Written by: Laura Chimenti BSc Candidate
Reviewed by: Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
It’s that time of year again! Time to whip out your cutting boards and cookbooks as we all take time the next few weeks to gain a deeper understanding about our own personal health and nutrition.
With this year’s theme of “More Than Food”, nutrition month goes deeper than just what we eat, and includes the importance of how we eat. This theme goes hand in hand with Canada’s Food Guide which was recently updated in 2019 to include information and tips about where, when, why and how you eat. Some of these tips include:
- Be mindful of your eating habits. Are you eating because you’re hungry or because you’re bored? Take your time while eating and listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues.
- Cook more often. Limit eating out and cook at home, as often as possible. Cooking your own meals has been shown to support the development and maintenance of healthy eating habits. If time is an issue, try meal prepping on weekends to make weekday meals easier and faster!
- Eat meals with others. This can add enjoyment to cooking your own meals and can even help you discover new foods that you may not have tried in the past.
For more tips given by Canada’s Food Guide, click here.
Now that you have a brief idea behind the focus of this year’s Nutrition Month, here are some tips Dietitians of Canada (and I!) encourage you to incorporate into your busy routines, not only during nutrition month but in the months and years to follow.
- Plan What You Eat
Planning your meals for the week or even just for the next few days can seem like a time-consuming task but once you get the hang of it, you’ll not only save time (and money!), but you’ll also find that it makes sticking to healthy eating habits a whole lot easier.
So where should you start? First, pick out a time to sit down and pick out your recipes. Once you’re ready to go, grab your favourite cookbook, or your computer. Dietitians of Canada provides plenty of delicious and nutritious recipes. They’ve even made a recipe e-book just for nutrition month! You can download this e-book here.
Or you can simply google recipes or use websites such as Pinterest (my personal favourite) to find thousands of healthy recipes.
Begin compiling the recipes that catch your eye until you have enough recipes for the time frame you’re planning for. Use these recipes to create a grocery list so you don’t miss any ingredients when you’re at the grocery store!
It’s also a good idea to plan a few go-to snacks for the week, as snack time can be a very tempting time.
- Involve children and teens in cooking
For those of you with children, try involving them in your cooking. Involving children in cooking healthy meals, can help to build healthy habits that can be carried on throughout their lives. Not only will this set your children up for a happy and healthy future, but it’s also a great way to have fun and spend time with your children!
While it may be a bit more challenging to convince your teens to cook with you, it can be very beneficial for teens to be involved in the kitchen. With many teens moving away and living on their own in the near future, helping out at mealtime can teach them not only the skills needed for cooking, but also healthy eating habits that they will hopefully bring with them as they move onto the next stage of their life.
If you’re struggling to convince your teens to help out at mealtime try letting them take control; let them pick out the meal they want to make and let them take the lead in the kitchen.
- Listen to your hunger and fullness cues
We’ve all, at one point or another, found ourselves feeling uncomfortably full after a meal or even thinking to ourselves, “I’m so full, but it’s so good.” as we take another bite. Sometimes listening to our hunger cues can be difficult, and sometimes we ignore them altogether, however, it’s important that we listen to our bodies and fuel ourselves accordingly.
Often times we mistake other feelings for hunger, when in reality we may just be bored, stressed, upset, etc. Before heading to the kitchen, take some time and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”. Also be aware that your current mood can significantly influence your food choices. For example, many of us are much more likely to gravitate towards processed foods when we’re feeling upset, distressed, etc.
Once you’ve listened to your body and decided you are in fact hungry, it’s time to pay attention to your fullness cues. One of the biggest challenges people have with this, is eating too fast. If we eat our food too fast, we aren’t giving our bodies a chance to really register when we’ve had enough to eat, and this often leads to eating too large a portion and feeling overly full afterwards.
To more effectively listen to our fullness cues, try eating slower and taking small breaks between bites. This allows our bodies to begin digesting our food and send out signals that we are full before we’ve already eaten to excess. As well, take note of the environment you’re eating in and whether you’re eating because you’re actually hungry or simply because food is available to you.
With these tips in mind, and this year’s Nutrition Month theme of “More Than Food”, I hope you take time to reflect and make changes where needed, to not only what you eat, but how you eat. For more information regarding Nutrition Month, click here.
Happy Nutrition Month!!
“Cooking with Kids.” Cooking with Kids – Unlock Food, www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Childrens-Nutrition/Cooking-and-Meal-Planning/Cooking-with-Kids.aspx.
“Healthy Eating Habits.” Canada’s Food Guide, 17 Dec. 2019, food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-habits/.
“Healthy Eating Recommendations.” Canada’s Food Guide, 23 Oct. 2019, food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/be-mindful-of-your-eating-habits/hunger-cues/#NutritionMonth.
“Healthy Eating Recommendations.” Canada’s Food Guide, 4 Dec. 2019, food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/be-mindful-of-your-eating-habits/.
“Healthy Eating Recommendations.” Canada’s Food Guide, 4 Dec. 2019, food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/be-mindful-of-your-eating-habits/take-time-to-eat/.
“Top 10 Easy Ways to Get Teens Cooking.” Top 10 Easy Ways to Get Teens Cooking – Unlock Food, www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Teenagers/-Top-10-easy-ways-to-get-teens-cooking.aspx.