Ask a Dietitian: Supporting Educator Nutrition and Well-being Webinar Blog
On December 9, 2020, Ophea hosted a webinar exploring educator’s own personal well-being and nutrition. The purpose of this webinar was to provide an overview of nutrition and self-care to continue supporting healthy, active living and well-being for educators.
We all know that the Health and Physical Education curriculum can play a key role in shaping our students’ views about healthy, active living, but it is equally important to practice self-care and stay up-to-date on our own health education. This session was an open Q-and-A format with a dietitian, to educate ourselves about nutrition. It explored nutrition myths and facts, discussed diet regimes, and answered questions about food trends and eating habits.
We would like to thank The Helderleigh Foundation for their partnership on this webinar, as well as our co-presenters:
- Andrea Haefele is a Health & Physical Education teacher in the York Region District School Board and an Ophea Ambassador
- Cara Rosenbloom RD is a Toronto-based dietitian, freelance writer and co-author of the books Nourish and Food to Grow On
How do I know if nutrition information is reliable?
There is so much content online, and we need to be able to determine what’s credible. Cara suggests leaving this checklist beside your computer, so you can refer to it when you are searching for health information online or in social media:
- ❑ Who is the author?
- ❑ What are their credentials?
- ❑ When was it written? Is it current?
- ❑ Is there evidence to back up their claim?
- ❑ Are they trying to sell you something?
- ❑ Does it sound too good to be true?
- ❑ Does it offer testimonials or science?
- ❑ If true, wouldn’t it be front page news?
What do I need to know about basic healthy eating?
The great thing about the guide’s basic information is that it includes a general healthy eating plan for optimal wellness and for prevention of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. That’s all covered by following the same basic eating plan, which recommends filling half your plate (or bowl!) with vegetables and fruit; a quarter with whole grains; and a quarter with protein sources such as poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and nuts.
This model for a balanced meal can be used at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Serving sizes are no longer dictated by the guide, because that should be guided by your own appetite and hunger cues. You should begin to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel full.
Of course, the food guide cannot possibly be the exact eating plan for everyone, and some special diets may fall outside the guide’s parameters. That’s when a dietitian can help you find the eating plan that’s right for you.
Do I know my macros?
Talk about buzzwords! The term “macros,” which is short for macronutrients, refers to carbs, protein and fats. These are the three macros that provide calories in the diet. We also need vitamins, minerals and water daily, but those do not provide calories.
This overview included some information about why we need to stop fearing carbs, and explained that many carb-rich foods are super-healthy, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, milk, beans and lentils.
The difference between whole grains and refined grains was discussed, as was the detriment of eating too much sugar (try to stay below 12 teaspoons of added sugars per day). Cara also explained that if you want to know how many teaspoons of sugar are in a packaged food, there’s an easily calculation for it:
To translate grams of sugar into teaspoons, Divide by 4
Example: 591 mL soda has 55 g sugar
55/4 = 13.75 teaspoons of sugar per bottle
Protein and fat were also discussed. The bottom line: If you eat according to the Food Guide, you do not need to “count your macros” or eat specific percentages of carbs, protein and fat each day. That screams of diet culture, and is very stressful. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not counted!
Popular and fad diets
The most common audience questions related to diet were about intermittent fasting and the keto diet. Cara explained that these therapeutic diets may work well for some people, but cautions against following a diet because it was seen on TV or because a friend recommended it.
What’s most important is to find the right plan that works specifically for you. You can work with a dietitian, and ask these important questions:
Is this eating plan:
- Accessible: Can I easily source the foods that are required?
- Affordable: Can I pay for the foods?
- Acceptable: Is it filled with delicious foods that I enjoy eating?
- Sustainable: Will I be able to eat this way for the long-term, or is it a fad?
- Healthy: Does this plan meet with my personal medical needs?
This or That
There were so many nutrition questions that revolved around choosing one food over another. We turned this phenomenon into a fun game, where Andrea asked Cara a question about two different extremes, and Cara filled in the gaps. We learned about:
- Which is better for us - tea or coffee?
- Should we be using butter or margarine in our diets?
- Is organic better than GMO?
- Cow’s milk or an alternative?
You can learn the answers on the recorded webinar!
The webinar wrapped with the reminder that there are no single foods that can make or break a diet – and it’s okay to mindfully savour treats too.
Many people asked questions about one specific food that they were concerned about. But it’s important to remember that it’s the choices you make day after day, year after year, that have the most impact on your health.
Don’t miss the first webinar of the Ask a Dietitian series, Ask a Dietitian: Explore Nutrition Facts and the H&PE Curriculum Webinar Blog, including a link to the recording, a summary and the list of resources shared!
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