Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

I wanted to read this book because of my interest in travel and food. I liked that it had short chapters, so it was easy for me to pick up and read in little bits. There were parts I could not relate to as well since I have not been through a divorce, but I think we all have been through hard times. I would love to do like Liz did and pick up and travel for a year to find my balance again. I just really miss traveling right now, so it made me want to be sure to add that back into my life. There were some parts I found a little dry, but I enjoyed hearing about Ashrams and meditation practices since that is something I have tried dabbling in this past year. I think it is just inspiration to get back out there and be present and be you; even if you have to travel across the world to find yourself.

Have you read it? What did you think? Any other book recommendations?

Steph Wheler

Friday, December 11, 2009

Still eating, praying, and loving

Sorry it's taking me so long to finish the book, I promise my review is coming. School has been hectic, but I plan to finish with the Indonesia part this weekend, so I can move onto other books over my two week Christmas holiday.

Steph Wheler

Winter Workouts

When it gets cold out, it can get hard to workout. I know the cold weather makes me want to stay warm in bed all day. It is a matter of making things work for you. When I don't feel like making an extra trip outside, warming up the car, driving on slippery roads, etc, etc. I just make sure that I workout at home. I am fortunate to currently have a treadmill, but otherwise I am using a yoga mat, my body weight, and some resistance tubing. Be creative, or even look online for at home workouts.

Some people really enjoy winter sports and there are so many to choose from. I keep meaning to get back into cross country skiing; we did it lots when I was a kid, but then my winters got busy with other sports. You could even challenge yourself to try something new: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hockey, curling... Winter activities don't have to be outside either, just pick something you enjoy doing, or get a friend/partner to join you and encourage you to go. It's important to include activity in your day, so find ways that you can look forward to it and make it convenient so that you're more likely to stick to it.

Steph Wheler

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Menu Planning

It's been awhile since I posted, I apologize, school has been very busy. I spent the last three weeks in a long term care facility learning about their food service and administration. I had a chance to review the menu and even survey some Elders for suggestions to change it. I think there are times when we all need to take a look at our menus. You might not have a written menu, but it is possible that you have a few meals you tend to rotate through the line-up.

When planning your menu, try to add variety, it not only makes eating exciting, but also helps ensure you get all the nutrients you need for your health. A good place to start is to look at Canada's Food Guide. You can use the recommended servings as a guideline, but it is good to see the proportions. Aim to have half of your plate full of vegetables, a quarter with a grain (preferably whole grain), and a quarter with a protein source (preferably low fat). This is a good idea for planning your lunches and suppers. You can complete that meal with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. The idea is to get more vegetables, usually our plates are full of the grains and proteins!

Steph Wheler

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ask Questions

There are many things that affect eating behaviour; and we are also all very individual with very different eating behaviours. You can start to understand your own reasons for eating by asking yourself the 5Ws:
What: What are you doing? (if your attention is not on eating, then you may overeat and not realize it)
Where: Where are you eating? (you should have one place in your home where you eat, and only eat there)
Why: Why are you eating? (are you actually hungry, or just bored/sad/lonely/socializing...)
When: When are you eating? (if you eat about every 3 hours you are less likely to overeat, because you don't let yourself get so hungry that you will reach for anything)
How: How do you feel? (emotions play a large role in why we eat what we eat)

Start thinking, start asking questions.

Steph Wheler

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat

Halloween is usually a time of temptation. There are so many different types of candy/chocolate in stores, and they are even starting to stock Christmas candy. The main thing to remember is portion control. The Halloween size chocolate bars can be a great way to have a small snack if you stop after one; sometimes that is all you need to fulfill a sweet craving. The problem starts when you don't stop yourself and end up eating too many. Once Halloween is over find someone to give your leftover candy to, if it's not in your house you will be less likely to eat it! I would never say you can't eat candy/chocolate, but make sure you control the amount. It's also important to remember to keep active to help burn some calories.

Steph Wheler

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day and this year's topic is Climate Change. Just like the changes I might suggest for someone's diet, I think the changes you plan to make to reduce your footprint need to be reasonable. They need to be things you know you can do consistently; it does not help if you have big ideas, but never do them.

