Alligga Flaxseed Oil Joy TV Commercial

alligga interview

Dearest FoodMysteries Readers,

Thank you for all your continued support!

My first commercial with BG Health Group featuring Alligga Flaxseed Oil will be on Joy TV this week!

Ever wonder what health benefits omega 3s have to offer? Find out by tuning in simple-smile Alligga Flaxseed Oil Joy TV Commercial 

Air Date



Time Period

Sched Time


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:18:25 AM


          Family Feud Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

7:26:35 PM


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:18:37 AM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:45:36 PM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

9:46:38 PM


          Unscripted Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

8:28:15 AM


          Upstairs Downstairs Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:56:30 PM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:58:44 PM


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:46:46 AM


          The Zoomer Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

9:41:39 PM

Here are the Channels across Canada:

Bell Satellite Ch. 656

Rogers – Ch. 173 • Toronto BC/Regional

National Bell Satellite Ch. 656 

Telus – Ch. 123 • Vancouver, Lower Mainland • Victoria • Whistler • Kamloops • Kelowna • Vernon • Prince George

Shaw – Ch. 10 & 7 • Vancouver -10 • Victoria – 7

Novus – Ch. 10 • Vancouver Delta Cable • North & South Delta

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Healthy Grocery List – Shopping Smarts

grocery shopping

Grocery shopping can be such a chore after a busy day running errands and doing work. It’s no wonder that we’re tempted to buy convenience foods and quick-prep food items when we’re at the grocery store – our minds are trying to maximize our time so we spend less time in the kitchen and more time on other things.

Healthy grocery shopping requires us to plan ahead and avoid the common trap of buying processed foods and treats that we can go without (both for our health and our wallets!). Don’t get stuck making bad choices when shopping for food. Follow these simple and easy tips to make every trip to the grocery store a health-provoking one.

Tip #1 – Have some food before you go shopping

Hunger can cloud our judgment and make us buy more foods that are higher in salt, sugar, and fat. Our brains are wired such that we need the nutrients from food to keep us thinking clearly. Make sure you eat a meal or snack and drink fluids so you’re in a neutral state of mind when you go shopping. Some healthy snacks include: peanut butter on Triscuits, small slice of cheese with fresh pear, handful of nuts or a small apple.

Tip #2 – Write a “eating healthy grocery list” and stick to it

Try keeping a magnetic notepad on your fridge door. Once you run out of something such as toilet paper, milk, or frozen blueberries, add it to the list and don’t add any extras. By sticking to your list of essentials, you won’t be tempted to buy extra foods like ice-cream, cookies, etc. unless it’s a special occasion. This tip will also help you save some money in the long run.

After a while, you’ll be able to write out a healthy grocery list template based so healthy grocery shopping is made easy no matter who goes to pick up the groceries.

Tip #3 – Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the aisles if possible

Every major grocery store is set up in a similar fashion. Fresh, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruit, breads, milk and dairy products, and meat and alternatives are stocked along the periphery of the store. The aisles in the center of the store are where you’ll find processed items. Some processed items aren’t bad at all, such as no or low sodium canned goods, plain frozen vegetables and fruit, high fiber low sugar breakfast cereals, and spices. However, a lot of processed foods such as chips, salsa, pop, candy are much less healthy for you. By first filling your grocery cart with fresh foods from the perimeter, you’ll think twice about whether you really need to venture the aisles and battle temptation.

Finally, many grocery stores such as Save-On-Foods and Choices Markets, both from British Columbia, offer free nutrition tours where a registered dietitian takes individuals and groups along a store to offer healthy eating and shopping tips. The tours can be catered to the needs of the group as well. So whether you’re looking for help in developing a “healthy grocery list for college students” that are about to move out or a “healthy grocery list for men” in your home that were never taught formally how to buy groceries (and quite honestly, could use a tip or two), you’re in good hands! I have had the privilege of being an attendee it’s always a fantastic experience. I can see how beneficial it would be for small families needing tips for writing a “healthy grocery list on a budget” or groups of elementary or high school students as they learn about healthy eating. Take advantage of the opportunity if your neighborhood store offers this service!

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Green Smoothie Recipes

green smoothie

Green smoothies are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet to help you reach your recommended number of servings according to Canada’s Food Guide. Vegetables and fruit are low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.  Green smoothie recipes using dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale are important sources of folate, a key nutrient responsible for cell division in developing babies.

