Posts Tagged "Diet"


Eating alone may not be good for your health: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Plenty of people eat lunch at their desk or gobble down a takeout dinner between driving their kids to extracurricular activities.

More Canadians are living alone than ever before, too, government data shows, meaning many home-cooked meals are eaten solo.

While attention is often focused on seniors eating and living alone, Kate Mulligan, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health, says the issue affects everyone.

“We see younger people — millennials, for example, or even younger — who are ordering in a lot or may not even have cooking facilities in their apartments,” Mulligan said.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

But is eating alone actually that bad for your health? According to research, the harms may outweigh the benefits.

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How eating alone can harm you

“Eating alone is associated with a whole range of poor outcomes, and they’re correlated with similar outcomes for loneliness in general,” Mulligan said.

“When you eat alone, you’re more likely to eat standing up, you’re more likely to eat junk food and you’re less likely to think about mindful consumption.”

Benefits of shopping for your own food

Benefits of shopping for your own food

Because food can be a social experience, missing out on eating with others can make people feel isolated. One study out of Japan found that living and eating alone may increase the risk of depression in older adults.

Canada’s Food Guide also encourages people to eat with others. The guide says eating alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially for seniors.

The physical implications vary, but research suggests solo dining habits can negatively impact a person’s health.

One Korean report concluded that eating alone may be a potential risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems including too much fat around the waist and elevated blood pressure. The condition — which can be caused by poor diet and lack of exercise — increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, HealthLink BC points out.

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READ MORE: Spending time alone isn’t weird or sad — it’s actually healthy

Eating alone can also affect what you eat.

A U.K. study found that older adults were at risk of having a lower-quality diet if they lived and ate alone.

Researchers found that being single or widowed was associated with a lower food variety score, especially for men. The study also found that lower levels of friend contact were linked to eating a reduced variety of fruits and vegetables.

Another Korean study concluded that people who eat alone have a nutritional intake below the recommended amount.

Easy meal prep for students

Easy meal prep for students

According to Mulligan, people may be more inclined to mindlessly eat or snack when they are by themselves compared to when they’re enjoying food with others. This can result in poorer food choices.

“We’re less conscious of what we’re doing when we’re alone or when we’re in a rush or in transit,” Mulligan said.

“With isolated seniors, for example, they often just don’t feel it is worth the effort to go through and prepare healthier foods when they’re alone.”

There’s also the impact on the planet. A recent article published in Quartz pointed out that solo eating can contribute to food waste.

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Research shows that more than half of food produced in Canada is wasted. Furthermore, avoidable food waste in the country produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

How eating alone can benefit you

There are certainly benefits to spending time alone and learning to enjoy your own company.

A recent article published in the New York Times unpacked the ways people can enjoy eating alone and highlighted its benefits: a sense of self-indulgence and needed quiet time.

READ MORE: Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health

Eating alone while travelling is often unavoidable and can be a great opportunity to connect with others.

Mulligan says for parents with young children, a meal alone can be an enjoyable break.

Still, this doesn’t mean solo dining should be the norm.

10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit

10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit

“I’m sure for some people and in some circumstances, it can be quite joyful to eat alone,” she said. “But that doesn’t make it healthier in the long run.”

To combat the effects of eating alone, Canada’s Food Guide suggests making plans to meet with friends or family members for meals and participating in community celebrations. It’s also a good idea to organize a rotating dinner event where people take turns hosting meals.

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At work, try to eat lunch in a common space with a colleague.

Mulligan puts it this way: “The evidence is pretty clear: in general, eating with other people is good for us.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Reality check: Can you reverse diabetes by changing your diet? – National

by BBG Hub

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects approximately three million Canadians, according to Statistics Canada.

There are two main kinds of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. If left untreated, the illness can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, neuropathic pain and amputations.

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The causes of diabetes have long been debated. Type 1 is typically considered to be hereditary, while Type 2 has been associated with obesity and inactivity.

Historically, both types have been considered inevitably degenerative — but that may no longer be the case.

Some doctors believe Type 2 — which affects 90 per cent of people living with diabetes, according to Diabetes Canada — can be reversed by a dramatic change in diet and activity levels.

WATCH BELOW: The rising cost of insulin in the U.S.

A 2017 study published in the BMJ found that patients who lost a significant amount of weight (about 33 pounds) were able to send diabetes into remission. Researchers define this as “no longer having diabetes, at least for a period.”

A similar 2019 study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that reducing or eliminating a specific protein in the fat cells of mice not only prevents the onset of Type 2 diabetes, but also appears to reverse the disease as well.

That protein, dubbed CD248, was found to be higher in the fat cells of people with diabetes regardless of their shape and size, but would decrease to normal levels when people with obesity-associated diabetes reversed the disease through weight loss.

A new way to treat Type 2 diabetes

“When we talk about diabetes remission or reversal, we’re almost exclusively talking about Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist at Scarborough Health Network. He calls Type 2 diabetes a “dietary disease.”

“If you think about Type 2 diabetes, the entire disease is essentially too much sugar in the body,” said Fung.

“Sugar is both glucose, which comes from refined carbohydrates, and fructose. Your body is trying to shove all this glucose into the cell, [but if] you have too much of it, some of this glucose basically spills out into the blood.”

READ MORE: Could Type 2 diabetes be reversed by reducing a protein in fat cells? UBC researchers think so

Fung believes doctors have made a “big mistake” in trying to treat Type 2 diabetes with drugs instead of prescribing a low-carbohydrate diet. He compares a human body to a car to draw an analogy.

