March is nutrition month and this year’s theme is “Good For You. Dietitians Help You Find Your Healthy.”
This year it’s all about finding what foods work for you and make you feel your best. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to healthy eating! There are so many factors that influence what and how we eat. This is why it is important to remember that “healthy” can look different for everyone.
Canadians are encouraged to discover and celebrate their unique approaches to achieving health through food. It’s time to ditch the fad diets and food myths, and start to focus on a personalized approach to nutrition.
Need help finding your healthy? Here are 3 things to consider:
1. Culture & Food Traditions
Our food choices are strongly tied to our ancestral roots and what we learned growing up. This can bring us feelings of joy, pleasure, and community when we indulge in flavours that remind us of “home”. Each culture is unique, and it is important to celebrate cultural diversity. Exploring different cuisines can also be a great way to incorporate food variety in your diet.
The Eat Well Plate model promoted by Canada’s Food Guide can still be used as a visual tool when cooking up any meal. Simply apply the proportions modelled to your recipe – half the recipe is from vegetables, a quarter is from protein foods, and a quarter from whole grain carbohydrate sources.
2. Health Conditions
Managing a health condition can be hard, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your food. When we “eat what we love and love what we eat”, our quality of life can improve significantly. With diabetes, it is important to remember that carbohydrates are still part of healthy diet. The quality and quantity of our carbohydrate choices is what matters most. For example, choosing smaller portions of lower glycemic index foods can help control blood sugar levels. Click here to learn more about the glycemic index (add link to glycemic index handout)
Practice the 80/20 rule: Eat wholesome, unprocessed foods 80% of the time, and allow yourself to indulge 20% of the time. By eating the “better for you” foods more often, you can still manage your diabetes without feeling restricted. Consistency over perfection!
3. Personal Circumstances
Whether you are eating on a budget, living with health conditions, have a specific goal, or are trying to prepare healthy meals for one – we all have a right to nutritious food choices that meet our individual needs. Everybody deserves to feel good about what they are putting in their body. It is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for someone else. Similarly, what worked well in the past, may not necessarily work as well in the future. Just like our bodies change over time, the way we eat can too.
If you feel like you don’t have as much control over your food selection as you would like due to various personal circumstances, try options such as:
Replacing the ingredients in a recipe with lower cost alternatives (e.g. substitute chicken with tofu or beans)
Help choose recipes you like if you are unable to cook by yourself or ask a family member or friend to help you to cook
Using frozen or canned vegetables when fresh varieties are unavailable (don’t worry, these options hold equal or greater vitamin and mineral content because they are picked at the peak of season)
Click here for tips on diabetes friendly recipes and healthy home cooking (link to both handouts)
Interested in learning more about heart healthy cooking? Join our Registered Dietitan and Certified Diabetes Educator Lara Katz for a live cooking demonstration on March 25th @ 7pm