Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Got Milk? Or Not? 5 Food Sources of Calcium

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, by Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig has some people questioning milk recommendations.  Ludwig does point out that it's not a one size fits all recommendation. This is a great opportunity to remember that we are all unique and have different intakes (based on environment, budget, allergies, likes, dislikes, and general preferences).  It also serves as a reminder to take a look at the usual pattern of your intake (or have a dietitian assist you) to see if you're lacking or getting too much of certain vitamins and minerals.

You may have heard of a 'balanced diet', but do you know if you're getting all the nutrients that you need?  Some people perhaps do include enough high calcium foods that milk then becomes extra liquid calories.  However, when we look at beverage calories, there are many others that people can work to reduce - with fewer health benefits than various milk or alternatives.  Remember that milk contains a naturally occurring sugar called lactose, so yes, you will see sugar noted on the nutrition facts panel, and chocolate milk will have more because it's sweetened.  Milk also provides protein, vitamin D, and vitamin A (among others).  Many people could definitely do with more water in their day, but they could also focus on increasing vegetables and fruit, so I think we have other areas to focus on first.  There is no one food that has led to the current obesity epidemic, and we also have to remember that physical activity is also important (and we live very sedentary lives for the most part).

Calcium is an important mineral, but it is also only part of the story (there are many nutrients required for good health).  Yes, there are other sources, so if you're not consuming enough (or any) milk, then you should make sure to include these items to focus on food first (rather than resorting to a supplement - which should be discussed with your healthcare provider anyhow).  There are also many milk alternatives currently available; while they supply calcium, they are low in protein (and don't forget about the all important vitamin D).

Five food sources of calcium include:
1) Sardines and salmon with bones
2) Dark green vegetables (collards, broccoli, bok choy, etc.)
3) Almonds, sesame seeds
4) Beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy products, tofu made with calcium
5) Fortified foods (bread, cereal, orange juice, etc.)

Not sure how you're doing?  For starters, Osteoporosis Canada has a great Calcium Counter tool that allows you to select portions of calcium rich foods that you ate in one day, compares that to the recommended intake for your age/gender, and then even helps you pick items if you didn't quite reach your target.  Health castle also created a chart to show the top 10 calcium rich foods

Continue to include a wide range of healthy foods and remember that nutritional guidelines are developed for populations, not individuals, so you need to look at what you're doing and what makes sense for you.  If you know it's a battle to get your kids to start eating kale or spinach then stick with that glass of milk that they love.  There are a lot of other unhealthy behaviours and "junk" foods that we can focus on changing first.

Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Creating Awareness

For me, health is very habitual.  We try to get into the positive cycle (eat well, feel good, have energy to exercise, so keep wanting to eat well, etc.) but it can be hard to stay on track.  Life constantly throws challenges and barriers at us and we come up with excuses or rationalize our unhealthy behaviours.  Whether you call it will power or I call it a habit, change is hard and it takes practice to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

I often hear that clients are "too busy", "lazy", "tired after work", etc.  I know the feeling; I've even recently been trying not to say "I've been busy" when people ask how things are going, because we could all pretty much say that we're busy.  We seem to accept that feeling as normal or as how we're supposed to feel.  Finding time for yoga, running, reading, etc. is what helps to ground me and remind me to live in the present moment.  This all relates back to the idea of eating mindfully and thinking about how your actions affect your health.  As much as I support dreaming about the future and am a true believer in goal setting, I also know that means we need to focus on what we're doing right now. 

Recently I finished The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which was recommended to me by a few sources (thanks Trent and Jon).  I really enjoyed reading it and will be going back through it to look for a couple of key points that I will share with you in future posts.  It reminded me of all the things we do each day without even thinking (such as remembering how to back the car out of the driveway), and obviously habits play a role in the amount and type of food you choose to eat (and where you eat, why you eat, etc.)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen that I love inspiring quotes.  So with habits in mind and quotes to motivate me, I recently took the photos out of three frames in my bathroom and can now use a dry erase marker to post inspirations to keep me focused on building the habit of being in the moment.

I haven't asked a question on here in awhile (although I am asking things on facebook, so make sure you provide your thoughts/comments).  So today I'd like to know:

What habit are you currently working on?

This may mean adding a new habit or removing an old habit.

