compare the bread for women to the bread for men. However, these products from Stonemill Bakehouse are now defunct. All I can find are front-of-package images. The women’s wellbeing bread contains hemp and quinoa and claims to contain calcium and vitamin D. The men’s wellbeing bread contains barley and rye and claims to be high in protein and fibre. Of course, there’s nothing that makes hemp and quinoa better for women than for men, just as there’s nothing that makes barley and rye better suited to men than to women. Stonemill removed the gender-specific labelling on these breads as a result of customer backlash (go customers!). Supposedly they had customer welfare in mind when they developed these breads. I can’t help but think that money might have been a factor as well. You know, the husband needs one loaf of bread and the wife needs another. There’s two loaves of bread sold, as opposed to one. They are still selling the breads but with new labelling and amongst the wellbeing breads on their website I can’t tell which ones are the made-over sex breads.

While some micronutrient needs vary between men and women, needs between individuals of the same sex are are likely to vary more. Gender or sex specific foods are more about marketing than meeting nutrient needs. Don’t buy into the hype.


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The ultimate diet, only 27, 575 calories a day!

I stumbled across this book review for a book entitled Naked Calories the other day. I was a little shocked to read that the book asserts that the average number of calories a person would need to consume in one day is 27, 575 in order to become sufficient in all 27 micronutrients (I’m also a little curious as to what micronutrients were selected for this analysis as there are more than 27 in our diets). 27, 575!!??? That’s more than ten times the average number of calories a person needs to consume in a day. I’d like to begin by pointing out that the authors of this book have their own line of supplements and the central premise of their book is that we are unable to consume sufficient nutrients through food alone. The author of the review does point this out but not until the end of the review and it seems more like an afterthought than the huge red flag that it should be. I know that when I was in school we analysed our own diets for both macro- and micronutrient content and I was only a teensy bit shy of a couple of micronutrients. I’m not quite sure how the authors of this book reached the conclusion that the diets they assessed (which included the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet) delivered, at most, 56% of RDI requirements. It’s an interesting premise that our diets are so deficient in nutrients. However, as a dietitian I am constantly recommending that people aim to get as many of their nutrients from whole foods as possible. We don’t know for certain that isolated micronutrients (as in supplemental form) provide the same benefits to us as when they are in whole foods. I’d like to read the book so that I can completely debunk it but I have no intention of giving them any of my money in order to be able to do so. I would suggest saving your money, eating a varied diet, and consulting with a health care professional (i.e. your primary health care provider and/or a dietitian) to determine if you should be taking a supplement. Don’t start eating 27, 575 calories a day and don’t start buying supplements that you don’t need.