Prioritizing women’s health with the help of nutrition

Helping women eat right

From heart health to pregnancy or breastfeeding, prioritizing health and wellness for women is essential at every stage of life.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy task. As we face all the changes in our lives, such as becoming a new parent or starting a new career, it can be challenging to put ourselves first.

Here are some ways women can prioritize their health using food and nutrition.

Fertility and pregnancy

When trying to conceive, eating a balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve fertility and increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

It is particularly important to consume enough folic acid (from supplements) and folate (from foods) – a B vitamin that can help prevent birth defects in the baby. Foods that are high in folate include leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fortified grains.

During pregnancy, nutrition is not only essential for the health of the mother but also the developing fetus. Some specific nutrients that are particularly important during pregnancy include choline, folic acid, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.


When breastfeeding, we can help ensure the mother’s milk provides essential nutrients.

Prioritizing nutrition during breastfeeding by focusing on nutrient dense foods rich in healthy fats, high fibre foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies plus lean protein foods is also very important, as it ensures the mother’s milk provides essential nutrients to the baby.

In addition to food, we also want to make sure we drink enough fluids. While drinking plenty of water is important for everyone, it is especially important while breastfeeding.

As a general guide, aim for about 12 cups of fluid every day. These fluids can come from both beverages and foods, such as soups. Having said that, listen to your body and drink to satisfy your thirst.


During menopause, the body's hormone levels fluctuate, which can lead to several physical and emotional symptoms. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet can help alleviate some of these symptoms, as well as reduce the risk of certain health problems.

For example, foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D can help maintain strong bones. Additionally, incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help with weight management and reduce the risk of heart disease. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes, try to avoid smoking, limit excessive caffeine and alcohol, pay attention to how you feel when you eat spicy foods, and work towards managing stress levels.

Women are known for putting others ahead of themselves, but it’s time women prioritize their health.

If you’d like to learn more about meal planning for you and your family, managing health conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, healthy weight management or overall healthy eating for long term health and wellness, I’m here to help.

To learn more, book a 15-minute complimentary chat with me at dietitianservices.ca.

Red kidney bean tofu curry with brown basmati rice


• 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) PC brown basmati rice

• 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

• 2 tbsp (25 mL) minced peeled fresh ginger

• 1 tsp (5 mL) each ground coriander and ground cumin

• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric

• 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Cayenne pepper

• 1 can (796 mL) PC Blue Menu whole tomatoes

• 1 pkg (500 g) PC Blue Menu red kidney beans - frozen

• 1 pkg (350 g) PC Blue Menu extra firm tofu

• 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

• 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

• 1 tsp (5 mL) salt


Step 1—Combine rice and 2-1/2 cups water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Step 2—Meanwhile, heat oil in separate large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, (about five minutes). Add garlic, jalapeño, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, (about three minutes).

Step 3—Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in frozen beans and tofu. Return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and liquid is slightly thickened, (15 to 20 minutes).

Step 4—Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Serve over rice.

Maria Thomas is a registered dietitian at Peter’s Your Independent Grocer in Kamloops.

Root of the labour crisis: We lied to millennials and Gen Z when we said they could be anything

Root of the labour crisis

Todd Hirsch is a former Calgary-based chief economist of ATB Financial and the author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.

Five hundred years ago, there was no such thing as a “career choice.” A young man did what his father did: farmer, carpenter, barrel maker, etc. And if you were a young woman, your only hope was to find one of those young men to marry.

One hundred years ago, life presented a few more career choices, at least in wealthy countries. But you still left home at 15 and started doing whatever you could to keep yourself alive: push a broom, work in a factory, clean stables, learn a trade. None of it was glamorous or fun. All of it was hard and miserable.

But something happened toward the end of the 20th century: We started telling our millennial and Generation Z children that they could be anything they wanted. We told them to follow their passions. We promised them that if they dreamed hard enough, they could do anything in the world.

It was a lie. And our ongoing labour crunch can be directly traced back to that lie.

