Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Good Night, Sweet Sharkies

For the past few years, I’ve been using Sharkies Organic Sports Chews1 as my electrolyte and sugar replenisher on my long runs. They are super tasty and full of nutrition-y goodness. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that they’ve been discontinued!!

I finished what I thought was my last pack of Sharkies2 on my long run last Sunday3 and so I went to London Drugs the other day to get some more… but they did have any. However, they also didn’t have the coffee or the tea that I usually buy there, so I assumed that LD decided that it hated me and thus had stopped carrying the stuff that I buy there. I cursed the fact that the Thrifty grocery store in New West was turned into a Save-On, as Thrifty had carried Sharkies whereas I’ve never seen them at Save-On4. But then I remembered that the Running Room carries them and there just so happened to be a Running Room right by the LD. And that is where I was told the news: Sharkies are no more!

Sharkies

RIP Sharkies

The salesperson at the Running Room told me that the closet product to Sharkies – in terms of nutrient content, taste, and consistency – is Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews:

Honey StingersHowever, this week in my half marathon training plan is the week where I get a bit of a break, with my “long” run being only 12 km. 12 km does not warrant electrolyte and sugar replenishment, so I’ll be waiting until next weekend’s 18 km run to try these guys out. I’ll be sure to report back on my findings!

 

  1. As per usual, I have no relationship whatsoever to the companies/products mentioned in this blog posting, other than the fact that I bought these products. No one ever tries to bribe me – life is so unfair! []
  2. As it turned out, I later discovered another package hiding in my linen closet! []
  3. As an aside, I made the silly, silly decision to do a 16 km run last Sunday, which is the usual distance that my training program would have me for that week of training for the June 22 Scotiabank Half Marathon – oh yeah, I’m doing the Scotiabank Half Marathon in June… I don’t think I’ve mentioned that here on ye old blog yet! – but I hadn’t been doing the previous weeks long runs. I mean, I did my Hollywood Half Marathon in April and then decided that I needed a few weeks off from long distances to recover, and then I got busy, and then I did the 8 km race so I couldn’t do a long run that weekend, and then various other excuses, and only now that I’ve officially registered for the Scotiabank half am I taking it serious that I need to train. OK, wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, I made the silly, silly decision to jump from an 8 km run one weekend to a 16 km run the next. I did the run fine, but my quads were freaking sore for the next four days! []
  4. Also, Thrifty is just a way, way better store than Save-On! []

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Only Two Days Left for You to Help! #FarmToFork

Remember that time I told you about Farm To Fork? Would you believe that they are down to the last 2 days of their crowd sourcing fundraising campaign? And so far, they’ve managed to raise – at the time of writing this blog posting – $10,990 of the $15,000 that they need to do the great work that they are proposing to do.

In case you haven’t read my previous posting, what they are proposing to do is, simply put, to connect people who have healthy foods to donate with the food banks that need those healthy foods to provide to the 1 in 40 Canadians who don’t have enough food to eat. Yes, you read that right – 1 in 40 Canadians use food banks every month.

Raising $10,990 is a pretty amazing feat – but they need $15,000 and they need it now! So check out the Farm to Fork project and consider making a donation – whatever amount you can spare – today!

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Farm to Fork Needs Your Help

So the fine people over at Farm to Fork are in need of your help. Farm to Fork, for the uninitiated:

… began with a simple question: in a culture that wastes nearly 40% of all food produced, how do we connect the people who have fresh food to give to those who need it most?

The Farm To Fork website is part of the solution. Designed to facilitate communication between donors and emergency food service providers, the website aims to increase the quality and quantity of fresh food donated to local food banks and food pantries.

The project involved a bunch of students at the University of Guelph – one of my alma maters – along with my friend, Dr. Dan, and his friend Danny – building prototypes and other such computer-y things to make this project a reality. Now they need your help to take this thing to the next level. They are crowdsourcing funding for beta testing by undergrad students over the summer, some necessary hardware, and to send the undergrad developers to the Community University Expo to spread the word and share their knowledge. Supporting this project means providing quality summer employment for undergraduate students, helping get a really beneficial product to its launch (which will ultimately mean getting more nutritious food to people who need it), and a warm feeling in the cockles of your heart. True story.

So check out the Farm to Fork project and consider making a donation! Do it for your heart cockles.

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Look What Arrived In The Mail Today!

Copies of my brand new textbook!

Textbook

I have to say, it’s pretty amazing to hold this book – the product of so much work – in my very own hands!

For those of you who have been asking where you can buy yourself a copy of this fine book1, you can get it directly from the publisher at the low, low price of just $402. And if I see you in person after you buy it, I’ll totally autograph it for you – at no extra charge3!

