Eating healthy shouldn't be complicated. With access to information at its highest, most of us have the ability to learn all about proper nutrition and food preparation. Understanding the basics of proper nutrition are a great start to integrating healthy eating habits as a lifestyle change rather than following trendy fad diet advice.
Recently, Canada's Food Guide got a beautiful update and it's simple to follow. The changes move from focusing on portions and four groups of food, to three basic things to consider around eating: what to eat, what to avoid and what to think about when making these choices.
The picture above outlines the "what to eat" part, with an emphasis on plant-based foods, more vegetables and fruits, some healthy proteins and fats and whole grains. A big change is the move away from dairy as a food group. I have personally been waiting since the last update to the food guide in 2007, the same year I discovered the relationship between dairy and my eczema, to see this change. As we now understand that milk and dairy pose problems for many people, water is the best drink of choice.
I get asked often about how to eat right. In my town, many people have just always followed the same food traditions they were brought up on and they are eager for information on ways to improve their diet. I am not a formally trained nutritionist, but I have educated myself in clean eating, I follow some amazing holistic nutritionists on social media and use hoslitic nutritional guidelines as the base of my resources. In the past 15 years I have personally discovered the health benefits to following the holistic guidelines of eating well. Despite getting raised eyebrows from my chocolate avocado brownie recipe, the blind taste tests win them over every time. Although I always have an eye and ear out for the newest nutritional recommendations from the holistic nutritional community, there are a few top tips I consider for healthy eating.
1. Choose whole foods, plant-based mostly, following the new food guide for what makes up my plate.
2. Choose local and organic as much as possible. Finding a farmer in our community between the market and asking your neighbour is an easy way to limit the miles between farm and plate.
3. NO refined sugar. Making the switch to honey and maple syrup is the best decision you can make. Both are natural sweeteners that also have added health benefits and will not spike blood sugar levels like white sugar.
4. NO dairy. This can be a difficult switch for many, but with so many non-diary options out there it can be deliciously done!
5. Learn how to read the ingredient list with the food label. This is probably the biggest rule I follow. The number of calories is less significant that the content of food. Chemicals and artificial foods make for an attractive low-calorie option, but calories are not the enemy.
Routine and repetition shouldn't be feared around eating. I look at my grocery list like a canvas of the same foods that are mixed and matched to create a variety of healthy food options that are not only easy to make but taste delicious and leave me and my family feeling good all around. A little food prep once a week saves time during the week, which means no stops for fast food or hangry littles after hockey.
With the right guide for proper nutrition, a little bit of time and effort and an open mind, everyone has the opportunity to bring healthy eating habits into their life.