There is an old adage that claims you are what you eat. While we don’t believe that what you eat defines you, at The Medical Station we do know that what you eat can affect your health and quality of life. The World Health Organization lists an unhealthy diet as one of the primary risk factors for chronic disease. In March, individuals and groups across Canada will be celebrating Nutrition Month, and we want to highlight this important event organized by the Dietitians of Canada. The Medical Station explores this year’s Nutrition Month theme and shares some of our clinic’s own tips for tackling nutrition and healthy eating this month (and beyond).
Take A 100 Meal Journey
The theme of this year’s Nutrition Month, as determined by Dietitians of Canada (DC), is Take A 100 Meal Journey: Make small changes one meal at a time. As DC explains, an individual consumes almost 100 meals each month (though The Medical Station acknowledges that even in Canada food insecurity is a major issue and many people may not consume the suggested three meals a day) – this presents a tremendous opportunity for individuals, families, and communities to set goals and develop new habits. DC is using the month of March to inspire Canadians with ideas for simple and small changes that will have significant results.
Week 1 – Get Ready
This is the preparatory week for Nutrition Month – pledge to join DC in the 100 meal journey! DC suggests you set a manageable and practical goal for the month. While The Medical Station certainly agrees that goal setting and commitment are key for behaviour change, if you read our blog on New Year’s Resolutions, then you’ll remember that sometimes goal setting can, ironically, get in the way of achieving those goals. The best goals or plans of action are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Share your goal with family and friends, or write it out somewhere you will see it regularly.
Week 2 – Quality Counts
The second week of the campaign focuses on making food decisions that will support your nutrition goals. Like many things in life, when it comes to eating, quality can be just as, if not more, important than quantity. During this week, The Medical Station and DC encourage you to:
- Cook at home more often
- Choose nutrient-rich foods where possible
- Makeover your favourite recipes with healthy ingredient substitutions
- Create healthy eating cues around your house or work space (i.e. have a bowl of fruit on your table, or keep a water bottle by your desk)
Our Registered Dietitian, Emily, suggests that you make canned beans a staple in your pantry and you'll always have a great base for a quick, healthy meal (check out the blog photo to see one of Emily's delicious & healthy creations).
Week 3 – Prioritize Portion Size
Portion control is a challenge for many people. Over time our plates and portion sizes have grown, and this is one of the contributors to the obesity epidemic. DC offers some helpful tricks for estimating portions. In addition to being aware of portion sizes, eating slowly and mindfully will help prevent overeating.
Week 4 – Try Something New
Now that you’ve gotten some of the healthy basics under control, DC recommends using the fourth week to try something new. While it is great to get into a routine and build habits – you also want to ensure variety in your diet. To spice things up, The Medical Station recommends the following:
- Organize a potluck (nutritious foods only!) and swap the recipes
- Explore ethnic grocery stores
- Check out some classic recipes from countries around the globe
- Try new flavour combinations
Week 5 – Make It Stick
The final, and arguably most important, week is all about sustaining these new healthy eating habits. Maintaining a healthy diet is a lifelong balancing act, it is crucial that you have strategies in place for when you face roadblocks. Here are some Medical Station tips:
- Eat a snack before you go out to an event where you may indulge
- Cook healthy meals in bulk so you have leftovers for another day. Remember cook once, eat twice!
- Keep your pantry stocked with healthy foods
- Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up!
Our Registered Dietitian, Jordana, recommends meal planning. This helps you know ahead of time what foods you will be cooking and eating, and encourages you to make better food choices!
Nutrition is a complex and highly individualized journey, but one that is extremely important for our health. When The Medical Station opens in Spring 2016, our two Registered Dietitians, Jordana and Emily, will be available to support you with your nutrition goals. They look forward to working with you to achieve a healthy and sustainable diet that is in line with your needs. For those with a specific interest in weight management, please stay tuned for more information on The Medical Station’s Weight Management Program that is currently under development.