Green Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

Green smoothie recipes are typically low in fat and calories depending on the ingredients. In contrast to high fat breakfasts such as eggs and bacon with buttered toast or pancakes, you’ll enjoy a fresher start to your day and some weight loss over time as you shave off calories every morning by making a healthy green shake versus eating out for breakfast. I don’t like using the term green smoothie diet and much prefer asking you to take the green smoothie challenge for the next 2 weeks to see how you feel and track whether you notice a difference on the scale as well.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to not weigh yourself daily and instead limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in. Our body weight fluctuates about 2 to 3 pounds a day depending on fluid shifts, and timing (before or after a meal or a bowel movement). Choose one day out of the week for your weigh-in. It’s best if you can weigh yourself in the morning after your first bathroom visit but before you eat or drink anything. Repeat on a weekly basis and record the number to track your trends.

Raw Green Smoothie Recipes

Try blending together the following combinations for a simple breakfast or snack:

Chocolate Jungle Monkey Shake

  • 2 dark kale leaves (green, purple, or black work just as well)
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tbsp plain cacao powder
  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk are okay)
  • (optional) 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar for added sweetness

Forest Strawberry & Banana Shake

  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • (optional) maple syrup for sweetness
  • Blend with water or milk to desired thickness.

Message for the Parents

For parents of young children, it’s important to remember that children model after what their caretakers eat. Even though we’re bombarded with messages on television and from peers and elders of what ‘normal food’ or kid-friendly foods are, ultimately you’ve got the power (and the responsibility) to encourage your kids to eat well. Why go the hard route of making separate foods for the adults and the kids? Use the same green smoothie recipes for kids! Consistently offering children the same foods gives them more opportunity to like it. Foster a commitment in your household to enjoy foods that are good for health, and not the mention, very tasty as well.

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How Much Sodium Per Day is Healthy?

salt in foods

Deep down, I think we all know that having less salt in our diet is good for us. Having fewer processed foods, restaurant meals, and cooking with less salt all contribute toward better heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and reduces fluid accumulation for those with congestive heart failure or ascites (abnormal fluid accumulation in the body). So really, “how much sodium per day should I have?” is a loaded question. Let’s break it down into a bunch of smaller questions for simplicity and comprehension’s sake.

How much sodium per day with high blood pressure?

Guidelines are set depending on age range. For adults aged 14 and older, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends we set a target of 2,300 mg or less per day, which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep in mind that many foods that do not taste salty may contain (sometimes a lot of) salt as well.

Food Serving Size Sodium mg
Vegetables and Fruit Fresh and most frozen vegetables contain very little sodium.
Peppers (jalapeno, hot chilli), canned/bottled 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 720-843
Tomato sauce (plain or with vegetables), canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 585-721
Sauerkraut, canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 496
Pickles (sour, dill) 1 small 324-447
Vegetables, all varieties, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 209-439
Tomato juice and vegetable cocktail 125 mL (1/2 cup) 345
Stewed tomatoes, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 298
Sun-dried tomatoes 7 tomatoes 287
Olives, canned 4 olives 248
Pizza sauce 125 mL (1/2 cup) 246
Grain Products Grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, oats and wheat are low in sodium.
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 370
Breakfast cereal, dry, all varieties 30 g 242-332
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 216-240
Other Grain Products    
Crackers, all varieties, salted 30 g 192-335
Bread roll (rye, french) 1 roll (35 g) 231-321
Bread, all types 1 slice (35 g) 228-238
Muffin (carrot, blueberry, chocolate chip) 1 small (66 g) 203-232
Soda crackers, unsalted 10 (30 g) 230
Bagel, all varieties ½ bagel (45 g) 199-226
Milk and Alternatives
Buttermilk 250 mL (1 cup) 223-272
Cottage cheese (1%, 2%) 250 mL (1 cup) 788-970
Blue 50 g (1 ½ oz) 698-904
Processed cheese slices (cheddar, Swiss) 50 g (1 ½ oz) 685-794
Feta 50 g (1 ½ oz) 558
Cheese spread 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 491-503
Cheddar, colby, edam, gouda, mozzarella, provolone, camembert 50 g (1 ½ oz) 208-482
Cottage cheese, fat free 250 mL (1 cup) 287
Meat and Alternatives Fresh and unprocessed frozen meat, poultry and fish contain very little sodium. Bagged dried peas, beans and lentils contain little sodium
Bacon, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1555-1920
Bacon (back bacon/peameal, English style bacon), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 982-1160
Ham, cured, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 621-1125
Beef jerky 75 g (2 ½ oz) 976
Corned beef, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 754
Ham, reduced sodium, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 727

Source: Dietitians of Canada

How much sodium per day to lose weight?

