Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer

April is cancer prevention month.
Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer.

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Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada
and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.

On average, over 500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every day
and over 200 Canadians will die every day from cancer.

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the large intestine,
is the third most common cancer in men and women,
after breast/prostate and lung cancers.

Early screening and detection is the best defense against colorectal cancer because it is curable in 90% of the cases when detected and treated early compared to only 10% when not treated until the advanced stages of the disease. People over 50 should have an occult blood test done every 2 years to help identify polyps (growths on the surface of the large intestine) in the colon early before they become cancerous.

The risk of developing each type of cancer is affected by a unique set of factors. In the case of colorectal cancer you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer when you are over 50, have a family history and if you smoke, drink heavily, or are overweight. You can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by being active (exercising at least five times per week) and by eating a healthy diet.

How can diet affect your risk of developing colorectal cancer?

Fibre probably lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.

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You can lower your risk by choosing high fibre foods at each meal:  whole grain cereals and toast at breakfast; vegetables or salad at lunch as well as dinner; trying beans and lentils at lunch (for example, baked beans, chili, lentil soup); and having one or two pieces of fruit each day.

We now have convincing evidence that red meats,
especially processed meats,
can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

There is convincing evidence
that 
we should avoid eating processed meats
(i.e. ham, bacon, sausage and hotdogs)
to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer.

 

Red meats include beef, pork, lamb and veal and are a valuable source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B 12.

Therefore to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer, it is recommended to not cut out red meat but to keep the intake of red meats to less than 24 oz of raw meat (or 18 oz of cooked meat) per week.

So how can you keep your intake of cooked red meat to the recommended weekly total of 18 oz?

  1. Have fish and poultry (chicken and turkey) more often. These do not increase the risk of colorectal cancer. So of the seven dinners in a week, make one fish, two chicken and four beef or pork. For example, have salmon or skinless chicken breasts/thighs on the BBQ instead of steak or pork chops.
  2. For lunch have a tuna salad, peanut butter, or egg salad sandwich instead of one made with processed meats.
  3. When you have red meat, choose a lean cut (e.g. beef tenderloin) and aim for a palm-sized serving (i.e. 4-6 oz). This is very different from the amounts served in many restaurants! When eating out, order the smallest steak available, usually a 6 oz portion, and have a salad, as well as cooked vegetables, with it.
  4. Extend your red meat by having stews, stir fries, chili or spaghetti sauce. This way the amount of meat in your portion is probably only 2 oz or less.
  5. Use meat alternatives such as beans or lentils for some meals. I find that this works better at lunch than at supper e.g. minestrone soup, black bean soup, and baked beans on a baked potato all make wonderfully satisfying lunches.

Food for thought…

Use your diet to reduce your chance of colorectal cancer:
Up your fibre. Reduce your red meat. Avoid processed meat.

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Ancient Grains

You can now find breads, cereals and granola bars
that contain ancient grains.

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What are ancient grains?

  • ‘Ancient grains’ are grains or seeds that have remained true to their original genetic form.
  • They originated centuries ago in northern Africa, South America or Asia.
  • They are rich in fibre and B vitamins and, depending on the grain, can be rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese and zinc.

Are ancient grains just as nutritious as whole grain wheat?
Yes, all whole grains are nutritious and each provides its own unique mix of nutrients.

What is not an ancient grain?

  • modern wheat – a hybrid, ‘dwarf’ variety of wheat bred (not genetically modified) to increase yields and improve disease and pest resistance
  • corn – most of the corn grown for food has been genetically modified to resist herbicides and certain insects
  • rice – genetically modified to resists herbicides, resist pests and increase nutritional value (e.g. Golden Rice that is higher in beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is being used to prevent irreversible blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency in countries where rice eaten almost exclusively e.g. China.)

Ancient grains include ancient forms of wheat:

  • Spelt
  • Kamut® (Khorasan)
  • Einkorm
  • Emmer (or Farro)

These ancient wheats contain less gluten than modern wheat but still need to be avoided by those with celiac disease or wheat allergies.  They may be bettered tolerated by those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  They are known for their pleasant nutty flavour and chewy texture.

Ancient grains include seeds which have been called ‘pseudograins’:

  • Quinoa                      Buckwheat
  • Millet                         Flaxseeds
  • Amaranth                 Chia seeds

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These ‘pseudograins’ are seeds, not true grains.  Quinoa and amaranth are seeds more closely related to spinach, buckwheat to rhubarb, and millet to sorghum.  They are all gluten-free.