“Think of glucose or sugar as fuel — the fuel your body uses as energy, just like you use gas in your car,” said Fung.

Imagine pumping gas into your car so frequently that the gas tank overflows into the backseat of your car and makes you sick.

“Now you know what the problem is. Are you going to keep pumping gas into your car? No,” he explained.

WATCH BELOW: Teen with diabetes dies after prescribed oils instead of insulin — the herbalist is going to prison

Jeffrey Johnson, a pharmacist and professor at the University of Alberta, agrees.

Lifestyle changes such as “dietary changes and [increased] physical activity” have been shown to prevent — and even reverse — Type 2 diabetes.

“A healthier diet and physical activity, like getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week… was enough to prevent people at risk of developing diabetes from being diagnosed,” said Johnson.

READ MORE: Diabetes, obesity behind 800,000 cancers around the world, study finds

Johnson offered his father as an example.

“He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He was treated with medication, and with time, he changed his lifestyle,” he continued.

“He lost weight, changed his diet and [added] physical activity. He got his blood sugar under control and he was able to stop medication.”

However, Johnson warns that Type 2 diabetes is not always reversible.

“Some people get Type 2 diabetes just as they get older. They might not be overweight or obese,” he said. “For some people, it might not be reversible but for a large portion of the population, it is.”

Diet vs. losing weight?

While weight loss can be a consequence of a low-carbohydrate diet, Fung emphasizes that it doesn’t need to be the end goal.

“Both are important […] but not all types of body fat are equal,” he said. “We’ve focused mostly on getting people better, whether they’re overweight or not.

“There are a lot of people who have Type 2 diabetes who wouldn’t be classified as overweight.”

WATCH BELOW: Getting more than 10 hours of sleep a day? You may be at risk for premature death: study

In Fung’s practice, he focuses more on getting people “metabolically healthy” as opposed to setting weight loss goals.

Increasing daily activity can help, but changing your diet will have the most impact.

“Burning an extra 150 calories by exercising is minuscule — it’s like five per cent of the 2,000 calories you eat in one day,” he said.

“If you have an exam and 95 per cent is English and five per cent of the exam is math, you don’t study each [for 50 per cent] of the time.”

Finding the diet that’s right for you

“There are a lot of different dietary recommendations that can help people lose weight,” he said.

If you are interested in trying to treat Type 2 diabetes with a new diet, he suggests consulting a dietitian first.

“The most important things are starting to track and notice what you’re eating… It could even just be reduced portion sizes,” he said. “Simple decisions like that.”

— With files from Sean Boynton


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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B12 shots are often unnecessary, but Canadians still spend millions on them – National

by BBG Hub

Vitamin B12 shots are touted by certain celebrities as energy boosters and offered by some spas — but are they really necessary?

For much of the population, no.

According to the latest government data, 96 per cent of Canadians have sufficient vitamin B12 levels based on Health Canada’s recommendations. Stats show that adults aged 40 to 79 only have slightly lower B12 levels.

READ MORE: The best foods to eat for an upset stomach

But according to other research, vitamin B12 deficiency affects about a fifth of older adults and often goes unrecognized.

“Approximately 20 per cent of Canadian seniors are B12 deficient,” said Dr. William Silverstein, the co-author of a new Ontario study on seniors and B12 injections.

Older adults are more prone to B12 deficiency because as we age, our ability to absorb the vitamin can decrease. Silverstein adds that elderly patients “tend to be prescribed medications that reduce the body’s ability to absorb B12,” too.

Still, many older adults are being treated for a B12 deficiency they likely do not have.

Overprescribing B12 shots

Silverstein’s recent study found that nearly two-thirds of Ontario seniors who received vitamin B12 shots had no evidence of a B12 deficiency. The study, published in medical journal JAMA, looked at more than 140,000 people aged 65 and older who were prescribed injections between 2011 and 2015.

WATCH: Vitamins and mineral supplements don’t help prevent cardiovascular diseases, new study says

Researchers found that 64 per cent of seniors who got the vitamin shot actually tested normal for B12 levels or were not tested for the vitamin deficiency at all.

The overprescribing of B12 shots is costing Ontario’s health-care system, Silverstein says.

“We calculated that this practice could be costing nearly $46 million to the system, and so this low-value care may be taking away from other health-care priorities in the province,” he told Global News.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

Silverstein said he and his team were unable to determine the cause of the overprescribing but suspect patient demands could be a contributing factor.

“There have also been studies that have shown that only 25 per cent of Canadian physicians are aware of the evidence base surrounding B12 supplementation and so, perhaps, that is contributing as well, but generally, we are unable to say definitively,” he said.

According to Erin MacGregor, a registered dietitian at How to Eat, B12 shots are not only costly, they’re time-consuming. What’s more, MacGregor says that if someone is really low on B12, over-the-counter oral supplements are often sufficient and more affordable.

Previous research found that converting patients to B12 pills from injections could result in millions of dollars in savings.

WATCH: Eating more plant-based food

Silverstein echoes this stance and says the only time people need injections is if they have malabsorption and B12 pills don’t work for them.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies

Our bodies need B12 to make red blood cells, nerves and DNA and to carry out other functions, Harvard Health says. B12 can’t be made by the body and must be gotten from food or supplements, the university adds.

B12 is found in animal-based foods like fish, meat, poultry and dairy. This means that if you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may be at greater risk for a B12 deficiency, Silverstein said. There are certain health conditions that can result in a B12 deficiency, too.

