Egg Farmers of Alberta is pleased to launch our official podcast, The Cracked Egg! We are excited for the future of this podcast and the varying expert speakers we will have a conversation with! Below is a summary of the conversation we had with our first guest speaker, Sarah Remmer, a Registered Dietitian (RD) based in Calgary, Alberta.
Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. For more detailed information, please listen to the episode.
EFA = Egg Farmers of Alberta
SR = Sarah Remmer
EFA: Sarah, please share more about yourself and the nutrition counselling practice you offer.
SR: I am the founder of the Center for Family Nutrition, which is a Canadian nutrition counselling practice. We practice across the country and have dieticians in most provinces and our counselling is all virtual, so it’s simple for families to access. I have a website – there is blogs, free content and advice for parents on feeding kids and families. You can see more at www.sarahremmer.com.
EFA: It’s January and a new year. Many people have set their resolutions and want to commit to a healthier self and overall wellness. What are your top tips you’d recommend to anyone looking to improve their own health?
SR: I love January because it’s sort of like a fresh start and I think a lot of people feel the same way. It’s easy to get a little bit overzealous with your intentions and goals only to feel defeated after a few weeks or a few months down the road.
The first thing is I would caution people from making any resolutions that focus on changing your body shape or size because these intentions and resolutions most of the time involve diet, culture and quick fix solutions that don’t work long term. This is where a lot of the defeat can come in, as the weeks and months go past, if you can’t stick with it and if it’s not sustainable. Instead, I encourage people to focus on positive lifestyle habits that just make their life better. So, help them to be happier and healthier overall. Make sure that they’re realistic and attainable and don’t be too overzealous with how many resolutions you’re setting or that they’re hugely unattainable and plan how you’re actually going to stick to these new habits. Get really specific.
EFA: How about tips on sticking to a resolution? That can be a tough thing as well for some.
SR: This is what comes down to, what’s realistic and what’s not. So, I would say journaling really helps. Keeping a weekly journal shows the progress made so far and here are the benefits that I’m seeing from this. As long as you are starting to see benefits in your life and it’s improving your life, then I think you’ll probably stick to it. Again, getting back to, is this resolution going to make my life better?
Is it going to make me happier versus changing your physical appearance because that doesn’t necessarily make you happier in life. I think that accountability piece, making sure that someone’s checking in on you, and maybe just revisiting those goals even once a month and just saying, hey, like, where am I at with this?
EFA: There are a variety of food options out there and it can be difficult to know which foods are truly the best to buy for your families, especially given how inflation is affecting many grocery store staple items. We could talk all day about eating on a budget, but narrowed down to protein-rich choices, what are your go-to’s when it comes to affordability and nutrition?
SR: Food inflation is a real concern and challenge, and it’s not going away. Canada’s food price report predicts that food prices will rise by an average of about 5 to 7% this year. And, when we’re talking about family, if you, let’s say have a family of four that can translate into a thousand dollars a year. It is a concern for most families. We could talk forever about eating on a budget, but some of my top tips are just to start menu planning and that can actually be one of your goals for 2023. Write a list for your grocery shopping too because if you go in without a plan, then you often end up buying things that you do not need. Other tips are, freeze what you don’t use. Consider buying quote unquote ugly produce that is just as nutritious and just as safe as nice looking produce but tends to be a little bit cheap. Buy frozen produce, consider canned foods like legumes and veggies and fish, and then just downshift to generic brands that can help to save money too.
When we’re talking specifically about protein, a big shift continues. I’m seeing a big shift towards plant-based protein options. Not only for budgetary reasons, but also for health and sustainability reasons too. So, looking to legumes, lentils, beans, and chickpeas, whether they’re canned or dried. You can just use these more and buy them more often. They’re shelf stable, which is fantastic. They last longer, and have less food waste, but they’re a great way to bulk up animal-based dishes. And not only add protein, but also vitamins and minerals and fiber and that kind of thing plus it saves you and then things like tofu and Tempe. Soy based products are a great source of protein, very nutritious and more budget friendly than I would say, meat and then nuts and seeds are a great source of protein as well, as healthy fats and vitamins and minerals, fiber.
EFA: Multivitamins are another common question. How do you know if you should take multivitamins or other nutritional supplements? Or should we only be getting nutrition from food?
