Weekend Tips from Diane – Travel Edition

It struck me yesterday that my diet habits change very drastically when I’m on “vacation”. The excitement of being somewhere different compels me to explore restaurants and eat out more often especially at places that aren’t available at home. Naturally, I forget about proper vegetable and fruit servings, portion control and eating regularly. It sometimes seems like there’s not much I can do about it. Visiting relatives means eating big meals with them all the time. Visiting friends means going out and eating too much. I am snacking all the time and trying new foods. It seems there is always a good reason to eat more than we can handle……

I thought about some things that have helped me be more careful with my diet when I’m on vacation and here they are!

1. Do groceries!
Find a grocery store where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits are something that a lot of people love, but for those who can live without it, it’s good to get your favorites. For example, I really like grapes and watermelon. Picking favorites will ensure that I will want to eat it and maybe even leave space for it. Find a way to get your favorite healthy foods.

2. First thing in the morning: Heathy Breakfast!
Eating a healthy breakfast starts your day of right. Opt for more fruits and even vegetables if you know that you will not be eating that much of it during the day.  Having oatmeal or whole wheat toast also helps with your day’s fibre intake.

It’s not that after eating a really wholesome breakfast, you can forget about eating well for the rest of the day, but it helps me reach a healthy standard when I know I will be BBQing with family, eating at restaurants (probably more high fat/high sodium) or too busy sightseeing to stop for a decent meal.

3. Set aside one meal where you pay more attention to the nutrition in your meal!
As a student, traveling means spending more money. Doing groceries saves money and helps me stay healthy. I like to save money and watch my total caloric intake very carefully while I am away.  I pick meals or days where I make sure I eat lower calories or just get more nutrients in much the same manner as I watch every dollar I spend.

I hope these tips are helpful! I admit that I don’t always follow them, but having them at the back of my mind helps keeps me in line.

How do you eat when you travel? How do you remind yourself to stay on top of your nutrition? What are some of YOUR tips?

With a satisfied stomach,
– D the Intern

Watch: CSSS Cavendish – Palliative Care in Home Care

Nutrition is Health

Nutrition is health.  You cannot separate the two.  When I talk to people or write about nutrition I am only discussing health.

The corny catch phrase “you are what you eat” has become so ubiquitous it has lost it’s meaning.  Let’s examine it.  Why do we eat?  We eat to live.  If we didn’t provide food for ourselves our bodies would die.  Notice how I said “food”.  Food can be defined in many ways. Fruits and wild rice are food but so are chocolate and candy.  People can live off of foods with little nutritional value for years.  I suspect the quality of their lives would be less than what it is supposed to be.  It’s even possible that those who eat poorly don’t even know that lackluster way they feel is a direct result of what they put in their bodies.



To improve overall health, begin making small changes like replacing the 3pm coffee with a large glass of water. You will notice that blah feeling lifting.  Continue by replacing poor quality foods like highly processed snack bars with fruit and yougurt and watch your body transform.  Include more homemade meals into your week with less eating out and you will feel less bloated.  Try and reduce the total amount of sugar and sodium already in your diet.  These 2 nutrients in high quantities are bad for you.  Forget about numbers.  If you conscientiously cut back on foods with sugars (think pastries, cakes, granola bars, cookies and plain white breads) and stop adding salt over your meals you can achieve normal amounts.

Boosting hydration is the best quick fix there is to improving health.  Think water, tea and milk instead of endless cups of coffee and alcoholic beverages.  Actually, coffee drinking is better than drinking zero beverages.  Nothing beats good old water for improved kidney function and toxin removal.  Jazz up a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or frozen raspberries!

Montreal Nutrition’s intern Diane is back with some great Spring tips!

Here’s a quick update about my life this past semester at McGill in the Dietetics program:

I finished my first official semester as a Dietetics student. In January, I waited (im)patiently by the computer awaiting the news of whether or not my transfer was rejected or not. I promise I did not freak out, more than twice. I finished my finals a few weeks ago and I start my Level 1 Practicum/Stage in July. That’s where I’ll be interviewing patients, learning their story and their diet habits and see what I can do to help them, with the guidance of my supervisor. I’ll let you all know how it goes as it goes!

1. Don’t like water? TRY dipping some tea bags for some flavor.

Something that’s been really trendy with water lately, especially in the summer, is cutting up strawberries, mangos or cucumbers and letting them sit in ice water. Just TRUST me. OR try strawberry water at YEH frozen yogurt (various locations in Montreal).


2. Ease into exercise. Aim for consistency over one-time performance.

Disclaimer: This is from my personal experience, so don’t hold me accountable.

I’ve always been a pretty active-ish person. I did sports through high school, played soccer with the city league for a while, tennis and kickboxing lessons but always on and off. I’ve realized that right now, I’m the type of person that needs constant motivation and incentive to get my butt out the door and exercise. When I’m not on a team or taking a class, it’s the hardest thing for me to be active.

Lately, what has helped me, is to just START small. When you go running for the first time in 4 months, go for 15 minutes even if you used to be able to go for what seemed like forever. What I used to do was, pump myself up so much, I ran for 1.5 hours the first day back in the gym. The next day, I’d feel like I HAD to do at least 1.5 again. I wasn’t in the mood so I just never went until the next time I was super motivated. SO I realized, if I start with 10, it wont be so horrible, and I won’t feel too bad going out the next day as well.


3. Don’t give up!

Here’s my current addiction in music form:

What do you think?

AND also,

Show Montreal Nutrition some love and let us know what you want to read about this summer!