HealthLink BC points out that B12 is normally absorbed by your digestive system, meaning your stomach and intestines.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually happens when the digestive system is not able to absorb the vitamin,” the government site says.

READ MORE: Americans snack much more than they used to, and it might be affecting their health

“Patients become B12 deficient when they… take certain medications or have certain conditions that affect its absorption, including Crohn’s, colitis and pernicious anemia,” Silverstein said.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. For seniors, symptoms can include anemia, memory difficulties and trouble with walking, Silverstein said.

WATCH: How healthy are plant-based burgers?

Stephanie Hnatiuk, a Winnipeg-based registered dietitian, says that if someone is concerned about their B12 level, they should get blood work done. She does not advise getting any vitamin or mineral injection without consulting a doctor first.

“Most Canadians do not need to take vitamin B12 injections,” Hnatiuk said.

“The only people who need vitamin B12 injections are those who are unable to maintain normal vitamin B12 levels from food or oral supplements.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Beyoncé’s 22 Days diet: Experts don’t recommend singer’s ‘restrictive’ meal plan – National

by BBG Hub

In a video posted to YouTube last week, Beyoncé gushed to her 19 million subscribers about the plant-based diet she went on to prepare for her 2018 Coachella performance.

It opens with a clip of the singer’s feet.

“This is Day 1 of rehearsals for Coachella,” Beyoncé says as she steps onto a scale. “Every woman’s nightmare… this is my weight. 175 pounds. Long way to go. Let’s get it.”

READ MORE: Macy’s pulls plates after being accused of body-shaming

In the rest of the video, Beyoncé and her trainer, Marco Borges, explained her rigorous diet — “no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol,” Beyoncé says — and exercise plan, which included hours of training per day.

Beyoncé also revealed that she did the diet for 44 days instead of 22, double the recommended length of time.

READ MORE: Skipping meals to drink more alcohol? Here’s why that’s a dangerous choice

At one point, she video-calls Borges to show him that she fits into an old costume.

“It’s a very big deal. She’s coming back. I’m coming back,” Beyoncé said.

She and Borges are now selling memberships to the 22 Days Nutrition meal planner for $18 per month or $130 per year. According to the website, members receive “access to tools and foods that empower everyone to become their healthiest self through proper nutrition.”

“Eating a more plant-based diet helped revolutionize the way they thought about food and nutrition,” said Borges.

The program was met with backlash online as fans expressed dismay that Beyoncé would promote such a restrictive diet.

Registered dietitian Abby Langer is also skeptical.

“I think people need to remember that they aren’t celebrities. Not that being a celebrity makes it OK to follow this sort of diet, but Beyoncé has resources that most of us don’t have — like a chef, trainers, assistants,”  she said. “They make it a lot easier for her to follow this kind of [restrictive] eating plan.”

Langer is concerned that the 22 Days diet is so restrictive, it’s actually punishing. She refers to a moment in the Homecoming film — a documentary about Beyoncé’s preparation for Coachella — when Beyoncé complained about being hungry.

READ MORE: ‘The Lion King’ review — Live-action version delivers exactly what you’d expect

“Our body has hunger cues for a reason. They exist because your body wants to tell you something. In our diet culture, we’re accustomed and conditioned to ignore these cues,” Langer said.

She compares being hungry to the urge to urinate.

“If you have to pee, you wouldn’t say to yourself: ‘I’m not going to pee right now, I’m going to wait another hour.’ Our hunger cues are just as important as any other cue your body gives,” she said.

A good way to tell if a diet is too restrictive is if you’re hungry “an hour or two” after you last ate, Langer says.

“This is how you know you’re not feeding yourself adequately,” she added.

READ MORE: When ‘fat acceptance’ movement leaders decide to lose weight

Another worry Langer has about Beyoncé’s diet is its lack of variation.

“I support a plant-based diet 100 per cent but I’m not supportive of diets that are restrictive,” she said. She recommends incorporating a lot of different “whole and minimally processed foods” in your diet, but Langer also believes a bad diet is one that fosters a negative relationship with food.

“I’m not supportive of emotionally and physically punishing diets hiding under the guise of a plant-based diet,” she said.

“We concentrate so much on what we eat but we push to the back-burner the emotional part of it and how food makes us feel. Having a good relationship with food [means] not feeling guilt or shame about eating.”

READ MORE: Anorexia may not only be psychiatric, it could be genetic — study

According to Langer, a plant-based diet can be a very healthy alternative, but it’s important to include “high-quality” protein sources at every meal.

“When people eliminate meat from their diet, they [tend to] rely on things like nuts to provide them their protein… but it takes a lot of those little foods to get what we need,” she said. The average person needs 20 to 25 grams of protein with each meal.

Examples of plant-based sources of protein are beans, lentils, tofu, egg and tempeh.

READ MORE: Katy Perry does enemas to ‘cleanse her body’ — here’s why you don’t need one

Heidi Murphy, a registered dietitian for Loblaw, agreed with Langer.

“A plant-based diet can be very healthy when done properly,” she said. However, she’s worried about avoiding carbs — the main source of “fuel and energy” for the average person.

“When following a plant-based diet, many of the protein sources (such as beans and lentils) also contain carbohydrates so [my concern is] one wouldn’t meet their nutritional needs following this diet,” Murphy said.

