Take a 100 Meal Journey to Health

Andrea Miller MHSC, RD
March 2016

The Dietitians of Canada, Nutrition Month 2016 campaign is dedicated to supporting Canadians to make small changes to their eating – one meal at a time. The slogan for the 2016 campaign is Take a 100 meal journey: make small changes, one meal at a time. The goal of the campaign is to provide information and guidance to make it a little easier for Canadians to choose, eat and enjoy healthy food.

Although Nutrition month takes place in March of each year, the theme for this year lends itself well to anytime of the year. All you need to do is set aside 5 weeks-in-a-row- to take your own 100 meal journey. Whether this is in March, July or October, the goal is to make small, healthy and sustainable changes in your diet, that will last a lifetime.

The theme for week one is– GET READY!


Committing to make a healthy change is a great first step. Take a week to get prepared.
Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and hard to keep up. It’s better to make one nourishing change that sticks. First, choose your change. Think about your eating habits. Where can you make a positive, easy change? Here are some ideas that can make a big difference:
• Fill more of your plate with vegetables.
• Choose whole grain instead of white bread.
• Serve smaller portions.
• Enjoy fruit for snacks instead of sweet or salty treats.
• Drink water in place of sweetened beverages, like soft drinks of fancy coffees

Making nourishing meals and snacks is easier when you have healthy foods on hand. Get your kitchen ready for action with these good-for-you foods:
• Vegetables and fruit: fresh or plain frozen, dried and canned.
• Whole grains: oats, barley, quinoa, pasta, cereals, crackers, breads.
• Milk products: milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir.
• Nuts, seeds and nut butters: pumpkin seeds, flax, natural peanut butter.
• Canned and dried pulses: lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans.
• Eggs: whole or cartons of eggs or egg whites.
• Fish: plain frozen fish fillets, canned tuna or salmon.
• Meat and poultry: fresh cuts of red meat, turkey, chicken.

Look around your house, workplace, car or anywhere you might be eating. Are there cues, like candy bowls and cookie jars, that hinder healthy habits? Redesign your environment with healthy cues to prompt good choices. Try these ideas:
• Put a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. Keep all other food in the fridge or cupboards.
• Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk so it’s ready for sipping instead of sugary drinks.
• Store nourishing snacks, like cut up veggies, handy at eye level in your fridge. Put tempting treats at the back of the cupboard

Remember to write down your goal for week one and track your progress. Adjust it as needed, before moving on to week two.

Week two is all about – QUALITY! The focus is on cooking more meals at home, choosing nutrient-rich foods and substituting ingredients.

When it comes to food choices, quality counts. Nourishing foods promote health and can help you feel your best. Take small steps to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks: get clever with cooking, swap in nutrient-rich choices and enjoy deliciously healthy foods. Here are some tips to get you started.

A nourishing breakfast gives you a fuel boost plus protein and fibre to help you stay alert and avoid mid-morning munchies.
• Blend frozen berries, yogurt and milk for a super smoothie. Make it even better with baby spinach and ground flax.
• Wrap peanut butter, a banana and trail mix in a whole-grain tortilla for a portable, crunchy breakfast.
• Make a burrito with scrambled egg, lentils or soft tofu, sautéed red pepper, avocado and salsa wrapped in a warm tortilla.
• Top French toast with yogurt, sunflower seeds and warm sautéed apple slices.

Packing lunch is a healthy, budget-friendly habit. Keep it simple: reinvent “planned extra” leftovers for a lunch that’s way better than the food court. Try these tasty ideas:
• Cook extra chicken for dinner. For lunch, wrap chicken in soft tacos, with crunchy cabbage and shredded carrots, a sprinkle of feta and big squeeze of juicy lime.
• Roast extra root veggies. Layer them on crusty whole grain bread with hummus and baby spinach for a scrumptious sandwich.
• Toss extra cooked whole-wheat pasta, couscous or barley with pesto, cherry tomatoes, lentils and small cheese chunks for a protein-packed salad.

In Week three the focus is portion size! When it comes to healthy eating, how much you eat can be just as important as what you eat. Eating portions that are too big can lead to unintentional weight gain.