To be clear, cutting down on salt won’t directly lead to weight loss. However, many processed foods and restaurant dishes have a lot of salt, as well as calories from fat. By actively cutting down salt through a reduction of processed foods and cutting down on restaurant meals (or by making better choices), there is also a dramatic reduction in calories and fat intake. To reiterate, the answer to “How much sodium per day for weight loss,” it is the reduction in total calories that causes weight loss, not actually the reduction in salt.

How much sodium per day is too much?

According to Health Canada, healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium each day. People aged 14 and over should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day. This is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). A sodium intake above 2300 mg a day is likely to present a health risk. *See table below for exact figures.

How much sodium per day is healthy for kids and infants?

According to Health Canada, the amount of sodium we need each day is based on our life-stage.

Healthy… should aim for the Adequate Intake (AI) of Sodium without going over the Upper Limit (UL) of
Infants 0-6 months 120 mg/day No data
Infants 7-12 months 370 mg/day No data
Children 1-3 years 1000 mg/day 1500 mg/day
Children 4-8 years 1200 mg/day 1900 mg/day
Teens 9-13 years 1500 mg/day 2200 mg/day
Adults 14-50 years 1500 mg/day 2300 mg/day
Older adults 51-70 years 1300 mg/day
Older adults over 70 years 1200 mg/day
Pregnancy 1500 mg/day


Adequate Intake (AI) is the recommended average daily nutrient intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people who are assumed to be maintaining an adequate nutritional state. The AI is expected to meet or exceed the needs of most individuals in a specific life-stage and gender group.

Upper Limit (UL) is also known as Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The UL is the highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given-life-stage and gender group. The UL is NOT a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

Health Check Symbol – What Does it Mean?

The Health Check symbol is a not-for-profit, voluntary program created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help Canadians eat healthier at restaurants and shop smarter by making heart healthy choices. Specifically, the Health Check symbol indicates the following sodium standards have been met.

Food Product Current Health Check criteria New criteria effective Nov. 2010
Breads 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
Cereals 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Vegetables 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Canned tomato and vegetable juices and blends 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Milk 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Yogurt 480 mg or less 140 mg or less
Cheese and cheese products 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Meats (including packaged deli meats, ground meat, canned meat, meatballs, sausages, burgers) 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
480 mg or less
480 mg or less
140 mg or less
240 mg or less
Canned soups 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Dinner Entrees or mixed dishes 720 mg or less 720 mg or less

Fun and Easy Recipes for Kids

cooking with kids

Kids can be the harshest critic. Their brute honesty can cut like a sharp knife. I pity the green peas that fall to the ground from complete rejection. In a moment’s desperation, don’t you sometimes cry out, “Help me! My kid is the pickiest eater in the universe! What should I do???”

The answer may surprise you. Although kids can be extremely harsh judges and getting them to eat can feel like prying open the doors of a condemned building, they too, can be won over. “But how?” you may ask. Well…get them involved in the cooking process. Let them be the chef of the kitchen and create masterpieces. When kids learn how to cook and are part of the creative process, they develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their creations. And perhaps more subtly, the seed of appreciation for the usual chefs (i.e. mom and dad) is sown. You, as the ‘usual chef’ may never reap the benefits of words of appreciation until YEARS LATER (I don’t want to give false hopes.) but granted, if you start using easy recipes for kids now, you may just save yourself a few tears down the road.

The key to success when it comes to cooking with kids is simple – easy recipes. You’re not aiming to create the next best thing since sliced bread here. Go for simple and as your child ages, upgrade from recipes for toddlers to older kid friendly recipes.

A good place to start would be snack recipes for kids such as the following. There is very minimal work to be done, but there is some cutting involved. If your child is not at a stage where they can safely manage even with adult supervision, give them the task of measuring and combining ingredients instead. Also, you can encourage them to place the assembled snacks into their own special container and say it’s their special helper task.

