Episode 54: Podcast Team Spotlight

In the season finale of the podcast, we are excited to feature our podcast team, including our co-hosts Tamara Petresin, a Registered Dietitian and second-year PhD candidate in Applied Human Nutrition and Marciane Any, a second-year Master’s student in Applied Human Nutrition. We also have Patricia Acosta, our podcast coordinator, who recently completed her Master’s degree in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

In this episode, Tamara, Marciane, and Patricia share insights into their research activities and discuss how they got involved in podcasting. As we look back on the season, we want to express our gratitude to all of our listeners for tuning in and supporting the podcast. We hope you have enjoyed listening as much as we have enjoyed creating the episodes. We also want to give a special shout-out to Dawn for all her hard work in editing the episodes.

Thank you for joining us on this journey, and we can’t wait to share more with you in the next season!



Marciane  0:04 

Hello, welcome to The Healthy Habits Happy Homes podcast hosted by the Guelph Family Health Study.


Tamara  0:14 

If you’re interested in the most recent research and helpful tips for healthy, balanced living for you and your family, then this podcast is for you. In each episode, we will bring you topics that are important to your growing family and guests who will share their expertise and experience with you.


Marciane  0:30 

Our quick tips will help your family build healthy habits for a happy home.


Welcome back to The Healthy Habits Happy Homes podcast. I’m Marciane.


Tamara  0:45 

And, I’m Tamara and today to wrap up this amazing season, we’re excited to share the research activities of our podcast team. Today’s episode will feature our cohost: so, me, Tamara Petresin, a registered dietitian and second year PhD candidate in Applied Human Nutrition.


Marciane  1:00 

Me, Marciane Any, a master’s degree student in Applied Human Nutrition. And we also have Patricia Acosta, our podcast coordinator who recently completed her master’s in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.


Patricia  1:12 

Hi, everyone. To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role and experience with the Guelph Family Health Study?


Tamara  1:24 

Sure, I can go first. So again, my name is Tamara and I’m a second year PhD candidate in Applied Human Nutrition. And I’m very grateful to be a part of the Guelph Family Health Study. Before I started my PhD, I was working as a clinical dietitian after I completed my master’s degree. My research interests broadly include family food literacy, school lunches, food access, food security, as well as behaviour change interventions and program evaluation. And my PhD work is focused around interventions to improve food access and dietary outcomes. I love being part of the Guelph Family Health Study family. We’re lucky that we get to work with so many passionate individuals working in different areas of health. And we’re all working towards a common goal of supporting the health of families and our community, which I find really exciting. How about you, Marciane?


Marciane  2:12 

Well, I’m Marciane,  again, and I’m studying nutrition, and I’m a second year master’s degree student. I’m actually originally from the States. And, when the opportunity came to study here, I jumped at the opportunity. I worked as a certified medical assistant for a few years, and, throughout my clinical rotations, I just realized that I wanted to be more on the preventative side of medicine. And I’ve always loved nutrition. And, so, I wanted to see how I can be more involved in that. And, also, in work that was community focused, and family focused. And, so, getting to know more about the University of Guelph, and specifically about the Guelph Family Health Study, I was very, very excited to be a part of a team with very like-minded people who are very kind, knowledgeable and want to continue to encourage healthful behaviours in the household. So that’s a little bit about me.


Tamara  3:09 

All right, and how about you, Patricia?


Patricia  3:11 

Yeah, so my name is Patricia Acosta, and I’m really excited to be on the podcast today. I’ve recently completed my master’s degree in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences in Dr. Alison Duncan’s lab. I started doing research with the Guelph Family Health Study beginning of 2022, alongside another MSC student in my lab, Olivia Landon. And together we looked at plant-based dietary intake of preschool-aged children, and related to nutrient and food group intakes. This is particularly exciting as we have spent months working on this project, and we are really looking forward to sharing and publishing the data.


Tamara  3:48 

Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about what made us want to pursue our studies in this field and also at the University of Guelph. So, maybe I’ll start us off. I’ve personally have always loved food and nutrition. After finishing my master’s degree, I started working as a dietitian, but my love for research really never faded. It was always there, which is what led me to pursuing my PhD. And, what I really wanted was to be a part of making people, and especially families, healthier. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, and I really loved all of my professors and the faculty here in the department that I’m in, and I really enjoyed my time at the University of Guelph during my undergrad. And, being that the University of Guelph is Canada’s Food University. It really just was the perfect fit for me as I continued my studies on with my PhD another reason to I wanted to pursue my studies at the University of Guelph is because of the Guelph Family Health Study. It’s really amazing to be a part of this group. We get to work with such incredible families and I really feel like I can make a difference in the health of families in our community, which I find really exciting. How about you, Marciane?


