I have been getting a lot of questions about my opinion on the new “Beyond Meat” options being offered at various establishments and thought it was time to just lay it all out in a post. So here it goes...
First, let’s consider the establishments that sell beyond meat options, do they actually sell healthy options? No, they don’t so that should be a red flag right there. Burgers and breakfast sandwiches are not healthy options they are something you have occasionally not regularly.
Are “Beyond Meat” patties healthier than burgers or other meat substitutes? Let’s break it down.
As you can see they are not healthier, so if you are switching to this burger or menu item for health and wellness reasons you are better off finding an eating establishment that actually has healthier menu items or make your own lunch to go.
If you are consuming it for ethical reasons such as lower carbon footprint. It may be a better option if consumed on occasion. However, if we factor in a poor quality diet has been shown to be a major contributor to chronic diseases and illness, frequent/regular consumption may lead to the opposite effect. Being unhealthy and treating chronic disease increases your carbon footprint if you need to rely on medication. Just a little food for thought.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, RNC, CLE
As a Nutritionist, I am bombarded with individuals who have “googled” their nutrition or have taken advice from unqualified “experts” and often have to debunk the information received. I already tackled Keto and now I am going to tackle 3 Nutrition Fads that make us Nutritionist go cray cray…
There is a lot of solid science that shows that fasting 10-12 hours a day (time restricted fasting) has a lot of health benefits for most individuals and I always encourage my clients, when appropriate, to implement this simple daily fast as part of their lifestyle practices. Fasts that last longer than 12 hours, however, do not have conclusive quality science backing it up. What we do know about longer fasting is that it can cause low energy, fatigue, moodiness, muscle loss, and slows metabolism. It may put the body into starvation which leads the body to store calories as fat much quicker or prevents the body from releasing fat stored in adipose tissue. Longer fasting durations also increases the risk for malnutrition, elevates cortisol levels, contributes to hormone imbalances in women, may lower glucose tolerance especially in women, and causes poor quality sleep… Ask yourself if this is a risk you want to take, will these health imbalances help you reach your end goal? Instead, learn to eat a healthy whole food balanced diet and implement a simple 10-12 hours fast.
Kombucha, like all beverages made with sugar fermentation (beer, wine), is a sugar-containing beverage; don’t kid yourself. Depending on brewing/fermentation technique, 95% or less of the sugar used is consumed by the bacteria. The average home-brewed Kombucha contains 2-6g of sugar in an 8 oz. glass. The sugar present is what we call extrinsic a.k.a added or free sugars, these are the sugars that are not needed by the body for health, and instead contribute to weight gain, and increases risk for various diseases through inflammation and stress… Let’s be real here, this alone should be a clear indication this beverage should not be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle, but kept to special occasions. Add on to this that currently, health benefits of consuming Kombucha are inconclusive and some studies have indicated risk of the brew producing toxic bacteria, alcohol, and causing liver stress. Store bought Kombucha is generally higher in sugar then home brewed Kombucha and may have unhealthy additives added. Nothing says healthy like sugar and the potential for toxic bacteria!
Juicing & Juice detoxes:
Juicing removes the fiber (needed for detoxing) and other important synergistic components that regulate the fructose in the body as the fructose is no longer an intrinsic (whole food) sugar and now hits the body hard (stressing the body during a detox is counterproductive). Although touted as being a great source of available antioxidant, in actuality it’s the opposite, those quality antioxidants (important in detoxing) are actually bound to the fiber that has been removed leaving you with fewer antioxidants. The sugar effect of the juice has hypernatremic effect removing water from the cells, thus not supporting health. In addition, sugar also impedes vitamin and mineral absorption (again not supporting wellness and the bodies ability to detox). So ditch the juice detox or daily juices and aim for quality properly formulated smoothies/shakes made from whole foods. If you are interested in doing a detox speak with a Holistic Nutritionist, not a salesperson!
If you want to make healthy changes with your diet, take the time to invest in quality sourced information and advice from a Nutritionist or Dietician instead of wasting your time, money, and health on gimmicks.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, CLE
Keto, or the Ketogenic Diet, might seem like the latest diet trend, but it was actually created almost 100 years ago, originally designed to help children with unmanageable epilepsy. This diet drastically limits carbohydrates, causing the body to use fat as energy, rather than glucose. When the body starts using fat as energy, it also produces ketones. This side effect can reduce the frequency of seizures in some children with epilepsy when medication doesn’t work.
Another side effect is...quick weight loss. Ding Ding Ding - how sexy is that? Because of this side effect, it has been used in a clinical setting for emergency weight loss (under medical supervision and risk factor analysis of course). Fast forward to 2018, and now it's a new diet trend.
