Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Marco Verch.

Dietitians play a role in helping Canadians understand how food impacts their health and how to use food to enhance their lives. Dietitians can show you how to select and prepare foods to help keep you energized or prevent or manage many chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and celiac disease.

Almost half of Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is challenging. Here are five tips to help make healthy eating easy and unlock the potential of food.

  1. Plan
    Keep a variety of healthy foods available. When healthy foods are around us we’re more likely to consume them. Keep your tried and true family favourites on a running list so that you always have ideas of what to make for the week. Use the mantra “cook once, eat twice” when planning your meals. Add colour, flavour and texture with vegetables and fruit.

  2. Have a healthy plate
    Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit has been shown to reduce or manage many chronic diseases like heart disease1. At meals use your plate to set yourself up for success. Aim for a half plate of vegetables and fruit. Whole grains are full of fibre and vitamins B and E and are important for overall heath, choose whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown/wild rice, bulgar and look to one quarter plate for meals2. The last one quarter of our plate should be in protein, and a variety of animal and plant-based protein sources of your choice, to help build and repair muscle, tissue, skin and nails; as well as build hormones and enzymes3.

Looking for some meal inspiration? Serve this chicken fajita recipe (courtesy of PC.ca) with a side salad of mixed greens dressed with olive oil and vinegar for an easy week night meal.

  1. Snack smarter
    Snacks can be a nutritious part of our diet as they may help give you nutrients you may be missing at meals4. Look to snacks with both protein and fibre to give you energy and keep you full. Keep a variety of ready-to-eat snacks available such as:
    -Plain Greek yogurt and fruit (fresh or frozen)
    -Whole grain crackers with hummus
    -Unsalted nuts and fruit
    -Vegetables and low sodium cottage cheese

For packaged snacks, look to the nutrition facts table to tell if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient. Look for foods with 15% daily value or more for fibre and aim for 4 g of fibre per serving, and 5% daily value or less for sodium and fat5. Eat slowly and be aware of portion sizes when choosing snacks. Buy small packages of food or pre-portion from large packages. Don’t snack from large packages since they make overeating easier.

  1. Listen to your body
    Many of us have become disconnected with our hunger cues. Or maybe you gravitate towards food when you aren’t hungry. Listen to your body and ask yourself: Am I truly hungry? Or is there another reason such as boredom or emotional reasons why we may be looking for food? Eat for the right reason – because you are physically hungry.

    Stay mindful while snacking and pay attention to hunger signals. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, libsciterp.
  1. Be mindful
    Avoid eating and being distracted by the TV or work. Enjoy the experience of eating and the tastes and textures of foods. Eating slowly and without distraction can help you become aware of hunger and fullness cues. Moderation is key for healthy eating. A balanced diet includes our favourite foods in moderation. Don’t deprive yourself. Instead, treat yourself on occasion, but try to eat half as much, and half as often.

March is Nutrition Month, an opportunity to celebrate the potential food has. Do you have questions about nutrition? Your Shopper’s Drug Mart and Wellwise registered dietitians are available for personalized nutrition advice tailored to your health needs. For more information, visit shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitiansor wellwise.ca/dietitiansto book you appointment today.

For more information on Nutrition Month visit nutritionmonth.ca, brought to you by Dietitians of Canada.

About the author: Emily Campbell has a master of science in foods and nutrition and is a registered dietitian who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®. 

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in select Ontario stores. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2018 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc

References

  1. Anderson TJ, Grégoire J, Pearson GJ, Barry AR, Couture P, Dawes M, et al. 2016 Canadian Cardiovascular Society guidelines for the management of dyslipidemia for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult. Can J Cardiol. 2016;32(11):1263–1282.
  2. ca (2019). All About Whole Grains. Available from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/Cooking-with-Whole-Grains.aspx
  3. ca (2019). Introduction To Protein and High Protein Foods. Available from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Protein/Introduction-To-Protein-And-High-Protein-Foods.aspx
  4. ca (2019). Healthy Snack Ideas for Adults. Available from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Loss/Healthy-snack-ideas-for-adults.aspx
  5. Government of Canada (2019). Percent daily value. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/percent-daily-value.html