Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sodium and Label Reading

This is our last page for a class assignment, which included writing about sodium for a website, taking original pictures and making videos for the same site (see previous posts for the rest!).

Two Soups:
Which one is the better choice?

Soup may seem like a healthy food, but most packaged soups are loaded with sodium.

Consider these two soups: a canned Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper, and a boxed Carrot and Coriander. Both look yummy, smell great, and taste delicious. But one has 6 times more sodium than the other!

How can you figure out which one has less sodium?
Read the Nutrition Facts label!

Watch this short video to learn what to look for on a label.

This information will give you the power to be able choose products that are lower in sodium and better for your health.

Making sense of the health claims on product packages can also help you make better food choices:

“Salt-Free” : Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
“Low in Sodium” : 140 mg of sodium or less per serving
“Reduced in Sodium” : At least 25% less sodium than the regular product

Remember to also consider how much of the product you eat.
If you eat more than the serving size indicated on the Nutrition Facts label, you’re also eating more sodium!

Use the Nutrition Facts label along with health claims to know how much sodium is in the foods you choose.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Critical Obesity- Guest Post

I've been meaning to blog about 'critical obesity' forever- but just haven't been able to find time. However, a classmate of mine, Nicole Bergen, wrote a great article on the topic, for her journalism class. It's such a well-written piece that offers a great overview of the subject, and I'm so happy she gave me permission to post part of it for you to read.

Great job, Nicki!

Sara can hardly remember a time when she wasn’t concerned about her weight. Since the age of 16, she has experimented with Weight Watchers, appetite-suppressant pills, restrictive diets and arduous exercise routines. The now-24-year-old teacher consulted a number of medical doctors for weight advice, but grew increasingly disheartened with their approach. “They were putting it on me that I was lazy or that I got this way because I never exercise or have unhealthy habits, “ Sara said. “They told me what an optimal [weight] goal would be, but didn’t offer any new insight on how to get there.”

Dr. Arya Sharma, a Professor of Medicine and obesity researcher at the University of Alberta agrees that the medical profession may not be adequately prepared to offer constructive weight-loss advice. “Not all health care providers are trained to assess and treat obesity,” he said.

The current Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Obesity define overweight and obese according to a patient’s height and weight, using a measurement known as BMI (body mass index). For most overweight patients, the guidelines emphasize weight loss through diet and exercise therapy. Sara said that she spent only about 10 minutes discussing healthy lifestyle choices with her doctor.

This type of approach is almost certain to fail as a weight-loss treatment. Studies from a variety of regions and populations repeatedly log success rates of less than five per cent. In a 2007 edition of the

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the combined results from 80 scientific reports concluded that advice-based weight-loss attempts produced minimal results, both initially and in the long-term.

A little unsettling for a nation with no shortage of overweight and obese people trying to lose weight.

Lucy Aphramor, a dietitian and obesity researcher in the UK, questioned the ethics of recommending weight-loss treatments that have such resounding failure rates. In 2005 she wrote “The reality is that we do not have an effective weight-loss treatment to recommend.”

Societal demonization of fatness may be fuelling an obsession with thinness. Motivation to lose weight has extended beyond health concerns, to a pursuit for social acceptance. And, according to Sharma, this is an important distinction. It usually takes only a small amount of weight loss to see significant health benefits; the process of achieving a desired body type, however, requires more effort.

“Managing expectations is a big part of making weight goals,” Sharma said. “It is never a good idea to use optimism as motivation or set someone up for failure.”

When Sara’s doctor provided unhelpful advice, she joined a gym and began weekly sessions with a nutritionist and personal trainer. “They probably spent about three hours catering a diet to my specific needs,” she said. “I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, and when I first approached them they didn’t know a lot about it. They did some research and developed a good understanding.” Sara is confident in the advice that she receives at the gym, and has met some of her goals.

After working in the weight-loss industry, Mabel Pang-Bishop has changed her views about weight-loss treatment. Pang-Bishop sold meal supplements for a commercial weight-loss program for two years, and then realized that she had become part of the problem. “We marketed a program that was very restrictive and claimed to be a safer alternative,” she said. “But the program is structured for people to fail. There were some successes, but mostly yo-yoing. Our customers saw themselves as failures in their weight-loss goals and therefore failures in life.”

Now, Pang-Bishop is a graduate student at the Ryerson School of Nutrition, studying an emerging field she calls ‘critical obesity studies.’ A critical perspective on obesity promotes health at every size, and looks beyond diet and exercise to broader, social determinants of health and social justice. “I knew there was something more to weight loss than energy in and energy out,” she said. “Why do we accept ideas without questioning them? It is important to be aware that there’s more out there.”

Friday, 16 April 2010

Tips for Lowering your Sodium Intake


This is still part of the fictitious website on 'sodium & health' a classmate and I developed (see previous posts). We had to write the content, take the pictures, and make a video... :)

Tips for Lowering Your Sodium Intake

Even though lots of foods are high in sodium, it doesn’t mean your sodium intake has to be high!

Here are some tips to help you lower your sodium intake.

At the grocery store:

  • Fill your cart with fresh and unprocessed foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and lower-fat milk and alternatives. These foods naturally contain less sodium.

  • Read nutrition labels. The amount of sodium is listed as a “Daily Value” percentage that tells you how much sodium a product contains. Your best choice is a product with less than 5% sodium per serving size.

  • Choose foods that have the claims “Salt-Free”, “Reduced in Sodium”, or “Low in Sodium”.

  • Buy unsalted versions of foods like nuts, pretzels, crackers and popcorn.

At home:

  • Remove the salt shaker from your table. Instead, flavour your food with herbs and spices.

  • Don’t add salt when you cook or bake, or use less than the recipe suggests.

  • Rinse canned foods like tuna, chickpeas and beans under running water for one minute to reduce the sodium content.