Simple Snack Ideas for Kids

  • Homemade granola bars or oatmeal cookies, milk
  • Homemade trail mix: dry whole grain cereal (e.g. o’s or squares), dried fruit (e.g. raisins, cranberries), pretzels, seeds
  • Raw vegetables with hummus or black bean dip
  • Whole grain crackers topped with cheddar cheese and slices of pear
  • Apples slices spread lightly with peanut butter
  • Yogurt with cut up fruit for dipping
  • Chopped hard-boiled egg stuffed in mini pitas with 100% vegetable juice
  • Fresh or canned fruits (unsweetened), small whole grain muffin

These healthy recipes for kids each have two food groups, which make it a balanced snack between meals. Snacks are very important for growing kids to provide them with the nutrition and the calories they need to support rapid growth. I know it’s much more convenient to buy packaged kid snacks rather than teaching a child how to make their own food, but the long term result is a healthier child that is also learning life skills at an early age. And that…is priceless.

Dessert Recipe for Kids

Here’s a lovely recipe created by a kid, for kids! Be warned, it’s not the healthiest recipe, but definitely a fun and messy one. Consider hosting a kids party and making this together so it’s a special treat, rather than a staple after-dinner dessert.

Dirt Cup Dessert

1 package Oreo Cookies
2 boxes instant chocolate pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 container whipped topping
Gummi Worms for garnish

Place Oreos in a food processor and blend into crumbles. You can use a rolling pin crush them if you don’t have a food processor. In a large bowl, combine cold milk and pudding mix. Stir until well blended. Add whipped topping to the pudding and stir until well blended. In an individual sized glass or clear plastic cup, place a thick layer of cookie crumbles on bottom. Then add a layer of pudding mixture and top with another layer of crumbles. Garnish with Gummi Worms and enjoy!

Dinner Recipes for Kids

Cooking with kids during dinner can be a bit more challenging, especially if they are young. What I would suggest is to give them the task of assembling a side dish that doesn’t involve a stove. Some ideas include:

  • Pre-cut colorful vegetables and have your little helper assemble everyone’s salad bowl in a unique way. Give them a challenge they can manage like every bowl must have at least 3 different colors
  • Ask them to make garnishes using cookie cutters. Give your child thinly sliced fruits or veggies with regular cookie cutters that are different shapes. Get them to garnish everyone’s dinner plate with an edible garnish.
  • Open up a can of pineapple chunks and mini wieners. Hand these and some toothpicks and have your little helper make simple appetizers for dinner or for a birthday party!



Best Prenatal Multivitamin – What to Look For

prenatal multivitamin

I think I’ve mentioned before that looking at the supplement section of a pharmacy or grocery store overwhelms me. There are SHELVES AND SHELVES of multivitamins, isolated vitamins and minerals, combinations, countless brands, not to mention the ever growing protein powder and meal replacement drinks.

When it comes to pregnancy, things to be kept simple. For heaven’s sake, there’s enough going on in a new mom’s life than to spend a lot of time worrying about whether she’s making a good choice for her prenatal vitamin. For new moms especially, there’s so much information out in cyberspace these days that it can paralyze any level headed woman’s decision making capacity. However, it’s also the BEST time to be a new mom because companies that make prenatal vitamins now have all their nutrition information online, making it easier to do research before you hit the stores.

What To Look For In a Prenatal Multivitamin

As per the Canadian Dietary Reference Intake Table from Health Canada:

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) – The average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. The RDA is the goal for usual intake by an individual.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) – The highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given life-stage and gender group. The UL is not a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

When choosing a prenatal multivitamin, make sure that it meets your pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, or breastfeeding RDA without going over the UL. The following figures are based on females between the ages of 19 to 50 years old.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 400 mcg 1000 mcg Daily multivitamins usually contain 400 mcg.
During Pregnancy 600 mcg 1000 mcg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 1000 mcg.
Breastfeeding 500 mcg 1000 mcg Upper limit for folate applies to amount taken via supplements and fortified foods only, not folate found naturally in foods. Learn more.

Vitamin D

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most adult multivitamins contain 400 to 800 IU.
During Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most prenatal multivitamins contain 400 IU
Breastfeeding 600 IU 4000 IU There’s about 100 IU of Vitamin D in 1 cup of cow’s milk.


Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 175 to 400 mg.
During Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 250 mg.
Breastfeeding 1000 mg 2500 mg There’s about 300 mg of Calcium in 1 cup of cow’s milk.


Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy  18 mg  45 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 4-10 mg.
During Pregnancy  27 mg  45 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 27 mg.
Breastfeeding  9 mg  45mg Iron may cause constipation and gas. Ask your doctor about alternatives.
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Stevia Side Effects – How Safe is Stevia for Your Pregnancy?

stevia rebaudiana flowers

Artificial sugar sweeteners have been around for a long time. Until recently, sucralose (brand name: Splenda) dominated (and arguably still dominates) the sugar sweetener market. However, consumers are seeking more ‘natural’ sweeteners, such as stevia. Stevia rebaudiana (official name of the stevia plant) is native to South America and has been used for centuries to make medicine and flavor foods. Stevia is currently used in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Canada approved the use of stevia as a table top sweetener and as a food additive in November, 2012. This means stevia may be used as a sweetener at coffee and tea shops and stevia recipes replacing sugar are safe as well. Just keep in mind that two-thirds of a teaspoon of stevia is equal to two teaspoons of table sugar in terms of sweetness.


Stevia Side Effects

The likelihood of stevia rebaudiana side effects is very low. However, some people may experience bloating, nausea, dizziness, muscle pain and numbness.


For pregnant women, Health Canada states that:

Scientists in Health Canada’s Food Directorate identified no toxicological concerns with the use of steviol glycosides and consider it safe for consumption in foods by the general population, including pregnant women and children, as well as individuals with diabetes, at dose levels not greater than 4 mg per kilogram body weight per day, expressed as steviol equivalents.”


However, given that Canada only recently approved stevia, if you are concerned that there has not been sufficient time or research related to stevia consumption during pregnancy or lactation, then exercise caution and avoid use.


SweetLeaf ® Sweetener is a brand name product that contains only stevia. This means that Sweetleaf stevia side effects should be minimal, if any, because unlike Truvia ®, it does not contain any sugar alcohols. Excessive consumption of sugar alcohols has been known to create unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. Thus, if you’ve heard of xylitol side effects or sorbitol side effects including gas and abdominal discomfort, it’s because some people are sensitive to sugar alcohols.


It’s worthwhile to mention that there are also reports of Splenda side effects including the same uncomfortable symptoms above as well as headaches and dizziness. Fortunately, these effects only occur in some people, but this means there will always be conflicting opinions as to what it good for your health and what isn’t. My best advice would be to figure out what you’re comfortable trying, experiment, then observe whether you experience any discomfort. You know your body the best so let that be your guide.

What About Other Sweeteners or Sugar Substitutes

According to HealthLinkBC

Health Canada has approved: aspartameacesulfame potassiumneotame,sucralose and thaumatin to use as food ingredients or sweeteners. They are safe for use, in moderation, during pregnancy. Be sure that foods made with these sweeteners do not replace more nutritious foods or drinks. Some natural health products contain Stevia, which is considered safe to use in moderation during pregnancy. Stevia currently is not approved as a sweetener or as food ingredient. Saccharin and cyclamates are not recommended during pregnancy.

Sweetener (Sugar Substitute) Safe During Pregnancy?
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) YES – in moderation
Saccharin (Hermesetas) NO
Cyclamate (Sweet’N Low) NO
Sucralose (Splenda) YES – in moderation
Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett) YES – in moderation



How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy?

pregnancy weight gain

Let’s be honest. Weight gain is not the most popular topic for discussion. Most people (not just women!) are usually complaining about their weight rather than beaming with joy that they’ve gained a few pounds. However, when it comes to having a healthy pregnancy, gaining weight is essential to helping your baby grow and develop. Weight gain during pregnancy also prepares you for breastfeeding.

How Much Weight Should I Gain?

Good question. The amount of weight you should gain depends on your body weight before you became pregnant, as well as your height. Your pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in meters) squared.

Unit Conversions:

  • 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
  • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

Example) A female who is 5 foot 7 inches tall and 120 pounds before her pregnancy.

  • 5 foot 7 inches = 67 inches, multiplied by 2.54 equals to 170 cm or 1.7 m
  • 1.7 meters squared (i.e. 1.7 times 1.7) equals 2.89 meters squared
  • 120 pounds divided by 2.2 equals to 54.5 kg
  • BMI = 54.5 kg divided by 2.89 meters squared = 18.9

Pre-Pregnancy BMI Categories

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)
  • Healthy Weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI 25.0 to 29.9)
  • Obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30)

Recommended Total Weight Gain During Pregnancy

The following figures are based on your pre-pregnancy BMI category.

