A well fed brain is more likely to lead to good mood, behaviour and learning.

pennutrition back to school 2017 DHSN1OYXsAAiJZp
(Photo Credit  PENNUTRITION https://twitter.com/pennutrition)

Nutrition is important for the brain as well as the body. As the school year is off to a start, we reviewed a research summary on diet, behaviour and learning in children. Here are our top 3 tips for unlocking food’s potential to support your child’s learning. The key areas of focus are the overall nutritional balance of regularly timed meals, and adequate intake of some essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Mind the overall nutritional balance!

Enjoying a variety of foods help the body and the brain get what they need to function best. The brains and bodies of children need a regular supply of energy so that they can think effectively.  Studies show that most children would benefit from more fruit and vegetables, and fewer sugary drinks, high-fat and high-sugar snacks.  Although the brain prefers glucose (sugars) for energy, in the long run it doesn’t cope well with major swings in blood sugar. Emerging evidence shows that foods that are digested more slowly and provide long lasting energy may be better choices.

DIETITIAN’S TIP: To moderate blood sugar swings, choose whole grains more often, and balance carbohydrate intake with some protein in each meal.

  1. Eat regularly – especially breakfast.

When children go without food for too long they may lose concentration and / or they may get in a bad mood.  Researchers find that eating breakfast leads to better learning compared to skipping breakfast. Encourage your kids to eat breakfast. Any breakfast or lunch meal is better than nothing, however including some fibre and protein in your child’s breakfast (and lunch) may be helpful for the brain.

DIETITIAN’S TIP: Try some of these great breakfast ideas:

  • A boiled egg with wholegrain toast and sliced peppers or tomato
  • Cooked oats or other whole grain cereal with milk and a sliced apple or banana
  • Yogurt berry smoothie with nuts and seeds
  1. Eat a variety of foods to get key nutrient for the brain.

One of the most important areas of research into the relationship between foods and brain health focuses on oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fats.  There is also some evidence that omega-3 fats help with attention. Iron, zinc and magnesium are also thought to be particularly important for the brain. Low iron levels are strongly linked to poor mood and concentration. Low magnesium may be linked to anxiety, and low zinc may lead to poor attention and poor sleep.

Oily fish is the best source of omega-3 fats. Red meat, poultry and pulses (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas) are examples of good sources of iron and zinc. Green vegetables, nuts and seeds are all a good source of magnesium. For some children who are not getting enough, increasing their intake of foods containing one or more of these nutrients could make a difference to their mood, behaviour and learning. Talk to a dietitian if you’re concerned about these nutrients for your child.

DIETITIAN’S TIP:  A varied and nutritious diet is the most reliable way to help your child’s developing brain and body get the nutrients it needs. Children (and adults) should eat two servings of fatty fish a week. Choose fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring. Plant based sources of Omega-3 include enriched eggs, walnuts & flaxseeds.

Bottom line: Giving your child regular meals and a healthy, well-balanced diet helps their development, mental well-being and physical health. Your child might also benefit from reducing their intake of foods that are low in nutritional value.  If you have questions, or for more information contact us or a Resisted Dietitian in your community. Factsheets on selected topics are also available on Dietitians of Canada website.

Reference: BDA The Association of UK Dietitians, Food Fact Sheet 2017. Source PENNUTRTITION.

Sugar Sugar Everywhere – What’s healthy to eat?

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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.

Have you seen the NEW nutrition facts table on foods? Here is an example!

Did you know NEW nutrition facts table formats will be appearing on Canadian packaged foods soon? Since we are experts in developing nutrition facts tables for clients, we wanted to show you what they look like using one of our  veggie recipes, Kohlrabi Soup. In the new Nutrition Facts Table below notice the prominence of calories, a % DV for sugars  and the explanation of  % Daily Values – where 5% or less is a little and 15 % or more is a lot.  Our Kohlrabi soup, per 250ml serving is only 60 calories and gives you 4 grams of fibre (13% of the daily value) making it a good source fibre!  A serving of this soup is also an excellent source of Vitamin A and C. Enjoy it for taste and good health! Consider showing the nutrition information of your foods and recipes through the NEW NFT!  What’s your nutrition facts table question?

kohlrabi NFT Aug 2017

Health Canada Consultations – Let your voice be heard ( NEW OPEN till August 14)

Now is THE time to let your voice be heard about food, nutrition, way of eating and sustainability! We know this comes just before summer vacations, but consider that the policies formed following these three consultations will influence how Canadians hear about food, nutrition and sustainability for years to come.

Health Canada chose Dietitians of Canada annual conference on June 9th to announce the latest federal food and nutrition consultations. As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy, there are 3 public consultations live/on-line now and more are expected in the Fall. Please contact us if you have any questions about what this means to you and your business.

Here is a bird’s eye view of what the consultations are about. We encourage you to let your voice be heard and complete these surveys that will help shape the future of nutrition in Canada.

Canada’s Food Guide Consultation (Phase 2)

Food guide cropped consult'n banner N4NN June 2017

Health Canada is revising Canada’s Food Guide to strengthen its recommendations for healthy eating. This is the second round of consultations that is built on what the government heard from 20,000 Canadians who responded to the first round of consultations in 2016.  If you are using healthy eating recommendations for yourself and others you care about, or to help others through your work, we encourage you to complete the survey and join the discussion. This is your chance to weigh in on key issues related to healthy eating and provide input on the new healthy eating recommendations.

http://www.foodguideconsultation.ca/ EXTENDED open till August 14, 2017.

Marketing to Kids

No ads to kids N4NN June 2017
Image Source Health Canada
Health Canada wants to reduce how much advertising children see or hear about unhealthy food and beverages. “This is a complicated subject so before action can be taken, some questions need to be answered, such as what we mean by unhealthy food and what kind of advertising should be allowed. Your ideas and opinions will help Health Canada decide how to go about restricting advertising for unhealthy food and beverages to children. This consultation document is available online between June 10 and EXTENDED till August 14, 2017.”[1]

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-restricting-unhealthy-food-and-beverage-marketing-to-children.html

[1] Health Canada (2017) Restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children

Canada’s Food Policy

Food Policy N4NN newsletter June 2017

Food matters to Canadians. We “make choices every day about food that directly impacts our health, environment, and communities.” Agriculture Canada would like to help put more affordable, safe, healthy, food on tables across the country, while protecting the environment. This policy will cover the entire food system and you may have heard of the concept as ‘Farm to Fork’. An online survey is now open at www.canada.ca/food-policy and we encourage you to share your views that will help shape Canada’s food policy. Online consultations is open until July 27, 2017