Monday, 28 September 2009


There are insanewhiches for all tastes so visit this great site next time you're wondering what to pack for lunch....

Some are for the more refined palates:

Nori-wrapped hot-dog sushi.

The Swine n' Cheese sandwich

Some (lots!) would not be recommended by dietitians


Others would be:

The Crummy Cakewich: extra-lean turkey breast, multigrain bread and sweet-potato frosting.

Some are just gross:

The knuckle sandwich is made with pig hoofs:

Some are just weird:

The All-Mint Patty Burger

But some actually seem good!

The Dark Night- melted dark chocolate drizzled over eggplant.

Thanks Diane!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Chew gum, snack less?

The study:

115 men and women who regularly chew gum visited a lab at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center on 2 occasions:

On the first, they were given a lunch and then stayed for 3 hours, chewing Extra® sugar-free gum for 15 minutes, once an hour.

Hunger and cravings were assessed with the help of questionnaires and at the end of the 3 hours, subjects were given a variety of snacks to choose from.

The next visit was exactly the same, but they weren't given chewing gum.

The result:

When subjects chewed gum, they reported significantly less feelings of hunger and cravings for sweet foods and felt significantly less sleepy.

Gum chewers also ate significantly less calories after the 3 hours: 40 calorie less but, more interesting to the researchers, 60 calories less from sweet snacks.

According to Paula Geiselman, Chief of women's health and eating behaviour and smoking cessation at Pennington, this is the first study to look at the nutrient composition of snack food choices following gum chewing.

What I think:

First of all, 40 or 60 calories doesn't sound like a lot. In fact, it's the equivalent of only 4-6 jelly beans. Nonetheless, that could lead to a 4-6 lbs weight loss a year if it was kept up daily.

However, I wonder if these study findings be the same if the subjects weren't regular gum chewers?

Maybe regular gum chewers that can't chew gum for 3 hours need to keep their mouths occupied and eat more (and have more cravings) whereas people that don't normally chew gum wouldn't have the same problem...
In that case, wouldn't it be better to tell people never to start chewing gum in the first place?!

Measuring this only on 2 controlled occasions i very limiting too. For example, the subjects obviously knew the difference between their 2 visits was the gum chewing.

Clearly this is something that needs to be studied way more before any recommendations can be made.

Oh. Did I mention that the study was funded by the Wrigley's Science Institute? Hm.

Want to lose weight? Don't rely on chewing gum!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Drain AND Rinse

Don't just drain your canned foods like vegetables, beans, tuna... rinse them... for at least 1 minute.

Studies have shown that rinsing your canned vegetables for a minute reduced sodium by 41%. Rinsing canned tuna for a minute reduced sodium by 76%!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Sodium Crisis: A Major Health Concern

A few years ago, there was a huge effort to enlighten the public on the health effects of trans fats.

The result: Mandatory labeling, the removal of trans fats from many products, and entire cities banning trans fats from restaurants.

Looks like sodium's next!

The CSPI has called sodium the “deadliest ingredient in the food supply” and the “forgotten killer”.

Why is Salt Bad?

High sodium intake has been linked with high blood pressure- 1 in 6 people worldwide have high blood pressure, as do 65 million Americans. 45 million more are considered “pre-hypertensive” (between normal and high blood pressure).

Don’t have high blood pressure? Chances are you will. 90% of Americans will. And, even if you don’t have high blood pressure, cutting back on sodium can reduce your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases by 25% and your risk of dying from it by 20%. Same goes for kids!

Eating less salt is also one of the most important ways in preventing heart disease. High sodium intake has also been linked to obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones, kidney disease, osteoporosis and an increase in asthma symptom severity.

How Much is Too Much?

The WHO recommends we eat less than 2000mg sodium/day whereas US and Canadian guidelines, based on Institute of Medicine recommendations, recommend less than 2300 mg/day, less than 1500mg/day if you have high blood pressure.

In fact, we only need about 1200-1500mg/d. As a reference, 2.5 little pickles contain 1550 mg/day.

We’re eating about double the limit, 3500-4000mg sodium/day... and that’s too much!

Where’s All This Salt?

Believe it or not, the majority of salt isn’t coming from the salt shaker. About 80% of our sodium is coming from processed foods!

Between 1994-2004, sodium in food has increased by 6%.

Packaged foods and restaurant meals are huge sources of salt in the diet. For example, a slice of pizza has about 1770mg sodium. A Denny’s Meat Lover’s breakfast (2 eggs, bacon, 2 sausages, toast and hash browns) has 3460mg sodium!

Hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and subs are the main source of sodium in the Canadian diet.

Click here to find out what the saltiest restaurant meals in America are!

What’s Happening?

Although the food industry is slowly starting to develop lower sodium in some products- watch the commercial below for Knorr Sidekicks that have reduced sodium by 25% in 22 of their products- it’s not enough.

It’s estimated that 8.5 million worldwide deaths could be avoided over 10 years by adopting public strategies to reduce sodium intake.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking for sodium to be recognized as a food additive rather than GRAS (Genereally Recognized As Safe) in the States, so it could be regulated. They’re also suing the restaurant chain Denny’s for not disclosing the large amount of salt in their food which, according to them, is putting unknowing consumers at a huge health risk. They also want the restaurant chain to post warnings on their menus about the high sodium levels.

Canada’s Sodium Working Group was started in 2007 and is made up science/health professionals (including 2 dietitians!), food industry and NGO representatives as well as government officials. The group plans to come up with a plan to reduce Canadian’s sodium intake in 4 years, a bit too slow for some.

New York City, always a leader in health initiatives (first to ban trans fats in restaurants and implement mandatory menu calorie labelling) has started its own initiative and plan to cut sodium in restaurant foods by 25% in the next 5 years.

Strategies That Work!

Finland, and more recently the UK, should serve as models for Canadians and Americans. Both countries have partnered with the food industry to reduce sodium in products and educate the public through mass media campaigns.

Click here for another great British ad:

Finland started this in the 70s and they’ve seen a drop in sodium intake from 5600mg/d to 3200mg/d! They’ve also seen a huge 70% reduction in stroke and heart attack deaths!

Both countries have also adopted an easy labeling system: green label for low salt, amber for medium salt and red for high salt. The result in the UK: a reduction of 400mg sodium in just 4 years!

More to come on this topic for sure!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Deferred Gratification: The Marshmallow Test

In the 60s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University designed the Marshmallow Test: 650 4-year olds were individually given one marshmallow and were left alone in a room. The pre-schooler was told that he or she could either eat it right away BUT, if they waited 15 minutes and didn't eat the marshmallow, they'd receive a second.
This test was designed to measure willpower in delaying gratification.

It was found, based on questionnaires sent to the parents, teachers and academic advisers of the former pre-schoolers, now high schoolers, that those that were unable to delay gratification (that ate the marshmallow right away) had more behavioural problems, had trouble paying attention and maintaining friendships and had lower SAT scores.

The results are based on self-reported information therefore subject to error. However, Mischel, now at Columbia, is attempting to recruit the original subjects to get fMRIs done in an attempt to identify the brain regions responsible for self-control. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Watching the kids trying so very hard to delay gratification is hilarious! This is a re-enactment:

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I'm a bad blogger... I blame school!

I haven't blogged in forever and that's horrible... I'm sorry.

My excuse: 8 years after I finished my bachelor's degree, I've decided to go back to school!

I just started my Master's in Nutrition Communication in Toronto... so I'll be a better blogger!!

I moved last week and still unpacking and getting to know this city.... along with easing into this whole back-to-school thing.
I promise to blog very very soon.. hope you'll stick around for it!