Video Blog Episode 2 – How to choose your cereals?

Some tips from Janna Boloten R.D.!

Flavoured Milk for Kids? Are You Kidding Me?

Every year I go to the Dairy Farmer’s Symposium and I always look forward to it.  It’s a chance to re-connect with ol’ nutrition buddies from McGill and other dietitians I’ve met over the years.  It’s also free and I get points for continuing education.

The same thing happens every year.  I get there and I see my friends, we catch up and all is good.  Then the conference starts and the first speaker seems interesting. Then the next speaker starts and I start to feel uncomfortable.  Then I remember this expensive symposium is payed for in its entirety by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.  The whole point of this conference is to get dieticians across Canada recommending dairy products left, right and centre to every patient, client, friend, family member and person they come in contact with.

They do this by finding speakers who present their research with a strong bias towards dairy.  Now do not get me wrong, I am not bashing milk.  Milk has merit and we will get to that in an upcoming blog.  Today, I take serious issue when the information presented is trying to convince me to recommend flavoured milk to kids.  The American speaker presented research indicating that removing flavoured milk from some USA schools actually reduces essential nutrients.  Apparently, there is no other way to provide these essential nutrients such as  calcium, vitamin D and potassium other than through flavoured milk.  I think this is a joke. My children go to the English Montreal School Board and are provided with regular white milk 3 to 5 times a week. Never have these children been given flavoured milk at school.

Flavoured milk has its place and I do recommend it in certain situations.  But the message that was presented today was that flavoured milk is nutritious.  Flavoured milk is milk with ADDED sugar. Herein lies the problem.  As a nation, we over consume sugar.  Everyone, including myself eats too much sugar.  It is in everything,  cereals, condiments, drinks, grain products, added to coffee, candy, chocolate and many other foods.  Sugar is the enemy. It leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. We need to teach our children to moderate their intake of added sugars.  We need to moderate our own intake.

Instead of criticizing American schools for removing flavoured milk, why not provide serious education to the children of these schools along with their families on proper nutrition.  If regular education is part of the system perhaps the children will actually eat the foods that would provide them with the nutrients they need. Didn’t Jamie Oliver try this?  Wasn’t it effective?

The bottom line is this, if parents think that flavoured milk is nutritious then they will give it to their children.  Kids will never have the opportunity to develop a taste for plain old white milk.  As they grow, kids will always need added sugar in their milk.

In Ernie’s own words

-My LA friend told me about his weight loss experience and I immediately brushed it off as “undoable ” for me
-it helped to have bought a designer shirt that made me look pregnant and kept me motivated.
-One day, I was at a business lunch and people noticed I was eating salad… they said “what are you on a diet?” I said “yes, I just started yesterday”, we all laughed and took it as a big joke, but it committed me to the idea and that day was day one! Announcing your intention to people publicly keeps you committed to the cause (it’s a Tony Robbins thing…)
-My focus was purely on eliminating white carbs and sweets also (not adding) sugars to my food…calorie count, etc… was not my focus.
-I think by focusing on one thing (in my case 2 ) I was able to keep disciplined.
-I have never been a “scale ” person, but did a weigh in every 2-3 months….good things were happening and undoable became achievable
-Over the summer, I was very motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle, the goal was 4-5 activities / week (tennis,  swimming , hiking , walks…keep it fun & light )
– I lost 20 pounds between Jan-June, then put on 7 pounds in the summer….and since September that weight is off !
-the weight loss was steady, nothing drastic, and except for the summer glitch (which was due to mom’s pasta, which I have since got her to buy whole wheat) everything is back on track.
-another friend recently came over and warned me about the dangers of sodium. He went through my fridge and cupboards and told me how everything was a killer! Now I can spend 5-10 minutes in a grocery store comparing sugars & sodium content in granola cereal!!!!
-As you take the first step and get a comfort zone with it, you will be ready to add to the mix…first sweets then carbs, then sodium, then calories…until eventually I’ll be a pure vegan one day, Never !!!
-I am reading more articles and more keen to learning about nutritional/ health….and slowly you try to implement those lessons learned
-I’m not that obsessive, nor consider myself a detail oriented person, but I started to get it
-nutrition is also a great ice-breaker conversation topic…I find people latch on to the topic and more often than not people are concerned and taking steps to improve their health through nutrition & fitness. People want to let you know what they’re doing and want to talk about it…
-cheats: at first I went “cold turkey , but came to understand that the body can take small doses and restrictions are negative, so on the odd occasions a slice of cheesecake or tiramisu is in order, but a small piece !
-success leaves clues….people have noticed a change and are impressed, they want to know what I did , how I started and hopefully they find their own motivation and their own tricks for getting into better shape, for their reasons…