  • Underweight – 12.5 to 18 kg (28 to 40 pounds)
  • Healthy Weight – 11.5 to 16 kg (25 to 35 pounds)
  • Overweight – 7 to 11.5 kg (15 to 25 pounds)
  • Obese – 5.0 to 9.0 kg (11 to 20 pounds)

Keep in mind that if you’ve lost any weight during your pregnancy, you need to “catch up” on your weight gain so you gain the suggested amount for your associated category. For example, if your pre-pregnancy weight is 120 pounds and that placed you in the Healthy Weight category, then you must gain 25-35 pounds total. Your final weight at time of delivery should then be 145 to 150 pounds (120 pounds + 25 to 35 pounds). If you lost weight during your pregnancy, your goal weight is still 145 to 150 pounds by the time you deliver, which hopefully is at 40 weeks for a full term baby.

Weekly Weight Gain After First 12 Weeks

  • Underweight – 0.5 kg (1.1 pounds)
  • Healthy Weight – 0.4 kg (0.88 pounds)
  • Overweight – 0.3 kg (0.66 pounds)
  • Obese -0.2 kg (0.44 pounds)

During the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of baby’s life, weight gain is generally only about 0.5 to 2.0 kg (1.1 to 4.4 pounds) total. This amount is already included in the recommended total weight gain values listed above.

Mommy To Be Example

  • Angel’s pre-pregnancy height is 170 cm and 120 pounds.
  • She calculated her pre-pregnancy BMI to be 18.9, which means she falls into the Healthy Weight category.
  • Her recommended weight gain is 11.5 to 16 kg (25 to 35 pounds).
  • During her first trimester, she gained 1 kg (0.45 pounds).
  • Her weekly weight gain after her first trimester was 0.4 kg (0.88 pounds).
  • Angel’s total weight gain at 40 weeks is 12.2 kg (26.8 pounds).

Where Does All the Weight Go?

  • Baby – about 27%
  • Extra blood, fluids and protein – about 27%
  • Breasts and energy stores – about 23%
  • Uterus – about 7.7%
  • Placenta – about 7.7%
  • Amniotic fluid – about 7.7%

In the example with Angel above, her total weight gain of 12.2 kg (26.8 pounds) is divided into:

  • Baby – about 27% (3.3 kg or 7 pounds)
  • Extra blood, fluids and protein – about 27% (3.3 kg or 7 pounds)
  • Breasts and energy stores – about 23% (2.8 kg or 6 pounds)
  • Uterus – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)
  • Placenta – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)
  • Amniotic fluid – about 7.7% (0.9 kg or 2 pounds)

How Do I Gain Enough Weight?

Gaining a healthy amount of weight helps your baby have a healthy start in life and can also improve your long term health. Healthy weight gain also reduces your risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. To ensure you gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy, you don’t need to eat a lot more enough. It’s a common misconception that pregnant women have a free pass to eating whatever they want as well as have large portions since they’re “eating for two.” On the contrary, one extra snack per day (such as a apple or pear with a small piece of cheese about 1.5 ounces or 50 grams) is often enough to promote healthy weight gain.


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Folate and Folic Acid Before, During, and After Pregnancy


What is Folate or Folic Acid?

Folate and folic acid are (almost) the same thing. Folate is a B vitamin (B9) found naturally in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) form of folate that you find in fortified foods and vitamin supplements. In Canada, folic acid is added to white flour, enriched pasta and enriched cornmeal. Other foods that may contain added folic acid include breads, buns, cookies, crackers, pasta, and ready-to-eat cereals. Folate and folic acid share the same function in the body, so you can get your daily requirement either naturally or via fortified foods and supplements without needing to worry that one is superior to the other.

Why Should Women Take Folate and Folic Acid Before, During and After Pregnancy?

Folate and folic acid is used by the body to make healthy blood cells to cell to help you and your baby grow. It is an extremely important B vitamin during the first four weeks of pregnancy to ensure that the baby’s spine, brain, and skull develop normally. Inadequate intake of folate and folic acid leads to an increased risk of the baby developing neural tube defects (NTDs), which in severe cases can lead to stillbirth or early infant death postpartum.

The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of BC reports that 1 in every 750 children born each year in Canada are born with a NTD. The most common type of NTD is spina bifida, a condition where the baby is born with paralysis in one or more of their muscles (in the legs, bladder, and/or bowel). Babies born with spin bifida will require medical care their entire lives as the condition is irreversible.

