Just read a good article on the CNN website about boosting your immune system with food. A good point made: while we can’t eliminate colds/flu viruses with food alone, we can certainly try to improve our defense systems (a.k.a. our immune system) through eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What, exactly, does a “balanced” diet look like?

This article very concisely summarizes the food groups that we all should include in our diet, and even cites the following visual:

“Cover two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans, and one-third with lean protein.”

An alternative “plate visualization” I’ve used in the past as a Dietetic intern is: fill half of your plate with vegetables, 1/4 with starch (e.g. rice, potato, grains), and 1/4 with meat/protein…like so:

Plate Method

…Here are a few other tips and tidbits I’d like to add:

Fruits and Vegetables

If anything, I would emphasize the need to eat more fruits and veggies! Most people today just don’t get enough (I, myself, am guilty….) 😦 How much is “enough”? Check Canada’s Food Guide (or in the U.S., the MyPyramid guide). These 2 are excellent resources – print one out and stick it on your fridge as a good reminder!

Colorful Vegetables Remember…the more colourful, the better!

Protein (Meats and Legumes)

Being a foodie (and meat-eater…sorry vegetarians!), I can certainly appreciate a good piece of marbled steak, or deep-fried-anything! However, it’s a good idea to incorporate some lean meats at least 2-3 times a week (that’s not asking too much, is it?). For example, try a chicken stir-fry…you obviously wouldn’t stir fry chicken with its skin on. Pork is nice and lean as well! Fish is my favourite, and doesn’t always have to be boring (I like to steam mine like they do in Chinese restaurants, or in most other cases, I get my fish fix when I go out for sushi!).

Tofu, beans, and lentils are excellent sources of non-animal protein! (would love to hear about any good vegetarian recipes you have!)


Isn’t it confusing enough with all the terminology out there? What are trans fats? Saturated fats? If you’d like to know more, check out Dial-A-Dietitian’s handout on Dietary Fat. All I need to remind myself is:

Animal fat: BAD….Plant fat: GOOD!

So anything like butter, fatty meats, etc…try to consume these less often. “Plant” fat such as margarine, vegetable oil, the oil from nuts and seeds…try to consume these more often!


No further comments on the rest of the article…it really is a good summary! Read it for yourself! If you’re looking for more handouts on healthy eating, check out Dial-A-Dietitian’s website. If you live in B.C., you can even call them up and speak with a Registered Dietitian for sound nutrition advice (find their phone number on their website).

Well, munch on, exercise on, and stay healthy! It’ll otherwise be a loooong winter (especially here in Vancouver!)


* pictures from: and



Alas, October is behind us, which means a little less than a month to go before the Santa Shuffle! santa-shuffle.jpg

I haven’t done much training, but am rather interested in knowing how to optimize nutrition for performance…ok, confession: it’s only 5k, so hardly anything to worry about!

Nonetheless, just out of curiosity, I asked a couple of our nutrition professors for some sports nutrition tips:

  • Nutrition: for a 5k race, there’s not much to it. Basically, eat well (balanced diet) throughout the day (as one should every day) and keep well hydrated. No need for any special supplements or dietary products.
  • Hydration: some things to consider are 1) climate, and 2) distance. Given that this run will be in December (i.e., not humid) and it’s only 5k, runners need not be too concerned about appropriate hydration. Sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade) are also (likely) not required.

However, anything more than 5k that requires intensive training and involves considerable loss of body water (i.e., through sweating) would require careful hydration. Dr. Susan Barr in our faculty recommends reading up on the American College of Sports Medicine’s stand on Exercise and Fluid Replacement.

Basically, it’s very difficult to give a single, general recommendation for hydration in sports, since every individual loses body water at different rates, depending on a variety of factors – pages 384 and 385 of the above article has some handy tables to give readers an idea of water loss for runners, depending on body weight and climate. Again, every athlete/runner is different.

That said, be sure to hydrate yourself ~ 4 hrs prior to activity. Rule of thumb: if your urine is dark, you can drink a little bit more up to 2 hrs before the event. During activity: for me, I probably won’t need to worry too much…drink periodically as opportunities allow. After exercise: for me, I would simply consume my regular amount of fluid and food. Note that while dehydration (not the severe type) may cause decreased performance in most athletes, be careful not to over-hydrate yourself as that could lead to serious illness.

And of course, never start a training program without consulting your doctor or getting sound advice from a certified trainer! SportMedBC is also an excellent resource for sports-related information. I used their Beginning Runner’s Handbook when I was first starting out and found it absolutely helpful!

If you have any tips or advice, by all means, please leave a comment!

Good luck out there and stay healthy!


(*Santa Shuffle picture from