Next month is Nutrition Month, and as part of that campaign, Dietitians of Canada want to help individuals from all across the country unlock the potential of food by providing insight into how food not only nourishes you, but how it can also fuel active lifestyles and prevent chronic illness and diseases. According to a 2017 Ipsos survey, as many as 50% of all Canadians said they found it difficult to consume a well-balanced, healthy diet – especially if they are working or have families to take care of.
Family physician from Vancouver, Dr. Ali Ghahary, says it is important for individuals to have all the information they need when it comes to good nutrition and making healthy food choices. As part of the Dietitians of Canada’s ‘Unlock the Potential of Food’ campaign, five different topics will be explored this year: Potential to fuel, potential to discover, potential to prevent, potential to heal, and potential to bring us together; everything from helping patients plan nutritious snacks, fostering healthy eating habits in children and families, understanding how food can impact your health in both positive and negative ways, and learning how dietitians work with different healthcare providers to help make a difference in patients lives.
To start, good nutrition begins at home, and it’s important to be sure that you’re providing yourself and your family with a well balanced diet that meets both yours and their nutritional needs. To do this, you need protein (such as lean meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, soy products and nuts or seeds), fresh fruit (apples, bananas, and berries – or fruit juice with no added sugar), vegetables (beans, peas, and leafy greens, along with vegetables that are red or orange in colour such as peppers), grains (whole grain bread, cereal), dairy (low-fat milk, green yogurt, cheese.) All of these products have great nutritional value and can promote things like good heart health, brain health, and reduce the risk of things like diabetes and obesity.
When creating meals or putting together snacks, it’s important to always plan ahead. By planning ahead you are much more likely to avoid unhealthy treats, as we so easily and so often tend to choose when we’re in a rush and looking to grab something last-minute. When snacking, avoid things like potato chips and instead choose rice crisps or vegetables – and also avoid distracted eating; for example, when you’re watching television or driving. Distracted eating can often result in consuming more food than you intended. Which also brings us to the point of portion sizes. Instead of eating something straight from its container/bag, put a small amount on your plate. You can also separate things like casseroles and soups into small containers and stick them in the microwave when you’re ready to eat, rather than consuming it all in one sitting.
You might also be familiar with the diets known as the DASH and MIND diets. These diets are designed to help prevent things like heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, dementia, and even certain types of cancers. The most common foods in these diets include fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, cheese and yogurt, fish and poultry, and healthy oils such as canola or olive oil – while they avoid foods that are highly processed such as cakes, cookies, chops, sugary beverages, salt and trans fats.
If you want more information on how to implement healthy eating into your lifestyle, Dr. Ali Ghahary is always willing to see patients on a walk-in basis and can answer any questions you might have. You may also benefit from speaking to a dietitian and can find one in your local area by visiting dietitians.ca/find. For more information on Nutrition Month, visit nutritionmonth2018.ca.