Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Want to lose 30 pounds in 2016? Read this first.


Image by johnhain on pixabay. Used under a Creative Commons Licence.

I love the free “natural” “health” magazines at the grocery store for a few reasons. 1. They’re free! 2. Recipes. 3. Blog fodder. The latest issue of sage did not disappoint. Not only does the quinoa salad look delicious but I can probably get at least two blog posts out of it.

They have this little “sage advice” feature in which unqualified contributors answer health and nutrition questions. The question posed in this issue was

“I need to desperately lose 30 pounds and don’t know where to begin. How can I set myself up for success?”

The answer was provided by a “nutraceutical researcher and product formulator”. Precisely who you want to advise you on weight loss, someone who makes money from sales of dubious weight loss supplements. <- Please note this last sentence was written in sarcasm font.

To be fair, his advice wasn’t completely terrible. He mentioned: goal setting (although I didn’t like the way he suggested formulating a goal). Nutrition (although his specific advice was crap, at least he mentioned nutrition). Exercise (we know that weight is lost in the kitchen, not at the gym but exercise is important for good health and can help with weight management). Science-based supplements (well, sure, if there were any but to date there are not). Consistency (absolutely, if you want to see sustainable results you have to make sustainable changes).

Now, I’d like to provide my own response to the question.

First, I’d like you to ask yourself why 30 pounds? Where did this number come from? Is it what you weighed in high school? Would it bring your BMI down from overweight to “normal”? Has your doctor advised you to lose this amount of weight for medical reasons?

Next, I’d like you to consider what effect it will have on your life if you lose those 30 pounds. Will you be happier? Healthier? Why do you feel desperate to lose this amount of weight?

Like the columnist, I’d like you to consider goal setting. Unlike the author, I’d like you to forget about the precise amount of weight you think you need to lose, and the “specific time frame” in which you aim to lose this amount of weight. I know, I know. It’s hard. But health, happiness, and self-worth don’t come from the numbers on the scale. Instead, I’d like you to focus on setting behaviour-based goals that you can achieve.

For example, bringing lunch to work at least four days a week, rather than eating out. Preparing most of your meals yourself (note: this doesn’t mean nuking a frozen dinner or dumping a can of soup in a pot). This means cooking the majority of your meals using primarily whole ingredients. Eating breakfast every day. Eating at least two servings of vegetables at every meal. Keeping healthy snacks on-hand to avoid vending machines and fast food fixes.

Just pick one thing you’re going to change about your relationship to food right now. Don’t try to make too many changes at once. Otherwise you’re likely to become overwhelmed and frustrated and give them all up. Only make changes that you’re willing to live with. Don’t forbid yourself from eating any foods that you love.

It’s quite likely that as you shift your habits to healthier ones that you’ll see weight come off. You may not see that arbitrary 30 pound loss on the scale but if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, whatever your weight, it’s likely to be healthy.

If you’re looking for some more healthy resolution ideas to get 2016 started off right, check out my latest column for Rustik Magazine.


Why you shouldn’t make any nutrition New Year’s Resolutions


Are you making any New Year’s resolutions for 2015? Have you made resolutions in the past? Have you ever had success?

Many people (roughly half of us) make New Year’s resolutions. How many of us actually keep those resolutions? Only about 8%! Not exactly a resounding success. And this is why, I, a registered dietitian, am urging you not to make any dietary resolutions this year.

I know that a lot of people resolve to: lose weight, stop eating chips, eat less, give-up chocolate, etc. The number one resolution for 2014 was to “lose weight”. Usually these resolutions are made stoically following holiday eating and drinking extravaganzas. We’re left feeling tired, deflated, and sometimes gross after parties, turkey and stuffing sandwiches, and seemingly bottomless stockings crammed with chocolate oranges. It’s a Brand New Year. What better time to turn over the proverbial kale leaf and dive into a sea of green smoothies? Well, actually, pretty much any other time of year is better and we can’t survive on green smoothies alone (or has Rob Rhinehart finally perfected soylent?). Winter, at least in Canada, can be one of the hardest times of year. We see little sun, it’s cold, icy, snowy, rainy. The perfect recipe for baked macaroni and cheese, you know the one, oozing with three kinds of cheese and buttery bread crumbs on top. It’s not exactly the time of year that screams fresh salads.