“[This diet] would also be limiting many iron- and B12-rich foods so [it] would be especially concerning for young women who are at a higher risk of anemia.”

Limiting your intake of carbs can cause several unpleasant side effects.

“Headache, fatigue, low concentration levels, flu-like symptoms and more,” said Murphy.

“Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains, are also a source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E and phytonutrients… when avoiding [them], you are limiting your intake of these essential nutrients.”

Both Murphy and Langer said short-term diets are mostly ineffective.

READ MORE: Forever 21 accused of ‘triggering’ plus-sized customers after including diet bars in online orders

“When an individual returns to their old eating habits, they regain the weight (and often more), resulting [in] the ‘yo-yo’ dieting effect,” said Murphy. “This not only puts an individual at higher risk of some chronic diseases, it can take a toll mentally and physically.”

Langer agreed, saying restrictive diets are unsustainable.

“As soon as you switch back to your previous eating habits — which will eventually happen whether you like it or not — you’re going to see those results slip away,” she said.

In her experience, short-term diets aren’t worth the physical, emotional, social and financial strain they can inflict. Langer believes it’s fine to want to lose weight but that you should take a more “moderate approach.”

READ MORE: Monkey see, monkey do: Teaching your kid to love their body starts with you

“It’s not worth it to feel like crap and not live your best life,” said Langer. “You want to play the long game here. Life is short. You want to live your best life.”

A diet that prevents you from going out and having dinner with friends is one Langer would avoid.

“Stay away from the more restrictive diets and cutting out things you don’t need to cut out just because a celebrity tells you they’re toxic,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be complicated.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore? – National

by BBG Hub

If cooking a nutritious meal is the last thing you want to do after a long day, you’re not alone.

Olivia Bradford, a 26-year-old public relations manager, often finds herself too busy or too tired to cook — so she turns to takeout.

Bradford, who lives with her fiancé in Vancouver, says they regularly use food delivery services Foodora, DoorDash and Uber Eats around mealtimes.

READ MORE: Meal kits reviews — Are these popular plans worth your money?

“My go-to lunch order on a busy workday is a salad… on the Foodora app, and for dinner, it’s probably sushi from the place under our apartment or Tacofino Yaletown down the street,” Bradford said.

“It really all comes down to convenience. I’m very busy [so] I often don’t have time to prepare meals, and once I get home, I’m too tired or too lazy to cook.”

Nicole Fetterly, a B.C.-based registered dietitian, told Global News that many Canadians simply do not know how to cook or choose not to cook — especially younger generations.

“If we think about maybe 30, 40 years ago, people were still doing the bulk of their cooking at home,” she said. “We really lost that over the last two generations.”

How did we get here?

According to Statistics Canada, 54 per cent of Canadians eat out once a week or more, and 40 per cent of folks say they eat out for convenience, have no time to cook, or do not like/know how to cook.

For millennials, Fetterly says they likely don’t know how to make food if cooking wasn’t a big part of their lives growing up.

For kids who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was a huge cultural emphasis on microwave meals, pre-packaged snacks and fast food.

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“There was a lot of pressure to have more participation in sports and activities, and more often than not, two parents working outside of the home,” Fetterly explained. “[There was] a lot of pressure from the food industry saying, ‘You’re too busy to cook, here’s all this convenience.’”

Now, there’s even more convenience with delivery apps like Uber Eats, Foodora and Skip the Dishes. Fetterly says these companies offer such a wide variety of cuisine that users have endless options at their fingertips.

“These external companies that will deliver from any restaurant… are really opening up that palate choice and giving people more options — which isn’t always a good thing,” she said.

READ MORE: How Canadians are keeping their parents’ cooking alive

The ease of ordering food is also attractive for people who simply don’t know how to cook.

What can’t we cook?

Fetterly says there are common foods that many Canadians don’t know how to make — especially fish. She says many people will order it at restaurants, but rarely make their own.

“Fish is something that we dietitians recommend should be on your plate a couple times a week because it’s so much healthier than other animal protein sources,” she said. “In my private practice, people say they are nervous about cooking fish because they don’t know how, and they’re scared of the smell.”

WATCH BELOW: How to cook with fewer tools in the kitchen

Another food that causes confusion is legumes. Fetterly, who is an advocate of plant-based foods, says that many folks don’t know how to cook with things like chickpeas, lentils and beans.

Lastly, she says the art of baking bread has significantly disappeared in recent years.

“Bread used to be such a staple, and in every culture, people baked bread all the time,” she said. “Now… we’re falling to store-bought breads that aren’t going to be as nutritious as the ones that we might have made at home with our own hands.”

How cooking can help us

It’s no secret that eating pre-made or takeout food is affecting our health. Research shows that regular consumption of ready-made meals is linked to obesity.

READ MORE: Are meal delivery kits healthy?

This is likely because restaurant food and pre-made food is often loaded with sugar and salt, and nutritional information is not always clear or accurate, Fetterly says.

“A lot of times we just don’t know what’s in the food, so we’re not provided with ingredient lists or nutrition facts at the bulk of restaurants,” she explained. “There is a change where more of the larger chains are providing that information, but as a dietitian who calculates nutrition facts, I’ll tell you it’s not a perfect science.”

Fetterly says that the food we order on apps or buy from restaurants often doesn’t take the Canada Food Guide into consideration, either.

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The recently updated guide says Canadians should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, choose whole grains, and reduce red or processed meat consumption. The guide also suggests eating plant-based proteins, like legumes, beans and tofu more often than animal proteins, like dairy, eggs, meat and fish.