SR: Great question. As a dietician, I’m asked this all the time. It comes down to your age and your personal nutritional requirements. For example, if you are pregnant, then what’s advised is taking a pre-natal multivitamin as well as vitamin D and omega-3 supplement. If you’re above the age of 50, often we’ll recommend a vitamin B12 supplement as well as calcium and vitamin D but most Albertans, and this goes for really, anybody should be taking a vitamin D3 supplement just because we’re not getting enough from the sun, a lot of people think we get enough, if you’re out in the sun, you’re going to get enough Vitamin D, no, because you’re usually wearing sunscreen, first of all, and just the angle of the sun. Aim for 1,000-2,000 international units a day for adults and 400-600 units a day for children. Omega-3 is a heart healthy fat that we often don’t get enough of through food. If you and your family consume oily fish, things like salmon, tuna, trout, at least twice a week, then you’re probably getting enough omega-3. If you don’t though, then you might need an omega-3 supplement. So that’s another one that I would consider.
EFA: We can get carried away with all the information on the web and get lost in what is accurate and not. For parents, what resources would you recommend?
SR: I’m biased, but my website is full of evidence-based nutrition advice for parents. Then of course, my book, Food to Grow On who I co-authored with another dietician, Kara Rosenblum, is a fantastic resource.
For parents from pre-natal to school age, it has everything you need to know about feeding kids and again, all evidence-based, but anything that has been published by an RD. An RD is going to be a reputable source of nutrition advice. I love the Ellyn Satter Institute (https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org), Ellyn Satter is a dietician and social worker who developed the division of responsibility in feeding. The Canadian Paediatric Society is a good resource. And then another one is called Kids Eat in Color (https://kidseatincolor.com). And this is a blog published by a dietician in the United States, but a fantastic resource.
EFA: What about for other adults, what websites do you recommend for reliable health and nutrition info?
SR: Again, I recommend anything written by an RD. A few that I really like are Unlock Food, it’s a great website, Dieticians of Canada, that website is also great, Health Canada, of course and then the Heart and Stroke Foundation and a couple dieticians that I really like are Abby Langer Nutrition (https://abbylangernutrition.com/). She does a lot of myth busting when it comes to diets and quick fixes, and it’s all very evidence based. Desiree Nielsen is a fantastic resource as well when it comes to gut health and plant nutrition, she’s fantastic. And then Ignite Nutrition with Andrea Hardy (https://ignitenutrition.ca/team-member/andrea-hardy/).
EFA: Looking at eggs now, let’s dig deeper. Eggs not only have many new functional properties, but plenty of nutritious properties as well. So how do eggs fit into a healthy diet in your opinion?
SR: So easily! We love eggs here. Eggs are affordable, they’re versatile, they’re accessible and so nutritious. Also, very delicious in my opinion! In our home, we eat eggs any time of day. They’re often my protein of choice, especially for busy days just cause they’re so easy to kind of whip up. I often have a nice collection of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, ready to eat for snacks and for school lunches. But honestly, l just find that they’re one of the most versatile foods.
EFA: There are a lot of myths out there too regarding eggs. Like, eggs will raise your cholesterol myth. Is that the most common myth you hear?
SR: Yes, this one is still going strong and it’s frustrating as a dietician.
EFA: Any other ones you hear of frequently?
SR: I often hear that eggs are bad for someone that is trying to manage diabetes, which is very wrong and also for babies so often. The myth remains that babies shouldn’t be having egg whites or egg yolks.
EFA: Oh, so eggs are a good option for kids over 6 months old?
SR: They are, they’re a great and amazing source of protein and like I mentioned before, they have 14 important nutrients that are key for growth and development. So right from six months of age, eggs are absolutely a fantastic choice for parents to serve to their kids. They’re also great for kids learning or babies learning how to eat finger foods. This helps with dexterity and that oral motor control as they’re learning to start eating solids.
EFA: Now moving to types of eggs. There are many types that people can choose from when they’re at the store. What type of eggs are the best to buy? Is there a difference between white or brown or free-range and organic?
SR: No. This is another myth that you must buy organic free-range brown eggs, this is what I hear a lot. All eggs, no matter what type of egg you’re buying, are going to have those 14 important nutrients. Any egg that fits within your budget is going to be nutritious and delicious.
EFA: And both brown and white eggs have the same nutritional value.
SR: That’s right.
EFA: That is a wrap on today’s episode. If you are interested in learning more about Sarah’s nutrition counseling, reading her blogs, or finding delicious kid looking friendly and nutritious recipes, you can visit her website at www.sarahremmer.com. You can also find her on Instagram at Sarah Remmer.
Thanks for listening to The Cracked Egg and stay tuned for next month’s episode.
SR: Thank you so much!