It should go without saying that I want you to be healthy and happy. I want you to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. It’s because I want all of these things for you that I don’t want you to resolve to do them tomorrow. Resolving implies a certain level of gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to go through with something that you don’t really want to. Part of living a healthy life is being happy. How happy can you be if you’re forcing yourself to do things you hate and avoid things that you love? Why not wait for the glitter from New Year’s Eve settle and then starting figuring out how you can make the best, and the healthiest, choices for yourself.

Some of us, yeah, that 8% might be able to choose resolutions that we’re able to stick with. Maybe you’re part of that 8%. If you are, kudos. But let’s just pretend that you’re not. What are you going to resolve this year?

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Happy New Year!


Did you make a resolution this year? If you’re thinking about making one and you’re not sure what to choose make sure you pick something you’ll actually derive some pleasure from. Unless you’re incredibly stubborn there’s no point in resolving to do something you loathe. Even if you are exceptionally stubborn, why would you do that to yourself? Here are my top resolution tips:

1. Choose something that will make you feel better about yourself.

2. Make your goal reasonable. Something that you’ll be able to stick with indefinitely.

3. Be realistic.

4. Don’t give-up entirely if you experience a set-back.

And some ideas for resolutions if you’re stuck and really want to make one:

1. Love and care for yourself.

2. Spend more time cooking.

3. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and can commit to.

4. Volunteer.

5. Commit to using active transportation whenever possible.

6. Eat more vegetables. Maybe even grow more vegetables.

7. Figure out how to get your life to (or at least closer to) where you want it to be.

8. Make sleep a priority.

9. Spend more time with family and friends.

10. Read every blog post on Bite My Words. (Just kidding… not really)

Happy New Year everyone! I’m looking forward to spending another year fighting all of the nutritional nonsense with you :)

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What I hate about New Year’s resolutions

I know that as a dietitian you would think that I would be all gung-ho about people making New Years resolutions to eat healthier/lose weight/exercise more. Then again, if you know me, or read my blog, you probably won’t be all that surprised to learn that I am not a huge fan of these sorts of resolutions.

I keep overhearing people talking about their resolutions to “go on a diet”, to “lose ten pounds”, to “go to the gym”. They kind of make me want to tear out my hair. It’s all I can do to keep my mouth shut by biting my tongue. I’m all for people becoming healthier. I wouldn’t have studied nutrition if I wasn’t. I’m also a huge fan of exercise and active transportation. And I practice what I preach. However, I view these types of resolutions as pretty much guaranteed to fail.

There is absolutely no point in resolving to do something that you hate. If you don’t like going to the gym or running or whatever exercise you’re resolving to do, you’re not going to stick with it. Pick something that you will actually get some enjoyment out of. Try different things. Sometimes it’s going to be a battle but it shouldn’t feel like torture to lace up your sneakers.

Diets are the dreaded “D” word. I wish I could remove that word from our vernacular. Dieting has become synonymous with deprivation. I also don’t think that anyone views a diet as a permanent change. Sure, you can lose weight through depriving yourself of calories or food groups but odds are you’re not going to be able to continue to do so for the rest of your life. As I’ve said again and again: if you want to see sustainable weight loss, you’ve got to make sustainable changes.

These resolutions are also fairly vague. If you do want to improve your health try to focus on reasonable goals that you might actually stick with. One year I resolved to do yoga at least once a week because I felt I needed to improve my flexibility. And yes, I did stick with it; not because I love yoga (I don’t) but because I’m stubborn and sometimes it’s for my own good. Suggested realistic resolutions: aim to cook at least X number of meals at home a week, bring a lunch to work at least 4 days a week, only buy coffee out once a week, switch to drinking your coffee black, aim to add an extra serving of vegetables or fruit every day, try a new (to you) fruit/vegetable/grain/other whole food every time you go grocery shopping. Resolutions should be about making your life better.