Related to nutrition and health, a simple step is to use reusable shopping bags when you go to the grocery store. It's such a simple change, but I know I feel better not getting a plastic bag that will just pile up at home or end up in a landfill. I just keep a couple reusable shoppers in my car so that they're easily accessible when I need them.

I know where I live we have snow already, but another healthy option to think about is walking or biking or skateboarding or using any other alternate source of transportation when you can. It will also give you the benefit of being more active. I always try to walk if I'm just making a short trip somewhere; I love the fresh air, but I hope we always have fresh air too.

There is now more evidence showing that eating vegetarian can reduce your environmental footprint. Quite a few websites talk about this in more detail. I liked one I found on the Vegetarian Society website this morning. I don't plan on cutting meat out of my diet completely, but making more of an effort to eat vegetarian options during my week. It helps the environment because of all the potential farming space cows, chickens, pigs, etc take up. Those animals also need to be fed so that we can be fed. If we're eating plant sources of protein it requires a lot less space and gets consumed directly by us. So try adding some meat alternatives like peas, beans, lentils, and nuts to your diet.

Lastly, to reduce transportation carbon I try to support local farmers through farmer's markets. It's not something I do all the time, but it is something I am conscious of.

I like to stress moderation, variety, and balance as part of a healthy diet, but they also apply to making changes for a greener tomorrow. What are you doing?

Steph Wheler


I did my first solo presentation as a Dietetic Intern yesterday. My advisor is half way around the world, so it was just me and my small audience. I've been working with a university volleyball team which is a personal interest of mine (having played volleyball for 15 years of my life). The presentation covered a few different topics, one being snacking. Especially for athletes snacking can be an important part of a healthy eating plan. We can think of our bodies like vehicles and so we need to keep the tank full in order to have energy. I will sometimes snack mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. I try to go on my hunger cues.

Some points I used can be summarized by focusing on the letters W, P, and R:

W: Think about your eating behaviours. Where are you eating, when are you eating, what are you eating (and what are you doing), why are you eating, and how are you feeling?
These things are important to consider because we eat for many different reasons; having distractions can lead to overeating. Challenge yourself to only eat in one place, like the kitchen!

P: Get organized for healthy snacking. Plan by writing a grocery list to help guide you and keep healthy options stocked in your house. Prepare by getting things ready for the week (such as cutting up some vegetables Sunday night), because if they are available and ready to eat, you will be more willing to choose healthy snacks. Portion out your snacks; with meals we typically put a certain amount on a plate, but with snacks we often eat out of a box, bag, etc. Pack something in your bag, purse, car, etc so that if you do feel hungry it is available and you won't reach for a vending machine chocolate bar.

R: This is more for athletes and post-workout because it pertains to recovery. You need to refuel your body with carbohydrates and protein to replace the energy you used (muscle glycogen) and the muscles you used. Recovery also includes rehydrating your body because of your sweat losses and because water is important in many different body systems. Lastly, take time to rest so you are ready for the next practice, game, workout...

Steph Wheler

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nutrition Info: Starbucks Beverages
Ever wonder what's in that steamy cup of coffee?
Most companies will either have nutritional information available on-site for you, or you can go to their website to find it. It's fun to compare drinks so that you can make the better choice from your favorites.
The Starbucks site lets you customize your size as well as the type of milk you like (because these both affect the nutrient content of your drink). I like using the compare all feature for a quick snapshot.

Steph Wheler

Upcoming Book Reviews

Don't worry, I'm not just going to tell you the books that are in my library, I'll also tell you what I think about the books I read.
Tell me what you think about them too.
I love reading and it's fun to share thoughts and ideas to get different perspectives.
I have this dream of a huge bookshelf in my home office, just busting at the seams with good books (those that I read for fun and those that I read for interest/knowledge).
What are you reading?

Steph Wheler

Monday, October 5, 2009

In My Library

I love reading, unfortunately I'm too busy with homework right now. I thought I would share some books in my library with you in case you're looking for something new to read. My books vary from fiction, non-fiction, textbook, research, etc; so it is quite a mix. Right now on the top of the list is "eat, pray, love". What's in your library?

