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Top 3 Trends & Winners at Grocery Innovations – sparks for 2018!

Lucia GIC grocery trade show 2017 gic 2017 show pic

Grocery Innovations Canada (GIC) is a ‘must attend’ annual event for professionals in the grocery and specialty food business. The 2017 fall conference and trade show offered tips for growth, innovation, and best ways to connect with consumers.  Here are 3 TOP TRENDS we recognized in some of the award winning products. To learn more about top trends and innovation sparks join us for our 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists Course on Wed April 18, 2018; 8:30 am – 5:00 pm University of Toronto. Registration is now open!

  1. Pack it with protein
  2. Make it Fresh
  3. Keep it simple & clean for labels

Pack it with protein
Food makers are adding and highlighting protein in just about every category. It’s true that consumers are looking for protein but many people are confused about how much they need and where are the best sources of this important nutrient. As dietitians, we translate the science and find that Canadian nutrition recommendations encourage people to include plant based proteins and balance their protein intakes throughout the day, especially at breakfast.

Two of the 2017 Grocery Innovation award winners featured a protein claim.
•     EGGbakes (Burnbrae Farms Ltd.) with about 13 grams protein per 95 g serving.
•     PrOATein Premium Nutritional Bar (PrOATein) 15 grams protein per 50g bar.

gic 2017 egg burnbrae

Grocery Innovation 2017 Proatein



Make it Fresh
Demand for fresh food is on the rise (Euromonitor). We saw many packages inviting us to eat with our eyes first, using windows to let fresh food peek through and beautiful fresh food images on pack. Adding a story about where the food was grown and who cared for it makes packaged fresh food a consumer attraction. One of the top 10 winners of the 2017 Grocery Innovations Awards captured this trend: Ready-To-Eat Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (Nature Knows Inc.) showcasing fresh grape tomatoes, blueberries or grapes.

gic 2017 nature knows

Keep it Simple – the food label that is.
Consumers are looking for a clean label which may be interpreted as a combination of ‘free from’ features as well as an ingredient list that is easy to read, understand and not too long. Simply Simple Kefir+ Overnight Oats (A&M Gourmet Foods Inc.) was voted as one of the top 10 most innovative products.
gic 2017 kefir overnight oats

food labelling changes n4nn

You already know Canadian packaged foods are preparing to update their labels to comply with new Ingredient list and Nutrition Facts Table regulations.  Are you working with food brands and rethinking your food offerings? If you have questions about food and health contact us. As Registered Dietitians we are Canada’s trusted experts who translate the science of nutrition into terms everyone can understand. We unlock food’s potential and support healthy living for all Canadians. Reach us for reliable advice at  Also, join us for our 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists Course on Wed April 18, 2018; 8:30 am – 5:00 pm University of Toronto. Registration is now open!


Sugar Sugar Everywhere – What’s healthy to eat?

sugar meter N4NN 2017

Sugar, especially added sugar has been under fire for its association with health issues including heart disease, diabetes, dental cavities and obesity. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends limiting added sugars to a maximum of 10% of total calories in a day. For an average 2,000 calorie diet, 10% is about 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugars a day.  Health Canada has set the % Daily Value (%DV) at 100 grams for total sugars per day which includes all added sugars plus naturally occurring sugars.

Here’s our expert dietitian advice:

1. Read the Nutrition Facts table.
Foods with 5 grams or less sugar per serving would be considered to have “a little” sugar whereas foods with 15 grams or more sugar per serving would be considered to have “a lot” of sugar.

2. Read the ingredients list.
Look for ingredients that indicate sugar  such as molasses, agave, fruit juice concentrate, honey, syrup, or end in ‘ose’ (e.g. dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose). By 2021, different sugars will be shown individually and grouped together as “Sugars”.

3. Look at the whole food.
Natural or added sugars are still sugars & contain 4 calories per gram. Just because a food has little or no sugar doesn’t mean that it is a healthy or nutritious choice. Choose wholesome, foods for maximum overall nutrition.

Questions? Contact us 
to discuss how the new sugar labelling laws impact your health and wellness or business communication.

Is your food making you sick? Check out our top 5 tips to prevent food poisoning!

1 in 8 get food poisoning N4NN July 2017

One in eight Canadians get food poisoning each year according to a recent report by The Public Health Agency of Canada. So let’s brush up on food safety with our 5 top tips that can help protect you and your family from getting sick.