  1. I.e., Rick. []
  2. Which is a pretty darn good price for a textbook! []
  3. Mom & Nancy, I already got copies for you. I’ll put them in the mail just as soon as I think of something witty to write along with my signature! []

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I’m An Author!

So, remember that time I did a photoshoot because I need a professional photo for a top secret project that I was working on? Well, as it turns out, the reason that I needed that photo was for the author bio page of the textbook I’ve been working on!

Essentials of Nutrition: A Functional Approach, by Zimmerman and Snow is a textbook for nutrition courses for non-majors. It presents the science of nutrition in an accessible way, so that it can be understood even if you don’t have an extensive background in biology and chemistry. We’ve structured the book so that it focuses on nutrients in relation to their main physiological functions rather than just going through a chapter on each nutrient. For example, we have chapters on the nutrients important to bone health, and another on nutrients important to fluid balance. Putting the information into context should make the material easier to retain.

The other really exciting thing about my textbook – I mean, in addition to OMG I HAVE A TEXTBOOK! – is the business model of our publisher, Flat World Knowledge. This screenshot I’ve taken from Flat World’s website does a pretty good job of explaining it:

Flat World Knowledge

I shudder to think how much I’ve spent on textbooks over my years as a student1. And as an educator, I’ve struggled with finding textbooks that weren’t quite what I wanted. Flat World’s model of affordable textbooks that are customizable by instructors is really something that I can appreciate.

If you’ve been looking around for a great resource on nutrition – and you know you have – you should totally buy a copy2 today!

  1. I’m on year 12 of postsecondary education, and though I probably didn’t buy any textbooks after about my first year of my PhD until I started my MBA, I’ve paid a tonne in the past year and my undergrad years saw me dropping thousands on books. []
  2. Or seven. []

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I Declare December The Month of Vegetables!

Vegetables
I’ve decided to get serious about vegetables. Along with my slothiness when it comes to exercise, I’ve been rather lackadaisical when it comes to my fruit and vegetable intake. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been eating *no* fruits and veg, but I haven’t been eating enough and I certainly haven’t been getting enough variety. I’ve been better in recent weeks, since I started making a bit of an effort to up the fruits and veggies, but I think it’s time to kick it into high gear.

Now, I know you are probably thinking, “Beth, have you forgotten that December is the month of shortbread and gingerbread cookies and egg nog and other such tasty treats?” Rest assured, I have not. I really do expect that I shall be partaking in festive goodies. But that’s all the more reason to focus on the veg! Filling up on healthy fruits and veggies will (a) make sure that I just have one tasty treat, not an entire tray, and (b) don’t feel guilty over those treats!

I do have a few specific plans in place help me be successful in this month of plant-based goodness. These include:

  • planning my meals in advance, so I’m not just throwing something together quickly and forgetting the veg
  • keeping stocked with cottage cheese that I can have with fruit for breakfast1
  • keeping stocked with some canned fruits and vegetables so that if I run out of fresh stuff, I’m not completely fruit & veg-less.
  • keeping stocked with V8 juice2
  • stocking up with veggies that I know Devon also likes3, so that he’ll be inclined to make a tasty veg on the nights he makes dinner.

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more strategies, but these should get me going.

Also, just after I posted my blog posting about using my epic fail from the November Threeway Challenge of Awesomeness as a learning experience rather than beating myself up over it, I saw this article over on Lifehacker: Want to Create a New Habit? Get Ready to Break It. It’s all about how we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we try to create a new habit – like exercising every day – and then we don’t succeed every.single.day because it that’s just setting one’s self up for failure4.

For the record, I have actually scheduled in my exercise for this week. Today I biked 11 km on the stationary bike when I got home from school; tomorrow, Thursday, & Friday I’m going to yoga; on Wednesday I have a hockey game; and Tuesday & Saturday I’ll do some biking. I shall keep you posted on how this experiment of thoughtful scheduling and veggie-focusing goes!

Image Credit: Posted by Martin Cathrae on Flickr.

  1. This will also help with my desire to actual eat breakfast regularly. []
  2. Yes, I know it’s crazy high in sodium, but I like it, so I know I’ll drink it, and I have low blood pressure, so I’m not overly concerned with sodium. []
  3. He’s picky about veggies, but does like, for example, asparagus, beets, and kale, and can tolerate squash. []
  4. In conclusion, the Internets say I’m right! woohoo! []

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Blog Action Day – #Food #BAD11

Today is Blog Action Day, a day where bloggers, not surprisingly, take action. They take action, not surprisingly, by blogging, but on this particular day they all blog about the same topic, thus calling attention to said topic. This year’s topic is “Food.”