Why does it ‘work’? Keto is a very restrictive way of eating, so of course weight loss is going to happen. Why it doesn’t work? So many reasons, but mainly because of its restrictive regime, many people can’t sustain it over the long term.
To make Keto work, you need to stay in a state of ketosis, leaving any flexibility of just living or what other people might refer to as ‘cheating’ not possible. Not to mention the fact that macronutrients need to be monitored very closely making it necessary to count everything consumed. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I love food journaling and I use it as a temporary tool for my clients. Having said that, to constantly keep such detailed tabs on your food intake is not a healthy or sustainable practice. It is my goal to help my clients develop a healthy relationship with food. I want them to be able to enjoy ‘living moments’ such as pizza and cake on occasion, without guilt or major repercussions beyond a little feedback from their bodies the next day.
In my practice, many of my clients come in with digestive issues, and as a Holistic practitioner, I know how important our gut biome is needed for overall health. A healthy gut biome supports our immune system, stabilizes inflammation, regulates hormones, allows us to metabolize our nutrients, reduces our risk for various diseases, and supports healthy weight management. I am often rebalancing client’s gut biome and addressing their digestive issues. What Keto is not? A digestive system and gut biome friendly diet. It lacks the various forms of fiber, much-needed prebiotics, and resistant starches (which come from legumes, quality intact grains, root crops). Many of the foods consumed on the keto diet, for example, dairy fats, increase inflammation in the digestive system, stress the digestive organs, as well as suppress a healthy gut biome. BUT you’ll lose weight, so all good, right?
Oh man, my nutritionist rant is bubbling up....here’s another thing, I am often addressing inflammation with clients. There are some theories out there that suggest Keto helps inflammation due to its effects on adenosine levels, but the science is still out on whether this is true or not. When it comes to nutrition and its effects on our health, we need to look at the big picture.. Nutritional science is not linear. It would be irresponsible of me to look at one concept or one benefit when there are so many intricacies to consider... Sadly, fitness professionals or ‘Influencers’ lack the formal nutritional education and tend to take the micro view and focus on one aspect of a ‘diet’. My larger, nutritionally focused view takes into consideration that dairy and high animal product consumption increases inflammation in the body through various mechanisms from the gut biome to the bodies ph.levels...I could go on.
I know you’re thinking - “But I’ve seen it work!” Here’s why - Keto requires individuals to drop added sugars, and ditch a large number of processed foods. This alone will result in weight loss, regulate blood sugar levels, and reduced pain associated with inflammation. These changes are ones I promote to all my clients; this is what we call an overlap effect and this is why we see benefits, sadly with Keto, it doesn’t last due to the points I made above and much more. This is why I don’t recommend Keto to my clients, especially when there are more sustainable and wellness-focused ways for my clients to reach their goals that do not have the potential for negative health outcomes in the future.
Other well documented articles/videos on the keto diet
Dana Clark CNHP CHC CHN CLE
Check out this episode of Flying for Flavour with yours truly talking about this exact topic with Stephanie & Cynthia
One of the things I do during a medical history when seeing a new client is review the current supplements they are on if any. I check to make sure they are in fact merited, there are no contraindications, and finally the quality. In most cases the quality of the supplements is not the best, there seems to be a misleading belief that all supplements on the market are made equally but the opposite is true. How does the average person know they are making the right choice when purchasing vitamins here are some red flags that you may be purchasing poor quality vitamins or “Expensive pee”.
As a Health Practitioner I don’t condone the trend to self prescribe supplements, it is always advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified practitioner a before taking any medicine, natural or pharmaceutical. Avoid seeking advice from those who sell products or your friends despite their good intent. You want to be sure you are not causing yourself or your family harm or wasting money on poor quality or unnecessary supplements.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, CLE
There are three types of fussy eaters:
How to manage and/or avoid the first two types of fussy eating in children.
Don't restrict, this is not to be confused with restricting food. What I mean here is don't add silly rules like finishing your plate, offering the same food repeatedly until they finally eat it, dictating when and how much they eat and so on. Creating rules and restrictions, will create an unhealthy relationship with food. Focus on communication and education.
