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Posted on Wednesday, 4 February 2015, 5:10 PM


If you end up at a fast food restaurant, it is always a good strategy to check their online nutrition information so that you can make an informed choice about your selections. Make sure that you are looking closely at what the nutrition information is telling you – it may be misleading.


If you take a look at McDonalds’ online nutrition website, the Tuscan salad with grilled chicken has the following nutrition information listed:

 - 330 calories
-13g of fat
-410mg of sodium.


The catch is that they’ve left out the 140 calorie salad dressing that adds 12g of fat and 340mg sodium to the meal. All of the salads that are listed on the website do not include their dressings (clearly a necessary component in a salad). And in case you were wondering, this is one of their lower calorie salads.


Just for fun, let’s take a look at another example – Subway. Contrary to what marketers, the internet and your friends tell you, subs are not always the healthiest fast food choice.

Subway’s 6 inch tuna sub lists the following nutrition information on their website:

-480 calories
-25g of fat

-580mg of sodium


If you don’t read the fine print, you would likely assume that this information includes the cheese, which automatically comes on the sub unless you specifically tell the employee to leave it off. If you take a closer look, you will notice that this nutrition information only applies if you choose the 9-Grain wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers (no cheese!). The Monterey cheddar cheese adds a whopping 240 calories, 6g of fat and 240mg of sodium! That’s not to mention any other toppings that you may want to include on your sub.

Bottom line is that you should always read the fine print and look at fast food nutrition information with a critical eye. You may be getting more than you bargained for!



Emily Spencer, RD

Posted on Friday, 16 January 2015, 3:20 PM

The regular sweetened yogurt and yogurt like products overtaking the dairy aisle at a rapid pace are the perfect example of a healthy and nutritious food gone haywire. Marketed as healthy, these yogurt indulgences are often added to our diet in large and consistent amounts. However, through comparison it is clear that many of the yogurts on the market are similar to ice cream when looking at calories and added sugar content.  


Calories and added sugar in ice cream vs. popular greek yogurt brands

¾ cup serving


Added Sugar

Breyers French Vanilla Ice cream

~190 calories

~14-16 grams

(~3.5-4 tsp)

Liberte - 0% Vanilla Greek Yogurt

~140 calories

~ 14 grams

(~3.5 tsp)

Oikos - 2% Vanilla Greek Yogurt

~175 calories

~13.5 grams

(~3.5 tsp)

Chobani - 0% - Vanilla Greek Yogurt

~140 calories

~ 10.5 grams

(~2.5 tsp)

PC - 0% Probiotic Vanilla Greek

~ 160 Calories

~ 11 grams

(~3 tsp)

*regardless of flavouring (fruit, honey, etc) added sugar roughly the same in most regular sweetened yogurt products.

Indeed the sweetened yogurt may still be the better choice than ice cream due to their high satiety inducing protein content, but the ends do not justify the means in this case.

Recommendation: Choose plain and sweeten with fresh fruit if needed.

Posted on Friday, 19 December 2014, 11:10 PM

The winter holidays tend to bring an increase in social gatherings and liquid calories. Whether it is from an alcoholic or coffee beverage these indulgences can add up quickly. The good news is information is power, so before you make your next decision on what to drink, always investigate. Here is quick list of some holiday favorites to get you started.



Sugars  (grams)

Starbucks - chestnut praline latte - grande - 16oz

~ 330 calories

~ 39 grams

Red wine - all varieties - 5oz

~ 120 calories

~ 1 gram

Beer - lager - 12oz

~ 150 calories

~ 0 grams

Hot Cocoa w/milk - 8oz

~ 150 calories

~ 28 grams

Second cup - candy cane latte - 16 oz

~ 420 calories

~ 55 grams

Cola - 12 oz.

~ 140 calories

~ 40 grams

Mcdonalds - peppermint mocha - 14.5oz

~ 310 calories

~ 42 grams

Apple cider - 8 oz

~ 120 calories

~ 27 grams

Eggnog - 8 oz w/p alcohol

~ 340 calories

~ 21 grams

* 4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp.

Posted on Thursday, 20 November 2014, 4:15 PM


Most likely the first of many recommendations for weight managment is always to reduce liquid calories. So why do healthcare professionals continue to target drinks as the first step in calorie reduction when there are many foods that are higher in calories, sodium and fat?