From the Blog Action Day website:

This year Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, a time that focuses the world’s attention on food, something we all have in common.

There is so much to say about food.

We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, whilst too much is causing a generation of new health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living.

The way we companies produce food and drinks can provide important jobs for communities or be completely destructive to habitats and local food producers. Food can give us energy to get through the day or contain ingredients that gives us allergic reactions.

Food can cooked by highly skilled chefs with inventive flair, or mass produced and delivered with speed at the side of road. It can be incredibly healthy or complete junk and bad for your health. It can taste delicious or be a locals only delicacy.

Food is important to our culture, identity and daily sustenance and the team at Blog Action invite you to join us to talk about food.

Now, I blog about food all the time – it comes with the territory when one is both a foodie and a nutritional scientist – so I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what I should blog about today. And then I remembered that I’ve been meaning to blog about a book that I read that changed the whole way that I think about food and eating. It’s called “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and you should totally read it. Here’s why.

Intuitive Eating Book

First of all, this book is written by two registered dietitians – R.D. being the protected title for those who have gone through a rigorous post-secondary program and internship in nutrition, food, and eating1 – and these two R.D.s happen to have many years of experience working with people and through that experience have learned a lot about people’s relationships with food. Second, unlike “diet books” (think Atkins, the Zone, the blood type diet, etc.), this book doesn’t promise a quick fix. Because there is no quick fix when it comes to nutrition. It doesn’t promise you that you’ll lose 20 lbs in a week while eating copious amounts of every food you ever wanted to eat – because that’s just not how bodies work. So, right away this book is different than a lot of others on the market that purport to be about nutrition. OK, now that I’ve told you what the book is *not* about, let’s look at what it *is* about.

Key Take Home Messages From This Book

  • Essentially, this book is about mindfulness brought to eating. When we are born, we eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we are full. Somewhere along the way, we develop messed up relationships with food and eating and lose our ability to respond to hunger and satiety cues. The simple act of paying attention to what we eat while we eat it goes a long way to preventing us from over eating.
  • The idea of “dieting” is all about deprivation. But you can only deprive yourself for so long before you lose it and scarf down an entire cake! The worst part of this is that you don’t even get to enjoy that cake you are eating because you are shovelling it into your face so fast in response to having deprived yourself. And then you feel guilty about having “failed” – and not recognizing that “dieting” is just setting yourself up for failture.
  • There’s no need to deny yourself the things you like to eat – but there’s also no need to eat copious amounts of them either. I mean, think about it: have you ever had a lovely meal or a scrumptious dessert in front of you and you wolfed it down so quickly that, afterwards, you realized that you barely even tasted it? Or finished off a giant bag of Doritoes in front of the television without even really being aware that you were eating them? If you actually make a conscious decision to eat, say, some chocolate mousse, wouldn’t it be better to be present in the moment, paying attention to the taste and the mouthfeel, savouring each spoonful, than to down the whole thing in 5 seconds, not really tasting it at all?
  • Eating “everything on your plate” when you aren’t actually hungry is just as wasteful as throwing it out. A lot of people were raised to “eat everything on your plate” because to do otherwise means you are wasting food. But eating more food that your body needs, eating past the point where you are satisfied – you are still “wasting” it, but instead of it going into the garbage or the compost, it’s just adding unnecessary weight onto your body.
  • Do you really need to lose that “last 10 lbs,” or are you already pretty awesome as you are? This is probably the hardest part of the book for many people. We tend to focus on what we see as our physical “imperfections” – things like, “my thighs are too fat,” rather than “my legs get me around, let me go for a walk, let me run, or play hockey” or whatever else it is that you do. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being fit, with striving to run fast or be stronger. But is dieting to get rid of those “last 10 lbs” really going to make you happy? Or would that effort be better expended on being happy with who you are?
Reading this book really had changed the way I think about food and eating. I feel I have a much healthier relationship with food, just by being more mindful of what, how and when I eat. I no longer scarf down my meals like there is no tomorrow. I no longer agonize over eating particular foods – I just ask myself “Do you really want to eat that, or are you eating just because it’s there?” Sometimes I think, “No, I don’t actually want that junky food, because I know that when I finish it, I’ll remember that it doesn’t actually taste that good. But if I really want to eat it, I do. But I don’t eat crazy amounts – just savouring a few bites is usually all I need to satisfy me. And I really feel that I’m much healthier and happier because of it.
Of course, all this is just my take on the book. You really should read it yourself.