Cheers to your health,
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Incredible Edible

wedge salad
It's hot and humid and you don't feel like turning the stove on.  You want to enjoy the sunny evening and not be a slave to your kitchen.  Based on past experience, the idea of a salad may not excite you anymore.  However, with a few new combinations or ingredients, you can create a very tasty dish. 

Take advantage of local leafy greens and herbs and have fun adding different toppings for different flavours and textures (crunchy, soft, etc.).  Whether you're making a side salad or an entree, challenge yourself to pick and mix a new recipe.  As Jamie Oliver says "There are no rules, just start picking and mixing. Even using just 3 or 4 ingredients will give you a salad that rocks."

In Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook he provides a chart to guide you to pick a soft and a crunchy lettuce, herbs, veggies, cheese, and toppings such as seeds and nuts. You can see a visual of the chart on Jamie's Home Cooking Skills


  • a soft ingredient
  • a crunchy ingredient
  • a herby ingredient
  • a veg
  • a cheese
  • a topping
  • your favourite dressing
  • sea salt and black pepper

To make your pick-and-mix salad

1. Choose an ingredient from each
2. Wash and spin dry the soft and crunchy leaves
3. Pick the herby leaves off their stalks, discarding the stalks
4. Finely slice or peel the veg and shave, tear or crumble up the cheese
5. Toss everything together in a large bowl
6. Dress simply with your favourite salad dressing and season with a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed 
7. Divide the salad between your serving bowls and sprinkle over your chosen topping

salad wrap
I also really like Jamie's 'chopped salads' and will throw together a variety of veggies and chop away.  We often dress our salads with some variation of olive oil, vinegar, spices, and pepper.  Recently at a friend's house for supper we had two beautiful salads (one from the host and one that we brought).  They were very different and equally delicious.  Think outside the salad bowl and try a lettuce wrap or a wedge salad.
Perhaps you even have a garden outside that can be your inspiration tonight or have a few fresh herbs left to experiment with.  As you know I think it's great to include children (and teens or partners) in meal planning or preparation - so ask them to choose a cheese, vegetable, and/or topping and see what you can create!

Happy eating!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Monday, July 22, 2013

Putting the Plan into Action

Eating out or grabbing food away from home has become the norm.  I often have clients requesting quick, easy, and convenient meals because of the lifestyle we had adopted.  Recently there are even new websites that provide menus and information meant to simplify ordering take out (skipthedishes or justeat).  While I feel there is a time and a place for eating out, and I myself eat out more that I did when I was growing up.  I think we also need to rethink what we're doing at home and what we're ordering when we go out.  If you realize that you're 'treating' yourself to french fries instead of side vegetables more often than not, then that is no longer a 'treat'.

In my home, meal planning means finding a few recipes, taking stock of what's in the kitchen, making a grocery list, and having an idea of that meals we'll have that week.  I don't necessarily get set on which meal goes with which day because things come up, but I have given it forethought, so it's an easy decision when supper time rolls around.  As with any new habit that you're trying to create (or old one that you're trying to break), it helps to think about it ahead of time, or spend a moment planning. 

That way, when you come home from work exhausted, you already have the ingredients, perhaps your child(ren) or partner even started prepping the meal because you left the recipe out, and you don't have to look blankly at the full fridge feeling like there isn't any food in it.  It's important to figure out what works for you, your household, and your lifestyle.  A plan can help you stay within your food budget (you're buying what you need and using it = less waste) and make sure that meals offer nutritional value as well.  It can serve as a way to create variety if you challenge yourself to one or two new recipes each week, and can also create lunch leftovers when you have planned extras.

Healthy Families BC has a meal planning tool and pantry planner to get you started.  Whether you're planning for a busy week of work and activities, or creating your menu for a week at the lake.  Plan for vegetables and fruit, plan for meals at home, and get rid of the excuses (healthy cooking takes too long, there's no food in the house, I don't know what to make, etc.)

Have an enjoyable week (knowing what's for supper!)
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Whole New World

This post pertains more to wellness and living than just food and nutrition.  If you've checked out my Day Zero project of 101 things to do in 1001 days you may have noticed #50 - make a list of 50 places to visit in my lifetime.  I truly enjoy travel and am lucky that my husband does too.  I didn't put limitations on this list, so it includes cities and countries and isn't a to do list, but a dream list - I want to see it all!  I am fortunate to have traveled all over the world during my volleyball career, and we try to see somewhere new each year.  I think it's great for us as far as perspective and also adventure - see a new culture, try new foods, and enjoy the experiences.  Travel is a motivating factor for me and makes me feel alive.  What are your motivating factors?  What would your 101 in 1001 look like (or your bucket list, etc.)?