The reason why Health Canada recommends that all women who can become pregnant  take daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms (may also be written as “mcg” or with the symbol μg or as 0.4 mg) of folic acid in it is because some women may not realize they are pregnant until after they’ve missed their period for one to two weeks. Since NTDs occur in the third and fourth week after conception, it’s highly possible that a pregnant woman (without knowing they were pregnant) did not take enough folate in their diet to meet the increased demands of their developing baby and as such, increased their risk of NTDs. Therefore, despite widespread folic acid fortification in common food products in Canada, it is still suggested that women of childbearing age (14 to 50 years old) take 400 mcg of folic acid per day on top of any folate they’re getting through food.

Some women are at a higher risk of having a baby with a NTD. This applies to women who:

  • have a family member with a NTD
  • have a medical history of diabetes, obesity or epilepsy
  • have already had a baby with a NTD or a pregnancy affected by a NTD

Women who fall under this category of increased risk should talk to their doctor or midwife to discuss whether a higher dosage of folic acid supplementation is necessary.

How Much Folate Does a Woman Need?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Folate (Daily)
All women
(Age 14 to 50)
400 mcg
Pregnant women 600 mcg
Breastfeeding women 500 mcg


Most prenatal multivitamins contain 1000 mcg, which is the upper limit for folic acid supplementation (more details below). Most daily multivitamins contain 400 micrograms (also written as mcg or μg), which is equal to 0.4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid. This is sufficient for women before pregnancy without additional folate taken from the diet. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, continue taking  a multivitamin with 400 mcg folic acid and increase the dosage if you’re not getting enough folate through your diet to meet the recommended amounts of 600 mcg and 500 mcg respectively.

Do not exceed the daily limit of folic acid of 1000 mcg unless you’ve been advised by a physician to do so. Over-supplementation of folic acid can lead to other health problems. The upper limit of 1000 mcg applies only to supplements and folate fortified foods. According to HealthLinkBC, the amount of folate in enriched foods is given as a percentage of the daily value (DV) and the standard used is 220 mcg. For example, if a serving of cereal has 15% of the daily value, it has 33 mcg of folic acid (0.15 x 220 mcg = 33 mcg). It’s estimated that 100-200 mcg of folic acid is taken daily from fortified foods.

Naturally occurring folate does not have a upper limit as it has not been shown to have adverse effects.

Those who have folate deficiency from malabsorptive conditions such as Celiac Disease or inadequate intake of folate (such as in chronic alcoholism) should speak with a physician about how much folic acid supplementation is appropriate. According to Merck Manual, folate deficiency is usually treated with supplemental 400-1000 mcg of folate daily.

When choosing a multivitamin, choose one that also has vitamin B12, which works with folate to make DNA.

Good Sources of Folate in Foods

Good sources of folate include:

  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils
  • edamame (green soybeans)
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • romaine lettuce
  • beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • green peas
  • gai-lan (sometimes called Chinese kale)
  • bok choy
  • oranges
  • orange juice
  • wheat germ
  • sunflower seeds
  • yeast extract (such as marmite)
  • peanuts
  • liver (do not eat more than 75 grams of liver per week because it is very high in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your developing baby and cause birth defects and/or liver toxicity.)
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Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Need More of This Nutrient

omega 3

Many people have heard about the heart healthy effects of omega-3 fats. but not everyone knows that they also play an important role in a baby’s brain and eye development. For this reason, it is suggested that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume more omega-3 fats than those who are not pregnant or lactating.

There are three kinds of omega-3 fats: ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is found in plant foods including vegetable oils (such as flaxseed oil and canola oil), walnuts, flaxseeds, and soy products. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but the conversion rate is not very high. This is why the recommended intake level of ALA is much higher than that of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood, and fish oils. Just two servings of fish per week (total 150 grams or 5 ounces) would provide 0.3-0.45 grams of EPA and DHA per day, which is the general recommendation given to adults. For those who don’t enjoy fish, however, make sure you get enough ALAs for your baby’s healthy brain and vision development.