Those with celiac disease have to avoid the gluten in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  That means that they can’t have hot porridge made out of wheat (cream of wheat or Sunny Boy) or oatmeal porridge.  Millet can be used to make a millet porridge that is gluten free.

Ancient grains also include:

  • Barley                        Rye
  • Oats                           Teff
  • Wild rice

Many people have used pot or pearl barley in soups and stews.  Barley flakes are used in breads.  However, pot or pearl barley has had its husk removed in processing and have been polished which removes a lot of the nutrients.

A new type of barley that has just come on the market over the past few years is a quick cooking barley which cooks up faster (i.e. in 10 minutes).  It isn’t as processed and is higher in nutrients and fibre than pot or pearl barley.  It is great used in a salad, a pilaf or in soup.  I get my quick cooking barley from Save On Foods.

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Ancient grains are worth trying!
I really enjoy the nutty flavour and a chewy texture
that they add to foods.

What type of chocolate is best for your heart?

Chocolate is a wonderful “melt in your mouth” treat
but, over the past few years it has also gained a reputation for being “heart healthy”.
But is it really?
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

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Flavanols
The reason that chocolate has been thought to be heart healthy
is because of the flavanols that cocoa/cacao beans contain.
 

Flavanols are antioxidants
that have been shown to relax and dilate arteries.
This helps to reduce blood pressure.

Cocoa/cacao beans are high in flavanols.
They have a strong, pungent taste that comes from flavanols.
But the flavanol content of the raw cocoa beans is reduced
when raw cacao beans are made into chocolate.  

So the more processed chocolate is, the lower the flavanols.

Cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is the least processed form of chocolate.
However, some cocoa powders are further processed (alkalized or “Dutched”)
to reduce the bitterness of the flavanols (e.g. Fry’s).
This kind of cocoa powder contains almost no flavanols.

 Some cocoa powders are not further processed in this way.
These are called “natural” and contain significant flavanols.  

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In fact the Hershey’s natural cocoa powder shown here
states on their label that it contains 119 mg flavanols/Tbsp.
This is the only chocolate product that I found that stated its flavanol content.

Dark Chocolate
It is well known that dark chocolate is considered more heart healthy than milk chocolate.
This is because it is higher in flavanols.

However, most commercial dark chocolate is highly processed
and how much flavanols a particular chocolate has, is often unknown.
Being labeled “dark” chocolate is no guarantee.

Even labeling a chocolate bar as having a certain “% cacao”
isn’t a reliable guide to the amount of flavanols.
You really can’t tell if the cocoa powder used was processed or “natural”.

 So there are probably some dark chocolate bars out there that contain almost no flavanols.
However, some dark chocolate bars do contain flavanols.
The amount is just not on the label. 

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A recent analysis done for Nutrition Action Health Letter looked at three dark chocolate bars  – Hershey’s Special Dark, Lindt Excellence 70% Cacao and Dove Promises Dark Chocolate.  It found an average of 200 mg flavanols per 55 gram portion.  Unfortunately, a 55 grams portion would not be considered heart healthy because it also provides 300 calories and half the saturated fat (which increases blood cholesterol) you should have in a day! 

So what is your most heart healthy way to get the benefits of flavanols?

  1. Get your flavanols from apples, red grapes or tea.  Treat yourself to chocolate just because you like it, don’t count on it for your flavanols.
  2. Use natural cocoa powder to make hot chocolate, or to stir into vanilla yogurt or even oatmeal.
  3. If you want to have a heart healthy portion of dark chocolate, have only 1 small square, the equivalent of 10 grams.   Or perhaps dip strawberries in a small amount of melted dark chocolate.  Enjoy!!  Have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day!!

Multivitamins are worth taking

Many adults take vitamin and mineral supplements every day, but how beneficial are they?  

Multivitamins vs single vitamins
The amounts of nutrients found in a multivitamin/mineral are similar to the amounts found in a healthy diet.  For example, in a multivitamin there is 90 mg of vitamin C – the required amount for the day.

In contrast, a single vitamin can be in large amounts and provide much more than we need or can absorb.  For example, a vitamin C supplement is available in 500 and 1000 mg doses.  We can only absorb 250 mg/day.

