‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Gimme Some (Added) Sugar

Thanks for returning to Pie Hole! I'm back from "maternity leave" and will continue posting articles every month rather than every two weeks. This blog is like my baby and I want to ensure the ongoing quality of work, research, and love that goes into each article, as well as devote time to my actual beautiful new baby girl!

Following on from the insane excitement that was the release of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans comes the new-look nutrition facts panel (NFP), coming to food packaging near you. The new NFPs boast several changes, which Pie Hole groupies will recall from the article "Label Warfare", back in 2015 when the proposed changes were announced. Let's zero-in on one particularly provocative permutation: Added sugars.
Every American not living in a cave knows we're eating too much sugar. The new Dietary Guidelines oh-so boldly and balls-ily broadcast a new guideline relating to sugar: Out of one's total daily calorie 'bank', <10% of calories should come from added sugars. Pie Hole enthusiasts will recall that from the earlier article "Dietary Guidelines: Better Late than Never".
Figure 1: FDA new proposed food label
So it seems like a great idea to add an "added sugars" item to the new NFP... Right? Well, not really, and here's why: A new study found that people who read food labels actually misinterpreted the meaning of the new "added sugars" line... Because that's what people need, a more complex food label.
Added Sugars on the label
Take a look at the new food label (figure 1). Locate the "added sugars" line (highlighted in yellow). Now, that line is indented under "total carbs", meaning that this product has 37g of carbs per serve and of that 37g, 12g are sugars (see "total sugars") and 10g of those 12g are added sugars.

Study findings 
Study participants, and I suspect many other shoppers, misinterpreted the "added sugar" line as needing to be added to the total carbs number. Who can blame them? The rules of addition are that the "total" goes at the bottom, not the top.

How to correctly interpret "added sugars"
"Added sugars" are a component of the total carbs (just like fiber and total sugars.) In other words, this product has 37g of carbs total, and of that 37g:
- 4g are fiber
- 12g are sugars
- Of the 12g that are sugar, 10g (that's 10g out of 12g) are added to this product

The bottom line (Get it? Because "added sugar" is the bottom line under carbs... You love it!)
  • It's not complicated, you don't need to do addition when reading the label (yay)
  • For the most part, avoid products with a lot of sugar and added sugar (just like trans fat)

The good news is the aforementioned study found 78% of participants reported actually reading the NFP when buying or eating food. With a little help (like this fabulous article, for example), everyone can easily and accurately decode the new label.
Additional resources: 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Popular Posts to Pique Your Interest

It's official, I'm putting myself on "Pie Hole maternity blog leave". I've put together a list of top 10 articles... And a few extras. These are a mix of most popular reads, and my personal favourites.

1. Lunch Boxes For Picky Pie Holes - Make school lunches your kids will love eating (works for big kids, and kids in adult bodies)

2. We Came, We Snacked, We Conquered: A Big Day Out - All you need to know about snacks and how to get healthy ones into your pie hole. More on snacks here.

3. Pregnancy: 10 Things to Think About When You're "Eating for Two..." - Self explanatory... When you're eating for two, you're not feeding a garbage disposal.

4. The Rules Are... There Ain't No Rules - Why "diets" don't work, here's what does!

5. Applications of MSG: From Unsavoury to Flavoury - The various, little thought of applications for MSG.

6. Quit Wheat Belly Aching (Pt II) - Everything you need to know about the current state of research regarding gluten, wheat, and real science. You can click back to pt I here.

7. Artificial Sweeteners: Not So Sweet After All - Some bacteria-laden research regarding how fake sugars aren't all things nice.

8. Coffee & Tea-ter Tottering Over Caffeine - Tea and coffee (and caffeine) a review of all three.

9. Coffee: For Better or For Worse? - For all the caffeine-addicts, a review of everything you want to know about caffeine.

10. Udder Confusion: Are Your Kids Having a Cow Over Milk? - Kids fighting you on drinking their milk? Your guide book is in this article. If you love dairy as much as me, check out this article too.

And a few extras... Because I loved writing them.

Highfalutin Gluten - What is gluten and should you go "gluten-free"?