  1. CLEAN – Wash your hands, and we mean really wash your hands for 20 seconds using hot water and soap. This is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness! Remember to use hot water and soap to clean cutting boards, cooking utensils and counter surfaces.
  2. SEPARATE – Don’t cross-contaminate ready to eat food. Keep fresh fruit and veggies separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs in your fridge and when preparing food.
  3. COOK – You can NOT tell if a food is cooked by looking at it! The best way to tell if your food is cooked properly is to use a food thermometer. Look for these safe internal cooking temperatures:
    –  medium rare steak 63 C (145 F)
    – your sausage or burger is done at 71 C (160 F)
    – chicken pieces 74 C (165 F)
    – whole poultry 85 C (185 F)
  4. CHILL – Keep cold foods cold at or below 4 C (40F). Storing your food properly is one of the key things you can do to protect yourself from food poisoning.
  5. MIND THE DANGER ZONE which is between 4 C (40 F) and 60 C (140 F). This is where most bacteria grow well. Toss out perishable foods that have been in the ‘danger zone’ for 4 hours or more. Perishable foods include (but are not limited to) fresh meat, poultry, fish, deli meats, dairy, eggs, all cooked foods, cut up fruit and vegetables.
    Want to learn more about safe food handling practices? Contact us! We offer basic and advanced food safety training courses that can earn you a government approved certificate.

Say no to food fads this #NutritionMonth *

nutrition month 2017 knocked out by info combo 2

Did you know that one in two Canadians get their food and nutrition information from the internet, social media and blogs?  Let’s face it. Not everything we read online is true. And while many of us know that, it’s still easy to be taken in by popular ideas we see online or hear from friends. How can we really separate food fact from fiction?

Misinformation affects many of Canadians, but there is a way to spot your problem and seek reliable facts to solve it. So if you’re wondering how to make sense of the nutrition advice you read online and want nutrition facts you can trust,  I’m going to walk you through an example of a three-step problem-solving approach that was developed for Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month 2017 campaign Take the Fight out of Food, which works quite well for nutritional concerns.

#1 Spot the problem: There is so much nutrition information online and you are not sure how to tell if something is a fad!

#2 Get the facts: You know that some websites are more reliable than others.  For example, a resource on the Dietitians of Canada website that can help you determine if facts you read online are accurate. You may read websites and absorb information, but not all of it may be true.  Be more critical and ask yourself these questions when reading a website:

  • Is the website promising a quick fix or a miracle cure?
  • Do I have reasons to mistrust the person, organization or company that runs the website?
  • Are they trying to sell me something instead of educating me?
  • Are the website writers unqualified to be giving me nutrition information?
  • Do they have facts that sound too good to be true?
  • Does the information come from personal opinions rather than scientific evidence?
  • Is the content missing reviews or verification by medical experts?
  • Are the website claims based on a single study that may draw the wrong conclusion?

Now if you know that if you answers “yes” to even some of these questions, the website may not be reliable.

#3 Seek support: You should not trust everyone who has an opinion about food and nutrition. Instead,  look for sites that aren’t trying to sell you something and that rely on science rather than opinions. Check the credentials of the writers, and look for sites written by regulated health professionals whose work is reviewed by other experts.

Don’t get knocked out by information overload! Find a dietitian at for advice. You can also browse this website and here is a list of other sites which are filled with reliable information: 

Do you have a food fight that you struggle with? Try the three-step approach to Take the Fight out of Food and make your commitment official at

*Blog based on Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month 2017 resource. #NutritionMonth

New Canadian Nutrition Labels Announced!

Are you ready for clearer nutrition labelling on packaged foods? Health Canada announced the new formats which may help you make the healthy choice the easy choice. New labels will be implemented over the next 5 years for all packed foods. What’s changed? Here are my top 5 observations with Dietitian’s Tips:

  1. Calories in the spotlight with bolder, bigger numbers and Serving size stands out more and it will be easier to compare  similar foods
  2. daily-value-meter-eng% Daily Value (% DV) explained as a simple ‘rule of thumb: 5% DV is a little, 15% is a lot of any nutrient. [Dietitian’s Tip look for foods with: INCREASED Fibre and  LESS Saturated fat, Sodium, Sugars ]
  3. Sugars focus with a new 100% Daily Value as 100 g/d.  Ingredient list will still show different types of sugars, but they will be grouped together. [Dietitian’s Tip – regardless of the source, all sugars are similar nutritionally, for more information on sugars click here]
  4. Food colours identified individually on Ingredient list.
  5. There is more to come so let your voice be heard! Share your opinions about nutrition labelling with Health Canada. Complete this brief consumer questionnaire and / or complete the technical questionnaire both by January 13th, 2017. This is YOUR chance to help shape the future of nutrition labelling in Canada.



Is your teen drinking too much caffeine? Researchers say more education is needed!