Vitamin

Adult Requirement/day

Examples of mega doses found in single supplements

Vitamin A 2300 – 3000 IU 10,000 IU
Vitamin C 75 – 90 mg 500 – 1000 mg
Vitamin B6 1.3 – 1.7 mg 100 mg
Vitamin B12 2.4 micrograms 250 micrograms
Vitamin E 22 IU 200 – 800 IU

More is not always better.  Mega doses of a vitamin don’t generally give you an additional health benefit over taking the required amount.  And mega doses can be harmful.  For example, mega doses of vitamin A (over 4500 IU/day) can lead to increased risk of hip fractures.  Mega doses of beta carotene has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and those who have worked with asbestos.  Mega doses of vitamin B6 (over 100 mg/day) can lead to tingling/numbness in the feet.

Do vitamin and mineral supplements reduce your chance of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer?
A recent review of 26 well-designed studies concluded that vitamin and mineral supplements in healthy, well-nourished adults did not reduce the incidence of heart disease or cancer.

However, studies have shown benefits from eating nutritious foods.  For example, vegetables and fruits have been shown to keep your heart healthier and fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, not vitamin C supplements, can reduce the chance of mouth cancer. It is always best to get your nutrients from food because food contains thousands of compounds working for our health versus a single vitamin or a multivitamin that contains only a handful of 10-20 nutrients.

Supplements have been shown to not reduce your chance of chronic disease, but is there still a good reason to take them?
Yes, in the form of a multivitamin.  

Many adults could benefit from taking a multivitamin because of 3 key nutrients that they contain in reasonable (not mega) amounts…

1.  Folic acid
This is a nutrient many of us need more of, but it is especially important for women of childbearing age.  This is because adequate amounts in the diet significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (e.g. the most common forms are spina bifida and anencephaly).  Folic acid has to be adequate for 2-3 months prior to conception and in the first trimester (before many know that they are pregnant) to make a difference.
This is so critical that folic acid has been added to all white flour and enriched pasta since Nov 1998 and has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects – rates have been reduced by 47% (Ontario), 54% (Nova Scotia) and 78% (Nfld) comparing before to after fortification became mandatory. So for women of child bearing age, the folic acid in a multivitamin/mineral would be good insurance.

2.  Vitamin B12
Deficiency of B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia.  B12 in a multivitamin is especially important for people over 50 years of age because many in this age range do not absorb vitamin B12 well from food.  That is because B12 in food comes attached to protein and we need a certain amount of acidity in our stomachs to separate B12 from protein.  10 – 30% of older adults don’t make enough stomach acid to separate B12 from the protein in food.  Many are on medications to reduce their production of stomach acid.  However, the synthetic form of B12 in a multivitamin is not bound to protein and so is easily absorbed.

Vegans (vegetarians who eat no dairy, eggs, seafood) should also take a multivitamin to get their vitamin B12 because plant foods contain no Vitamin B12.

3.  Vitamin D
Many Canadians are not getting enough vitamin D especially in the winter months when the sun is not strong enough to make vitamin D in our skin or in the summer months when use of a sun screen blocks 98% of our vitamin D production.

  • Vitamin D is just as important as calcium for bone health.  Without it, we absorb 1/3 the calcium from our diet.
  • Inadequate levels of vitamin D have also related to muscle pain and weakness in the elderly (therefore effects the risk of falling).

We all need to take a vitamin D supplement from September to April (all the months with “r” in the name).  Vitamin D is found in multivitamins but it can also be taken as just vitamin D.  This is the one “single vitamin” that is recommended as the amounts are in line with our requirements.

Vitamin

Adult Requirement/day Examples of amounts found in a single supplement
Vitamin D 600 – 800 IU 400 IU or 1000 IU

The Bottom Line:  Take a multivitamin daily, especially if you are over 50 years.  Everyone in Canada – every  man, woman and child – needs to take a supplement of vitamin D (whether in a single or multivitamin form) from September to April. 

Click on the following link to see an interview on this topic:
Vitamin Supplements 

Treat yourself with quality this Christmas

Treat yourself with quality not quantity

this holiday season.

Fall and Christmas 2010 101

At a buffet,

get your money’s worth

by having one plate of

the most expensive, the most unique and the most exquisite foods.

Skip all the buns, macaroni salad and other cheap and ordinary foods.

When it comes time for dessert,

fill 3/4 of your dessert plate with fruit and 1/4 with a few delightful treats.

Eat them slowly and savour every bite!

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At a party,

skip the chips and nuts

that pack  a wallop of uninteresting calories.

Instead, choose a couple of special appetizers

that your host has made or purchased.

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At home,

be selective about what you bake.

Bake the treats that are your family’s favourites

and those that are most connected to your Christmas traditions.

