I’m so excited to be working with Jessica and offering better education to our clients in regards to their nutrition and current eating habits. We decided to start running a monthly post called “Ask the dietician.” This is going to give our readers the opportunity to ask nutrition questions, pick up helpful tips and hopefully trouble shoot some of the difficulties you maybe facing when trying to fuel your body.
Feel free to e-mail any questions to info@Dailyroutinefitness.com
What do u think of ___ diet? Vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc. What is the “best” diet to follow?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t an answer to this question. However, there are plenty of people that have made millions off of certain diets that would try to argue with me, that’s for sure. If I had the answer, then I would have millions too!! Honestly, my thought is that there may not actually be an answer; the “best” way of eating probably differs from person to person. There is even research currently happening in the area of nutrigenetics that may help reveal how to eat based on your genes. That might explain why we can’t seem to lock down a solid answer as to whether low fat, low carb, etc. is the way to go. Your best bet is to eat a diet based on whole, unprocessed foods with lots of veggies and other plants. Other than that, it’s pretty individualized based on your own health concerns/goals, preferences, and how you feel eating a certain way.
What can I do about food cravings?
This is a common question, but not one that can be answered in short form as it can be very complex. What I can say is that, in order to shift your relationship with food, you need to break the connection between what triggers your cravings and food. In some cases, simply finding alternative, healthier foods to replace the less healthy cravings can work. However, that is often not a good long-term solution as it still encourages the connection between your craving triggers and food. Working with a dietitian or counsellor is recommended.
What should I look for on nutrition labels?
My first advice is to choose as much fresh, unprocessed/unpackaged, whole food as possible. That way, the amount of label reading required really decreases! However, we all need to purchase some packaged food, so how can you ensure you are choosing the best possible options? First of all, if you are buying anything in a package, you absolutely have to read labels in order to eat healthy. Unfortunately, you simply cannot go by what the front of the package says, despite clever marketing claims. I recommend meeting with a dietitian to go over in depth what you should be looking for (at a grocery store is a great idea!) as there’s way more than would fit in this article and it depends on your health goals, but there are a few basic things to point out. The first is the serving size on the nutrition facts table, which is not standardized – manufacturers can put whatever they want and the serving size can be unrealistically small to make all the numbers look better! So just be aware that if you eat half the serving size you need to divide everything in the table by 2; if you eat double, you need to multiply everything in the table by 2, etc. An easy rule to remember is the “rule of 15”: anything under 15% daily value is lower in a particular nutrient, and anything 15% or over is higher. Also, the ingredient list is by weight, so you don’t want to see ingredients like sugar at the top of the list. It is best to avoid packaged food with an ingredient list that’s a mile long and full of unpronounceable ingredients!
Should I be eating snacks?
It depends on the individual, including metabolism, any health conditions, lifestyle, and preferences. Snacks are not a requirement for healthy eating. However, if you are going more than ~5 hours without eating, you will likely benefit from a snack. Some people do better with staving off hunger by eating small, frequent meals. You do need to be careful that you are not just adding extra snacks to your 3 meals a day; rather, you should be shifting some of the calories from your meals to the snacks. I’ll use my own schedule as an example: I eat breakfast at 7am and lunch at 12pm (5 hrs between) and I’m usually ok without a snack in the morning. But I don’t have dinner until about 7pm (7 hrs between), so I definitely need that mid-afternoon snack! I then go to bed around 10pm, so don’t need an evening snack. That’s what works for me, but may not be ideal for everyone. As you are probably noticing, nutrition is very individualized! If you are finding you need to eat every 2 hrs then you probably need to re-evaluate what you’re eating.
Should I be eating organic?
This depends on your budget and access to organic food. Like most health-related behaviours, eating organic is a spectrum, not an all or nothing thing. It is better to eat non-organic produce and other whole foods than not at all. However, if possible, a good rule of thumb is that anything with a heavy peel that you don’t consume is less important to be organic (ex. avocado, banana), but if you eat the peel (ex. apple) then organic is preferable. Check out the Dirty Dozen (link to http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php) list for priority organic produce. I also recommend purchasing organic nuts/seeds, soy, and dairy and choosing high quality animal products where possible.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
“Registered Dietitian”, “dietitian”, and “RD” are protected by law through provincial legislation, so that only qualified practitioners who have met education requirements can use these titles. A dietitian is a health professional who has a Bachelor of Science degree, specializing in food and nutrition, as well as a 10 month period of hands on training through an accredited internship. Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals that are required to meet national standards for education and training and are members of provincial regulatory bodies that protect the public as their mandate and hold dietitians accountable for their conduct and the care they provide.
The term “nutritionist” is unregulated, so essentially anyone can call him or herself a nutritionist. A nutritionist could have anywhere from absolutely no training to a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD in nutrition but did not become an RD, and everything in between. Therefore, you really have to do your research before choosing who you work with. Please note that some Registered Dietitians do call themselves nutritionists, especially if they work in private practice or a community setting, although this seems to be happening less as many dietitians prefer to differentiate themselves from unregulated nutritionists.