(Also published by Ontario Public Health Association, Nutrition Resource Centre News April 12, 2016 )

coffee & teens NRC Apr 2016

Drinking caffeine is becoming more common with teens and a new Canadian study points to confusion among high school students in grades 9-12. Teens are aware of the types of caffeinated drinks and their negative health effects but they don’t know about other aspects of caffeine and how much caffeine is safe to drink1. Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and mom of 3, Lucia Weiler has the following key tips that teens and parents should know about caffeine.

All about caffeine

  • Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate and certain flavours (e.g. those derived from kola and guarana), and may be added to carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks.
  • Caffeine can boost alertness for short periods of time and can cause increased urine flow.
  • Caffeine has NO calories or nutritional value and IS NOT a source of real body energy.  Energy comes from calories.
  • Too much caffeine can cause headaches, irritability, nervousness and rapid heart rate.

How much caffeine is safe to drink?2

  • Children’s caffeine limits are 2.5 mg caffeine/kg of body weight/day. Based on average body weight of children this  works out to be a daily caffeine intake of NO MORE than:
    • 45 mg   aged 4-6 years
    • 62.5 mg aged 7-9 years
    • 85 mg aged 10-12 years

Check out the caffeine meter below to see what this means for your child.

  • Teens (13-19 years) should also limit their daily caffeine intake to no more than 2.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. For example if a teen weighs 54 kg (120 lbs) then the maximum safe caffeine intake a day is about 135mg (54 kg x 2.5 mg/kg). This is about one cup (250ml) of coffee or 3 cups of tea.
  • Healthy adults should have no more than 400 mg caffeine/day. This is about the amount found in three cups (250ml or 8 oz) regular coffee or 8 cups of brewed tea.

Caffeine meter

  • 1 cup (250 ml) coffee has about 140 mg caffeine while 1 cup of tea has 2/3 less caffeine at about 45 mg per cup
  • A 355 ml can of cola has about 40 mg caffeine while 1 cup (250 ml) of cola has about 30 mg caffeine
  • The amount of caffeine in energy drinks varies from that found in a weak cup of coffee (90 mg) to much higher levels. This means that one or two energy drinks can easily be over the safe caffeine limits for teens. Examples of Energy Drinks include Red Bull, AMP Energy, Monster, Rockstar, 5 Hour Energy etc. For more information on Energy Drinks read the labels and visit Health Canada’s website on caffeinated Energy Drinks
  • Sports drinks (ex. Gatorade, Powerade) do NOT contain caffeine. Herbal teas, decaffeinated drinks are caffeine free.

** Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in communication, marketing, education and regulatory affairs related to food and beverages.  As principal of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc., Lucia provides expert services in nutrition trends, media, food science and labelling compliance.  Lucia is an engaging speaker and writer who translates up to date scientific knowledge to doable, relevant recommendations that motivates others. As the Co-Founder of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists,TM and Faculty at Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism she teaches nutrition, food safety and professional development. For more insightful nutrition tips visit or follow on Twitter/Instagram @LuciaWeilerRD


1. Turton P, et al. (2016) More education needed for adolescents consuming caffeine; J Nutr Educ Behaviour
2. Dietitians of Canada (2013) What is caffeine? Is it bad for my health?

5 Easy tips for the love of food and your heart!

for the love of foodFebruary is Heart Month and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner it’s a great time to celebrate love. It can also be a reminder to make heart healthy choices as part of everyday life. Food plays such an important role in festivities and long after the day is gone memories of delicious bites and flavourful aromas linger. Food is truly an emotional connector and as Chef Jamie Oliver said it so well “food can be a hug’. In our family cooking a meal and sharing it with others is a love language we all speak and understand. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a way of eating that spreads the love of food and heart health at your table.

  1. Go for whole grains – make at least half your grain choices whole grains.
  2. Make half your plate vegetables – the more colour, variety vibrancy the better.
  3. Include milk and alternatives – add them to smoothies, soups and casseroles.
  4. Chose lean meat or go for alternatives. Take the pulse pledge – add beans, chickpeas or lentils to your favourite meals.
  5. Walk the walk – stay physically active to boost your heart health.

Happy & Heart Healthy February!

P.S. – Check out the recipes page for delicious food that fits with a healthy eating plan.