To be fair, we may have meant that our kids could be doctors, lawyers or accountants – attainable and laudable goals for many people. And I’m not saying young people are lazy – at least not the ones I know. Plenty of young people are working hard in entry-level, low-paying jobs.

But the issue is that when we told them they could be anything, some of them heard “NHL hockey star,” “superstar video gamer” or “the next Beyoncé.” And clearly they cannot. Or at least 99.9999 per cent of them cannot.

We meant to inspire our young people, promising them that if they tried hard enough and worked hard enough, they could be anything! But rather than inspire them, we created a false notion that superstardom and unimaginable paycheques were attainable.

The result is that many struggle to find a job they want. They’re not too lazy to work, but the lies we’ve told them have given them permission to say, “Well, being a glass fitter isn’t my passion,” or “I don’t see myself working in a kitchen dish pit.”

This is why so many vital jobs are currently going unfilled. Young people don’t want to do less glamorous work in trades such as welding, truck driving, pipefitting or construction. Many of these jobs pay very well, but young people aren’t attracted to them because we told them to follow their dreams. And no one grows up dreaming about being an HVAC technician.

A few years ago on American Idol, there was a fun tension between two of the three judges – Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. She would always speak just before him, telling the contestant on stage something like “You’re amazing! Keep going! Never give up on your dreams! Shoot for the stars!”

Then Simon would give his assessment of the performance and say something like “Well, you’re probably good at some things, but you clearly can’t sing. You’ve embarrassed yourself and everyone here tonight.”

Paula was kind. But Simon was truthful (although he could have tweaked his words a bit).

Never mind that artificial intelligence and robotics will probably make a lot of jobs obsolete. The bigger challenge today is motivating a generation (or two) of Canadians who were told that, if they wanted it badly enough, they could become a social media influencer.

Rather than tell kids they can do anything they want, we’d be wise to tell them the truth: They have gifts and talents, and if they work hard and stay humble, they can achieve incredible things. We’ve told them to follow their passions. What we should tell them is to follow opportunity – and bring their passions with them.


Like this article from the Globe and Mail? Explore the full breadth of our award-winning journalism.

$1.99 per week for 52 weeks

Subscribe now

Les Leyne: Leaders shift their stances on B.C. drug policy

Leaders shift drug stances

Under fire in the legislature for the NDP’s permissive attitude about use of hard drugs, Premier David Eby did a quick pivot and started talking tough about enforcement.

He produced a list of recent seizures and maximized the amounts to increase their significance.

“In just the last six-month period,” he said, there was one seizure of chemicals capable of producing 525 kilograms of fentanyl and 150 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy).

“That’s 262 million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl, and three million doses of MDMA.”

In another case, he said, one million pills were seized and six people were arrested.

Also, an 18-month investigation led to multiple seizures of 52 kilograms of methamphetamine, 20 kilograms of psilocybin, three kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin.

Further on down the list was a $3-million seizure of drugs, including 72 kilograms of fentanyl-laced fake Percocet and some MDMA and benzodiazepine, with three arrests.

He listed the citations to counter the impression that B.C. has rolled over and given up on enforcing drug laws.

But if those cases were big enough to warrant raising them in the legislature, Eby should follow up with updates.

How many of those arrested made bail? How many of those arrests will result in charges? How many charges will be fully prosecuted? How many ­convictions will result, and how many prison terms will be imposed?

Those aren’t all provincial responsibilities, as drug enforcement is a federal task.

But it would be reassuring to learn that they don’t follow the catch and release pattern that is firmly established in criminal matters under provincial jurisdiction.

Filling in the full story of those seizures would take years. But to further the impression that the NDP are tougher on drugs than the opposition says, Eby cited a bill introduced recently.

It allows for “unexplained wealth orders,” under which seizures of money and property can be made from people who can’t show their assets were obtained legally.

It’s an advance on the ­established civil forfeiture mechanism, where seizures can be made on suspicion of criminality, without the necessity of going to trial and securing a conviction.

