Healthy choices on and off campus made easier

Rose Reisman, author and registered nutritional consultant, with Harvey Skinner, dean of the Faculty of Health

Think the blueberry scone at Starbucks is a healthier bet than the butter croissant? Think again. At 460 calories, 22 grams of fat and 18 grams of sugar, the scone has same amount of fat and more than triple the sugar of the croissant and as many calories as 2.5 cups of Cool Whip.

This was just one of the candid revelations by Rose Reisman, a registered nutritional consultant, as part of her ART of Health Eating Rose Reisman, author and registered nutritional consultant, with Harvey Skinner, dean of the Faculty of Healthon and off Campus presentation to faculty and staff in the Faculty of Health Oct. 5 on healthier eating.

Rose Reisman, author and registered nutritional consultant, with Harvey Skinner, dean of the Faculty of Health

The author of the recently published book, Choose It and Lose It: The Road Map to Healthier Eating at your Favourite Canadian Restaurants, Reisman surprised her audience with the details of their food choices, such as that a cheeseburger from McDonald’s has less fat, less sodium and fewer calories than a McChicken Sandwich. That an old-fashioned donut from Tim Horton’s has the same amount of fat as 13 Special K Chocolate Delight granola bars.

Or that a white hot chocolate from Starbucks with whipped cream weighs in at 490 calories, 19g of fat and 62g of sugar. That’s nearly double the calories, fat and almost a third more sugar than the regular hot chocolate. It’s the same amount of sugar as 12 French Crullers from Country Style.

Reisman acknowledged that everyone is bombarded with information and advice about healthy eating, such as too much sodium and fat can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease and that obesity can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Yet all the advice and preaching has not changed our daily eating habits and penchant for fast food.

The typical Canadian, she notes, eats out 11 times during a two-week period and that accounts for a good deal of society’s health issues: 59 per cent of adult Canadians and nearly one in three Rose Reisman speaking to staff and faculty in the Faculty of Healthchildren are either overweight or obese; by 2020 another 1.2 million Canadians will be diagnosed with diabetes, bringing the total number to 3.7 million – nearly 10 per cent of the population.

Rose Reisman speaking to staff and faculty in the Faculty of Health

Showing slides that compared poor choices and better choices at popular Canadian restaurants, including a few places on the York campus, Reisman’s presentation was anything but preachy. It was, however, informative. She asked audience members to pick the healthier option at Subway, the six-inch steak and cheese sub or the six-inch tuna sub, the vast majority chose the tuna sub. But Reisman was quick to point out that the tuna one has nearly twice the calories and more than four times the fat because it is mixed with high-fat, high-calorie mayonnaise.

Reisman says she recognizes that the stresses of daily life and lack of time make it easier to choose fast food. Her point is that people are only going to win the battle against obesity and chronic disease by making small, gradual changes. She believes that over time, equipped with relevant information, consumers will start to bypass high-calorie, high-fat items in favour of healthier items. The restaurant industry will respond by providing healthier items and eventually eliminate the worst items. Reisman currently works with the restaurant industry, including Glow and Pickle Barrel restaurants, to increase their healthy menu selections.

As Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner, says, “Rose provides us with a simple way to navigate a myriad of menu options that can help Canadians achieve healthier lifestyles.”

The presentation by Reisman was the first of a series on healthy living the Faculty of Health plans to hold.

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