“We also know most restaurant foods are going to have a much smaller percentage of vegetables on the plate compared to our new Canada Food Guide regulations, which say half your plate should be vegetables,” Fetterly said.

Getting back in the kitchen

Aside from health benefits, cooking can be a positive activity to do alone or with a loved one. For some people, cooking or baking is even therapeutic.

READ MORE: ‘I’m tired of hiding’: What it’s like to date while living with diabetes

For Bradford, cooking with her fiancé is a form of emotional bonding. Not only do they enjoy making recipes together, but it’s a change of pace, too. 

“[Cooking] is a great activity to do together and it gives us a chance to disconnect from technology and just enjoy each other’s company,” she said. 

The couple recently invested in a meal kit subscription service in an attempt to break some of their takeout habits. Having a recipe and its ingredients delivered to their door is convenient, but also forces them to the kitchen.

WATCH BELOW: Eating more plant-based food

“When we do cook, we usually make the same meals and don’t get creative,” Bradford said. “We love that HelloFresh gets us out of that routine and helps us make more creative meals.”

Fetterly says she’s seen an uptick in interest around cooking and baking, in part thanks to meal kit subscriptions.

“There’s been an explosion in the food television world and on social media with showing [off] foods,’” she said. “But a lot of the pride in cooking comes from learning and doing it yourself… and I think that’s where some of this [interest] in meal kits comes from.”

“People are looking to really explore flavours and colours — and that’s also what’s going to come out really well on social media.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anne Hathaway says her brain felt like a ‘computer rebooting’ after breaking vegan diet – National

by BBG Hub

Anne Hathaway first went vegan in 2012 as a way to lose weight for a movie role.

Almost immediately, the actor struggled with low energy levels — a reality that prompted her to ditch the diet altogether nearly two years later.

Hathaway recounts the moment she abandoned her veganism in a recent interview with Tatler magazine.

She was out for dinner with her co-star Matt Damon and her husband when it happened.

“I was the only chick and I’m the vegan, and everyone’s just going with the flow so I asked, ‘Is your fish local?’” Hathaway said. “And they said, ‘Do you see that fjord?’ So I had a piece of salmon, and my brain felt like a computer rebooting.”

READ MORE: Meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans — can people with different eating habits date?

Hathaway’s complaint about veganism is not unusual.

Lauren McNeill, a registered dietitian in Toronto, says the most common complaint from her vegan clients is that they struggle with low energy levels. However, this is probably due to how much — or how little — they’re eating.

“Many people don’t realize when switching over to a vegan diet that you need to be eating much more than you might be used to,” McNeill told Global News.

“Plant-based foods are much less calorie-dense than animal foods, meaning you will likely need to eat more to feel full. People who report low levels of energy on a vegan diet might simply not be eating enough.”

Vincci Tsui, a Calgary-based dietitian, agrees.

“Based on Hathaway’s comments, I’d be curious about what she was choosing on a vegan diet,” she said. “I think it can be a healthy choice for whatever reason you choose to be vegan, but it can require some extra planning to make sure your needs are met.”

McNeill recommends her clients follow the Healthy Plate method.

“…Half of your plate is vegetables or fruit, a quarter of your plate is plant-based proteins (like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, edamame, nuts or seeds) and a quarter of your plate is whole grains (like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bulgar, oats or quinoa),” she said.

“Canada’s new food guide is based on this method, and for good reason. This might not be possible all the time, but it’s what we do most of the time that really makes a difference.”

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If done properly, a vegan diet should be energizing, satisfying and packed with protein.

“If you are eating a well-balanced, diverse plant-based diet and eating enough food for your body, you will get enough protein,” McNeill said.

Protein is abundant in a plant-based diet, according to McNeill. If you think you need more energy from your meals, try beans, lentils and other legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products like tofu, edamame, tempeh and soy milk.

“We need much less protein than many people think — about 0.85 grams per kg of body weight — meaning that someone who weighs 150 pounds needs about 58 grams of protein per day,” she added.

READ MORE: Meal kits reviews: Are these popular plans worth your money?

Going completely vegan can be intimidating. McNeill understands this, but she wants to emphasize the good that a plant-based diet can do for your health and the environment.

“The livestock sector has been shown to generate more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world combined, with over 18 per cent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions attributed to farmed animals,” she said.

“Following a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

READ MORE: It’s not just fat and salt that’s killing us — it’s also what we aren’t eating

For McNeill, making an effort to eat more plant-based foods is a step in the right direction, even if you don’t go completely vegan.

“I’m a firm believer that everyone is on their own journey,” she said.

“Most everyone could benefit from incorporating more plant-based meals into their day if going completely vegan doesn’t feel right for them at this time.”

WATCH: Canada’s new food guide: 5 things you should know

However, Tsui — who specializes in disordered eating — warns that veganism can sometimes be used to mask disordered eating behaviour. Before going vegan, Tsui encourages her clients to think about the intention behind the switch.

“Are you doing it because of ethical reasons or because you think of it as ‘healthy?’” she said.

“In the new Canada’s Food Guide, there is a push toward choosing more plant-based foods. However, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to eat 100 per cent plant-based in order to be healthy.”

Both McNeill and Tsui would recommend that you consult a dietitian to ensure your switch to veganism goes smoothly. Here are some other starting points for staying healthy while on a plant-based diet.