“I very much look forward to police and the Civil Forfeiture Office using those tools to crack down on people profiting from misery in our communities,” Eby said.

Seizing proceeds because pursuing criminal cases is too hard is hardly a crackdown.

Eby’s comments came after intense arguments developed about the four-month-old experiment where possession of small amounts of hard drugs in B.C. is now decriminalized for a three-year trial period. The focal point in the legislature is that it has created a situation where hard drugs can be used in public places like parks.

There is a growing list of municipal leaders who are ­getting increasingly upset about the obvious dangers. The NDP has spent several weeks talking and holding meetings about the problem, but staying non-­committal on what to do about it.

Eby on Thursday finally acknowledged that the terms of the experiment, established by the federal government after provincial urging, have to be changed.

“We will do something,” he told the house.

He committed to everyone that the government will work with municipalities to put some protections in place.

On the theory that the best defence is a good offence, much of his remarks on the last day of the sitting focused on the opposition BC United’s varying stances about harm-reduction approaches.

They backed harm reduction generally and decriminalization specifically, but Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon has gotten increasingly critical lately and started putting more emphasis on treatment.

He equated the B.C. government to the infamous Purdue Pharma situation.

He said doctors have noted “remarkable similarities between the government’s current approach of publicly supplied addictive drugs and the OxyContin crisis.”

Millions were enticed into addiction, but Falcon said B.C.’s stance is “to be doing exactly the same thing.”

Eby called the comparison “despicable” and noted that when Falcon was health ­minister in the previous BC Liberal ­government, he did trial runs on safe supply that showed enough promise they led to the ­decriminalization test. The opposition has also backed harm reduction in various venues since then.

He said Falcon is opposed or supportive, “depending on which room he’s in.”

There’s a lot of side-stepping going on, on both sides. Eby is shifting to deal with a backlash to decriminalization and citing seizures reminiscent of the “war on drugs” era.

Falcon is moving away from supporting it and sounding increasingly dubious about harm reduction.

Les Leyne is a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist

Opinion: Contraband tobacco is Canada’s billion dollar problem

Illegal tobacco sales

Contraband tobacco is a threat to every Canadian.

The illicit tobacco trade is a growing phenomenon – growing globally but, more crucially, growing in Canada too. Contraband tobacco accounts for roughly 20 per cent of tobacco consumption in our country. Canada is an active player in the manufacturing and distribution of contraband cigarettes and conservative estimates suggest roughly six billion contraband cigarettes are sold each year, and more than $2 billion annually is lost by federal and provincial governments – money that could be used to fund important initiatives across education and infrastructure.

Ontario, currently, sits as the epicenter of the problem, where at least 33 per cent of the market is lost to contraband. B.C. isn’t far behind, with contraband sales accounting for roughly 25 to 30 per cent of the market.

Besides the economic impact, the illicit tobacco market is controlled by organized crime. Criminal groups involved in contraband tobacco use profits generated from the contraband tobacco trade to fund other illegal activities, including guns and drug trafficking.

When organized crime is involved in any form of illicit commerce, violence always follows and there is a very real human cost. There are ample recent examples across the country that serve as a grim reminder that contraband tobacco brings violence and criminality to our doorsteps.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently and is one every Canadian should care about. It is also a problem that every Canadian can do something about.

Governments, both provincially and federally, have to recognize that contraband tobacco is not a victimless crime – it has serious implications.

We continue to urge all levels of government to work with provincial law enforcement agencies to take decisive action to combat the problem. Quebec was able to reduce illegal sales from roughly 33 per cent to around 12 per cent by moving in this direction and enacting legislation that empowered police officers.

Governments can also take action by targeting the supply side of the equation. In most cases, the factories producing illegal cigarettes are known to law enforcement. Tackling the supply at the source would materially move the needle and help keep Canadians safe.

On a individual level, Canadians can take immediate action and play a role in reducing the demand for illegal tobacco products. Canadians need to stand behind their local retail and convenience stores.

