As you might well imagine, I talk a lot about food.
With my clients, in my health groups, with my family and friends, I post about it on social media, create and share recipes, meal plans, prepping tips and the list goes on and on. And, of course, there's this column. Food, food and more food.
If you stop and think about it, you probably talk, or think about it, a lot too. When you think about it, food is a huge part of almost everything we do. Everyday it's breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks – snacks by the way are essential in keeping blood sugar stable, just make sure to have some protein and a healthy fat with those carbs. And that includes in the evening. So all that “No eating after 6 p.m. if you want to lose weight,” is so untrue. Those kinds of things are actually what keep your metabolism turned on and burning fat.
But I digress. There are those occasions that pop up like weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, dinner parties and movie nights. The list is endless. And because we are blessed to live in Canada, our food choices are endless as well.
Let's face it, even when supply chains get disrupted, we didn't really go without much for longer than a few days. My hubby having to substitute out the fresh banana for frozen berries in his daily smoothie is barely an inconvenience, let alone a “going without” issue.
The reality is we live in an abundant society where we have a lot of choices. The other reality is even with all this availability and an abundance of food, nutritionally we are starving.
According to a 2012 survey on the Government of Canada’s website (the most recent I could find) called “Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?,” both men and women across all age categories are not getting enough vitamin A, C, D, magnesium and calcium. And on the flip side, everyone, with the exception of the over-70 age group, are taking in too much sodium. My assessment of this is that after years of too much, a few issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol caught up with our seniors and they've realized, or been told, they need to cut down.
Just from what I see in my coaching practice, I am confident an updated study would likely not show any improvement in these stats. In fact, another area of the Government of Canada website contains a report, “Tackling Obesity in Canada: Obesity and Excess Weight Rates in Canada,” that shows obesity rates have steadily increased over the past 40 years.
In 1978, 49 percent of the population over the age of 18 were overweight or obese. In 2004, that number rose to 59 percent and in 2017, a whopping 64 percent. Those who are well-nourished don't tend to struggle with weight issues, it's those who are well-fed who do.
Choosing foods that nourish our bodies at a cellular level, rather than just filling the stomach bucket, creates health. When we give our bodies the right tools and the right environment, they thrive—and we thrive. “Lifestyle” diseases are called that for a reason. Anything we do, or don’t do, consistently over time will yield a result, good or bad.
I've often used the analogy of building something. If your project isn't nice and square to start, the longer that piece of wood, the bigger the item, the more noticeable it will be on the finished project.
So how does a nation with access to an abundance of food end up overweight, nutrient deficient and living with the majority of the population in a state of poor health and chronic disease? I believe it's a combination of reasons.
In recent memory, we were told not to eat fat when, in fact, our bodies need fat—good fat for brain health, to help slow digestion, balance blood sugar, and to burn fat. Yep, you need fat to burn fat. It's the bad fats, and the quantity being consumed, that causes problems.
Carbs are another food category that has been demonized. Fruits and vegetables are carbs and also where we get our energy, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Absolutely take out all the processed carbs (anything in a package, box, bag, wrapper, bottle or can) as they are high in calories, and low in nutrients.
It doesn't make sense to eat foods from a box with synthetic vitamins added to it when you can eat a whole food that has natural vitamins your body can readily use.
Heredity is another factor. True, some diseases are passed down but so are the habits of our families, good and bad. It's never too late to adopt better habits to pass on to your family.
Today people say cost (is a factor). Prices have indeed (gone up), but there are always things you can do. Swapping the soda, juice or juice box for water actually saves you money, calories and keeps you hydrated. And, FYI, removing one juice box per day for a year also removes 38 cups of sugar from your diet.
What if you took what you'd spend on all the cookies, chips, cereals, etc., each week and bought fruits and veggies instead? Or, instead of dinner out, you and your spouse and/or kids cooked dinner together? I challenge you to put some ideas on the table and see what you come up with.
While we have enough, refugees fleeing the Ukraine do not.
I've partnered with a charity, Caring Hands to send potato pack meals, 29 servings full of protein, vitamins, minerals to people in need. For every potato pack donation, we will match it.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.