Recommended Intake Levels of ALA Omega-3 Fats

  • Women 19 and older – 1.1 grams per day
  • Pregnant Women 19 and older – 1.4 grams per day
  • Breastfeeding Women 10 and older – 1.3 grams per day
  • There is no upper limit established for ALA. (i.e. there is no maximum dose limit that has been set)

Getting Enough Omega-3 Fats

As mentioned earlier, not everyone likes eating fish and seafood, so it’s helpful to know plant based omega-3 fats (ALA) are available in many foods, including:

  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds (Grind whole flaxseed or buy it ground so you absorb more of the omega-3 fats in flax. The seed as a whole is very hard to digest by the body and as a result, very little omega-3 fat is actually absorbed.)
  • Chia seeds (doubles as a great source of soluble fibre that helps alleviate constipation, especially if you’re taking iron supplements during your pregnancy)
  • Soy products
  • Vegetable oils (such as canola and flaxseed oil)
  • Omega-3 fortified foods: margarine, eggs, yogurt, juice, soy beverage

As with any nutrient that’s good for the  body, if you’re able to get it through food first, do so. Save supplements for when you absolutely cannot get it any other way. When nutrients, omega-3 fats included, are taken in it’s whole food form, it’s “packaged by nature” to contain other vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that may play a synergistic role in improving overall health than what an isolated supplement can offer. Food first, supplement second.

Alligga Flaxseed Cooking Oil

Here’s a quick and simple way to add more omega-3s (ALA) into your diet.


Omega-3 Fat Content of Common Foods

(Courtesy of Dietitians of Canada website)

Food Serving size ALA (g) EPA/DHA (g)
Vegetables and Fruit Not a good source of omega-3 fats.
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.29-0.34 0
Radish seeds, sprouted, raw 125 mL (½ cup) 0.42 0
Winter squash, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.18 0
Grain products Products made with flax, soybean or canola oil provide ALA. Some grain products are now enriched with EPA/DHA.  Check food labels for details.
Wheat germ cereal, toasted 30 g 0.24 0
Milk and Alternatives Some dairy products now provide omega-3 fat. Check food labels for details.
Milk, fortified with DHA * 250 mL (1 cup) 0 0.01
Omega-3 soy beverage with flax and algal* 250 mL (1 cup) 0.67 0.03
Omega-3 yogurt * 175 g (¾ cup) 0.46 0
Soy beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.19 0
 Meat and Alternatives
Egg Products
Eggs, cooked 2 eggs 0.06-0.28 0.07
Omega-3 eggs fortified with DHA* 2 eggs 0.50-0.54 0.16-0.27
Fish and Seafood
Anchovies, canned with oil 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.54
Arctic char, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08 0.68
Carp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.26 0.56
Caviar (black, red), granular 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.96
Clams, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.21
Cod, Atlantic, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.11
Cod, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04 0.79
Crab, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.36
Eel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.42 0.14
Halibut, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.06 0.35-0.88
Herring, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.11 1.6
Lobster, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.42
Mackerel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.08 0.90-1.39
Mackerel, salted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.12 3.43
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.59
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.13
Oysters, Eastern/Blue point, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.05 0.33-0.41
Oysters, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 1.04
Pollock, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.40
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08-0.11 1.48-1.61
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.22-0.28 1.08-1.38
Salmon, Chinook, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.08 1.31-1.47
Salmon, Coho, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.05 0.33-0.98
Salmon, pink/humpback, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.06 0.96-1.26
Salmon, sockeye/red, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.07 0.87-1.06
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17-0.37 0.74-1.05
Scallops, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.27
Shrimp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.24
Snapper, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.25
Sole or plaice, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.37
Tilapia, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.10
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.14 0.65-0.87
Tuna, light, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.21
Tuna, white, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 0.65
Whitefish, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17 1.20
Meat Alternatives
Beans (navy, pinto), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.17-0.24 0
Peas, black-eyed, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.11 0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.76 0
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 0.27-0.48 0
Meatless (fish sticks, chicken, meatballs), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.39-0.78 0
Nuts and Seeds                  
Almonds, oil roasted, blanched 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.15 0
Chia seeds 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.9 0
Flaxseed, ground** 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 2.46 0
Hickory nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.32 0
Pumpkin seeds, without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.06 0
Pecans 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.25-0.29 0
Soy nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.42 0
Walnuts, black 60 mL (¼ cup 0.64 0
Walnuts, English, Persian 60 mL (¼ cup) 2.30 0
Fats and Oils
Canola oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.42 0
DHA-enriched Omega-3 margarine made with fish oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.28 0.03
Flaxseed oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 2.58 0
Omega-3 margarine made with canola oil * 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.34 0
Soybean oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.31 0
Walnut oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.48 0
Herring oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.04 0.48
Salmon oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.05 1.44
Sardine oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.06 0.96
Almond beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.10 0
Oat beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.30 0

Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2010”

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php    [Accessed Dec. 2012]