A little inspiration for the day as well:  
"To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people exist, that is all" ~ Oscar Wilde

1. Portland
Las Vegas 2013
2. Seattle
3. New York City
4. San Francisco
5. Chicago
6. Prague
7. Australia
8. Paris (have been for a day; not long enough!)
9. Greece
10. Hawaii
11. Machu Picchu
12. Argentina
13. Chile
14. Aruba
15. St. Martin
16. St. Bart
17. Maldives
18. Vietnam
19. Bahamas
20. Barbados
21. Jasper
22. Whistler
23. Napa Valley
24. Disneyworld or Disneyland
25. Los Angeles
26. London
27. Barcelona
28. Venice
29. Florence
30. Cape Town
31. Rio de Janeiro
32. Beijing
33. Phoenix
34. Amsterdam
35. Edinburgh
36. Bora Bora
37. Budapest
38. Nepal
39. Munich
40. Albania
41. Dublin
42. Canary Islands
43. Belize
44. St. Lucia
45. Singapore
46. New Zealand
47. Madagascar
48. Galapagos
49. Cairo
50. Portugal

Eat well, move your body, take care of yourself so that you can enjoy your life!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Monday, July 15, 2013

6 Tips for Summer Snacking

I wanted to share some of the tips I discussed with Jeremy Dodge on Saskatoon's CTV Morning Live this morning.  We discussed summer snacking since school is out and perhaps structure is gone.  Your children may be used to recess snacks and a packed lunch at noon, but now they're home and could end up nibbling all day and consuming potentially unnecessary calories.  Create a routine so that they know when snacks and meals will happen. 

Snacking can be done in a healthful way and can help children (and adults) meet their daily requirements.

1. Stock the kitchen with a variety of containers (ziploc bags, skewers, tackle box/craft kits, popsicle molds, etc.), slicers (mandolin, cookie cutters, etc.) and of course, food!

2. Portion out their snacks (and even their lunch) so that they can grab something quickly when they get hungry.  They'll eat whatever is easy, so make that a healthy choice.

3. Involve them in the process (grocery shopping, washing produce, portioning snacks, etc.) to peak their interest and perhaps increase their consumption.  Give them a drawer in the fridge and/or shelf in the pantry for their snacks.

Tackle box snack
4. Choose wisely so that snacks hit on the items your child (or you) tend to be low in (typically this is vegetables, fruit, and calcium containing proteins).  Include a variety of items and aim to have carbohydrate, lean protein, and healthy fats.

5.Hydrate with water instead of sugary beverages.  Fluids should be part of a snack as children may not notice their thirst and if they're outdoors on a hot/humid day and/or very active, hydration is even more important.  Let them choose the water flavour by adding orange slices, lemon slices, lime slices, mint leaves, or frozen berries.

6. Have fun and get creative with snacks such as celery canoes or ziploc butterflies.  Check out my Pinterest board: Fun with Food for more ideas and feel free to share your tips/suggestions.

Whether snacks are for home, camp, or a roadtrip, it can help to give your child a few healthy items to pick from and a fun container to store them.  That also makes your life easier when you're trying to focus on the road and they're hungry.

Happy snacking!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Get Informed

Since so many people have been searching online for nutrition information, Google has decided to make that search easier.  Google recently introduced a user friendly nutrition search tool.  All you have to do is ask your smart device ("how much fat in an avocado?") or perform a Google search (corn) and you will get the nutrition facts for that food in a Knowledge Graph.  You can then change the serving size and learn more about the food item from Wikipedia.  You can find similar items as well (air popped, microwave, or oil popped popcorn).  The nutrition information is provided by the USDA Nutrient Database.  They will continue to add items and combination foods to help you sift through all the nutrition data you may find online and help you get informed from a reputable source (primarily the USDA). 

This can help if you're trying to choose your movie snack, wanting to experiment with a new ingredient, or decide between apples and oranges at the store.  Along with this nutrition at your finger tips, the USA has also approved voluntary nutrition labels for alcoholic beverages.  If you want to find the information, it's now becoming easier (less excuses, and fewer barriers).

Google Knowledge Graph

Happy eating/shopping!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching