To diet or not to diet?

As a dietitian, one of the most common questions I receive is “What do you think of (fill in the blank) diet?”  The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with new and emerging ideas appearing regularly, and are defined by photoshopped images in magazines portraying a perfectionistic and unrealistic view.  

What’s wrong with diets?

Most diets reduce or eliminate a main macronutrient (ie. low carb or low fat) or focus on a primary food item with a claim to promote a specific goal.  The problem with dieting is that they have an end date which sets individuals up for failure and for the never-ending yo-yo dieting cycle. When people diet, they rely on using will-power to avoid their favourite foods, thus creating an unhealthy relationship with food.

In addition, the goal of processed foods is to make people want more of it. When people feel deprived, they are more likely to binge and eventually regain more than the weight they lost. The majority of diets fail to produce permanent weight loss and the adverse effects can include nutrient deficiencies, and even eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia in severe cases.

On May 6th, I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating International No Diet Day by rejecting the diet mentality and honouring health instead.  It is a day to raise awareness of the damaging short and long term effects of unhealthy fad diets while celebrating the diversity of all body sizes and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The New Trend

Instead of going on a diet this year, go on a non-diet! The non-diet trend is an intuitive and mindful-based eating approach that supports self-esteem, body acceptance and diversity. The focus is on recognizing your body’s unique hunger and satiety cues and following through by eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full and occasionally eating as much as you want.

It’s time to make peace with food and our body by learning to enjoy food again- from chips to vegetables. Instead of worrying about food’s effect on body image, let’s focus on food’s role in providing the nutrients the body needs for physical and emotional health. Instead of exercising to reach a goal weight, let’s focus on getting out, being active and finding hobbies you love to keep your body healthy.

Registered dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition, and educate people on how to effectively and responsibly eat for their own bodies. A healthy approach focuses on small adjustments that lead to lifestyle changes that eventually become habits that are part of our daily lives. You don’t need to feel deprived of the foods you love to lose weight and be healthy.  Let’s start with avoiding strict food rules and focusing on a balanced, non-restrictive, sustainable eating plan that you can stick to for the long run.

To celebrate International No Diet Day, honour your body, celebrate diversity and join the conversation by using the hashtag #NoDietDay. To learn more about the non-diet approach to weight management, contact ChristineRezkRD@gmail.com.

Opening the dialogue on weight bias and stigma

Today three in five Canadians are classified as overweight or obese. According to Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization obesity is classified as a progressive chronic disease and a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stoke, cancer, arthritis and other detrimental health issues.

Weight needs to be addressed as an integrated and preventative piece in healthcare, but this topic often brings extreme controversy and a slew of emotions. The subject of weight is frequently pushed to the curb because it can be uncomfortable to bring up. Why? This is because weight is often associated with negative biases and stigmas – views that come from ourselves and those perpetuated by others.

Weight bias is defined as the negative attitudes and views about obesity and about those living with obesity. Meanwhile, weight stigmas are the social stereotypes and misconceptions about obesity. When we promote personal biases and social stereotypes and treat people with obesity unfairly, this becomes weight discrimination. Such treatment closes people off to talking about their weight.   

So how can we open the dialogue on weight to address health in a positive and respectful manner? One way is to reflect on our existing views and engage with this topic more mindfully: through thoughts, our choice of words and how we care for others – choosing empathy and compassion over judgment and criticism. This includes active listening, acknowledging and being sensitive to the factors that may influence health behaviours resulting in weight changes.

It’s important to address the social, cultural, financial and environmental influences from peers, family, workplaces, community settings, social media, advertising, and many others, that have daily impacts on a person’s health. At Get Well Clinic, we integrate this ethos into our multidisciplinary practice to help individuals reach their health goals while providing compassionate care that addresses the mind, body and spirit.    

Visit www.getwellforlife.ca or call 416-508-5691 for more information about our Weight Management Program.

Lower Auto Insurance Rates Act defeated by Conservatives

On April 18, 2019, my bill entitled “The Lower Automobile Insurance Rates Act” was debated at Queen’s Park and defeated by the Conservative Government.

Driving in Ontario means one must purchase auto insurance.  The most frustrating is that while Ontario drivers have the least accidents per capita, we pay some of the most expensive premiums in the country.  This is especially true for our community here, Humber River Black Creek.

I have fought this issue for many years, I hosted town halls, wrote articles and conducted research that demonstrated that the roads of our community do not have the highest rate of collisions or vehicular crime.

In late 2018, I hosted a local town hall at St. Basil-the-Great College School to bring details on an NDP Private Member’s Bill that would have treated all GTA postal codes as one when setting insurance rates.  This bill would have lowered auto insurance rates in our community, but was defeated by the Conservative Government.

My bill, the Lower Automobile Insurance Rates Act, was crafted in consultation with Dr. Fred Lazar of the Schulich School of Business, an economist and expert on auto insurance.  His widely publicized research demonstrated that Ontarians were overpaying insurance companies by an estimated $1 billion a year.

This bill would have reduced the excessive profit margin auto insurance companies seek when setting premiums, reduced their operating costs (which includes their marketing, commercials and legal fees when fighting against paying out claims), and increased transparency, especially in the area of setting rates based on postal code.  On April 3, I hosted a packed town hall update meeting at Driftwood Community Centre to share the details of my bill, and received strong support from those present.

Unfortunately, the Conservative Government voted down this bill with one Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament going as far to say, “What’s wrong with racking up profits?”

The issue of auto insurance reform is not going away, and I will continue to keep up the pressure because Ontario’s drivers deserve respect.