Healthy Abbotsford Blog

Don’t Eat This For Breakfast!

Nutella is a favorite breakfast spread for a lot of children. And if you listen to the commercials, you hear that it’s also nutritious. Or is it? In this 4:30 video, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, of, shows us how to make Nutella and what Nutella and Oreo cookies have in common.



10 easy ways you can add physical literacy to your kids’ daily routine

This article is from Active for Life.

Your days are packed solid. Sometimes (okay, most of the time), it’s impossible to even consider adding anything to the schedule.

But helping your kids learn to move doesn’t have to be a chore. You don’t have to schedule it. You don’t have to add anything to your family’s already hectic day.

At Active for Life we’re all busy parents just like you. We know how difficult it can be to find time. So we asked each other to share some fun ways that we practice fundamental movement skills with our kids at home, just by tweaking the things children do every day anyway.

There’s no need to announce that it’s time to work on skills. By making it fun for kids, they won’t even realize that they are practicing movement skills. They’ll just enjoy the activities.

The added bonus is you might end up getting some more help around the house!


  1. Hop to it. After breakfast, hop or skip to the bathroom to brush their teeth. If one-foot hopping, don’t forget to switch legs.
  2. Catch a snack. Instead of putting snacks directly into their backpacks, throw them instead! This works well with oranges, apples, and boxes of raisins.
  3. Sock toss. While the kids put away their laundry, have them toss a rolled up sock into the air in front of them and then catch it with their non-dominant hand. When this becomes easy, get them to do it while moving around.
  4. Step on the crack. During the morning walk to school, develop balance by walking along cracks in the sidewalk as if they were a tightrope.
  5. Be a stork. At the grocery store (or anywhere else you’re waiting in line), balance on one foot. Don’t forget to change feet!
  6. Kick it. On the way home from school, kick a rock along the sidewalk. The purpose is to keep the same rock in play and not to kick it too hard or too far.
  7. Stair jump. If your kids are old enough to do this safely, have them try walking backwards down the stairs or jumping up the stairs with both feet.
  8. Do the can-can. While the kids are helping put away groceries, challenge them to balance cans on the palms of their hands.
  9. Backwards brush. Before bed kids can brush their teeth with their non-dominant hand (but make sure they go back over them with their dominant hand to avoid an angry dentist).
  10. Laundry shoot. Throw dirty clothes into the laundry basket by shooting them in from a couple of feet away. As their accuracy improves, increase the distance.

Even choosing just one of these a day will help your kids develop skills like balance, throwing, catching, jumping, and kicking.


Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work

Weight loss happens to be one of the most popular goals that people set. Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist and science writer, who takes the complexities of neuroscience research and whips them into fun reads that give people a better understanding of their minds and behavior. In this 12 minute video she shares some of the research that helps to explain why diets don’t work.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The set point for the weight that your body likes to be at is actually a range of 10-15 pounds
  • If you lose 10% of your body weight your metabolism will slow down 250-400 calories per day
  • You can take control of your health by taking control of your lifestyle, even if you can’t lose weight
  • The typical outcome of dieting is that you’ll gain more weight in the long run
  • A lot of weight gain boils down to eating when you’re not hungry
  • If diets actually worked, we would all be thin right now
  • At its worst, dieting causes collateral damage (weight obsession, eating disorders etc.)
  • At its best, dieting is a waste of time and energy

So, what’s the solution?


  • Sit down for regular meals, without any distractions
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full

Instead of trying yet another diet this year, why not try mindful eating? And definitely watch this 12 minute video, it’s worth it.


Families – Get Fit and Healthy for FREE!

The City of Abbotsford has been chosen to offer the MEND (mind, exercise, nutrition, do-it) program which is funded through the Ministry of Health. This 10 week program is a fun, free program for families with 7-13 year olds who are above a healthy weight. The program facilitates safe, effective and lasting lifestyle changes by improving children’s physical activity levels, nutrition and self-esteem.


