Has it really been almost TWO MONTHS since I last wrote??? I guess in the midst of planning/packing/moving/unpacking writing a blog post had slipped my mind! I back now, though, and really excited about what we’re going to talk about tonight!
This morning I had the opportunity to go for coffee with a wonderful woman and we spent a lot of the time talking about food and nutrition (one of my favourite topics of conversation!). And thanks to her suggestion, I watched the documentary “Food Matters”. If you haven’t watched this before, I encourage you to google it or find it on Netflix and check it out. As a dietitian I know very well how powerful foods are in our bodies, but watching this has reignited my passion to pass on this knowledge to others. So I’ve compiled a couple of rules of thumb to guide you in your grocery shopping and food choices as well as a “suggested foods” list thanks to a suggestion from a friend.
1) Choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible (ie. fresh chicken breasts instead of chicken fingers, or steel-cut oats instead of flavoured quick-cooking oats)
2) If a food product has to try to convince you that it’s good for you it’s probably not (you don’t see a bag of apples or carrots screaming at you that they’re good for you, but you can certainly see tons of food packages boasting that they’re high in fibre/ low in sodium/ fortified with _____/ all natural/ etc)
Foods to choose:
- Veggies and Fruit- These nutrition superstars should always find themselves on your grocery list and in your fridge. These foods are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a host of phytonutrients that our bodies require in order to thrive. To save some money, stock up on some frozen berries and frozen veggies (they’re just as nutritious as fresh). Stay away from canned fruits and veggies, though. The heating process they’ve undergone will have destroyed the heat-unstable vitamins in them (like vitamin C). As well, canned vegetables are generally very high in sodium, and canned fruits typically have sugar added. We’re learning more and more about how the pesticides and herbicides on fresh produce are harmful to our health, so try to choose organic fruits and veggies more often (check out the Environmental Working Group’s website for which fruits/veg contain more pesticides, aka “the dirty dozen”, and which ones contain lower amounts, aka “the clean 15”- http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/).
- Healthy sources of Protein- Including protein at each meal is important for our good health, but it also helps us feel full for longer. We know that eating red meat often isn’t good for our bodies, so choose healthier sources of protein like fish, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), poultry, nuts and seeds (1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds gives you the same amount of protein as a small chicken breast!), eggs, and plain Greek yogurt. Stay away from processed meats of any kind (deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, etc)- they’re loaded with sodium, preservatives, and our way less nutrient-dense than the foods listed above. Also, while cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, it’s also really high in sodium and saturated fat, so try to keep your cheese intake to a minimum.
- Whole Grains- When it comes to grains in North America we typically just eat wheat (and some oats, rye, and rice), and most of these are refined (aka stripped of much of their nutritional value and also high on the Glycemic Index). But there are tons of whole grains that we’re missing out on! Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, brown and wild rice, steel-cut oats, bulgur, and sprouted-grains bread (ie. Silver Hills bread) are all examples of nutrient-rich, minimally-processed, low-Glycemic Index grains (the Glycemic Index is a scale that ranks how much a food that contains carbs raises our blood sugar- we want to choose low-GI foods).
- Healthy Fats- There are 3 different types of fats: unsaturated, saturated, and trans. Unsaturated fats are the ‘healthy fats’ (stay away from trans fats and try to avoid animal sources of saturated fats). We find unsaturated fats in vegetable oils (like extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil), avocados, nuts, seeds (like chia and flax seeds, and raw sunflower/pumpkin/etc seeds), and fish (omega-3 fats).
Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this! Also, I’d love to hear any grocery shopping/ food choice tips that you’d like to share! :)