“What should I eat? Paleo? Keto? Gluten-free? What about lectins; they’re bad, right?" These are questions I get asked on a regular basis.
It's great that people are now paying more attention to what they eat, however the pendulum seems to have swung from not caring enough... to getting lost in the details of too much information. With more options comes more confusion; we’ve reached a point where people have become afraid to eat. This isn’t good.
Let’s take it back to simple (not to be confused with ‘convenience’). I would like to see less focus on the minutia of nutrition, and more emphasis on the basics of eating real food. And I'm not alone. As well-known author, journalist, & activist Michael Pollan says...
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
...or as I like to say, 'eat more food without ingredient labels'. It really can be this simple.
Vegetables, fruits, chicken breast, fish filets, steak, eggs, raw nuts & seeds; these are what I mean by food without labels. Did you know vegetables have a vast nutrient profile, yet here in North America we aren’t eating nearly enough to truly reap their benefits? Consider what's on your plate at dinner tonight - are vegetables the feature or the accompaniment? (And by the way, corn is a grain not a vegetable!)
"Where do I start?"
- veggies; include 2 colours with your lunch & dinner
- place fewer ingredient labels in your shopping cart
- try 1 new vegetable each week; find recipes online (so many at your fingertips!)
- pack your lunch after dinner
- prep a couple meals for the week on Sunday (or your day off); eg. pot of chili/soup/curry
- create a shopping list; either according to your plan for the week, or a Master list. This is a great way to ensure you have good ingredients for healthy meals.
- the tastiest veggies come from your local farmer; make the Farmers' Market part of your weekly routine, and seek out local family markets.
- quickly add more greens to your meal by putting 1-2 handfuls pre-washed baby spinach or kale in your plate/bowl before serving the meal (eg. curry, stew, eggs, chili, soup, etc.)
- a focus on perfection can cause paralysis, so recognize new habits take time. Ease into making changes by choosing 1 of the above suggestions and do it regularly until it’s habit (at least 2 weeks)... before taking on another. And please don't strive for perfection!
There are many unique situations that are going to effect the ease of these suggestions, such as having kids with busy schedules, long commutes for work, caring for elderly parents, etc. And let's be honest, decades of habits can be an obstacle too. I spend time helping patients find ways to make better food choices work with their circumstances. If you need support, ask a qualified healthcare provider for help.
In the meantime... start playing with your food!
Food - What the Heck Do I Eat?; Mark Hyman, MD
In Defense of Food - An Eater’s Manifesto; Michael Pollan
Where I shop locally:
Farm To Table Market - 65 Simcoe St.
Georgian Health Foods - 10 Keith Ave. (Cranberry Mews)
The Wild Stand - 856 Hurontario St.
The Barn Co-operative - Highway 26, Meaford
The Pantry at StoneTree - 27 Third St.
Collingwood Olive Oil Co. - 42 Ste. Marie St.
Collingwood Farmers Market (May - October) - corner of Pine & Second streets
The Bulk Barn
Freshco - great price on avocados!
Natural foods departments at Loblaws/SuperStore, Sobey’s
One week this winter I recorded my meals... this is what I ate.
My shopping list. I have created this 'master' list of everything I want in our kitchen on a regular basis. Realizing that if we have good ingredients at the ready we are more likely to create good meals! I have organized it according to where we shop; you will likely want to create a list that works for your own shopping habits.