Program starts January 7, 2014. Space is limited to 15 families.
Call or email now to secure your spot. or 604-859-3134 local 5297

MEND Handbill - FINAL


The Dreaded Question – What’s for Dinner?

This information comes from Healthy Families BC.

At the end of a long day when you are harried, hurried and your family is hungry, that’s not a question you want to hear – especially if you’re asking yourself the same thing! Eating out or ordering in is an option for some busy days, but for families watching their budget there’s a better strategy to regularly put healthy, quick meals on the table.

Our three-step strategy – Get Organized, Plan Ahead, and Make a List – is designed to put you in the driver’s seat so that you have everything you need on hand to take the chore out of meal preparation.

Here is one of the free resources on the site for planning ahead, the meal planner tool. A really simple way to plan out what meals you want to cook. Click here to download your own copy and click here to view the other tools and resources that are available.




If You Don’t Design Your Life Someone Else Will For You

A while ago I watched a fantastic video on TED. Nigel Marsh, who has written extensively over the past seven years about work-life balance shares four observations from his work and experience. Here are some of the highlights of his talk:

1. Certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged in a day to day basis with a young family – he talks about how there are so many people out there who are working long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Is this you? Are you currently in a job that just simply isn’t compatible with having balance in your personal life? If you are, chances are that you have tried time and time again to create more time with your family only to fall short. Take an honest look at your job – is it really possible to have balance with it and  your life?

2. Governments and corporations aren’t going to solve this issue for us – Nigel says, “if you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you and you may just not like their idea of balance.”

Who is designing your life, you, or the people around you? You have the ability to design your life the way you want it. It will likely mean making difficult choices but at the end of the day if you get to live the life that you want isn’t that worth it?

3. We need to be realistic about the time frame we use when judging the balance in our life, we can’t do it all in one day – it is about finding a realistic time frame without putting your life on hold.

What time frame would be realistic for you? For me, I look at balance on a weekly time frame. During that week did I connect with friends, was I physically active, did I take time for personal reflection and growth? For me a week is long enough to judge the overall balance in my life. Some days are completely out of balance but when I look at the week as a whole that is how I judge my level of balance.

4. We need to approach balance in a balanced way. The small things matter, balance doesn’t have to be a drastic upheaval of your life.

I think that this is a point that is so easy to miss. We live in a society where everything has to be big, be dramatic. Because if it’s not big and dramatic how could it possibly have a major impact on my life? The jokes on us folks, it’s the small things that truly make the largest difference.

Take a moment to think about Nigel’s closing statement - we need to change society’s definition of success from the idea that a person who dies with the most money wins to a more balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.

My challenge to you – find a quiet place, grab a pen and piece of paper and write down what your life, well lived, looks like. Then do one small thing this week that will move you closer to that vision of success.

To watch the full 10 minute video click here.


Got a meeting? Take a walk

This post comes from Obesity Panecea.

I came across the below video this past week, and thought it would be worth sharing here on the blog.  In it, Nilofer Merchant explains how she has converted all of her meetings to walking meetings, as one way to reduce her sedentary behaviour and increase her level of physical activity…walking meetings can be a very easy way to improve the healthiness of a sedentary work environment.


On this note, I’d like to give a shout out to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, which actually includes a number of walking routes in its Outlook meeting calendar.  This allows staff to “book” outdoor walking routes for meetings, rather than using a conference room.  If you’re into something a bit more vigorous, physical activity researcher Angelo Tremblay is well known for having running meetings with his students.  The point is that active meetings are much easier than you’d think, and as Nilofer explains in a recent Six Pixels of Separation podcast, there are other benefits to such meetings than just increased physical activity (they are more informal, they can help people think a bit by getting them out of their stuffy cubical, etc).

I’ve done a number of waking meetings in the past few years, and they work exceptionally well for small groups of 2-4 people.  Beyond that it gets hard for everyone to hear each other (during one large group meeting, a colleague actually got her hair caught on a tree while distracted by the conversation… that sort of thing is easier to avoid with a smaller group). You might also be surprised at how easy it is to get by without typing notes as you go, as Nilofer explains in the above podcast.

