Hi There, and Welcome to Vancity Nutrition
I’m Mel, a registered dietitian, avid home cook, and new mom. This site used to be called Mel’s Food Blog – you can probably guess it was about food (original name, I know). I started blogging 5 years ago during a career transition as a way for me to share my adventures in the kitchen and garden. When I was accepted to the UBC Dietetics program, the blog quickly became a low priority. As the program became more intense, I had less and less time for it and eventually just stopped posting. Yes, I committed a huge blogging no-no: I left the site stay up for years and didn’t post any new content. The thing is, people kept visiting the site for a few of the recipes and I would get asked every so often when I was going to post again, so I just kept it up thinking that I would finally get back into it. Now’s the time.
There are a bunch of reasons why it seems like the right time to start again. First off, March is Nutrition Month (more on that later), so the timing makes sense. Second, it’s a great way to stay current with nutrition literature while I’m on maternity leave. From the release of Canada’s new food guide, to the EAT-Lancet Commission and the steady stream of media-hyped nutrition studies, there’s no shortage of research and guidelines to stay on top of. I’m reading the articles anyways – I might as well share my findings with you. I’m also in the kitchen a lot these days, figuring out solids for my little one and I’m enjoying taking a little extra time for cooking, so sharing a few recipes and cooking tips doesn’t seem like too much extra work. Finally, and more to the point, the world needs more dietitians. There – I said it. Although it’s early days in my career as a healthcare practitioner, I’ve been a dietitian long enough now to know what’s up. Dietitians are not about fads and gimmicks. We’re about the science and understanding your personal needs and challenges to provide individualized advice. While I can’t provide advice to you over the internet, I can be a resource for quality information. There’s a lot of crappy advice to be had on The Ol’ Google and Aunt Deborah’s Facebook page (why do people keep reading what she posts?), so people need access to reliable, evidenced-based information – enough with the fake news.
In the past few months, I’ve lost count of the number of social media and blog posts I’ve seen claiming celery juice helps heal everything from acne to the liver, apparently due to “undiscovered sodium cluster salts”. Um, if they are undiscovered, how do you know about them? Guess what – they aren’t a real thing. I’m honestly getting tired of this BS. For the record, celery in its whole form is great. It’s mostly water, with a bit of fibre, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great aromatic for starting your soups, stews, and sauces along with carrots and onion. I recommend it 80’s-mom-after-school-snack style: with peanut butter and raisins. We called it Ants on a Log. But I digress. Drinking celery juice won’t cure what ails you, but if you honestly like it –fill your boots.
Now, I can understand wanting to take charge of one’s own health, especially when faced with a complex chronic condition or difficult symptoms to treat. Doing something like drinking celery juice might make you feel empowered – like you’re in control and doing whatever you can to heal or improve your well-being. No one can fault a person for that take-charge attitude toward their health. However, so-called ‘cure-alls’ like this don’t really have any evidence behind them to support their health claims. And that might be okay with you, but this ‘celery juice movement’ guy doesn’t really care about your health (your wallet, that’s a different story), so he’s not going to disclose the lack of evidence or make sure you are aware of any potential risks drinking celery juice has on your health, like possible interactions with medications you might be taking.
I can’t tell you how frustrating this type of misinformation and misdirection is.
As a dietitian and total science neRD (see what I did there?), I have the education, training and practical expertise needed to critically appraise nutrition research and translate it into information that’s useful for you. Is it worth talking to your doctor or dietitian about adding a fish oil supplement into your daily regime because you read about a study in the paper? (maybe). Should you consider a vegan diet to improve your health? (you don’t need to, but if you are interested a dietitian can walk you through all the implications this change might have and ensure you aren’t missing any key nutrients) Is gluten okay to eat? (not if you have Celiac or are intolerant, otherwise – go for it). I plan on covering these types of questions and addressing some of the bogus nutrition claims seen online.
Of course, we can’t forget about the food because that’s what lies at the heart of it all. I’ll be sharing recipes on the site too. Anything that I post will be food that I eat and feed my family. I hope you find most recipes easy to make, from ingredients that you have on hand. That said, I am fortunate to live within walking distance of several grocery stores in an urban setting – so there may be times when you find a recipe isn’t for you. I will try to provide information regarding substitutions that I’ve either tested or feel confident would work, for allergies or accessibility reasons, as well as a few cooking tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. There’s no name that I would attach to our type of eating – we just eat food we like, is mostly nutritious, and try to have fun with it.
In the end, that’s what it’s all about anyways. We don’t eat nutrition (or nutrients), we eat food. And we don’t always eat food solely for the purpose of nutrition. Food is also for fun, for pleasure, for traditions, good memories, and even comfort. I might talk about the importance of a certain nutrient one day or why a type of eating pattern is better at promoting health outcomes another day (it’s my job after all), but know that food and nutrition, and health for that matter, are not to be approached with an all-or-nothing mindset. Small changes over the long run seem to work best for most. I hope that this blog inspires you to make small changes in your everyday life that will improve your health.
To get things started, most of March’s posts will be related to Nutrition Month. I’m excited to share with you the ways in which dietitians are passionate about food and how they are key to helping you unlock the potential of food to improve your health. If you’re interested in this, learning if the latest nutrition study impacts you, evidence-based information, and some good food, hit subscribe and follow along. If you’d rather drink celery juice and get your nutrition advice from celebrities, that’s cool too. I’ll be here when you change your mind.