Archive by Author | Sasha-Ann

Get your feet up with Meetup!

Increasing your level physical activity does not only need to be done through formalized exercise. Perhaps you’d rather participate in something more social and/or recreational like volleyball, soccer, rock-climbing or tennis. Are you struggling to find people in your social circle to participate in these activities?  Your level of activity is greatly affected by your social circle, therefore sedentary habits can be contagious.

You may have already tried- unsuccessfully – to engage your friends and family in more activities, so now it’s time to look outside of your normal connections.

There are a number of online resources to help you meet new people with likeminded goals. Here are a couple of examples;

  • –>This is a fantastic site (you can tell I use it!) to meet people who have the same interests as you.  You can join groups (Soccer, volleyball, biking, rock-climbing….even salsa dancing) and sign up for events to attend.  This is a great way to increase your physical activity after work or on the weekends. You’ll also make some new friends.

  • Utilize Toronto’s Recreation and Community Centres. A number of facilities have drop in sports and activities. . If this isn’t something you would be interested in, you could sign up your kids instead (psst…summer’s fast approaching).
  • Be an online maverick and search for online forums where you can meet people who want to participate in pick-up sports in your area. Here’s one for soccer:
  • Our very own Wellness Analyst, Ashley is a member of UHN’s Real Food Gardening Program. Most people don’t consider gardening as a form of physical activity, but IT IS!! For more information:

Venturing out to meet new people can be difficult for some individuals (including myself) as it triggers feelings of anxiety and fears of rejection. It does become easier as you become more accustom to going to different events. Drop-in sports or meet up events are primed environments where people are looking and open to making new connections, essentially “you’re all in the same boat”. To decrease your feelings of anxiousness try posting a greeting to the other members to make connections in advance, then you will know who to look out for when you arrive.

Think it over….

Just do it! (Nike might sue me)

Chemical Cuisine: Learn about Food Additives

We know that knowledge is power. Increase your knowledge of food additives so you can make an informed choice, of what foods and beverages you and your family will consume.

Do you want to feel empowered?

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest has compiled a list of common food additives.  There is a short description for each additive and CPSI has also assigned a safety rating for each.

Keep an open mind and dare to be curious enough to find out more information.

Move Around!!

Being physically active has been shown to decrease stress and increase productivity and performance at work (Dietitians of Canada, 2012). A decrease in stress has also been shown to improve mental and physical health.  It’s all interconnected.

Are you too busy to make it to one of our fitness classes or our walking club or to the gym? That’s ok! Don’t fret, every little bit counts!!

Sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time can contribute to strain injuries of your arms, legs and most importantly your neck and back.  When an individual remains in the same position for a long period of time, the same sets of muscles are working continuously causing fatigue, strain and tightness. This can result in muscle imbalances.  Someone once said to me “the best posture is the next posture” when trying to maintain good circulation and prevent injury.

Here are some things you can do at your desk or close to your office:

  • Stand up and stretch for a few minutes every hour (you can set an alarm for yourself if that will help you to remember)
  • Perform exercises at your desk while reading and/or typing. Here are some short videos for your enjoyment and education from The Alberta Centre for Active Living:
  • Consider having a “walk and talk” meeting with a co-worker instead of a sit-down or phone meeting.


Alberta Centre for Active Living (2012) Tools. Retrieved from

Dietitians of Canada (2012) EatRight Ontario. Keep active at work. Retrieved from

Be Smart with Your Cart

Just some tips to keep in mind for grocery shopping that will help you make better choices for you and your family.

  1. “Perimeter shopping” Around the outer edge of the store is where the more perishable food items are located.  Try to spend most of your time in this area buying fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, milk products (alternatives) and meats (and alternatives). 
  2. Try not to shop when you’re hungry.  Have a small snack before heading to the grocery store, if it has been a while since your last meal.  This will help you make better selections and resist the temptation of less nutritious items.
  3. Resist the temptation of less nutritious options that happen to be “on sale”. Instead try to save by using coupons.
  4. Make a list in advance. This will not only stop you from “impulse buying” but it will also stop you from buying items you may already have at home. Helping you better manage your food budget.
  5. Try to plan your meals and snacks for the week in advance. This will help with making your grocery list and with keeping regular eating patterns.
  6. Take some time in the store or at home to read the Nutrition Facts Table and ingredient list of some of the items you select.  Here is a simple tutorial on reading food labels from Health Canada
  7. Last but certainly not least. Get to know more about the foods you usually buy before shopping. Eat Wise is an online tool that provides accurate nutrition information on foods sold in Canada directly from the manufacturer.