Focus on what you’re adding, rather than on what you’re taking away

When transitioning to a vegan diet, McNeill says there’s a tendency to eliminate foods without finding replacements, and that can be problematic.

“Focusing on what we’re adding in rather than taking away helps to ensure that we’re not cutting out any food groups and getting all the nutrients we need,” said McNeill.

“For example, if you used to love eating scrambled eggs, try replacing it with a tofu scramble. If you always ate a tuna sandwich for lunch, try replacing it with a simple chickpea mash recipe.”

Slowly but surely, your meals will become less dominated by animal byproducts, and soon, they’ll be totally plant-based.

READ MORE: ‘Keto crotch’ — What the keto diet can do to women’s vaginal health

Tsui is also a big proponent of the slow and steady approach.

“Start by taking a look at your eating habits. What are some meals or recipes that you already make that are already vegan or can be made vegan with one or two substitutes? Then branch out from there,” said Tsui.

“It’s very common to dive in with both feet, but people end up getting overwhelmed and then they give up.”

Tsui will often recommend that her clients pick one to two days in the week to designate as “new recipe” days. “If it works out, great, add it to your repertoire. If it doesn’t, it’s just one day of the week,” she said.

A vegan diet will require additional planning to ensure you’re incorporating a variety of foods and vitamins to meet your needs.

Remember, taste changes and evolves over time

McNeill likes to prepare her clients for a new diet that may not be very palatable at first.

“Give yourself some time, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the change overnight,” she told Global News.

“There are some people who can go vegan overnight, but most take a much longer time than that to adjust.”

McNeill also recommends working with a registered dietitian when making these changes to ensure you’re not missing any vital nutrients.

WATCH: 5 foods you’re not eating that could help extend your life — study

For Tsui, becoming vegan will be similar to any other change in diet — it will require trying different things.

“It is going to require a little bit of experimentation,” she said. “Maybe you start with the ‘less healthy’ options as part of that transition.”

Tsui has heard from her clients that taste buds adjust over time.

You should be taking vitamins

According to McNeill, if you follow a vegan diet, you should be taking a vitamin B12 supplement with a minimum of 50 micrograms per day, or 1,000 micrograms three to four times per week.

“Some vegan food is fortified with vitamin B12, like most plant-based milk, nutritional yeast and many vegan meat alternatives, but I still recommend taking a supplement for a more reliable source,” said McNeill.

“Not getting enough vitamin B12 can cause anemia, fatigue and difficulty thinking or concentrating.”

READ MORE: Is the key to dieting not dieting at all?

McNeill also suggests clients take a vitamin D supplement whether they follow a vegan diet or not, especially in the winter.

“Some people may benefit from taking a plant-derived omega-3 supplement as well, especially if they don’t consume omega-3-rich foods like flax seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds or walnuts very often,” said McNeill.

Tsui recommends vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega 3 to both her vegan and non-vegan clients.

“Living in Canada… (vitamin D) is probably a supplement almost everyone needs. We don’t get enough sun here in Canada, and even when we do, we’re bundled up or have sunscreen on,” Tsui said.

“You don’t necessarily have to be vegan to need an omega-3 supplement… it could be anyone not eating two servings of fatty fish per week,” said Tsui.

“Our high omega-3 fish would be salmon, tuna or trout. I always joke that it’s (also the) small, stinky fish, like mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring… although those are less popular.”

READ MORE: This could be the ‘simplest diet in the world’ — here’s how it works

Tsui’s main concern for vegans is finding a vegan source of these supplements since all three are typically derived from animal byproducts.

She recommends working with a dietitian to find what’s right for you, and McNeill agrees.

“Getting regular bloodwork will provide a more personalized look into what changes should be made in your diet or what supplements might be beneficial for each individual,” McNeill said.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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UBC study reveals cheat day in popular diet may cause some harm

by BBG Hub

A UBC Okanagan study into a popular diet has revealed that a cheat day could be bad for your health.

The researchers said that people on the so-called keto diet should think twice before taking a ‘cheat day.’

According to the researchers, a ‘cheat day’ is a common theme in many diets and the popular ketogenic diet, or keto as it’s better known, is no exception.

WATCH BELOW (Aired June 27, 2018): Does the “Keto” diet pose dangers to your health?

But according to new research from UBC Okanagan researchers, just one 75-gram dose of glucose — the equivalent a large bottle of soda or a plate of fries — while on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet can lead to damaged blood vessels.

“The ketogenic—or keto—diet has become very common for weight loss or to manage diseases like type 2 diabetes,” said Jonathan Little, associate professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBCO and study senior author.

“It consists of eating foods rich in fats, moderate in protein, but very low in carbohydrates and it causes the body to go into a state called ketosis.”

WATCH BELOW (Aired Jan. 31, 2019) Meal planning with the revised Canada Food Guide

Little said the diet can be effective because once the body is in ketosis and starved for its preferred fuel, glucose, it begins to aggressively burn its fat stores.

This leads to weight loss and can reverse the symptoms of diseases like Type 2 diabetes.

“We were interested in finding out what happens to the body’s physiology once a dose of glucose is reintroduced,” said Cody Durrer, a UBC Okanagan doctoral student and study first author.

“Since impaired glucose tolerance and spikes in blood sugar levels are known to be associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, it made sense to look at what was happening in the blood vessels after a sugar hit.”

WATCH BELOW (Aired March 12, 2019): Winnipeg event takes a closer look at the keto diet

The researchers used nine healthy young males for their study.  The young men consumed a 75-gram glucose drink before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The diet consisted of 70 per cent fat, 10 per cent carbohydrates and 20 per cent protein, similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet.