Highfalutin Gluten (part II) - Thinking "gluten-free" through... Critically

What Ails and Cures - Why cured meat gives you colon cancer (or to quote my husband "ass-cancer"... Sorry)

Should You Steer Clear of Beer? - Everyone's talking about wine, here's cheers to beer (and there's a photo of my dog in this one!)

Juicing: Healthy Habit or Half-Witted Hypothesis? - For those on the juicing bandwagon

Juicing: Healthy Habit or Half-Witted Hypothesis? Pt II - More for those on the juicing bandwagon

Choc-It-Up to Chocolate - Who doesn't love chocolate? We can't be friends. Science says we should love chocolate.

Overeating: Unsustainable - For the millennials like me, why "plant-based" is great for us and the earth

Does this Protein Bar Make Me Look Fat - Protein-pounding gym-junkies... Here's the truth about protein

Does this Protein Bar Make Me Look Fat pt II - As above

There will be more soon. In the meantime, enjoy these!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grass-Fed Beef: An Environmental No No

The always popular, always controversial discussion of beef resurfaced recently and I figured, why not chew the fat a little? Let's talk grass-fed vs conventionally raised beef, let's talk beef and nutrition. Let's steak a claim!

First off, allow me to remind readers that herein doesn't lie my opinion. If you're morally opposed to biting into Bessie the Cow, I understand, I'm purely sharing scientific findings. Feel free to moo'v along.

A new meta analysis based on 67 articles compared the nutritional composition of organic vs conventional meat. Here are the main points:
  • Organic meat has less saturated fat (the artery clogging kind) and also less monounsaturated fat (one of the "good" fats)
  • Total polyunsaturated fats ("good" fats) and omega 3 fats (also good) were estimated 23% and 47% higher in organic meat, respectively
The likely reason for the difference in fat composition is due to grazing/forage-based diets in organic animals.

So you're thinking, "we're done, that settles it, I'm only going to buy Bessie if she grew up organic and foraged". But wait, there's another aspect worth considering... The environment.
Contrary to popular belief, conventional beef has the lowest environmental impact across several parameters, and the lowest carbon footprint.
Am I crazy? Everyone and their dog says the opposite: Grass-fed is best, right? Not right, and I'm not crazy (well, maybe a little).
A pretty landmark study assessed the conventional (CON) system, compared it to the natural (NAT) system and the grass-fed (GF) system. Here's a summary of findings:
  • Days from birth to slaughter:
    • CON system - 444 days
    • NAT system - 464 days
    • GF system - 679 days (a conservative estimate on the lower end of the "finishing age" range which is actually 671-915 days)
    • See the implications of this below
  • A larger population is required in the GF system and NAT system to produce the same amount of beef as the CON system:
    • Pop size in the NAT system is 17.1% larger than CON
    • Pop size in the GF system is 77.5% larger than CON
  • More land is needed to support larger populations:
    • If all the beef produced in 2010 was by the GF system, the additional land needed would've been equivalent to 75% of Texas
  • Water consumption:
    • In the NAT system uses 17% more than the CON system
    • In the GF system uses a whopping 302% higher than the CON system
  • Carbon footprint (the big one!):
    • The NAT system's carbon footprint was 17.4% greater than the CON system
    • The GF system's carbon footprint was 67.5% higher than the CON system
So really, what the above boils down to is that the GF system and, to a lesser extent, the NAT system requires animals to live longer before being slaughtered. That means more feed, more water, more land, more grazing for those extra days. All that contributes to the greater carbon footprint seen above. To recap, the GF system is the least environmentally friendly system.
But I'm a dietitian, shouldn't I tell you to eat grass-fed beef because some research shows it's marginally healthier? I'm not that type of dietitian. There are some things that are bigger and more important than us, the environment is one of them.
Ideally westerners would eat much less meat and beef. Can I change the world? No. We need a societal/cultural shift to occur: Eat less meat, more plants, plant-based. If we all jump on that bandwagon, perhaps we could all eat grass-fed beef.
Well, I'd say "eat more leaf, less beef"