Dietitians of Canada (2012) Make wise choices, wherever you go: supermarket smarts. Retrieved from

In a Nut Shell

As many of you may know fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. Fat is calorie dense nutrient (1 gram= 9kcal), therefore it is easy to consume too much of it.  For good health it is important to maintain an optimal total fat intake of between 20-35% of total calories (based on a 2000kcal/day diet), limit your saturated fat and transfat intake and select unsaturated fats more often (Dietitian of Canada, 2012).

Dietitian’s of Canada recommends that a healthy eating plan should include: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins (lean meats, poultry etc.), low fat dairy products, fish (especially fatty fish) and unsaturated oils. Nuts and seeds are also recommended and will be the focus of this piece. Different nuts and seeds have a varying amount of nutrients associated with lowering cholesterol and in turn helping prevent cardiovascular disease.

Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, an anti-oxidant, and magnesium, a major mineral (Thompson, J. et al., 2007). Vitamin E has been shown to protect immune function and inhibit oxidative stress to your cells (with the help of vitamin C, another anti-oxidant).  Almonds and sunflower seeds are a particular good source for this vitamin (King, J. C. et al.,2008).  The majority of the North American population falls short of the recommended intake for Magnesium. Magnesium is used by the body for numerous physiological processes, including energy production, cardiovascular and bone health (Thompson et al., 2007). You can find magnesium in other foods (for example breads) but a percentage of it is lost depending on the processing. Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and cashews are most abundant in this mineral.

Nuts and seeds are a rich source of many other vitamins and minerals, as well as monounsaturated fatty acids “MUFAs” and polyunsaturated fatty acids “PUFAs”. Additionally they are an added source of fibre ~Read: Adding up the Fibre~. Most tree nuts (almonds, brazil nut, cashews, walnuts etc) and peanuts (technically a legume) contain varying amount of phytochemicals. These bioactive compounds including carotenoids, phenolic acids and phytosterols; to name a few, are not fully understood but have been shown to promote health and reduced the risk of chronic disease (King, J. C. et al.,2008) . Phytosterols in particular have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by decreasing the amount of dietary cholesterol absorbed in intestinal tract (King, J. C. et al., 2008 & Thompson J. et al., 2007) .

 With all of these benefits why not add a few nuts into your lunch box. It is important for you to remember nuts and seeds are calorie dense and they are easy to over consume, therefore portion control is a must. Approximately one ounce is the recommended amount and will contain roughly 170 to 180 calories  (Schardt D., 2005).  Depending on your personal caloric needs the best way to add nuts and seeds into your diet would be to eat them instead of other foods that are less nutrient dense (ie chips, donuts, candies).

How many nuts and seeds are in one ounce?

Almonds: 20-24 Hazelnuts: 18-20
Cashews: 16-18 Pecans: 18-20 halves
Macadamias: 10-12 Walnuts: 8-11 halves
Brazil Nuts: 6-8 – Great source of selenium, only mineral that is an anti-oxidant Pistachios: 45-47
Pine Nuts: 150-157

(Schardt D., 2005)

We do not expect you to count out each nut or seed to get the exact amount but it is good to have a general idea for portioning. You can also purchase small tin like the one below from the dollar store which will hold approximately one ounce.

Also keep in mind that one ounce of salted nuts contain about 100mg to 250mg of sodium so if you can, please select the “lightly salted” or unsalted options.



Schardt, D. (2005) Nuts to you! Good for you heart but watch your waistline. Nutrition Action Healthletter. Centre for Science in Public Interest. November Issue 2005 pg 8-9

Dietitians of Canada (2012) Dietary fats. Retrieved from

King, J. C., Blumberg, J., Ingwersen, L., Jenab, M., & Tucker, K. L. (2008). Tree nuts and peanuts as components of a healthy Diet1,2. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(9), 1736S-1740S.

Thompson, J., Manore, M., Sheeshka, J.(2007) Nutrition a functional approach (1st ed). Toronto: ON. Pearson Education Canada