Category Archives: nutrition

A Dietitian’s Rant on “Fitspo”

I came across a post on social media this month of a transformation picture – you know one of those before/after body comparisons highlighting someone’s weight loss. This transformation picture, like many others I came across, showed off a stark contrast between the before picture and a lean, ripped body as the after picture (often referred to as “fitspo” aka. fitness inspiration).

Now I don’t want to criticize this individual, that’s not my intention. This person clearly put in a lot of hard work and dedication to fitness. However, I think it’s unfortunate that so often health is shown in extremes on social media. From a starting point of overweight (clinically speaking) to an end result of six pack abs, people rarely seem to set their goals on the in between.

But maybe they should be.  Because “healthy” isn’t black and white like that. “Unhealthy” doesn’t mean overweight and “healthy” doesn’t mean six pack abs. Getting healthy can mean small changes – and in fact this is much more sustainable in the long term. Not to mention for some women, getting visible abs means dropping to an extremely low body fat percentage that can actually be harmful to our reproductive system and bones.

And it irks me to see these transformation pictures with captions that make it sound like anyone can achieve this physique: “You can do it too!”, “Work hard and get this body too!”, “What’s your excuse?”, etcetera etcetera. Sorry, but six packs are not realistic or even possible for some people. And I’m sure those captions have the intention of being motivational, but they can have the exact opposite effect for some people. No, not everyone can achieve six packs abs because some people don’t have the genetics, the time, or the budget. Some people worry about having the time to see their kids between working two jobs let alone having the time to work out at a gym for a hour and a half. And some people’s genetics mean it is difficult to the point of being impossible to get abs, like me. I have never and will never have them – I could go to the gym for 1 hour a day and run and do ab exercises til I’m blue in the face, drop 20 lbs, and I still won’t have abs (believe me, been there, done that).

So amidst all the “fitspo”on social media these days, focus on what’s right for you and remember that drastic change isn’t always the best change.

What do you think? Do you find “fitspo” motivating or unrealistic?

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What a Dietitian Eats at Ribfest

This past long weekend I headed to my parents’ house to spend the last hurrah of summer with my family. My sister and her boyfriend recently moved back here from England, so we’ve been catching up on missed time! On our agenda for the weekend, like every Labour Day weekend, was Burlington’s Ribfest.

burlington-ribfest-2

Burlington actually has the largest Ribfest in the country, so it brings in some of the top “ribbers” (apparently that’s what they’re called?) in Canada serving up beastly racks of ribs along with other barbecue fare.

Barbecue can be a difficult cuisine to navigate when looking to make healthy choices. Between the fatty meats, sugar laden beans, fried side options, and coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, there isn’t really much fresh fare. So what does a dietitian eat at a rib fest?

Ribs, duh. And some pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread too. Oh and a few pieces of a blooming onion.

burlington-ribfest

I mean, you could maybe order more healthily by getting the BBQ chicken and removing the skin before eating, draining the excess dressing off the coleslaw, and bringing your own vegetables to round out the meal. Or you could not go to the ribfest at all, and opt to stay in rather than spending time with your friends or family.  That’s probably what some health magazines would tell  you to do.

But as a dietitian, I wouldn’t go for either of those options and I wouldn’t expect my clients to either. Life is about so much more than the pursuit of the ultimate healthy diet.  And frankly it really doesn’t matter what you eat on special occasions and once-a-year events like Ribfest – what’s important is how you eat the majority of the time in your day to day life. So enjoy your social life and eat some crap from time to time!

Your turn: What’s your approach to eating at events like Ribfest? What does balance look like to you?

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Why I don’t agree with kids menus

restaurant table

The other day I was browsing Yelp and came upon a review of a restaurant in which the reviewer commented that there was no kids menu at the restaurant. And that got me thinking – why do we even need kids menus? In fact the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t actually agree with kids menus at restaurants at all!

As a Registered Dietitian, I recommend fostering healthy eating by not making separate meals for your children, as this won’t teach children to eat a variety of foods. I think this idea should apply whether you’re in the home or out at a restaurant. It makes me roll my eyes to see a restaurant with a diverse menu of foods offer such a limited “kid-friendly” menu to kids – usually consisting of burgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese. By restricting kids to such basic options, we’re not even giving them the chance to try new foods and flavours that perhaps they’ve never had the chance to try at home.

Not to mention, the options on kids menus are usually less healthy than some of the other items on the regular menu. Healthy is definitely a relative term when we’re talking about restaurants because all dishes tend to be less nutritious than what we would cook at home, but at least on the regular menu you’ll find vegetables, fish, and whole grains if you’re lucky. Whereas the kids menu, although smaller in portion size, tends to be lacking in vegetables, and high in refined carbohydrates and deep fried dishes. Why are we restricting kids to a limited menu of less healthy options?

I say ditch the kids menu and let children order off the regular menu. It will likely be too much food for their small appetites, but that’s what doggy bags are for. Parents could even split one of their dishes with their kid, as restaurant portions are usually large enough to serve two people anyways!

Let’s stop giving children “kid’s food” and just offer them “food”.

What do you think? Do you agree with restaurants having kids menus?

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