• 11-10-2022

    Halloween & Staying Healthy: Can they go hand in hand?

    There is no shortage of food celebrations to enrich the fall season. With Thanksgiving dinner behind us we are quickly approaching another celebration that involves loads and loads of sweets.  Celebration and food often go hand in hand and that can make for a whole lot of fun. And that’s a good thing! And with some attention to our actions, the event can fun and balanced too!

    With Halloween just around the corner, how do I make it through without any “scary” consequences. We are bombarded with temptations even before the day, with a plethora of candy on display at the stores and at school or office parties.  How does one navigate between the scary costumes and the onslaught of empty calories from the candies, chocolate bars and sweets that are connected to this celebration? 

    The overall message is to keep the enjoyment high, find the “better for you” sweets in hopes of avoiding the dreaded shame (that my clients often talk).  Here are some tips to help you on your way to have fun and stayed healthy too: 

    1. Set yourself up for success. Eat a balanced meal before you trick or treat with your little ones, dish out the candy at the door or venture out to a costume party.  Creating a balanced plate of at least half vegetables, quarter protein and quarter carbohydrates will help to feel satiated, dropping the temptation to over reach for the sweets. A satisfying meal before any alcohol consumption is also a good plan. 

    2. Try alternative types of treats. A visit to the local craft store can help you find non-candy treats, such as cut ‘n paste booklets, stickers or fun stationary.  Or stock up on treats that support movement such as jump ropes, bouncy balls or sidewalk caulk.

    3. Out of sight. Out of mind.  I will never forget when I tried this one when the kids were young.  I even locked the stash in a cabinet and then inadvertently lost the key!  Much to my surprise the aftermath was not bad as they quickly forgot about the candy, proving to me that the evening of fun was plenty for them. However, as they grew older the strategy did have to change a bit.  Sometimes I removed some candy from their bags and used them at birthday parties.  Trial and error.  Personally, now we only buy Halloween candy just days before and only open the box on the evening of the 31st. 

    4. Staying well hydrated can help you control your sweet cravings.  Instead of letting the favour stay in your mouth only to tempt you to have another, try drinking some water instead.  You might be surprised now this can take your mind off the thought of “just another”.  

    5. Last but not least, celebrate!! I often get asked if I let my kids eat candy on Halloween. Afterall, a dietitian mom should have “rules”. I settled into the idea of letting them monitor their own intake without imposing limitations. They learned the very important skill of self regulation. I do believe in experiential learning and if they consumed too much and felt sick from sugar overload, they learned quicker than me trying to control their every last move.  With the habits of a healthy balanced plate already established, it was easy to step back into this way of eating.  One or two (or three) days of eating treats will not undo the years of healthy habit building. Self management of treats without feeling the guilt of consuming too much goes a long way to building healthy, happy lifetime eaters. 

    • 05-10-2022

    A Sign of the Times: Enjoying your local fall harvest.

    A Sign of the Times: Enjoying your local fall harvest. 

    Written by Caroline Klemens, Dietitian

    While the local weather is breaking all time high temperature records, we have a chance to enjoy even more time outdoors, as it seems as if summer is hanging on. The days are sunny and dry but the colder, wetter weather is undeniably around the corner.  The change in weather is a perfect time to move from summer types of fruits and vegetables to a heartier fall bounty.  This change in weather is an indication of the change of what can land on our plates. And for that we can be very grateful, as we have the opportunity to experience more diversity. 

    A healthy and enjoyable diet includes diversity.  As we move away from ultra processed foods in the grocery shelves and step into the fall bounty at the local farmer’s markets it is easy to see the array of colour and textures available at this time of year.  Recently I was pleasantly surprised as I cycled by a farmer’s market and caught sight of the beautiful vibrant oranges, reds and greens in the all too familiar shapes of squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and beets.  A sudden urge to make a large batch of chicken vegetable soup got triggered. 

    I often get asked if these local foods really make a difference and if so how! The first advantage is taste. But can it really make a difference? Produce that travels less kms to reach your plate naturally has more freshness and flavour. 

    Have you ever had an imported peach in the middle of the winter and a peach harvested in the summer and brought to your table within a week? I bet you’d agree that the flavour does not compare.  Fresh fruits and vegetables that are transported far distances will be picked before they are naturally ripened on the vine or tree. When this happens there is less flavour. When you enjoy the taste sensation of produce harvested at the right time you will never trade that experience for anything!

    Local produce has more nutritional value. Anytime fresh fruits or vegetables are exposed to light, sit longer after being harvested or are exposed to heat the vitamins and mineral get effected and the nutritional value naturally decreases. Aim to eat the foods that are grown closer to where you live. 

    Locally-grown seasonal foods also have a benefit of matching to our nutritional needs. For example, the beta carotene in the orange pigment of pumpkins and other squash will help boost your immune system just in time to stay healthy for cold and flu season. 

    It can be argued that locally produced foods have a lower cost, due to reduced transportation cost.  Catch those savings and visit a market or your local neighbourhood grocer and pick a locally grown vegetable that you’ve never had before, search online for a recipe and experiment! Roasted vegetables make a wonderful salad, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

    From the wise words of Michael Pollen “Eat foods, mostly plants, not too much”.  I’m sure he would agree with adding “eat foods, mostly seasonal plants, not too much”!  And remember let Mother Nature be your guide, as we know she knows best”!  Enjoy the fall season.