Have a fun and joyful holiday season celebrating with family and friends.

Merry Christmas!!

Probiotic Yogurts

‘Live or active bacterial culture’ is added to all yogurts
All yogurts then are made by adding an ‘active bacterial culture’ to pasteurized milk and/or cream (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermopiles), which ferment the milk and give it its thicker texture and distinctive tart taste. This change in texture and taste happen because the ‘active bacterial culture’ convert about to a ½ of the lactose, or milk sugar, in the milk to lactic acid.

Yogurt is better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance
Yogurt is a good alternative to milk for those who don’t tolerate lactose well.  Usually people have trouble tolerating lactose because they have low levels of lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, enabling it to be absorbed.  If lactose is not broken down, it stays in the gut and can lead to gas and bloating.  Many people with lower levels of lactase can tolerate small amounts of lactose.  So because yogurt has less lactose than milk, it is better tolerated than milk by those with a lactase deficiency.

‘Probiotic cultures’ are added to some yogurts
All yogurts are made by adding ‘live bacterial culture’ to milk and/or cream.  In the past decade, some yogurts have also had ‘probiotic bacterial culture’ added to them.  This is different from the ‘active bacterial cultures’ added to all yogurts.

‘Probiotic cultures’ are ‘good’ or beneficial bacteria which when taken in adequate amounts give a specific health benefit to the person consuming them.  We all have millions of bacteria in our gut –  mostly good and some bad.  Probiotics work to keep the colon healthy in certain circumstances by adding good bacteria to the gut.

Probiotic cultures are different from the cultures that are added to all yogurts in that:
a) There are many strains of probiotic bacteria.  (e.g.  Lactobacillus casei, BB-12® bifidobacterium lactis, LA-5® lactobacillus acidophilus)
Each specific strain has a specific benefit. 

b)  A specific number of probiotic organisms that are found in the product at the end of its shelf life must be stated on the label.  (e.g. 1 billion per 100 gram serving)

c)  ‘Probiotic’ implies that the organisms will survive the acidity of the stomach and the digestive enzymes of the gut to reach the large bowel.

d)  In the large bowel these probiotic organisms can be beneficial in a number of ways that are specific to the strain of bacteria used.  For example, some are thought to helpful to recolonize the gut with good bacteria after a course of antibiotics which reduce the numbers of all bacteria – good and bad.

e)  You have to keep consuming probiotics on a regular basis to benefit from them.

f)  While manufacturers can add strain-specific claims about the health benefits of a specific ‘probiotic’ added to their yogurt, there are currently no yogurts in Canada which contain a strain-specific claim.  Instead what you will currently find on a label are what are called ‘non strain specific claims’  such as:  “Contains a probiotic that contributes to a healthy gut flora”.

The Bottom Line:
All yogurts are good for you.  All yogurts are helpful to those with a lactose intolerance.  Probiotic yogurts may be helpful in specific circumstances.

Choose heart healthy 0% MF Greek yogurts

Are you loving Greek yogurt?
Thick, creamy, a good source of calcium, and high protein.
What’s not to love?

How high protein is Greek yogurt?
Generally we expect a “Greek” yogurt
to have about about 2X the protein
of a regular “stirred” yogurt.

Regular yogurt = 7 grams protein per 3/4 cup serving
Greek yogurt = 14 – 18 grams protein per 3/4 cup serving

For example, this Greek yogurt that has 17 grams protein per 3/4 cup serving.

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But one Greek yogurt is not the same as another.
How can you tell the difference?
The % milk fat (MF) on the label is your first clue.

Some yogurts are extremely high fat.
Check out these 9% MF yogurts with high calories to match.

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For example, Olympic Krema Greek Yogurt,  3/4 cup (175 gram) portion
290 calories
11 grams saturated fat
(56% of what you should have in a day!!)
7 grams protein
(not what you would expect of Greek)

High fat (9 – 10%) Greek yogurts = dessert,
should be an occasional treat

and are definitely not heart healthy.

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Low fat or 2% MF Greek yogurts are also available
which have less fat and fewer calories than the high fat choices:

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On the other hand,
there are lots of heart healthy 0% MF Greek yogurts
from which to choose.

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Some 0% MF Greek yogurts are sweetened and flavoured.
For example, Liberte Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup portion:
150 calories
No saturated fat
18 grams protein.

Some 0% Greek yogurts are plain.
For example, Oikos fat free, 3/4 cup portion:
100 calories
No saturated fat
18 grams of protein.

