Archive for category: Food For Thought


Disability and Weight Management: Helping You Tip the Scales in the Right Direction

Julie Entwistle, C.Dir. (c), MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I find that while many of my clients initially lose weight following trauma (hospital food diet); eventually the net impact of a disability is often weight gain.  This is often the result of many factors – most interacting to make the solution difficult to isolate.  Medication side-effects, altered routines, reactive eating, friends and family that provide unhealthy sympathy foods, increased use of fast food because preparing meals is difficult, inactivity, depression, and even hormonal and physiological changes to the body as a result of the trauma.

But we do know that 70% of weight management is diet and assuming this is true, then the solution to weight management should be simple – you can’t eat it if you don’t buy it.  Purchasing unhealthy food is the first step to a weight problem.  And weight problems in disabled people are exponential.  Everything becomes harder – transfers, walking, completion of daily tasks, caregiving, and many pieces of equipment have weight limits that when exceeded result in equipment failure.

What is even more problematic is the role of the caregiver in the maintenance of weight in the person they are caring for.  When people cannot shop for food and cannot cook, then helping them to maintain weight becomes the job of the caregiver.  Just buy and prepare healthy foods – perhaps food prescribed by a nutritionist or dietician.  However, often caregivers rely on the disabled person to dictate the food choices but if people are emotionally eating, or eating out of boredom, then the caregiver cannot always rely on the individual to make the best decisions.  Often raising awareness about healthy eating starts with asking people to track what and when they are eating and drinking.  Then, problems can be identified, and a list of doable solutions can be developed. 

In one instance, in helping a client with weight loss as a functional goal, we discovered through tracking that she was barely eating breakfast and lunch but was consuming all of her calories from 5-10 pm.  We made the goal that, over time, she would consume breakfast, lunch, two snacks and dinner, and would stop eating after 7 pm.  Within a few short months, she lost 30 pounds, and this greatly improved her mobility and tolerances for activity.  Another client discovered through tracking that he was consuming far too many large bottles of pop a day.  By changing his large bottle to a smaller one, and eventually to only one pop per day and the rest water, he was able to drop 20 pounds.  In both cases, the problems, solutions, and commitment to change were made by my clients (with my guidance and support), making the results far more meaningful and lasting.  Further, the client was shown a framework for how to check and modify eating habits should they deteriorate again in the future.


The Warm Weather Has Arrived: What’s in Season?

The warm weather is here and summer is officially around the corner.  It’s time to enjoy freshly picked delicious fruits and vegetables.  Eating foods grown locally and in-season can improve your health, your bottom line and help the environment.  Take a look at Foodland Ontario’s Fruits and Vegetable availability chart so you can plan for the season.  Enjoy!

Foodland Ontario:  Availability Guide


Big Changes to Canada’s Food Guide – Will You Change Your Habits?

Last month the long-awaited revision to Canada’s Food Guide arrived and surprised many with some major changes to its design and content.  Personally, I am pleased with the changes which include a move toward plant-based proteins and I love the addition of guidelines around healthier eating habits like cooking meals at home, eating meals with others and more.  Check out Canada’s Food Guide and let us know what you think of the changes.

Canada’s Food Guide


My Child is a Picky Eater… Help!

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Do you have a child that is a picky eater?  You are definitely not alone!  Picky eating is a common issue, and while it is normal for kids to have food preferences and dislikes, it can be quite concerning for parents.  The good news is an Occupational Therapist can help!

Occupational Therapists can work with families to create solutions tailored to the individual child. Some general suggestions may include some of the following tips:

  • Remove the pressure
  • Allow the child to “play with their food”
  • Encourage food exploration on their own terms
  • Maintain a consistent meal-time routine
  • Introduce changes and new foods slowly – overcoming picky eating is a very gradual process

Watch our popular video below to learn more about how an Occupational Therapist can help families overcome the picky eating problem and raise healthy, happy eaters.


Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks: Can You Spot the Difference?

Are you able to spot the difference between a regular “sports drink” like a Gatorade and an “energy drink” that is full of caffeine and sugar without looking at the nutrition label?  It might be harder than you think—and if it’s hard for an adult, think of how many kids might make the mistake.  Learn more about a concerning new study warning the dangers of “energy drinks” for youth care of CBC News.

CBC News:  U of C researcher warns parents about dangers of high-caffeine energy drinks


O-Tip of the Week: Track What you Eat

Our O-Tip of the week series delivers valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of September, a month of back to school and back to reality, our O-Tip series will provide you with OT-approved ways to put the focus back on you.  This week’s O-Tip can help with physical self-improvement by helping you properly fuel your body.

How do you know if you are getting the essentials or getting too much of the things we shouldn’t have without tracking what you eat?  We challenge you to fully track what you eat and drink for one full week (or longer for lasting success) to help you find out if you are getting what your body needs.  From there you will be able to make appropriate changes to your diet.  Try the My Fitness Pal app which analyzes the foods you eat and shows you how much of each nutrient (ex. protein, iron, essential vitamins) you have consumed.  You can also use this free (with paid options) app to count calories, track hydration, exercise and more.


Nourish Your Noggin with These Delicious Dishes

The choices of WHAT we eat are becoming increasingly important as research is finding more and more connections between certain foods and their effects on our bodies.  The following from Eating Well provides recipes that can help to fuel our brains to assist with concentration and memory, and keep our minds in tip-top shape!

Eating Well:  Brain-Boosting Dinner Recipes


O-Tip of the Week: Avoid Cross-Contamination… Prep Separately

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of March, Nutrition Month, our O-Tip series will feature kitchen hacks to make your meals more nutritious, less time-consuming and more convenient.

Combat cross-contamination by using multiple cutting boards.  Avoiding cross-contamination and the risk of foodborne illness by having separate boards:  one for meats and one for fruits, vegetables and other.  Easily distinguish between boards by labeling them with a permanent marker or by designating different coloured boards for different food types. 


The Costs of Convenience

Do you remember a time when eating out was for a special occasion, or when grabbing takeout happened once and a while?  For this generation, it seems that meals at restaurants and from takeout windows have become more of a regular occurrence than a special treat.  Why is this so bad?  Well other than the higher cost and lower nutritional values think about what this is (or is NOT) teaching your children?  In fact, the following article from the Huffington Post argues that this generation has prioritized convenience over cooking so much that “the simple act of cooking — a health-preserving life skill — is a skill that risks extinction.

The Huffington Post:  Teaching Your Kids To Cook Is More Important Than Teaching Them To Play Soccer Or Hockey


O-Tip of the Week: Tricks for Tear-Free Onion Prep

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of March, Nutrition Month, our O-Tip series will feature kitchen hacks to make your meals more nutritious, less time-consuming and more convenient.

Do you love onions but hate the stinging, teary eyes that result when you chop them?  Try this awesome hack that will leave you dry eyed… Place the onion in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes prior to chopping.  If you forget, you can always try the trick of sticking a piece of bread in your mouth while you chop.