“We were originally looking for things like an inflammatory response or reduced tolerance to blood glucose,” Durrer said. “What we found instead were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose.”

Super Awesome Science Show Recap: What going keto can do for you

The researchers acknowledge that with only nine individuals in the study, more work is needed to verify their findings. But they added the results should give those on a keto diet something to think about when considering a cheat day.

“My concern is that many of the people going on a keto diet—whether it’s to lose weight, to treat Type 2 diabetes, or some other health reason—may be undoing some of the positive impacts on their blood vessels if they suddenly blast them with glucose,” Durrer said.

“Especially if these people are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease in the first place. Our data suggests a ketogenic diet is not something you do for six days a week and take Saturday off.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Pizza and chocolate can be just as addicting as drugs and alcohol, study suggests – National

by BBG Hub

Have you ever opened a bag of chips, only to polish it off moments later?

There could be a scientific reason for that.

According to a new study, pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies and ice cream are the foods most often associated with “addictive-like eating.”

READ MORE: More than half of food produce in Canada is wasted: ‘It would horrify our grandparents’

The goal of the study was to better understand which foods, and properties of those foods, were associated with addictive overeating.

It’s no coincidence that your favourite junk foods (as opposed to fresh produce and other natural foods) top the list.

“The level of processing” is the largest predictor for how addicting a food will be, nutrition expert and study co-author Nicole Avena told Global News.

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Researchers suggest that food with added amounts of fat and refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white flour) may have qualities similar to those of drugs, like nicotine or alcohol.

These ingredients “have been shown in other studies to activate reward-related regions of the brain,” Avena said.

“The foods we often tend to overeat and feel compelled to eat might have those effects on our behaviour because of something about them is causing addiction-like changes in our behaviours.”

READ MORE: Eight unhealthy foods that aren’t bad for you

During the study, participants were asked to analyze 35 foods and choose which they most associated with addictive-like eating behaviours.

Researchers then used the hierarchy to investigate which food attributes — for example, fat grams — were related to addictive-like eating behaviour.

Other foods near the top of the list were french fries, cheeseburgers, pop, cake, cheese and bacon. Of 35 foods, the ones least associated with addictive-like eating behaviours were brown rice, apple, beans, carrots and cucumber.

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One limitation of the study is that it only included 35 foods, Avena said.

“Larger studies are being planned that include more foods, so we can get a better sense of the different types of foods that people tend to eat, and how they might be associated with addictive eating,” she said.

In addition, Avena admits that it can be difficult to define a “processed food.”

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“We defined ‘processed’ as marked by the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrate,” Avena said. In the study, “non-processed” foods were considered to be things like bananas, broccoli and apples.

“For the average person out there shopping and trying to decide which foods are more processed than others, those that are shelf stable are likely to be more processed and contain additives and preservatives,” Avena explained. “Fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables, plain nuts, and meats, are better options as foods that are minimally processed.”

WATCH BELOW: New campaign calls for national school food funding

Another trick for knowing if a product is processed is the ingredients list. “When there are many [ingredients] listed, this is usually a sign that the product is highly processed,” Avena said.

But how do you know if you’re addicted to a food? “Negative consequences” are the biggest indicator of food addiction, according to Avena.

“If you are overeating and it causes you to develop diabetes or be unhappy and you still can’t stop, then there may be an addictive process involved,” she said. “Also, needing to eat more and more to feel satisfied.”

READ MORE: Don’t follow J. Lo’s ‘unhealthy’ 10-day no carb and sugar challenge

To be addicted to food is to have difficulty “reducing intake or saying no to eating something,” said Avena.

It’s a chronic issue, not something that happens once and a while. Eating a slice of pie on Thanksgiving (even though you’re full) is not an indication of food addiction.

It becomes an addiction when it negatively impacts your health and well-being.

WATCH BELOW: Why do you feel so bad when you overeat?

In her book Why Diets Fail, Avena provides advice for fighting overeating caused by food addiction. In her view, distraction is key when a craving presents itself.

“When people indulge a little, it can lead to them to eating more than they intend. A hedonic craving (or a craving for something when we aren’t physically in need of calories) will pass in time, so the key is to distract yourself or remove yourself from the cues that are causing the craving,” she told Global News.

Social cues that can prompt a hedonic cravings — such as ads or logos — are pretty much everywhere we go.

“We can’t avoid them, but we can be aware of the powerful effect they have on us.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Keto crotch’: What the keto diet can do to women’s vaginal health – National

by BBG Hub

Everyone’s talking about the keto diet, but no one’s talking about one very off-putting potential side effect of the meal plan: a funky vaginal odour.

The low-carb, high-fat diet places your body into a state of ketosis, wherein you burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.

There is no research confirming the existence of “keto crotch,” but according to Calgary-based dietitian Andrea Hardy, it makes sense that the diet would alter the pH of the vagina.

READ MORE: Keto diet plan — Breaking down the low-carb, high-fat diet

“Most of us eat about 30 per cent of our calories for the day as fat,” said Hardy. “The keto diet recommends 70 to 80 per cent of our calories are fat. Excess intake of fats and saturated fats can alter the pH of the vagina.”

Ultimately, an increase in the pH of the vagina can increase the risk of bad bacterial growth. Bad bacteria can cause yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis — and, yes, a bad smell.