By choosing to purchase only legally regulated tobacco products, Canadians can help to eliminate the demand for contraband tobacco and reduce the profits made by criminal organizations. Also, with illegal product sales putting downward pressure on local establishments, this will go a long way to supporting and sustaining small businesses across the country.

Illicit cigarettes are a threat to public finances and public safety. It is a complex problem that some Canadians consumers are financially supporting every day. We need to do better. We need to work together to reduce the demand for illegal tobacco products and increase enforcement efforts.

Only then will we be able to reduce the influence of organized crime and, crucially, reduce the prevalence of smoking in Canada and keep our communities safe.

Danny Fournier is the head of illicit trade prevention at Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.

New brand for one party and new leader for another doesn't shift political attitudes in B.C.

Little change in B.C. politics

Over the past few weeks, British Columbians experienced two events that have the potential to alter the province’s political landscape: The creation of BC United and the appointment of a new leader for the Conservative Party of BC.

In a way, things are roughly the same as they were three months ago. The governing BC New Democratic Party (BC NDP) is still in first place with the support of 46 per cent of decided voters across British Columbia (up two points since February). BC United begins its tenure at 33 per cent, down three points from when they were still called the BC Liberals. The BC Green Party is third with 16 per cent (unchanged), followed by the Conservative Party of BC with four per cent (up two points).

Conservative supporters, who may have expected their party to reach double digits after finding a leader who actually has a seat in the legislative assembly, may be disappointed. The approval rating for John Rustad stands at 18 per cent – significantly lower than the numbers posted by the three people who command the other main provincial parties: Premier and BC NDP leader David Eby (59 per cent, unchanged), BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau (40 per cent, down two points) and BC United leader Kevin Falcon (38 per cent, down six points).

Previous iterations of the BC Conservatives have polled relatively well between campaigns, only to see their numbers plummet in properly conducted polls – and on election day – because they feature candidates in a limited number of ridings. Their rise in 2012 amounted in large part to dissatisfaction with the Christy Clark-led BC Liberal government.

This time around, with a BC NDP government calling the shots, former BC Liberal voters in 2020 are not flocking to the Conservative Party of BC. Part of the problem lies in the disenchantment of voters who may flirt with the party, only to find out that there is no candidate to back when they have the ballot in their hands.

Research Co. and Glacier Media asked British Columbians about their likelihood to support candidates from each of the four major parties in their constituency. More than three in five British Columbians (61 per cent) say they would consider voting for the BC NDP. BC United reaches 46 per cent of this same question, compared to 37 per cent for the BC Greens and 25 per cent for the Conservative Party of BC. Of course, all parties have the potential of moving these numbers with policies and platforms, but the notion of a provincial Conservative party swiftly capitalizing on the popularity of its federal namesake has not materialized.

Even in a scenario that places a Conservative Party of BC candidate in every provincial riding, BC United is the key opposition party. More importantly, it has a significant advantage in consideration among voters aged 55 and over (52 per cent, compared to 18 per cent for the BC Conservatives).

Regionally, more than half of Southern B.C. residents (53 per cent) say they would consider voting for the party in the next election, suggesting that the base of support, which endured losing campaigns in 2017 and 2020, remains faithful. In the Fraser Valley, where the BC Liberals only secured two of nine seats in 2020, the BC United vote sits at a dismal 36 per cent. The days of easy BC Liberal victories in this region seem long gone.

We still see housing, homelessness and poverty as the most important issues for British Columbians (32 per cent, down two points), followed by health care (28 per cent, down one point). Crime and public safety is now in third place (14 per cent, up nine points), followed by the economy and jobs (12 per cent, down one point) and the environment (four per cent, down two points).

Time will tell if a trend develops, or whether the increase in concerns about public safety amounts to a fleeting reaction to the devastating events that have been widely reported recently. At a time when confidence in the justice system is low across Canada, managing the expectations of British Columbians will be a challenge for the provincial government.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 1-3, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

This column first appeared in Business InVncouver.

More Opinion articles