Be responsible and walk the talk: It is always the responsibility of the adult to offer quality nutrient dense foods, consume these foods themselves and demonstrate healthy eating habits. Children imitate what they see. Don't keep poor quality foods in the house, if it's not there your child is less likely to ask for it or go on a hunger strike till you cave. If a child refuses to eat have a discussion on what healthy foods they like and always have those on hand to offer or add to a meal they may not like as much. Do not give in to poor food choices just to get your child to eat, this sets a foundation to poor eating habits and food addictions. You are also teaching your child that at some point you will cave, and they will get what they want. Rarely will a child starve themselves, it may be a struggle for a few weeks but eventually they will realize the game is not going to work and they will learn to appreciate the quality food that is being offered. We have an obesity crisis in our children, teens and adults and it all stems from eating poor quality foods regularly, which often goes back to being exposed to addictive foods as a child. Food addiction is the #1 eating disorder that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge. You need to set limits to poor quality food and provide your child with a spectrum of quality nutrient dense foods despite fussiness.
Don’t fall for illogical and gimmicky trends, although children have different nutritional needs than adults they don’t require specially designed foods, child friendly foods or family friendly foods. They can eat the same healthy food we as adult eat with healthy caloric dense add ins and infants should be provided with food that is easier to manipulate and swallow. There is absolutely no reason to be making your children separate meals, this just creates more work for the parent/caregiver for absolutely no reason and this practice enables and contributes to fussiness. Children should be provided with a wide spectrum of flavours and textures as soon as appropriate.
They can eat healthy and be healthy while still enjoying their cake too! Yep let your kids enjoy the less healthy foods, but on special occasions only. What are special occasion, their birthday (not everyone else’s birthday), special celebrations such as Thanks Giving Day (not the whole weekend), going on vacation and having an exotic meal or two. You can embrace living moments at the appropriate time’s, not only is this a healthy balance it also creates a better attitude and relationship towards food and makes them appreciate these moments more. But you need to do this wisely, children under 4 years of age more than likely will not understand this concept and are developing their pallet which changes very quickly so keep their food healthy. Don’t make special occasions out of everything, don’t use food as rewards, or for comfort this leads to emotional eating patterns that will haunt them when they are adults and are hard to reverse. Choose quality but remember healthier desserts; date balls, breakfast cookies, and 3 ingredient pancakes, are still desserts and should only be consumed on special occasions. (more about clean eating desserts here)
For the stubborn child, their fussiness is all about control. Get them involved with meal decisions and meal prep, but still under the guidance of an adult who is promoting healthy nutrient dense foods. This will make them feel more in control of the situation and proud of what they are about to eat.
It is important to offer our children quality foods for their overall wellness and to establish healthy eating patterns.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, CLE
Question: How many time's should I be eating during the day and when should I stop eating at night?
Packing your child quality healthy lunches is so important. It will positively influence everything from how well they grasp lessons in school to how infrequently they get sick. With that being said, the quick pre-packaged temptations are everywhere; some are even marketed as healthy, but often are not. Here are some healthy switch-ups for you to consider.
I have yet to find a granola bar on a store shelf that is healthy and not full of sugar, or hidden sugars. There is no way a child can pay full attention in class with a blood sugar spike followed by a crash. Meanwhile, their healthy gut flora, needed for a strong immune system, is also taking a hit.
Healthy replacement ideas:
Purchase quality whole grain snacks, like “Mary’s Gone” crackers or “Mary’s Gone” sea salt pretzels. Other grain-based snacks include brown rice or wild rice cakes. Read ingredient labels, skip anything with sugar listed and remember these are processed grains and should be consumed in moderation. Top crackers with hummus, guacamole, and, depending on school policy, seed butters for extra nutrients. Make homemade muffins (in my original submission of this article I specifically referred to the following recipe "Vegan Baked Oatmeal Cups" with full credit to the author, as most muffins even so called healthy homemade muffins are way too high in sugars and are basically cupcakes in disguise, the editor felt their may be a copyright issue and we decided to remove it) instead of popping a granola bar into a lunch.
Most of the yogurt on the store shelves is full of sugars, even the plain yoghurt (don’t confuse vanilla with plain) is so processed that there are barely any probiotics present.
Healthy replacement ideas:
For the busy family, avocado or pumpkin seeds both contain healthy fats for health and growth, and both have amino acids scores over 100. An amino acid score of 100 or higher is considered a high-quality protein source. They also contain important trace minerals needed for health and growth, including calcium. For the family with more prep time, try making some homemade probiotic hummus which also has an amino acid score over 100, contains those important healthy fats, important trace minerals and, thanks to the tahini, it’s an excellent source of calcium. Make probiotic hummus by adding one to two tablespoons of miso paste to a homemade hummus.