Before I address this question, I think it is important to highlight how many calories and grams of sugar are hiding in your favorite beverages.

Here are some examples:




1 can of cola



1 medium latté (without whip)



1 cup (250ml) orange juice



1 cup (250ml) chocolate milk



1 bottle Gatorade



1 energy drink



4oz wine



1 bottle of regular beer




As you can see, these commonly consumed beverages contain a tremendous amount of calories and sugar, which can add up very quickly throughout the day.

The major concern with drinking your calories, versus eating them, is that liquids do not have the same effect on satiety or fullness as solids. Research has shown that when people eat their calories, they naturally compensate by reducing the rest of their food intake for the day. Alternatively, when people drink liquid calories, they do not compensate by eating fewer calories. Therefore, the beverages you have throughout the day will likely be extra calories on top of the food you are consuming.

To put this into perspective, let’s imagine you had a glass of orange juice with breakfast, a latté mid-morning, chocolate milk at lunch, a pop mid-afternoon and a beer with your dinner à that is a total of 698 calories and 89 grams of sugar!!!! If you were to consume these drinks every day for a year, that would equal 254770 calories, or 73 (theoretical) pounds!!

The good news is that since liquid calories don’t contribute to a sense of fullness, decreasing them shouldn’t result in feelings of hunger. What can you drink instead? Tap water should be your go to drink as it is a calorie, sugar and cost free beverage. If you do feel like having a sweet drink, try one that is artificially sweetened. These drinks are calorie and sugar free, regulated by Health Canada, and scientifically proven to be safe in the quantities that we would normally consume them*.

All of this is not to say that you can never have your favorite sweetened drinks again, just that you should be mindful of how much and how often you are having them.  At the end of the day, if you’re trying to lose weight, eat your calories, don’t drink them. 


*Products that are not safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding are: SugarTwin® (Cyclamate), Sweet’N Low® (Saccharin, Hermesetas®)


Posted on Wednesday, 5 November 2014, 11:30 PM

If you are an avid reader of BMI’s blog then you already know that a famous Starbucks’ Grande (medium) pumpkin spiced latte has a whopping 380 calories and 49g sugar. I’m sure this must have been quite a shocking and disappointing post for those of you (like me!) who look forward to the comforting sensation you feel from a warm latte on a crisp fall day.

Here is a homemade alternative that will not only save you the calories but also cash.

 Ingredients (1 serving)

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) brewed coffee
  • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (can also use cow’s milk or vanilla soy milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tsp sweetener of choice (I use splenda)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon


  1. In a cup or sauce pan, mix together almond milk and pumpkin. Cook on medium heat on the stove top or microwave for 30-45 seconds.
  2. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, spices and sweetener, place in a cup and use a frother to foam the milk. If you don’t have a frother you can also use a blender - just process for 30 seconds or until foamy.
  3. Pour coffee into a large mug, add the foamy milk mixture on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!


Nutrition Info

Calories ~50
Protein ~1g
Carbs ~5g
Fibre ~2g

Emily Spencer RD

Posted on Thursday, 30 October 2014, 6:30 PM

A few neat alternative ideas to ease the overflow and excess of candy on halloween.

  1. Check out this excellent campaign which is getting kids out to collect donations for the food bank instead of collecting candy.

    • The campaign has three organizations in Ottawa to join, as well as many others around the country. Below are the organization you can link with in Ottawa who have already joined the program.

      • Cusa Food Centre

      • Ottawa Vanier Young liberals

      • Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

    • Check out the website here for more info.

    • Tweet to raise awareness with the hashtag #trickoreat


“Trick or Eat® is a youth-led national event that puts a new spin on the annual night of giving – Halloween. Instead of candy, thousands of Trick or Eaters across the country raise money online and go door to door to collect non-perishable food items for local food agencies. We also raise awareness about hunger in Canada through household flyers, educational materials and online resources.”

2. Try alternative homemade treats. Making homemade treats will undoubtedly increase the quality of the ingredients eaten and can also significantly reduce the calories per treat.  Given that halloween is not a one day event anymore, these can provide some respite from the added sugar onslaught.

  • Banana Ghosts!

  • Orange (literally) pumpkins

  • Ghost eggs

  • Cheese bats