Food Service Innovation (As published in Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News)

CRFN-Sept-2015-P52-53-Nutrition INNOVATION L.Weiler RD

TOP TIPS for You on the Benefits of Healthy Eating & Regular Physical Activity

You can enjoy the benefits of making healthy food choices, watching portion sizes and getting regular physical activity!
Here are a list of benefits and tips on how you can reach them:

Benefits of Healthy Eating & Regular Physical Activity

  • energy to do what’s important to you and be more productive
  • reduce the risk of many health problems heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis
  • a better chance for a higher quality of life and perhaps a longer one too!
  • stamina and positive outlook to handle the mental and emotional challenges and emotional ups and downs of everyday life and to deal with stress
  • the chance to look and feel your best

healthy eating plate 2015

6 Tips for Healthy Eating & Drinking:

1.    Load up on vegetables & fruit, make them HALF your plate
2.    Go for whole grains
3.    Remember to include lower fat milk and alternatives
4.    Go lean on meat and try meat alternatives
5.    Choose healthier fats
6.    Satisfy your thirst with water

be active 2015

3 TOP tips to get Active:

1.    Be active at least 2.5 hours/week to get health benefits.
2.    Focus on moderate to vigorous aerobic activity throughout each week, broken into sessions of 10 minutes or more.
3.    Get stronger by adding activities that target your muscles and bones at least two days per week.

Dietitians of Canada (2013) 5 Tips for Healthy Eating and Health Canada (2011) Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
Public Health Agency of Canada (2011) Canada Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living
Duyff (2012) American Dietetic Association Complete Food & Nutrition Guide

5 everyday superfoods for heart health

5 everyday superfoodsFall is a time of harvest plenty and Thanksgiving. It’s a great time to take a look at what we can do to take care of our health and wellness. Did you know that making a few simple positive lifestyle changes and sticking to them over time can make a big difference in your heart health? Here are my top 5 nutrition tips to help you embrace heart health.

 1. Omega-3 FATS[1]

 Omega-3 fats are essential fats that your body can’t make from scratch so it must get them from food. Omega 3 fats also deliver some big health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease. For example, Omega-3 fats appear to help keep the heart beating steadily and reducing the risk of potentially fatal arrhythmias.  Omega-3 fats also help lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and lower triglycerides – blood fats linked to heart disease and diabetes. Research has also found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent blood clots and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis [2]

Foods high in Omega-3 include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week; a serving is 75 g (2.5 oz.).Other foods that contain omega 3 fats include some vegetable oils (Canola), nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables. Some foods may be enriched with omega-3 fats such as eggs, yogurt and margarine.

 2. Whole grains and fibre

 Research shows that people who eat more whole grains may have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.[3] To help reduce the risk of heart disease choose to get more fibre from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

Oatmeal and other whole grains such as whole wheat, barley, rye, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice also help reduce the risk of diabetes, which in itself is a risk factor for heart disease.

A healthy diet includes 25-38 grams of fibre a day and many people only get about half the amount of fibre they need. You can get more fibre in your diet by making small changes that add up over time. Boost your veggie and fruit intake (see next tip #3) and include whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in your meals and snacks. When grocery shopping, compare food labels and choose foods with 2 to 4 grams of fibre per serving.

3. Veggies and Fruit 

Eat your F&V’s says comedian Jimmy Kimmel referring to fruit and veggies of course. I couldn’t agree more grab your F&V’s for a snack on the go, make them HALF your plate whenever you’re eating a meal! Any F & V counts and eating 5-10 servings every day may help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Many F&V’s are rich compounds that can work as antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants are natural plant compounds that have powerful health benefits. The darker the colour the better. Powerhouse dark colour veggies include broccoli, spinach, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries just to name a few.

Tip – Frozen and canned fruit and veggies are harvested and packed at their peak, and have about the same nutritional value as their fresh version. Remember to check labels for NO added sugar or salt.

4. Nuts and seeds 

Scientific evidence suggests that eating ¼ cup of nuts or seeds as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Because they contain unsaturated fat and soluble fiber, just a small amount of nuts or seeds each day can help reduce damaging high levels LDL cholesterol. Most nuts and seeds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that is also thought to help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

5. Tea[4] 

 The natural plant compounds found in brewed black and green tea (camellia sinensis) are called flavonoids and have powerful health benefits. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted that drinking tea helps lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. Researchers in Australia found that regular consumption of 3 cups of black tea a day can result in significantly lower blood pressure.  High blood pressure is a risk factor of disease and small decrease in blood pressure from dietary changes may have significant benefits.

Tea contains naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids that can function as antioxidants, but researchers are finding benefits that go well beyond. While investigators are still exploring the various mechanisms by which tea flavonoids function, studies suggest multifunctional mechanism that work in tandem to improve cardiovascular health.

[1] Harvard School of Public Health  Omega-3 fatty acids:an essential contribution (Sourced 2015)
[2]  Leaf A. Prevention of sudden cardiac death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Cardiovasc Med.(Hagerstown). 2007; 8 Suppl 1:S27-29.
[3] Dietitians of Canada, Eatright Ontario, Focus on Fibre (Sourced 2015)
[4] Am J Clin Nutr December (2013)