The keto diet displaces plant-based foods with foods high in fat. Plant-based foods are high-fibre foods, and “those high-fibre foods are what feeds good bacteria in our gut,” explained Hardy.

WATCH: Tips and tricks for cutting down on how much diet soda you drink

For Hardy, a foul odour, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can be a sign that the keto diet isn’t for your body.

“There are some studies to suggest that the keto diet is actually harmful to our microbiomes, simply because it reduces the variety [of foods] and the types of carbohydrates that are so important for feeding those good bacteria,” said Hardy.

That being said, there are some ways to promote good gut and vaginal health while on the keto diet.

READ MORE: Will the keto diet cause your skin to break out?

“Most people that I see doing the keto diet end up doing more of a moderate approach, [which means] consuming a bit more than the recommended five to 10 per cent of their calories as carbohydrates,” Hardy said.

It may also help to speak with your pharmacist or family doctor about using probiotics, which can help reduce your risk of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

However, Hardy doesn’t think the keto diet is a sustainable way to lose weight — especially if you’re experiencing these additional side effects.

WATCH: Meal planning with the revised Canada Food Guide

“Proponents of the keto diet suggest that by eating this low carb, it puts your body into ketosis, which is helpful for weight loss,” explained Hardy. But entering into ketosis requires a very restrictive meal plan that can be hard to maintain.

In addition, the drastic changes that happen to your body during ketosis can have several other negative side effects.

“Ketosis occurs when your body runs out of its primary fuel source: glucose. Our carbohydrate-containing foods get converted to glucose in our body and provide [us] with energy. When we restrict that, our body has to find energy from other sources so it takes other nutrients, fats and proteins and converts them into ketones, which can be used like glucose,” said Hardy.

READ MORE: Researchers want the world to eat differently. Here’s what they might look like

“The reason why people lose weight so rapidly is your body actually stores glucose as glycogen, and for every one gram of glycogen it stores, it stores three grams of water. So when people go on the keto diet, they deplete their glycogen stores and very quickly lose quite a lot of pounds.”

Dehydration, constipation, an increased risk of kidney problems and the “keto flu” are some of the most common negative side effects.

“When you restrict your body from its primary energy source, it survives off its hunger hormones and struggles to get the fuel that it needs,” said Hardy. “People tend to feel unwell, really hungry and fatigued.”

READ MORE: Researchers want the world to eat differently. Here’s what they might look like

Ultimately, Hardy does not recommend the keto diet as a way to lose weight.

“Unless it’s therapeutic for a specific medical condition, I would not recommend the keto diet. For the general public looking to manage their weight, I don’t think the keto diet is appropriate and, frankly, I think long-term, it’s probably harmful to your gut microbiota. Your best bet would be a more moderate, sustainable approach,” she said.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Drink diet soda every day? It may be linked to higher chance of stroke – National

by BBG Hub

Diet soda has long been touted as a “healthier” alternative to regular pop, but new research may give you reason to pause before cracking open a can.

According to a study published in American Heart Association journal Stroke, women over 50 who drank more than two artificially sweetened beverages a day had an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and even premature death.

Researchers analyzed the data of nearly 82,000 postmenopausal American women aged between 50 and 79. They found that regular diet pop drinkers were 31 per cent more likely to have a clot-based stroke, and 29 per cent more likely to develop heart disease compared to women who drank the fizzy beverages less than once a week, or not at all.

What’s more, those who drank a couple of sodas a day were also 16 per cent more likely to die from any cause.

READ MORE: Reality check: Is your daily diet soda increasing your risk of dementia, stroke?

“Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet,” Dr. Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, the study’s lead author and associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said in a statement.

“Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.”

WATCH BELOW: Drinking diet soda during pregnancy linked to childhood obesity: study

The study also discovered that diet soda-drinking women without previous heart disease or diabetes were nearly two and a half times as likely to have a stroke caused by small artery blockage in the brain.

Obese women and black women without previous heart disease or diabetes were also at an increased risk for negative health consequences if they drank soda.

While the new findings highlight the relationship between diet pop and health risks, the study does not conclude that artificially sweetened drinks are the cause of heart disease or stroke. More research is needed on how artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, can affect the body, the authors write.

READ MORE: Beverages are still the top source of sugar for Canadians, despite warnings

“We need more studies to assess the health benefits and risks of diet drinks and not assume that a high level of intake is harmless,” author Mossavar-Rahmani told Global News.

“We need to do more research on the impact of these drinks on the human gut microbiome — [for example] whether they change the composition of the gut microbiota — and other health aspects overall.”

The data comes from women in the Women’s Health Initiative, a U.S. long-term study that tracked health outcomes of subjects for an average of 12 years after they enrolled between 1993 and 1998. Since the diet pop data was self-reported, Mossavar-Rahmani says researchers do not have information on the type of artificial sweeteners women were consuming.

WATCH BELOW: Canadians are consuming less sugar than 10 years ago: study

“We need more research on which artificial sweeteners and nutritive sweeteners as well as other ingredients in these drinks, [like] caramel coloring, etc., are healthy and which are unhealthy,” Mossavar-Rahmani said.

Previous studies on diet pop have drawn similar results.

Another American study published in Stroke in 2017 found that drinking artificially sweetened drinks daily could be tied to an increased risk of stroke or dementia. A 2015 study out of the University of Texas found that people — especially seniors — who drank soda regularly gained more weight compared to folks who didn’t drink pop.

The American Health Association suggests water as the healthiest no-calorie option.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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