Package, plate and portion sizes can influence how much you eat. The larger the plate or package- the more we eat! This is true for beverages as well- bigger glasses equal more consumed. This can make a big difference if our beverages are sweetened or included toppings such as whipped cream and flavour syrups.
Try using smaller plates and bowls for meals. You’ll eat less but still feel satisfied. Also try the following ideas, manage portions:
• Serve food, or have family members serve themselves, from the counter or the stove- not at the table.
• Keep serving dishes of vegetables on the table. If you’re still hungry, eat second portions of veggies.
• Put large glasses of water on the table. You might even drink more water. Use smaller glasses for sweetened beverages. Keep those specialty coffees to a small.
• Turn off screens during meals so you are less likely to eat mindlessly- we eat more when we are distracted.
• Slow down when you eat. Put your fork down in between bites. We eat less, when we eat slowly.
• Buy individually wrapped treats, such as small squares of dark chocolate, to help with portion control.
Studies show, you are more likely to choose available, easily reached foods. Try these tips to make healthy choices easier:
• Keep nourishing snacks (e.g. hardboiled eggs, cut up veggies, yogurt, nuts, whole grain crackers) on an eye-level shelf in the fridge or cupboards so something healthy is the first thing you see.
• Put high-fat, high-sugar treats, such as cookies at the back of the fridge or cupboard so they’re out of sight and out of reach.
• Clear kitchen counters of all food except for a bowl of fresh fruit for crunchy snacking. We eat what we see!

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You goal for Week four is to try something new!

Think healthy eating is bland? No way! Healthy eating tastes great! Keep it interesting: get creative with cooking strategies, experiment with new foods and flavours and refresh your recipes.

Want to try new foods but not sure where to start? These tasty ideas are sure to tempt you:
• Toss slivers of raw purple beets, green pears, feta and flax in a lemony vinaigrette for a salad that’s bursting with colour and crunch.
• Squeeze lime juice onto grilled pineapple for a naturally sweet dessert.
• Make mushroom risotto with toasted barley and low-sodium broth, and then sprinkle with Parmesan for a flavour-filled side dish.
• Sauté apples in a little butter, dust with cinnamon and top with toasted oats, crumbled walnuts and creamy yogurt for a superb Sunday breakfast.

Eating at home can be as easy as take-out, yet much more nutritious and delicious! Skip take out and bring back kitchen fun by switching up how you cook and serve supper.
• Cook create-it-yourself meals with your kids. Try a family taco, fajita, salad bar. With everyone helping, meal prep is easy.
• Make your own pizzas in minutes. Top whole grain flat breads with tomato sauce, flavourful cheese and leftover roasted veggies. Yum!
• Sandwiches for supper? Sure! Use whole grain buns, hummus or leftover roasted chicken or beef and a slice of cheese and then pile on the veggies.

Your final week of your 100 meal journey is all about making those healthy changes stick!
Lack of time, eating out, holidays, stress? We all have challenges that can sidetrack our healthy eating plans. Here are some strategies to help your small changes stick.

Stock your kitchen with good-for-you snacks, like veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, seeds and whole grain crackers.
• Cook big batches of soup, stew or chili on weekends, then take a welcome cooking break on busy weekdays.
• Cook once. Eat twice. Make more food than you need for one meal and reinvent it for another.
• Shop for healthier convenience foods, such as frozen or pre-cut vegetables, plain frozen fish fillets, shredded cheese and canned lentils.

Dietitians can help you make daily food choices and plan healthy, delicious meals. They translate scientific research into practical, real life solutions. Learn how to feel your best by asking a dietitian for: • Tips and recipes to plan, shop for and cook healthy meals.
• Information to help interpret food labels and the latest headlines, trends and diets. • Support to improve your relationship with food.
• Customized meal plans, individual counselling and advice. A dietitian can help you to get back on your healthy- eating track!

Remember choose one or two goals each week. Keep your goals specific and realistic; build on them as you go!
For fantastic dietitian approved recipes, visit: http://www.cookspiration.com/
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