Man it’s a hot one!

May 2010 070
It is really hot in
right now.  When it gets this hot people’s
nutritional habits change.  For the
better or for the worse I am not sure. 
Some people eat more ice cream and drink iced frappucinos while others
go for more salads and less food altogether. 
The one thing we need to consider when it gets this hot outside is fluid
intake.  You can go in and out of air
conditioning all day but the best way to control your own body temperature is
with proper hydration. 

Last year there was a sale on 100% juice boxes so I bought
about 100.  I guess my brain was fuzzy
from the heat because I really wasn’t thinking. 
Having so many juice boxes available made it easy for my kids to help
themselves.  Consequently, they become
addicted to the juice. 

I lecture my clients over and over about juice, even 100%
juice.  It is basically sugared water,
albeit naturally sugared without any fibre. 
It’s like taking a glass of calories. 
What is the point?  Sure it tastes
good but it comes at a price.  Our bodies
do not register calories in a beverage as satiating.  What I mean by that is if you eat 100
calories (like a large apple) your brain will detect that you are eating and
start sending out signals to make you feel full. Pay attention to these signals
they can be subtle.  If you drink 100
calories (a 250 ml juice box is about 120 calories) it satisfies your thirst
mechanism but not your satiety and you will not feel full.  In fact, you might even feel hungry.  The sugar in the juice can spike your insulin
making you crave even more sugar. 

At the end of last summer I had 2 kids addicted to the good
stuff.  I had to parent them and lay down
the law.  The rule was they could each have
1 juice box a day and the rest of the time milk or water.  It took a few weeks but I got them off the

On Monday it was like a million degrees and I left them for
a bit with their dad, Richard.  When I
got back I noticed several discarded juice boxes.  Richard defended himself with “it’s so hot
outside, they need to drink, what’s wrong with juice, and we should buy
more”.  I would say most people would
have the same thought process as he does.

Water makes up about 60% of the adult body.  It’s the beverage of choice.  I have a filter on my tap and keep a pitcher
of water in the fridge during the hot months. 
Generally speaking, people love ice cold water.  It is very refreshing. However, I have many
clients and kids tell me they hate drinking water so they want to know what
else they can drink.  I recommend tisanes
but obviously that is not optimal in the heat. 
You can try flavouring the water with fresh lemon and lime for a natural
touch.  Otherwise, there is always
Crystal Light.  It contains sugar
substitutes to give water a sweet fruity taste. 
Be aware that sugar substitutes can increase sugar cravings and some
people are even sensitive to these additives. 
It’s fine in moderation.  Another
option is to water down that daily half cup of juice. 

Did you know that coffee can be included in your daily fluid
intake?  Caffeine is a diuretic but
studies indicate that coffee can be counted as a beverage.  I never recommend more than 4 cups a day and
for some people including me that is way too much.  I know this because it makes me feel
dehydrated and jittery.  I opt for
decaffeinated coffee if I have had more than 2 regulars and am still craving
the taste.  Decaffeinated coffee
definitely is a good option if you don’t love water.  You can make iced coffee too.  Remember if you hit the local coffee houses
many of their beverages are high in calories. 
Order a simple brewed coffee or shot of espresso over ice.