As per usual, I have no affiliation with this book or these authors. I don’t get any money if you buy the book – in fact, I got it from the library myself. But I really do think everyone could benefit from reading it@

  1. As opposed to “nutritionist,” which pretty much anyone can call themselves. []

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Fun With Advertising

My sister sent me this ad a little while ago:

HFCS1

She sent it because it made her think of me, as one of my pet peeves is people getting nutrition advice from people who have no idea what they are talking about – like from people working in a supplement store1. And this was my (highly artistic) response:

HFCS2

Because, rather unsurprisingly, the “Sweet Surprise” website is run by the Corn Refiner’s Association, a trade association representing the corn refining industry.  According to this website, they’ll all in a lather over people thinking that high fructose corn syrup has more calories or a different sweetness level or different simple sugar building blocks than table sugar.  Because, you know, this is a very important misunderstanding that must be corrected for people to live a healthy life! </sarcasm>

Of course, it totally ignores the fact that even if high fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar and both are made up of glucose & fructose building blocks… well, no one considers table sugar to be healthy anyway!  I don’t know of any health professionals saying “be sure to include lots of added table sugar to your meals!”

I should point out that, despite my little joke above, when I looked at the site they do, in fact, have a video clip of a registered dietitian/PhD.  Her message is that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t contribute to obesity more than any other caloric sweetener. There are also clips of other people with MDs and PhDs saying basically the same thing.  But, really, is saying “Our product isn’t worse than other products that aren’t particularly good for you” that compelling of a pitch?

  1. Just today I was having brunch with a friend and she was telling me about a boot camp she was going to where they gave out a “healthy” meal plan that was full of processed foods! []

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Congratulations, Dr. Bedford!

Today, my friend Jen defended her PhD!  I didn’t get to attend the defence because The Man made me go to work all day, but I heard from people that were in attendance that Jen rocked it!  Not that there was any doubt that she would!

IMG_0405

Here’s a poor quality photo I took of Jen on my iPhone at the Cactus Club, where we went for celebratory drinks tonight.

Congratulations, Dr. Jen!  I hope you are enjoying your new life as one of the club. You deserve it!

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Public Health Achievement #1: Safer and Healthier Foods

January great public health achievement badgeYesterday I got an email from the Canadian Public Health Association1, which is celebrating its centenary in 2010, telling me about the website they’ve launched to celebrate the successes of the field of public health over the last 100 years.  Would you believe “that the average lifespan of Canadians has increased by more than 30 years since the early 1900s and 25 of those years are attributable to advances in public health?”  Thirty years!  That’s almost my entire lifespan so far in *extra* years of life!

As part of their celebration, they have listed twelve great achievements of public health in last 100 years – one to highlight each month:

January Safer and healthier foods
February Control of infectious diseases
March Healthier environments
April Vaccination
May Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard
June Motor-vehicle safety
July Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke
August Healthier mothers and babies
September Acting on the social determinants of health
October Universal policies
November Safer workplaces
December Family planning

And they even have snazzy badges to put on your blog (as seen above).  And far be it from me to be able to resist a snazzy blog badge!

This month’s theme – Safer and Healthier Foods – is one that is near and dear to my heart, what with being a nutritional scientist and all.  And the fact that it’s the theme of my birth month is just the icing on the cake2!

Some random interesting facts about food and nutrition:

  • the idea that vitamin deficiencies could cause disease was first published in 1912
  • Canada’s first food guide – The Official Food Rules – were first published in 1942 with the aim of preventing nutrient deficiencies during wartime rationing
  • goiter was eliminated in Canada by the mandatory fortification of salt with iodine (1949)
  • sometimes symptoms of food poisoning don’t appear for a month after you eat contaminated food!
  • the Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 2.2) in 2004 was the first time in 35 years (!) that we had national nutrition data
  • Canada was the first country to mandate labeling of trans fats
  • more than 10% of Canadians (that’s about 3 million people) experience food insecurity

Fight Bac!

Stuff you can do:

Check out the cpha100 website to read about all the cool things that public health has done to make our food safer and healthier, from fighting foodborne illnesses to the creation and updating of Canada’s Food Guide to work on food insecurity.

  1. being that I now work in Public Health, I joined the CPHA []
  2. ha ha! icing and cake in a nutrition posting []
  3. the whole avoiding processed foods will help with that []
  4. I know that there is always lots of debate around the Food Guide, but the basics – eat real, whole foods; eat more plant-based foods; use reasonable portion sizes; get variety in your diet – and the fact that studies show that if you follow the Food Guide, you meet the nutrient recommendations, are pretty solid []