Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eat Smart: Avoid Portion Distortion!

A successful nutrition program requires that you assess your current habits to see where your nutritional strengths lie (things that you are easily doing well on a daily basis) and where your weaknesses occur (barriers or triggers to poor nutritional habits). This will help you see where you could make some improvements and where you need to do some more homework to improve your nutritional knowledge.
Assess your portion sizes
If you haven’t grabbed a meal in a fast food restaurant in the last ten years that you are not likely to have noticed that food portions have gotten larger. Some portions (like French fries, and sodas) are called "super size," while others have simply grown in size and provide enough food for at least two adults. No small wonder that kids eating fast food have shown alarming increases in waistlines and body weight.
Portion sizes of foods have increased by over 250% over the last 20 years!
• A 3 inch bagel, 140 kcal has been transformed into a 6 inch bagel 200% larger, ringing in at just over 350 kcal. This is 200 more calories than a bagel 20 years ago!
• A 1-cup (250 mL) portion of spaghetti with 3 meatballs 20 years ago had 500 calories. Today's typical portion of spaghetti and meatballs has 1,025 calories. This includes 2 cups of pasta with sauce and 3 large meatballs. This is 525 more calories than a portion 20 years ago!
• A turkey sandwich 20 years ago had 320 calories. Today's 10-inch turkey sandwich has 820 calories. This is 500 calories more than a portion 20 years ago!
Many of today's coffee houses make coffee based drinks and sell so called healthy snacks with a sugar/calorie laden punch.
• A standard cup of coffee 20 years ago was 250 mL (8 ounces) and had 45 calories. Today’s 16 ounce cup of specialty coffee with flavouring and whipped cream (frappuccino) has 350 calories. This is 305 calories more than a cup of coffee 20 years ago.
• A muffin 20 years ago was 50 grams (1.5 ounces) and had 210 calories. Today's 120-150 gram (5 ounce) muffin has 500 calories. This is 310 calories more than muffin 20 years ago
How can you get some control over your portion sizes so that you are eating an appropriate amount of food AND feeling satisfied in this time of overblown offerings for your taste buds?
Recent research has discovered that the sense of satisfaction from eating is the same regardless of the size of the plate, bowl, cup or the amount of food or drink actually consumed. So eating your food from a bowl or plate AND using smaller dishes is an easy way to decrease portion sizes while still feeling that you have eaten enough.

Appropriate sizes for a set of heart healthy dishes are:
• Dinner plate = 23 cm diameter
• Soup, cereal bowl 250 mL (1 cup)
• Drinking glass 175 mL (3/4 cup)
• Mug 250 mL (1 cup)
• Dessert bowl 175 mL (3/4 cup)
• Wine glass 125 mL (1/2 cup)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nutrient Spotlight for Runners Health – Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Exercise and vitamin D are both important for musculoskeletal health and bone health. Vitamin D may also have a beneficial effect on some types of cancer, in particular colorectal cancer, and other immune-related diseases. Skin exposure to UVB radiation from sunlight promotes vitamin D production in the skin. While outdoor exercise is the cause of higher vitamin D levels in runners, this effect is seasonal and is likely only seen in younger runners. Why? In Canada, for most of the winter months, there is insufficient UVB radiation from sunlight to have an effective amount of vitamin D production. Most Canadians do not get enough dietary vitamin D. It is found in the skin of fatty fish, some mushrooms, fluid milk, soy beverages, and some yogurts. Unless you are eating and drinking these foods daily, you likely are not meeting your needs for vitamin D from foods. Skin cells get old too – and the skin’s production of vitamin D decreases with aging. 50 years of age seems to be the cut-off.

Which runners are at greatest risk for inadequate vitamin D?
Older runners (> 50 yrs) - as one ages, there is reduced production of vitamin D in the body. If this is combined with eating few dietary sources of vitamin D then risk of inadequate vitamin D is even greater.
Runners with lactose intolerance - this inability to digest milk sugar means that the main dietary source of vitamin D – that found in milk – is absent from the diet.
Runners with dark skin – the ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure varies with the amount of skin pigmentation; the darker one’s skin, the lower the production of vitamin D.

What should you do?
Ask your family doctor to do a blood test for Vitamin D. The best time to do the test is when your diet is the main provider of Vitamin D - that would be between January-March. Vitamin Di levels tend to be the highest in the late summer as a result of UVB radiation from the sun helping us to make our own Vitamin D.
Runners (and anyone) over 50 yrs of age should take a supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D. You may need even more - a blood test will help you and your doctor to determine how much supplementation you may or may not need. Include good food sources of vitamin D in your diet to help you get the vitamin D your body needs. Fortified foods (foods with vitamin D added to them) are common sources of vitamin D. In Canada, milk, margarine, and some yogurts are fortified with vitamin D. Fish and eggs are other good sources of vitamin D. Listed below are common sources of vitamin D.
Fortified soy beverage* 250 mL (1 cup) 120 IU
Margarine 5 mL (1 tsp.)60 IU
Milk 250 mL (1 cup) 100 IU
Mackerel 90 g ( 3 oz.)310 IU
Salmon, canned 90 g (3 oz.)650 IU
Sardines, 1 can 100 g (3.75 oz.)250 IU
Tuna 90 g (3 oz.) 236 IU