Marciane  4:53 

That’s awesome, Tamara, and getting to work with you is such a joy. So, that’s really awesome. I really wanted to pursue this field specifically because I was really impacted by certain experiences that I had back home in the States just being low income for most of my life, being labeled as an obese child for majority of my life. And, my questions shifted from like, “Why are we in this situation?” to instead, “How can I help those who are experiencing similar things to me and my mother.” And, so, I really wanted to be a part of studies and research that looked into how to help families, encourage them towards healthful behaviours, but specifically those who are low income. And, so, looking around for schools, I ran into the biography of Dr. Jess Haines. And, after an online meeting with her, she’s so sweet and down to earth, I immediately was, like, if I’m able to work with you, I would love to do so. And, she even made mention of a project in which we could do a lot of the things that I was interested in and work with those who are in a low-income community, and look at how we can help increase access to nutritious foods with that community. And, so, I really am excited that I have this opportunity right now. And, I’m doing what I’m passionate about. And I get to work with such amazing people.


Patricia  6:24 

That’s really great to hear about, you know, like you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about. As for my motivations as to why I wanted to pursue or study nutrition, it comes back to my goal, which is to really utilize nutrition as a powerful tool for preventative medicine, that does have an unparalleled impact on health and quality of life. I want to be able to use my knowledge and skills to really understand the different health problems knowingly, that as a kid, I was actually obese, so really being able to impact or change the course of treatment. And, at the same time, I want to be able to implement effective nutritional strategies that does prevent chronic diseases and really does improve health. And, really reflecting on my philosophies, studying nutrition really allow me to strive for excellence and impactful research, promote innovative creative thinking, disseminate knowledge, and really advocate for inclusivity and equitable opportunities to create positive change.


Tamara  7:24 

 That’s amazing.


Marciane  7:26 

Hearing both of you, I’m just like, “I’m just grateful, again, that I get to work with you both on this podcast.” With that being said, what made you both interested in joining the podcast team?


Tamara  7:39 

So, the podcast is really appealing to me for a few reasons, one of which was that I really wanted to have a creative outlet. And, also, just to get the opportunity to interact with different nutrition and health experts and be a part of sharing nutrition research. And, not only nutrition research, but also health research. And, we’re really lucky when we do this podcast, we get to hear and to learn from and to talk about really interesting topics with a lot of very knowledgeable people. And, it’s just very exciting that we get to share this information broadly. And, it’s also a really fun way for me, too, to connect with our Guelph Family Health Study families, and even beyond, too, with all of our listeners. How about you, Patricia?


Patricia  8:18 

Just really echoing off what you said, I was really interested in joining this podcasts because I think it is a really great way to share knowledge in an accessible, culturally congruent way. And, doing this really highlights that research has a place in advocating availability of resources that support and promote health. And, in many ways, this podcast does provide opportunities to bridge knowledge gap and have a better understanding of what the audience is really interested in hearing and learning more about. To add, reflecting on our conversations, we originally had reservations, and really taking on this role, we got the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones. But, I really do think that we need to give each other a pat on the back, because we are making a difference. And, we are meaningfully contributing, in our own small, unique ways to share all the cool and neat research findings.


Marciane  9:11 

That’s awesome. And thanks, Patricia, I think we should give ourselves a pat on the back more often. I was really excited to be a part of this podcast because it gave the opportunity to be creative in this format. I love listening to podcasts and also being behind the scenes and creating a podcast is really, really fun. And, also was just excited about the opportunity to, like, facilitate information sharing between experts and our listeners.


Tamara  9:40 

It’s been really fun that we have this opportunity to connect in this way to the audience and to be a part of sharing nutrition and health information broadly. And, also, that it has been really interesting to learn about what goes into creating a podcast and so it’s been really fun figuring that out with the two of you, and I really didn’t toward that part of it, as well.


Patricia  10:02 

So now moving to the part that I’m sure our listeners are really interested in hearing more about, which is our research activities.


Tamara  10:09 

So, one of the projects that I’m currently working on is working with a team on an intervention to support families in packing healthy school lunches in school-aged children. So, very relevant for the Guelph Family Health Study. During my master’s degree at a different institution, I actually worked on helping to create a resource for parents and school-aged children on packing healthy school lunches. And, then, we pilot tested this.  We found that parents found the booklet to be helpful and found sections on new school lunch ideas and snack ideas, and also on nutritional information, like label reading, really useful. And, parents also reported an increased confidence in learning something new about school lunch preparation as a result, as well. So, I’m excited that this current project that I’m working on is actually expanding from some of my previous work with school lunches, and that I get to continue supporting parents and families in packing school lunches.