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Some 0% MF Greek yogurts are sweetened with Splenda.
Great for those with diabetes
or those wanting a sweetened Greek with the calories of plain Greek.
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For example, Source Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup portion:
87 calories
No saturated fat
14 grams protein

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The Bottom Line:
If you have yogurt regularly,
treat yourself to 0% MF Greek yogurts.
Treat yourself to health.

Will going gluten-free help you?

What is gluten?
A protein found in wheat, rye and barley…sometimes also in oats because they can be contaminated with wheat.  There are medical reasons for people to avoid gluten and the one most think of is celiac disease.

Celiac Disease
For those with celiac disease, even the smallest amount of gluten will cause inflammation in the small intestine resulting in the flattening of the villi, finger like projections into the gut.  These villi greatly increase the surface area for absorbing nutrients.  When they are flattened, it changes the surface of the gut from a “shag carpet” to as smooth as a hardwood floor.  This reduces the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients in the short term and increases the risk of cancer in the long term.  Even a crumb of bread will set off a cascade of inflammation in the gut.  Studies show that the amount of gluten that is unlikely to cause any damage to the gut is less than 10 micrograms of gluten per day.  One slice of bread has 2500 micrograms of gluten!

Other medical reasons to used gluten-free products:

  1. Some people are not celiac but are still “gluten sensitive”.  For them using gluten-free products is helpful but there is not the same need to strictly avoid all ingredients containing gluten.
  2.  Some have a wheat allergy and gluten-free products are helpful because they are wheat-free.  However, products containing rye, oats and barley excluded from the celiac, gluten-free diet can still be enjoyed.
  3. For those with irritable bowel syndrome, eating gluten-free products may reduce gas, bloating and painful cramps, because they are lower in fructans.  Fructans are not broken down or absorbed in the small bowel and end up in the colon where they are rapidly fermented by bacteria leading to gas and bloating.  Fructans are also found in onions, garlic, barley and fibre supplements made from inulin.

Can gluten-free help you lose weight?
According to the Canadian Grains Institute, about 30% of the people who bought gluten-free products in 2011, bought them to lose weight.  William Davis in Wheat Belly claims, “Lose the wheat. Lose the weight.”  But is this true?  The calories in gluten-free breads, buns, donuts, muffins and cookies are comparable to wheat-based products.  However, gluten-free products are often more expensive.  If the intake of wheat-containing items (i.e. bread, donuts, bagels, pastries, cookies, cakes, crackers, pasta) is reduced and the more expensive gluten-free alternatives are eaten in smaller quantities, perhaps the result is a reduction in calories.  This, rather than being “gluten-free”, is the more likely reason for weight loss.

For those wanting to lose weight, watching portions of everything, including gluten-free foods is important.

 Are gluten-free products healthier for everyone?
A common misconception is that gluten-free breads and cereals are healthier because they contain no gluten.  Gluten-free or not, it is whole grains, versus refined grains, that are the healthiest choice because they contain more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.  Just as Canada has always fortified white (refined) wheat flour with B vitamins and iron, so many gluten-free breads often made from refined flours are now also fortified with B vitamins and iron.  Just as there is whole grain wheat, there are also whole grains that are gluten-free (for example, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, popcorn, buckwheat and pure (uncontaminated) oats).

Canada’s Food Guide states that whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet.  The fibre in whole grains, including whole wheat, helps to curb appetite and achieve sustainable weight loss.  Fibre, as well as the magnesium, potassium and vitamin E in whole grains, can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.

For most of us, gluten-containing foods (for example, breads, cereals and pasta made from whole grain wheat), eaten in reasonable portions, are an important part of healthy eating.

 

“No sugar added” products – Use with caution

Today you can find many candies, chocolates, gum and ice cream products
that are labelled as “no sugar added”.
Many of them have been sweetened with sweeteners called sugar alcohols
e.g. sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and maltitol.

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Sugar alcohols are sweeteners ending with “ol”.
So we are not talking here about the two best known sweeteners:
sucralose (i.e. Splenda) and aspartame (i.e. Equal).

Diabetics and those watching their weight are usually the ones attracted to these “no sugar added” products.  Sugar alcohols are absorbed more slowly than sugar so they don’t cause the blood sugar to rise as much, thereby reducing the need for insulin.   They have fewer calories than sugar because they are not totally digested and absorbed.  But this means that they end up in the lower part of the intestine where they start to ferment and can draw water into the gut.