Steph Wheler

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Caffeine Content

Are you ever curious about the caffeine content in the foods and beverages you consume? I am. I came across a brief explanation and chart on Health Canada's website today. It's interesting to see. Natural sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, cocoa, kola, yerba mate, and guarana.

Steph Wheler

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Simple Start

Get back to dividing your plate like you did as a kid. A simple start to healthy eating means filling half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with a protein source, and the last quarter with a whole grain. The way most people eat, their vegetables would be their smallest portion, so make this small change today and make it a habit!

Steph Wheler

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bean Salad

1/2 cup sugar (or splenda)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp dill
Combine these ingredients and bring just to a boil to dissolve sugar.
Pour over combination of beans.
I usually add:
1 can each of green beans, chick peas, kidney beans, black beans.
You can also add finely chopped onion, celery, red pepper...
Let it marinate overnight before serving. Keeps for several days.

So yummy, and I always get compliments and people asking for the recipe. It's great for potlucks and family gatherings!

Steph Wheler

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Health For All

I just completed my first week of my Dietetic Internship. I will get away from the vitamin/mineral blogs as I write more about what is on my mind and what I'm learning.

I was just reading about health recommendations for both hypertension and lypidemia (risk factors for chronic heart disease). It was simple things like decrease body weight if needed, increase physical activity, stop smoking, only consume moderate alcohol, increase fibre, increase fruits and vegetables, increase dairy, learn stress management techniques, and decrease saturated fat intake. These may not seem simple to you, but they did to me. I mean they aren't drastic changes. Imagine how the population's health would change if we just started exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables. I think people are finally starting to realize that their diet can have a significant impact on their health now and in the long run. So many chronic diseases that people have now can be prevented or managed by taking some simple steps. I think we should all try to eat and live healthfully. Don't just wait until you end up in the hospital and are forced to make changes!

Steph Wheler

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bachelor of Science in Nutrition

I am about to begin the final stage of my education in becoming a RD (registered dietitian). I will take part in a 36 week practicum that covers various aspects of the dietetic profession. It includes work in foodservice management, clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and research and development.

Steph Wheler

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin) is another water soluble vitamin. It helps transform the food you eat into the energy you need (metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrate). Niacin is important for growth, mental health, healthy skin, normal digestion, the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol, and for increased blood circulation. It is often used to treat mental illness and for the prevention of CHD (coronary heart disease)by reducing blood pressure.

Niacin can be found in meat, liver, poultry, fish, peanuts, beans, yeast, enriched whole grain breads and cereals, and nuts.

The recommendation for Niacin is 6 mg/day for toddlers (1 - 3 years), 8 mg/day for children (4 - 8 years), and 12 mg/day for early adolescents (9 - 13 years). The recommendations increases to 14 mg/day for women (14 - 70+ years) and increases yet again to 18 mg/day for pregnant women and 17 mg/day for lactating women. The RDA for men is 16 mg/day.

Niacin is easy to find in the Western diet because it is added to enrich/fortify whole grain products (as are iron, folate, thiamin, and riboflavin). Mild deficiency symptoms can include aggression, hyperactivity, diarrhea, poor memory, anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and eczema. More severe deficiency can result in a condition called Pellagra.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Specific Questions ???????

Feel free to post any specific nutrition/diet questions you may have. Questions may also refer to exercise or anything related to healthy living. I would love to help you lead a healthier life!

Steph Wheler

Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 (also known as Riboflavin) is another water soluble vitamin. It is necessary to help your body release energy from food (from protein, fat, and carbohydrates). Riboflavin is also important for the maintenance of healthy hair, skin, and nails, and for good vision (prevention of cataracts).

It can be found in lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, liver, legumes, eggs, cheese, milk, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and enriched/fortified whole grain products. Riboflavin is the only B vitamin found in dairy products. It can be easily destroyed by light which is why milk cartons and jugs are opaque.

