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Ask the Expert: ​Dietitian Shauna Lindzon on Summer Nutrition

With an abundance of ice cream, burgers, and hot dogs, it can be tricky to maintain a healthy diet over the summer. Fortunately, LifeSpeak users got the chance to ask registered dietitian and culinary instructor, Shauna Lindzon, their most pressing nutrition questions. With over 24 years of experience, she was the perfect person to provide answers and insight. She sees private clients at The Davisville Family Practice, Wellpoint Health Centre and has recently started online nutritional counselling with Since 2013, she has been a program developer and nutrition leader at Wellspring Cancer Support Network and also enjoys doing corporate lectures for her clients. Over the years, she has been a food industry consultant and media spokesperson for a variety of companies. She has been a guest on many national news programs including The Agenda with Steve Paikin, CBC Marketplace, Global National Toronto, and Entertainment Tonight. You can find her quoted in a variety of publications including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Huffington Post and a variety of magazines and online publications.

Here are the highlights from our user webchat with Shauna. Please keep in mind all user participation is anonymous and confidential.

Making sense of food labels

QUESTION — “I hear about gluten-free, sugar-free, no added sugar, multi-grain and whole grain, it’s kind of overwhelming when grocery shopping. I want to make the best healthiest decisions, what labels should I actually be paying attention to?”

Shauna Lindzon — “It is confusing isn’t it? You want to start by buying a product that has the least amount of ingredients as possible. If you are looking for a grain product, you want to look for whole grain, whole wheat including the germ. This type of bread will be less processed. You have to be careful with products that say ‘no added sugar’ or ‘sugar-free’. Sugar comes in many forms. Different names for sugar include: glucose, fructose, sucrose etc. There are also sugar alcohols that can be added to foods, such as: mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol, etc. These sugar alcohols can cause some digestive discomfort. You have to be careful. You also want to make sure that the product is high in fiber. If you choose a whole grain, whole wheat product, it should have a good amount of fiber. For instance 4 or more grams per serving.”

Cooking with kids

QUESTION — “I want my son to understand the importance of preparing his own food, but he’s still pretty young. Is there a recommended age at which parents should start including kids in cooking meals?”

Shauna Lindzon — “The early the better. Once kids are able to stand at a counter, they can help with stirring, etc. You can have them measure and dump ingredients into bowls. You can have them go to the cupboard or fridge and choose ingredients. You can teach him knife skills and safety once he is a little older. You can also have him design a fruit platter and make fun shapes with cookie cutters out of the fruits. Be creative!”

Nutritious ways to keep cool

QUESTION — “It’s been an unbearably hot summer, and my kids have been consuming more ice cream and popsicles than normal to stay cool. Is there a healthier alternative I can give them that will help them beat the heat?”

Shauna Lindzon — “A really nice snack to cool off to are frozen grapes. You can also make popsicles out of chocolate milk, pureed strawberries and bananas. Make sure that you have really cold watery fruits in the fridge. Good examples include watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc. To quench their thirst, you can also make homemade lemonade with fresh lemons!!”

Alcohol with dinner

QUESTION — “I drink wine every night with supper, 1-2 glasses, is it really unhealthy to do so?”

Shauna Lindzon — “1-2 glasses of wine is under the category of ‘moderation’. The Canadian Cancer society and The American Institute for Cancer Research recommend no more than 2 glasses of alcoholic beverages per day for men for cancer prevention. In terms of heart health, they recommend to consume red wine over white wine. It has a plant chemical called Resveratrol in it that may have benefits to the heart.” (Your situation may differ, and its always a good idea to check with your doctor if you think your alcohol consumption is okay for you.)

Getting kids to eat their veggies

QUESTION — “I have three children, but I am having trouble with my youngest, she is 5! She absolutely does not want to eat any greens. All she will eat is pasta and bread. I don’t know what to do, I’m pretty tired of the constant struggle with her every supper. How can I make her eat more than just carbs?!”

Shauna Lindzon — “You can try to take familiar foods like pizza and mix it up. For instance, a cauliflower crusted pizza. You can also puree different vegetables into spaghetti sauce. You can make popsicles out of pureed fruits. Also, don’t fret, it can take as many as 15-20 introductions to a new food before she may accept it. As she grows older, her taste buds will change and she may be more accepting to certain foods. This could just be a stage and it may not last!”

Chocolate alternatives

QUESTION — “My children love everything chocolate. I try to make chocolate cakes or muffins with apple sauce instead of oil whenever I can. Any other healthier substitutes I can make for chocolate goodies?”

Shauna Lindzon — “My kids love black bean brownies that have cocoa powder and chocolate chips in it. You puree the beans, so the texture is smooth and it helps the brownie maintain moisture! Enjoy!” (Click here to view the recipe.)

Don’t miss our next Ask the Expert session!

If you weren’t able to catch our webchat with Shauna Lindzon, you can always sign into your LifeSpeak account to read the transcript. And be sure to log in September 20 at noon EST to chat with personal finance expert and money therapist, Dominique Broadway. She’ll be answering questions about how best to prepare for retirement. If you don’t have a LifeSpeak account, please have your HR team reach out to us.

What is Ask the Expert?

Our Ask the Expert sessions allow our users to have regular access to our experts in real time, which allows them to have their pressing questions answered. This opportunity provides our users with practical and easily implemented tips to help them make real changes in their lives. To learn more, don’t hesitate to book a demo.