Let’s talk about soft drinks.  I am sure you have heard by now that a can of
Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.  As
a result, you opt for a diet cola instead. 
Neither of these beverages are good choices.  Consider them as treats.  Diet beverages do not replace water and
studies have linked both diet and regular with obesity.

The question now is how much fluid do you actually need to
consume? The old adage to drink 8 glasses a day is good rule, even though it
doesn’t hold much water scientifically. 
I figure if I tell people to drink 8 glasses, they will drink at least 4
which is actually pretty good.  If you
are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, eating mostly healthy, having a
couple of coffees or teas and 4 glasses of water a day then you are probably
taking enough fluid.  If you are not
thirsty and your urine output is either clear or pale yellow then you are well

In the type of heat we are experiencing right now, don’t
wait to feel thirsty.  Hydrate yourself
properly.  Signs of dehydration include
extreme thirst, hunger, lethargy, poor concentration, moodiness and dark yellow


Nutrition Confessions

I often take for granted that most people know about healthy
eating.  It is just second nature to me
and I am always shocked when I encounter someone who really has no clue.  I don’t know why I am so shocked.  I live with Richard Kirsch. When we first
started dating, I was just finishing nutrition school.  I remember we went out for lunch and he was
going to order a hot chicken sandwich (you know what I am talking about, slices
of chicken in between white bread covered in canned peas and a ton of
gravy).  I was appalled and shocked. He
said “What?  It’s healthy! It’s got
chicken, vegetables and bread!”  He truly
wasn’t joking.  He thought he made a
healthy choice.  I know there many people
out there like him who don’t have the luxury (or curse) of living with a
dietitian.  Here are some thoughts I had
about some basic nutrition I take for granted. 

I would naturally assume if one were to purchase ground beef
one would buy extra lean.  I would assume
wrong.  There are many people out there
who don’t know that you can buy meat containing different amounts of fat.  Beef fat is essentially saturated fat which
should be eaten in limited quantities (~10% of your daily intake).  It makes sense to buy the extra lean
type.  The same holds true for cuts of
beef the more marbled, the more fat.  In
that case, choose cuts that have the least amount of marbling.  With poultry try not to eat the skin and
white meat has less saturated fat than dark meat.  Also, eat fish at least 2 times a week if not
more.  If you are concerned about mercury
check Health
advice pertaining to fish

I always think that most people know about limiting their
intake of trans fat but the truth is it’s very confusing.  If the ingredients say shortening,
hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or the fat the grams don’t add up then
there is trans fat in the product and it is best to be avoided. 

People ask me all the time if honey or maple syrup or sugar
cane is better than sugar.  A sugar is a
sugar is a sugar.  Use whatever you love
but use it wisely.  Don’t dump 10
teaspoons of brown sugar into your coffee because you think it is better than
white sugar.

Why don’t people know already that too much juice equal too
many calories?  Why do I think that
people should know this?  Too much cola
equals too many calories. Too much diet beverages (that are artificially
sweetened) increase sugar cravings. Too much iced tea (Richard!!!!) equals too
many calories.   Stick with water, herbal
teas, skim milk, even coffee (not more than 4 a day max).  Have the other drinks occasionally.

Now let’s talk about white foods.  By that I mean white bread (think Wonder),
white pasta, white rice (that cooks in 5 minutes), white potatoes and white
flour!  These foods are devoid of any
major nutrients and fibre.  Think of these
foods like a decadent dessert, as a once in a while sort of thing.  Imagine going to Gibby’s and enjoying a hot
white bun with butter before dinner. 
Nobody goes to Gibby’s often so when you do go enjoy that bread. 

April 2010 044
Finally, I don’t know where I get off thinking that everyone
knows how to cook something.  Unfortunately
for me, Richard doesn’t know how to cook. What’s worse is he thinks he
does.  That’s a pretty bad
combination.  At least, a person that doesn’t
know how to cook and admits it might be open to suggestions and help.  The poor guy who thinks preparing KD is
gourmet really is in trouble.  I was
about to add that his kids would be in trouble too if the wife took an extended
vacation but it occurred to me that the kids would probably love to eat KD for
every meal.