The recommendation for men (age 14 - 70+) is 1.3 mg/day, for women (age 19 - 70+) it is 1.1 mg/day with an increase to 1.4 mg/day during pregnancy and 1.6 mg/day during lactation. Females age 9 - 13 have a RDA of 0.9 mg/day, while females age 14 - 19 have an RDA of 1.0 mg/day. Recommendations for children are lower at 0.5 mg/day for 1 - 3 years old and 0.6 mg/day for 4 - 8 years old. Deficiency symptoms include itchy sensitive eyes, eczema, mouth ulcers, cold sores, cracked lips, and hair loss.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vitamin B1 - Thiamin

Vitamin B1 (also know as Thiamin or Thiamine) is a water soluble vitamin. It helps the body metabolize carbohydrates for energy. Thiamin also plays a role in the transmission of electrical signals in nerves and muscles. It has an effect on mood and alertness, and has been called the 'morale vitamin'.

Thiamin can be found in beef, pork, liver, legumes, enriched/fortified or whole grain products, dried peas, wheat germ, and nutritional yeast. The recommendation for Thiamin is 1.2 mg/day for males and 1.1 mg/day for females. Children's requirements are about half at 0.5 mg/day for ages 1-3 and 0.6 mg/day for ages 4-8. Adolescents require 0.9 mg/day (ages 9-13) and pregnant/lactating women have the highest requirement at 1.4 mg/day.

A deficiency of Thiamin can result in beriberi, a nervous system disorder with symptoms that include edema, muscle wasting, depression, tingling, numbness, fatigue, headaches, and loss of appetite.

Due to fortification and enrichment practices, deficiencies are rare in the western world. Fortified foods have thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and folate added.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vitamins and Minerals

The Vitamin A post is the first in a series of Vitamin and Mineral posts. Stay tuned to learn more about the fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins, macrominerals, and microminerals. The information will explain what each one does and where you can find it in your diet.

Steph Wheler

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin necessary for the growth and repair of body tissues, bone formation, immune functions, night vision, and normal eye sight. Retinoids are animal sources which are stored in the liver and carotenoids are plant sources which are stored in fat. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A is 400 mcg/day for children (age 4-8), 600 mcg/day for adolescents (age 9-13) 900 mcg/day for males (over the age of 14) and 700 mcg/day for females (over the age of 14). As with most vitamins and minerals there are certain risks with both a deficiency and too much (toxicity) Vitamin A.

Vitamin A aids in the synthesis and breakdown of amino acids and it is an important antioxidant (protecting the body from damaging substances). As an antioxidant it helps the body fight infection and helps heal wounds. It helps maintain healthy skin (found in many face creams and acne remedies) and mucous membranes.

Animal sources include eggs, dairy products, margarine, liver, and fish.
Plant sources include dark green and orange vegetables (carrots, cantaloupe, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli...), and fortified breakfast cereals.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weight Gain

I know many people are concerned about losing weight or maintaining their current weight, but some people struggle to gain weight and eat enough to be healthy. If you think simply, it is just a matter of consuming more calories than you are burning. Research also suggests that you need to consume an extra 500 kcal/day in order to gain 1 lb (0.45 kg) in a week. While it is well known that extra weight is unhealthy, being underweight is also unhealthy.

Some tips for healthy weight gain are:
1) Eat frequently throughout the day (meals and snacks)
2) Have food readily available wherever you are (pack snacks)
3) Eat larger than normal portion sizes
4) Choose calorie dense foods (granola, bagels)
5) Focus on including healthy fats (peanut butter, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, salmon, tuna)
6) Drink calories (milk, juice, smoothies)
7) Don't drink water right before a meal because it will fill you up
8) Include beans and legumes in your diet, they are calorie dense and high in carbohydrates and protein

It is important to look at your day and figure out where you could eat more or add more calories. That could just mean sprinkling your breakfast with dried fruit. You also don't want to skip meals and snacks.