Surprisingly, the products themselves are not that much lower in calories compared to products sweetened with sugar.  For example, 1/2 cup of regular ice cream has 140 calories while “no sugar added” ice cream has 120 calories for the same amount.

Use “no sugar added” products with caution:  

  1. People with diabetes or those watching their weight, think that they can eat them because they have less sugar, but they still need to be cautious because these sweeteners can cause gas, bloating, painful cramping and diarrhea.
  2. The more you eat the worse the symptoms.  So moderation is key.  Anyone can suffer from these effects.  If you are “gassy” and wonder why, these products may be the reason.  People with irritable bowel disease, especially those prone to having diarrhea, are especially sensitive.

Check out the label:

  • You can tell that a product contains sugar alcohols because they are in the ingredient list – look for sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol or maltitol.
  • The Nutrition Facts label will state how many grams of sugar alcohols there are per portion.

So for example, for 2 pieces of these chocolates there are 15 grams of sugar alcohols.

NF label 13

A good rule of thumb:  Limit yourself to the one portion (as stated on the Nutrition Facts label) per day to minimize any gas, bloating, painful cramping and diarrhea.

For more information, check out this video:

http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=972506&binId=1.1203436&playlistPageNum=1

Enlightened Eating on a Cruise

Caribbean Cruise 2010 058
“Cruise ships have begun fighting their longstanding reputation as floating islands of weight-gain temptation.”
   Cruise Critic

  • they’ve shut down the midnight buffets
  • opened “spa cuisine” restaurants
  • serve smaller portions in the dining room
  • have vegetarian dishes and “no added sugar” desserts
  • have a running track on the top deck, a huge fitness room, fitness classes (e.g. spin classes, zumba and yoga) offered daily and live music to dance to every night
  • have attractive, centrally placed stairs to take instead of the elevator
  • have more active excursions available (e.g. hiking, snorkeling, ziplines, biking)

Yes, you think, “I will eat healthy on my next cruise…..and then you walk into the buffet.”  Cruise Critic

Cruising is a wonderful way to travel and many people are cruising more than ever.  If cruising is becoming more than a once in a lifetime experience for you, perhaps you go on a cruise once a year, it pays off to have some strategies in place to minimize the weight you can gain.

Buffets
Without a strategy, buffet eating can quickly get out of control.

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First of all, rethink your mindset.  Many of us think we get our money’s worth by eating as much as possible.  Instead, get your money’s worth by choosing quality, not quantity.  Choose the most exquisite, the most unique, the new and different items instead of just going for a huge pile of food.  Think, look at all this variety, I can try all these different foods that perhaps I would not normally try.

Instead of choosing something of everything, make choices.  Look down the buffet to see what those choices are.  On a cruise, you really need to pace yourself.  That buffet will be there for 12 days straight so you don’t need to take something of everything the first day.

For the lunch buffet, resist the urge to pile your plate high.  Skip the bread and buns. Fill your plate half full with vegetable salads and look for an interesting entrée to go with them.  Take one small piece of a dessert, not 6.

Forget the “clean up your plate” mentality on a cruise.  If you taste something (like a dessert) and it is not to your liking, just leave it and get something else instead.

Drink Packages

Caribbean Cruise 2010 178
Many people love the “drink packages” that allow you to pay a set amount each day for all your alcoholic/pop/specialty drinks instead of paying for each drink individually.  Many claim that these packages save them money.  However, drinking the number of alcoholic or specialty drinks that would make them worthwhile money wise, would probably add up “pound wise” very quickly.

So skip the drink packages.  Keep your drink calories more reasonable by following this advice from Cruise Critic:

“Stick to wine (90 calories for 4 ounces) or beer (109 – 150 calories for 12 ounces, depending if you order a light beer or not) and avoid drinks made with sugary juices or heavy creams. (e.g. pina coladas and margaritas).  They have the calories of a dessert so if you must splurge on a fruity cocktail, have it instead of dessert, rather than having both.”

4 Course Dinners

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Dinners in the dining room are elegant and leisurely and a great time to visit and share experiences from a day in port.  They usually include 4 courses – appetizer, soup or salad, entrée and dessert.  Smaller portions now are the usual fare.

To keep calories reasonable you can do one or all of the following:

  • Skip the bread.
  • Ask your waiter for ½ portions.
  • Leave some of each item on your plate.
  • Skip one course.

Cruising is a wonderful way to travel.
But be an enlightened eater.
Cruising and staying healthy is even better.
_________________

 

Click on the link below for a CTV interview on this topic:

http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=952124&binId=1.1203436&playlistPageNum=2