Fruit Cups, Fruit snacks, Fruit to Go:
Fruit Juice Fruit concentrate, real fruit juice, pure fruit juice all amount to excess sugar a child does not require. It does not function the same way in the body as eating actual fruit. The fibre in fruit regulates the sugar found in fruit and most of the antioxidants are bound to the fibre. Once you remove the fibre you are left with sugar; when the body is overwhelmed with sugar it does not metabolize all the vitamins effectively. But what about the fruit cups, it has real fruit, right? Yes, but it’s quite often mixed with sugar-laden syrups of questionable origin.
Healthy replacement ideas:
Stick to actual fruit and switch it up often, allowing the kids to choose the types of fruits they would like to try in their lunch. For the family with more prep time, try making your own fruit salads. Just chop up three or more different fruits and add to a container. Use a little juice from freshly squeezed citrus fruits to keep the fruit from oxidizing. You can even add some spices to make lovely flavours like cinnamon or ginger. Avoid the trend to add in other sugar sources such as honey or maple syrup; the sugar in the fruit is all that is needed.
Let’s make healthy whole food simple lunches the new trend! It really is easy and can be achieved by the family on the limited budget or the family with the busy agenda
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic
Published in the Alive + Fit Magazine, Fall 2017 page 28
When embarking on healthy lifestyle changes many turn to healthy salads. Sadly, a lot of the salads and salad dressings on the market are quite unhealthy. When people clue into this they take their salad making to the extreme in the opposite direction and become what some of us call the salad martyrs. These individuals make salads devoid of caloric and nutrient dense ingredients and flavour. Their salads don’t satisfy their hunger and are downright boring. I can’t image how sad and depressing it would be sitting in a lunch room or with friends consuming one’s boring salad while they indulge in all the unhealthy addictive foods and feeling so hungry.
The great news! This does not have to be case. Welcome to the Art of pumping up your salads.
Choose nutrient dense and caloric dense ingredients, like seeds (for crunch) & legumes for resistant starches that will give you the energy to get you through the afternoon with stable sugar levels, regulated blood pressure and healthy digestion. Add in some colour with veggies that smell and look delish, some whole grains like quinoa or wild rice for added texture and added fibre and nutrients. You can also add in some Lacto fermented foods like pickles (choose wisely), or sauerkraut for your probiotics. Top with a homemade creamy dressing (made with cashews, healthy nut butters or seed butters with tons of flavour). Be super creative and make your salad a complete balanced meal that will get you through the afternoon! Here is my recipe for a classic pumped up salad, although not colourful it smells delish.
Main: (makes 1 serving)
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, CLE, owner of From the Roots Holistic
Clean eating is the act of cleaning up one’s diet and consuming more whole foods and less processed foods with a focus on quality, or as I like to say; “getting the most bang for your health out of food”. Sadly, clean eating has been tainted by some fad diets and some pretty questionable practices. One of these practices is the “clean eating” dessert trend/gimmick. Why?
Touted as being sugar free a large amount of these desserts are far from sugar free, they generally contain maple syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar… all still sugars. Although honey and maple syrup consumed in small amounts (100 calories/week) is not going to make it break it when it comes to your health, consuming these sugars daily and regularly however is not a healthy habit. Dried fruits are another issue, they don’t work the in the body in the same way as whole fruits, they have a much higher blood sugar impact and should be treated like honey and maple syrup. We should be getting our sugar from whole fruits, grains, and vegetables….
We all know sugar is addictive and many associate sugars with desserts. Although some clean eating desserts use better quality sugars and ingredients, they are still contributing to the psychological aspect of the addiction. Non-alcoholic beer/wine/coolers and e-cigarettes have been proven not to support someone quitting because it is stimulating the same addictive pathways in the brain. These pathways need to be re-routed to break the addiction cycle in any addiction including a sugar/food addiction. Replacing poor quality desserts with "healthier" desserts is a good idea however one is still encouraging the same pathways in the brain.
Dessert culture is the foundation to emotional eating! If you finish your plate you can have dessert. If you are a good girl/boy mommy will buy you ice cream…. You get the picture. As adults, when we have a bad or even a good day we reach for those desserts as comfort or rewards because it has been programmed since we where children. By continuing the dessert culture with “healthier” desserts we are not addressing this emotional eating pattern at all, just justifying it.
Food addiction is one of the least talked about addictions and eating disorders, we need to stop being in denial and address this issue when trying to improve our nutrition. Clean eating desserts are just another way to avoid dealing with some of the underlying issues to unhealthy eating trends. It is not going to help you create a strong foundation for healthy eating practices.
Clean eating desserts are much healthier then traditional desserts full of refined sugars and flours and other questionable ingredients. They should however not be part of our day to day lives, but kept to holidays and celebrations, just don’t confuse those two with rewards or comfort moments!
Dana Clark CNHP, CHN, CHC, CLE
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