Start by setting yourself an achievable goal such as eating breakfast everyday. Once you master that move on to something such as having a bedtime snack. It is important to remember that you want to gain weight in a healthy way, you should not just start eating all kinds of junk food because while it is calorie dense, it lacks nutrients. Create habits that you can stick to.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Understanding Fibre

You may have heard about fibre, you may even know that it's good for you. However, many people don't understand the different types of fibre, but more importantly, they don't know how much to consume and where to find it. The recommendation for healthy adults is 38 g/day for men and 25 g/day for women.

Soluble fibre has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. It can be found in foods such as oatmeal, beans, peas, barley, citrus fruit, flax seeds, etc.

Insoluble fibre is important for maintaining normal bowel function; it passes through the digestive system relatively unchanged. This type is found in foods such as whole wheat breads, wheat cereals, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, etc.

Once again this shows the importance of variety in your diet to ensure that you get both types of fibre. When increasing fibre in your diet also make sure you drink plenty of water. A simple first step you can take is to compare food labels in the grocery store and challenge yourself to choose foods with a higher fibre content.

Steph Wheler

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Titles such as "Registered Dietitian", "Professional Dietitian", and "Dietitian" are protected by law. This means that the individual has met specific educational requirements and undergone nationally recognized training. A Dietitian has a Bachelor's degree specializing in food and nutrition and has undergone a practicum placement. While only qualified individuals can use the title Dietitian, anyone can call himself or herself a Nutritionist. Be careful when taking dietary advice from anyone. You should be sure to look at his or her credentials and you can always contact Dietitians of Canada to find a Dietitian in your area.

Steph Wheler

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Homemade Granola

I always prefer to make stuff from scratch versus buying products with additives and preservatives. I like to be in control of the ingredients and then I also have the flexibility to alter recipes. The most recent one I tried was granola. Check out the recipe

Steph Wheler

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

I've been trying to understand why we love sugar so much. I definitely crave it some days and I know others do too. Some people tend to crave salty things, but a sweet tooth is quite common. I think a good way to deal with it is to make sure you eat often throughout the day so that your blood sugar doesn't get too low; that's often when you feel like a quick sugar fix. Having healthy snack ready to go is also a good idea. It can help to focus on portion control too. If you're going to have something with lots of sugar, just don't overdo it. Have a Halloween size chocolate bar in stead of a regular one, have one scoop of ice cream instead of two, you get the idea. I know I can't completely eliminate sweets because that's when I'll think about them even more. So learn to control the cravings. It's also important to look at how you are feeling emotionally. Some people eat when they're bored, sad, lonely, and so on. If that is the case, try to find other solutions than looking for cookies or a chocolate bar. You also need to be creative in how you reward yourself, get a new lipstick, a new shirt, etc. instead of overdoing it with sweets.

Steph Wheler

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Veg it Up

Sometimes it seems hard to encourage people to eat healthier. I find a simple trick is to try to add vegetables to every meal. It causes you to be creative and come up with your own new recipes. In order for this to work though, you need to have vegetables in your home. Fresh and frozen are both great options. Canned can be good too, but check to make sure there isn't a lot of extra salt added. If you can't think of how to add them to your main course, then even start with a plate of raw veggies to nibble on. You can even challenge yourself to try a new vegetable each time you go to the grocery store. The options are endless.

Steph Wheler

Friday, April 17, 2009

Feeling Good

Being healthy isn't about any one single factor; it's the balance of what you put into your body, how you move your body, and how you feel about your body. I find that too many of us have such bad opinions of ourselves. We need to cut ourselves some slack. For the most part people know what they should do, but they're not perfect. The good thing is that we don't need to be perfect. Any one snack, meal, or day doesn't really throw us off, we need to look at the whole pattern of what we eat. The same goes for exercise, don't worry if you miss a day, but get right back on track. Just don't forget to have fun and feel good about yourself everyday!

Steph Wheler

Thursday, April 16, 2009

First One

I'm starting this blog to get people thinking about healthy eating so that it will become a habit for them. I've always been active and interested in health which lead me to pursue a Nutrition degree in University. Now I'm trying to find new ways to reach people and motivate them to make positive changes. It doesn't need to be expensive or complicated to live a healthy and active life. Start with small, simple changes that you're going to stick with.

Steph Wheler