I know that walking meetings aren’t ideal for all workplaces.  But if you spend a lot of time sitting at work, this is one simple way to increase your activity and reduce your sedentary time.


The Most Powerful Drug – August 28 Event

On August 28  one of the world’s leading experts on physical activity and health. Dr. Steven Blair will be doing a public presentation at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium (MCA) from 7-8:30pm. The presentation will include the latest research around what the real impact of physical activity is on our health and he will end the session with time for the public to ask questions.

Not sure who Steven Blair is? Here are a few links that you can visit to get a better sense of what he is all about:

Video (9 minutes) - 23.5 hours

This YouTube sensation (more than 3.5 million views)  which includes Dr. Blairs research


Article – Fit vs. Fat, are they mutually exclusive? A case study.

Audio (4 minutes) – Is sitting the new smoking?

This session will also highlight how Healthy Abbotsford is helping promote physical activity and will launch Abbotsford’s  “Exercise is Medicine” initiative.

There will also be an information booth set-up from 5:30-9pm outside of MCA where you can learn more about what is available here in Abbotsford.

EIM - Public Presentation


5 Common Nutrition Myths

This information comes from the Canadian Diabetes Association.

1. MYTH: Avoid carbs if you want to lose weight

2. MYTH: Sea salt is natural, so it’s better for you than table salt

3. MYTH: Cooking meals at home takes way too much time

4. MYTH: Healthy food costs too much

5. MYTH: If you eat too much sugar, you’ll get diabetes

To read more about each myth click here to read the entire article.

healthy food and a free weight


Six Ways to Have a Happier, Healthier Summer

This article comes from Attune Foods and has six really easy things that you can do this summer.

School is out! And that means it’s time for the summer activities and foods that we’ve been looking forward to for months. I don’t believe for a moment that you need to starve yourself to fit into your bathing suit.  Instead, I like to focus on what I can have during the summer. And guess what? It’s pretty much everything. That is, if you plan ahead just a little bit and focus on the healthier options whenever possible.  Here are a few ways in which I do that.

1. Enjoy Summer Fruit

Summer is by far my favorite produce season. By February, I’m dreaming of perfect peaches from our farmer’s market. Of course, there are also plums. Watermelon. Strawberries. Cherries. Figs. Nectarines… So instead of reaching for a candy bar or other sugary, processed food when you want a summer treat, why not grab one of those?  (Okay, maybe not an entire watermelon, but you get the idea.)

2. Grill with Care

The arrival of summer also means the start of BBQ season! I’m a huge fan of grilling – it’s easy and delicious (two of my favorite things).  Of course, what you choose to put on the grill makes all the difference. Most veggies are fantastic on the grill – and pretty hard to mess up (unless you let them slip through the grates!).  Just marinate them for about 30 minutes in a little olive oil, maybe some balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and you’re all set (try that with Portobellos – and sprinkle a little blue cheese on top when they’re nearly done. Heaven!). When grilling meat, higher-quality meats (pastured, sustainably raised) will taste better and be better for you, and you won’t need to weigh that burger down with tons of cheese and condiments.

Also, try to avoid hanging out near the bowl of potato chips. You’ll end up mindlessly snacking on them and eat far more than out would otherwise. Position yourself near the baby carrots instead, and you’ll still get that satisfying crunch!

3. A Day at the Beach

Going to the beach to soak up some rays?*  Staying hydrated is important, so instead of bringing along soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages, bring along a water cooler filled with fruit- or vegetable-infused iced water.  It’s delicious and refreshing, and you’ll never miss that bottle of sugary Gatorade. It’s a whole lot cheaper, too.

Some ideas: Cucumber slices. Strawberry slices. Lemon and lime wedges. Watermelon cubes. Maybe toss in a few mint or basil leaves as well!

* Don’t forget your sunscreen, of course. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Sunscreen Guide to help you find a good one.

Click here to read tip #4, 5 and 6.