Stay tuned,


D the Intern


Y’are Whatya Eat

These days, most people know that maintaining optimal health begins with what we eat.  The problem is in today’s world everything is fast paced including food.  In the olden days the mom would be home home cooking and keeping house all day long.  There would be time to bake homemade breads and cook all meals from scratch with wholesome ingredients.  This is just not possible anymore with 2 income families.  Even if one parent stays home there are tons of activities and things to get done that make this type of cooking nearly impossible.

ImageHere are some ways to facilitate the process of making healthy foods.  Consider small appliances as tools to make quick and easy recipes.  For example, a small immersion blender turns a pot of chunky vegetables into a smooth soup.  It does the same for a pot of meat sauce and the bonus is the kids won’t know you blended veggies into it!  A food processor is the king for chopping and grating.  I use mine to grate large blocks of cheese.  This saves me money because pre-grated cheese is a fortune.  I use the grated cheese on homemade pizza, over pasta, in casseroles and for omelets.  The standing mixer is da bomb when it comes to baking.  It’s easy to buy cookies and other snacks for lunches but nothing beats homemade especially since you can control the amount of sugar and the type of flour that goes into the recipe.  Home baked goods can be a source of whole grains and fiber.  Store bought less so.

When making a meal from scratch why not make a double batch and freeze it right away?  Chop the vegetables the night before and your meal will be half prepared when you get home from work.  Order your groceries online which creates more time to cook. As you can see, the key to healthy eating really is in the planning.  Take some time to make menus and grocery lists so you already know what to make for supper or go to a website like www.thescramble.com which does it for you.

These are just a few ideas to motivate you to cook more and order or eat out less.  Stay tuned for some cooking short cuts to create easy and healthy meals.

p.s. That is a picture of the Kitchenaid right before it caught fire. I was making homemade bread.


Valentine’s day is approaching.  It appears to me that there are more red hearts and cellophane delights than Halloween.  I guess it gives people an excuse to eat chocolate and maybe even say I love you?

The nutrition question that I get asked most in February, is chocolate good for you?  Many people wonder this.  Surf the web and numerous articles will pop up pertaining to this issue.  To put it simply chocolate that is made from 70% or more cocoa, has health benefits associated with it.  These health benefits are derived from the antioxidants found in the the cocoa solids called flavonoids.

Antioxidants are important because they fight the free radicals produced in our bodies. Free radicals can cause a plethora of health problems.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables contain a very high source of antioxidants.  So don’t really on chocolate to do the job!

Chocolate with less than 70% cocoa usually has fewer of these antioxidants and more milk solids and fats which are not associated with health benefits.  The classic milk chocolate bar is a treat and cannot be considered a source of antioxidants (that includes the Aero Bar).  In contrast, 10 grams of dark chocolate a day contributes approximately 50 calories and packs quite a flavorful punch.

Here are some yummy chocolatey  ideas.  Jazz up plain yogurt with dark chocolate shavings. Now that is decadent.  Try sucking on a piece of dark chocolate while sipping tea.  It might become a regular ritual. Have you ever tried a nut-butter sandwich with dark chocolate shavings? Mmmmmm  A skinny latte sprinkled with dark chocolate is better than sugar!  Whip up an exotic vegetable salad and use coconut and chocolate flecks for extra flavour.  Instead of the dreaded Nutella over toast in the morning sprinkle some chocolate.

Remember, everything in moderation is the way to go.  When you have too much of something that is good for you then it often has the reverse effect. Too much dark chocolate equals too many calories.

Can a dirty mouth make you sick?

Guest blogger Allison Brooks has some important information about the link between your teeth and your diet.

My name is Allison Brooks and I am a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi. I earned my B.S. in Biomedical Anthropology and have continued my research to work towards a completed ethnography. I mainly focus on the effects of biomedicalization on different cultures, but I do branch off into other fields of anthropology. I wrote about family nutrition and oral health because I feel that it is the easy way to promote a more natural well-being and is easy to relate to.

Families are increasingly paying attention to their nutrition together due to a couple of factors: the awareness of the negative effects of carrying too much weight and the diverse impacts of eating at home and eating out. Many people are trying to make a change in their eating habits by eating together as a family at home. The topic of oral health has also become popular as people realize that the health of their teeth has a powerful effect on their overall health and on the health of their hearts.

The best way to have a positive impact on your family nutrition and your oral health is to agree to eat together as a family. Eating at home, in fact, has many benefits for a family. Studies show that there are many social and intellectual benefits to eating together as a family, but there are also nutritional advantages. When you cook at home, you most likely will not make food that is nearly as saturated with bad fats and sodium as the kind of things that they sell in restaurants. Home-cooked meals are more likely to include vegetables and complex carbohydrates, rather than the sugary or salt-laden treats that you acquire in a fast food restaurant.

When you eat together, it will be easier to ensure that children and adults remember to brush their teeth after eating. The importance of oral health has come to the attention of many people now that medical science has drawn straight lines between various stages of poor oral health and other negative health conditions. Many hospitals and research facilities have conducted clinical trials to see the correlation with proper oral health and other ailments.  Recent research is revealing very powerful connections between heart health and oral health. This has an impact not only on health but also on longevity.

Certain foods are especially capable of providing good nutrition for your body and for preserving or even improving your oral health. Take, for example, an apple. These delicious fruits contain natural sugars that your taste buds will appreciate. The crunchiness of the apple is a sign that your teeth and gums are getting a good workout while the texture of the fruit scrapes your teeth clean. Your digestive system will welcome the fiber in the apple which will keep your intestines in good health.

Encourage your family members to eat together. The benefits are both social and nutritional. If you choose the right foods, you can all live happily together for a long time.