Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nutrition: Feeling not quite right? Perhaps it’s what you’re not eating...

He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician. – Chinese proverb

2007 is the latest version of the Canada Food Guide.
It’s easy to spot my dietary weaknesses. I don’t eat anywhere near enough vegetables, fruit or dairy and my fat intake is probably much higher than it should be. That is something I have to rectify – and sooner rather than later. After all, I am aging, as much as I hate to admit it...

But what is the right amount of food for us to be eating daily? 
Check the Canada Food Guide. When the Guide is mentioned people’s eyes roll back in their heads and they start to quiver. Most don’t even know what’s in it, yet they start to mutter “It’s too hard to follow,” “It’s expensive,” “I don’t have time.”

Well, let me ask you this: do you (or those you cook for) have time to be sick because their diet is out of whack; or do they have time for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, loss of vision, scurvy or a multitude of skin conditions (to mention just a few) because of the same?

Go to Health Canada (link below) to download the Guide.
I thought not.

I don’t mean to be preachy, but most of us have diets that could use some work. It’s important not only for adults but especially for children to have good nutrition habits to maintain optimal development and growth. Good habits taught at an early age will stay with them for a lifetime. 

Our bodies are like a machine. Would you fill your car tank with water and expect it to run? Too many of us put in foods with little or poor nutritional value and expect to feel well. It just isn't going to happen, folks.

So what should we be eating?
We need the wide range of nutrients present in the Canada Food Guide chart to make the non-eating parts of our lives enjoyable. It’s really not that difficult to follow or understand. Here’s the breakdown all age groups from the chart.

These are the recommended daily servings.
But what’s a serving? 
You would be surprised at some. For example, 1/2 a bagel is "1 serving" of grain as is 1/2 cup of cooked pasta (who on earth eats only 1/2 cup of pasta??); 2 eggs, 3/4 cup of tofu, 1/2 cup of fish, poultry or lean meat are all "1 serving." The Guide is very enlightening.

When you start adding things up you get a good idea of where you’re lacking and where you're over. Then balance it out to make up the differences. 

My post yesterday was for Turkey Enchiladas. I tried something new. I split the contents into the food group servings (approximately). I was surprised to find out how much it covered. From there I knew how much of the groups I had to have to make up my daily requirements.

Look, it's not that hard. For example, breakfast: one half a large grapefruit, 2 pieces of whole grain toast and 1 cup of milk (that's just a small glass). In this example you eat 1/4 of your daily grains, 1/8 of your veg and fruit, and HALF of your daily milk and alternatives. As you can start to see, the veg/fruit one is easy to be low on.

We need to pay more attention to what we put into our bodies, because what we can get out of them (walks with loved ones, the ability to play with our grandchildren or children, activities we enjoy) has everything to do with how well our bodies are functioning.

If we don’t have our health nothing else matters. 
Has someone close to you in your life ever been sick? As them if good health matters.

This side gives a good synposis of what constitutes a "serving."
But you like your sweets?
I do find that the chart is missing some food groups like “Dessert.” (Har, har.) Coming from Health Canada one must expect information that is of optimal benefit for us. Perhaps a little TOO optimal... 

I don’t think having the occasional piece of homemade pie or cake would throw your life into turmoil. You know what's gone into their making. Grocery store pies may be another matter...

Just keep it to a minimum. Don't shovel cookies into your maw from 7-10pm; don't eat half a cake; don't have a whole container of Ben & Jerry's on one sitting. Like the Guide says “limit foods and beverages high in…etc”. Use your common sense.

This is a diet you can stick to, but by "diet" I don't mean a weight loss regime. Eatings french fries and fried chicken is a diet, albeit an unhealthy one. A diet is whatever you put in your stomach. You will notice as you cut down on the high sugar snacks that things like carrots, peaches, pineapple and life in general will begin to taste sweeter.

Download the Guide and keep it on hand
To download the original Guide as a PDF, please visit You will find more information than is printed on the guide and other tools to help you and your family maintain optimal health and through that a better life. 

The Guide is allowed to be reproduced without permission (as long as it's not altered) so spread it around as far as you can.

I will try my best to do my part. I’ll give you ideas and information on how to cook delicious meals that aren’t too unhealthy and give optional steps if they are), as well as foraging alternatives to the grocery store to vary your diet as well as keep money in your pocketbook. 

Many local plants have beneficial properties that our forebears knew but we have long ago forgotten. We rely too heavily on fresh fruit and vegetables from other countries. We need to change our habits, because costs are most certainly not going to decrease on produce that we fly, ship and truck from the far corners of the globe.

So what can you do RIGHT NOW?
  • Monitor what you're putting on the table and adjust what you have to.
  • Vow to plant a vegetable garden and get your kids involved.
  • Refuse to let pickiness stand in the way of good nutrition.
  • Shop at your local farmer's market.
  • MAKE more food, as opposed to purchasing premade.
  • Eat local – AND seasonal.

I’ll be learning myself as we go along. Hopefully the process can benefit you, me and the ones we love.


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