At restaurants:

  • Ask to see the nutrition information and choose foods lowest in sodium. Many chain restaurants have nutrition information on their websites.

  • Request your meal to be prepared with no added salt.

  • Be careful of large portion sizes. Split a menu item with your dining partner, or take half home in a doggy bag.

  • Ask for sauces and dressings “on the side” so you can control how much you put on your food.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Sodium Lowering Tips- Part 2

And here's Part 2 of our 'Ask the Dietitians' segment for our fictitious website- this one's on label reading.
Enjoy! :)

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sodium Lowering Tips- Part 1

Here's a video I created (Part 1 of 2) for a class- meant to be for a fictitious website.
The topic is sodium and it stars my classmate and I...
Enjoy! :)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Salt's for Dinner?

We had to create 3 pages for a fictitious website for an assignment- including 3 original pictures and a video.... thought I'd share them here over the next few days!
The topic: Sodium.
This is page 1.
Hope you like it!

Salt’s for Dinner?

The average Canadian is eating too much sodium. Are you?

What’s the difference between salt and sodium?

Salt, or table salt, is made up of the minerals sodium and chloride.

1 teaspoon of salt has 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium.

Do I need sodium?

Yes. Sodium keeps your blood pressure and water levels in balance in your body. Your muscles and nerves also need sodium to work properly.

How much sodium do I need?

Healthy adults need 1500 mg of sodium per day. Eating more than 2300 mg a day can be harmful to your health.

The average Canadian eats 3100 mg of sodium each day!

Is too much sodium bad for me?

Yes! Even if you’re healthy now, regularly eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and increase your risk for heart and kidney diseases, and stroke.

Which foods are high in sodium?

80% of your sodium intake comes from processed and packaged foods, not your salt shaker.

Foods like fast food and restaurant meals, canned soups, frozen meals, packaged rice and pasta mixes, and sauces and dressings have sodium.

Even some foods that don’t taste salty, like breads, cereals, and baked goods, may have a lot of sodium.

If I don’t use the salt shaker, could I still be eating too much sodium?

Yes. Only 15% of our daily sodium intake comes from using the salt shaker and adding salt when cooking.

Even if you don’t use your salt shaker, you may be eating too much sodium since many commonly eaten foods are high in sodium.

(sorry- it's not referenced... if you need references, let me know!)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Time for Ronald to Retire!

If you're against the use of a clown character to encourage kids, and their parents, to eat fast food, sign the petition to Retire Ronald McDonald... it only takes a few seconds... and it's about time.

This initiative comes from Corporate Accountability International.

Click here to visit the website to sign the petition and learn more.

Click here to send a letter to McDonald's CEO, James Skinner, via the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

(I did both!)

Here's part of the Press Release:

After close to fifty years of hawking fatty food directly to kids, Ronald McDonald is being urged to retire.

The findings come amid growing recognition of the fast food industry’s primary role in driving the epidemic of childhood obesity and diet-related disease.

“This clown is no friend to our children or their health,” said Senior Organizer Deborah Lapidus of Corporate Accountability International. “No icon has ever been more effective in hooking kids on a harmful product. Kids have become more obese and less healthy on his watch. He’s a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st Century. He deserves a break, and so do our kids.”

For poll results, an analysis of Ronald McDonald’s pervasive presence on the American landscape, a background on the psychology behind children’s marketing and more visit

Sunday, 4 April 2010

10 Recommendations for Blogging RDs

A classmate and I wrote a paper on the use of blogs by dietitians for a school project...
we called it: Entering the Blogosphere: Professional and Ethical Consideration for Dietitians.

I learned a lot writing this paper.

For example, did you know that a new blog is created every second every day... and 1.2 million new blog posts are posted every day?!

Pretty crazy!

We also found that, while blogs have lots of benefits for health professionals, and our readers (!), there are no standards for blogging RDs- our professional organizations haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet...

The result:

It's difficult for visitors to our blogs to determine the level of confidentiality they're offered, to verify credibility, or discover the blogger’s identity (if it is even provided), credentials, funding or any conflict of interest.

So.... we proposed that all blogging RDs adhere to the following guidelines.... to maintain professionalism while giving our readers a way to assess to quality of the source of the info.

The recommendations are based on the HONcode and Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics criteria, on information for users on evaluating online health information offered by the National Cancer Institute and Medlineplus, and on recommendations from a representative of the College of Dietitians of Ontario (the provincial regulatory board).

1. Authority - Blog owner’s full name, credentials, and the city in which he/she practices should
be evident.

2. Accessibility
- Contact information must be accurate and easily accessible.

3. Transparency - Authors of all posts, along with their credentials, must be provided if blog
owner is not responsible for all content; a statement defining the purpose of the blog must be

4. Audience - Target audience must be clearly identified and content and readability should be
in accordance -readability for a lay-public should be no higher than a grade eight level.

5. Complementarity - A disclaimer statement must be included indicating that content is
meant to complement, not replace, care provided by a health care team.

6. Journalistic Diligence - All sources of information must be provided; information must be
accurate , up-to-date, and presented in a balanced way; bloggers should rely mainly on
peer-reviewed and gold-standard sources and indicate clearly when this is not the case, or
when stating or referring to opinions.

7. Funding - Sources of funding, or if no funding is received, must be disclosed; conflict of
interest must be declared.

8. Advertisement - Advertisements must be clearly delineated from content; if blog contains
ads, a statement of how they are associated with content must be included.

9. Privacy - Readers’ privacy must be respected by ensuring confidentiality, not sharing emails
with third-parties, never using identifiable information; a privacy statement must be included
outlining how privacy is upheld.

10. Professionalism - Appropriate language must be used; comments must be moderated to
remove misleading and vulgar statements.