Every new year arrives with the common refrain: “I am going to be / eat healthier this year!” But, alas, all too
often best intentions result in little or no sustained action, due to competing priorities or unmanageable
expectations. You may join a gym, sign up for an online program, or start a “fad” diet. Not only
expensive and unsustainable, superficial programs or diets run the risk of only further hampering your
attempt to achieve balanced, healthy outcomes over the longer term.
So, rather than falling victim to the all-too-foreseeable cycle – engaging in a short-term burst of diet or exercise – why not challenge yourself to become empowered to do things differently? To that end, here a few tips to support you on your journey; it does not have to be overwhelming or complicated!
1) Choose whole foods. This should be your #1 priority to eat healthier. Swap your packaged snacks, frozen
meals, canned foods, to whole foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts,
and seeds. These foods are nutrient dense, and include protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and
minerals, giving your body the nutrients it needs to feel good. Processed and refined foods are
void of nutrients, are empty calories, and will leave you feeling unsatisfied, low energy, and
cause food cravings. One way to support this is when grocery shopping, stay on the perimeter
and avoid venturing down the aisles where the processed foods are generally found.
2) Do not care for calories, care for nutrients. Calories are not created equal. The quality of
the calories that you are eating is what really matters. You want to be eating a variety of
colours, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats to ensure that you are getting a wide range of
vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Do not be afraid of healthy fats; these
allow you to feel fuller longer, allow you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and are so
important for your mental health. If you want to improve the quality of your diet, eat healthier and improve
how you feel, varying your diet and eating nutrient dense foods is key.
3) Keep healthy foods readily available. It is when we are most hungry that we reach for the
bad snacks. Avoid keeping unhealthy food in your pantry, and most importantly have healthy
foods easily accessible. Have a basket of fruits on the counter, have healthy snacks like nuts and
seeds at eye level in your fridge and pantry. Cut up a big batch of vegetables at the beginning of
the week and put them in a container so that you always have freshly cut up vegetables on hand
and ready to be eaten. Hummus, bean dips, or guacamole are great for veggie dippers.
4) Remove sugary drinks from your diet. If you are going to have one specific goal this year, this could be it! Canadians purchase a daily average of 450 ml of sugary drinks per capita which equates to about one pop per person per day. This is excessive and the consequences on health are detrimental. Cutting back on sugary drinks is one of the best ways to remove excess calories and to maintain a healthy body weight. Research is predicting that sugary drink consumption will be responsible for obesity in more than three million Canadians in the next twenty years. Please don’t be part of those stats.
5) Eat nuts and seeds. If you do not already eat nuts and seeds, or always eat the same ones,
it is an excellent idea to start eating them. These nutrient dense gems are high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals (such as magnesium, zinc, and calcium), and antioxidants. You can add them to your oatmeal, salads, soups, and baked goods. Many people snack on nutsalready, but seeds are such a powerhouse of nutrition so make sure you add these to your diet as well. This includes pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia, flex, and hemp.
And on that happy note, happy new year!
Written by Catherine Binette, Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Catherine has a clinical focus in general wellness and women’s health including teens and moms. She currently lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.