Marciane  11:04 

Wow, that sounds like really, really cool research. For me, I am working on a project with a community here in Guelph to co-design interventions that specifically address the unique needs of that community regarding food access, and healthy eating. And the co-design process has been really, really cool to learn about and actually use. And, essentially, it’s just where multiple stakeholders with a very intimate or close connection to the research topic come together to work on solutions to that research problem. So, specifically, in this project, we have researchers from the University of Guelph, we have different organizations from our food, future, nutritious food work stream, and members of the community here in Guelph, all working together to tackle food access and healthy eating, and how we can get more nutritious foods to this community. So, it’s been a really awesome opportunity of getting to know Guelph more, and all of the different entities and people who live work and play in the community. And, it’s just been a lot of fun. So, that’s my research.


Tamara  12:18 

I also feel so honoured, Marciane, that I get to work on that project with you. It’s really exciting to be able to do community-level work and be right there in the community. And, especially with the co-design framework, it’s just really interesting to learn a different way of approaching research and I feel very grateful that we get to have that experience, and that I get to work with you on that project as well as part of my PhD.


Patricia  12:42 

It’s really great hearing how the both of you do enjoy working together. Whereas, my research project and the HHNS department, I’m actually giving the inside scoop as we’re currently finishing the manuscript for publication. And, this research is looking at the distribution of plant-based foods and animals-based foods of children participating in the Guelph family health study using a scoring system. This project is really neat and exciting as there is not a lot of literature available assessing plant-based foods of children, which is particularly important considering how dietary guidance does promote increased intakes of plant-based foods. And, a body of evidence has suggested that dietary habits in childhood does persist into adulthood. Data from this project will be used in future studies that will relate it to other health outcomes. So, to do this, we use a plant-based dietary index or also called PDI, that was first started by a nutritional epidemiologists grouped at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. So, evidence has suggested that plant foods have been really associated with improved health outcomes and nutrient outcomes. But, as we all know, not all plant foods are necessarily good. So, what is particularly unique about this PDI index is that it does address the limitations of all plant foods being treated equally. For example, certain plant foods like French fries and cookies, as much as we do enjoy them, they’re not necessarily associated with good health outcomes. As such, so these plant foods are actually further classified into healthy plant foods and less healthy plant foods. Looking at one of the PDI metrics, which does positively score healthy plant foods, it was found that the major food groups contributing to food intakes of children are dairy, refined grains and fruits. However, vegetable intake is actually considered to be comparatively low. As for nutrients, it has been shown that with higher intakes of healthy plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, it does result in higher intakes of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and B6, with lower-end intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat. But, when children do consume higher proportions of less healthy plant foods such as refined grains, snack chips, and french fries, and sugar-sweetened beverages, higher intakes of carbohydrates and sugars were reported. All this to say that findings of this study are consistent with what the evidence is telling us, and that all plant foods are not necessarily associated with good health outcomes. So, we should really be mindful of the different foods consumed in a diet. I also do want to highlight that this does not mean we should be fixating on meeting certain key nutrients. Instead, we should really emphasize on choosing healthy food choices that ultimately leads to a better or healthy dietary pattern. This really does help in terms of adopting and sustaining a healthy lifestyle.


Tamara  15:51 

Thanks for sharing about your work with Patricia, that’s actually really interesting. And, it’s great to hear some of the findings that you found throughout your master’s degree here with Guelph Family Health Study data. And, I love what you said, too, about how, you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be fixating on meeting these key nutrients, but also, kind of, focusing a bit more on healthy food choices and variety of foods that we’re eating, and also really being sure to include those plant-based foods as part of our diets as well.


Patricia  16:20 

Yeah, for sure.


Marciane  16:23 

Yeah, this is a really cool research, Patricia. Can you share with us what’s a key takeaway from your research?


Patricia  16:31 

For sure. So one key takeaway that I really do want to share with the listeners today is that it is really important to make healthy food choices that will then lead to the development of healthy dietary patterns. This does not mean that you must follow a particular diet or having to hyper fixate on specific nutrients instead of looking at the big picture, and ensuring that the diet is well balanced while still getting to eat the foods you enjoy and love.


Tamara  17:00 

That’s a great tip. It’s been really great learning more about your research activities. Marciane and Patricia,  just learning a bit more about what got you both interested in doing the podcast. So, with that being said, looking ahead to next season, what are some things that we can expect?


Marciane  17:20 

Well, we’re very excited to be back next season, we’ll be chatting about topics like father’s health, breakfast quality, and children food security, food access, and much more.


Patricia  17:32 

If you have any suggestions for podcast topics, or guests you want to hear from next season, please email me at [email protected]


Marciane  17:42 

We want to thank our Guelph Family Health Study community and our listeners for tuning into our podcast this season.


Patricia  17:49 

To stay up to date on the Guelph Family Health Study and for tips on keeping your family healthy, check out the Guelph Family Health Study Instagram @familyhealthstudy.


Tamara  18:00 

We hope our listeners enjoyed today’s episode. We’ll be back for Season Six next fall and hope you all tune in then.