Healthy Eating is About So Much More Than Food
How You Eat is Important Too!
By Jen Ong Tone MHSc RD, #HalfYourPlate Registered Dietitian
Did you know that March is Nutrition Month? Every year, dietitians across the country come together to provide healthy eating tips for Canadians. This year, we’re talking about healthy eating being more than just food – how you eat is important too! Whether it’s cooking more often, enjoying your meals, or eating with others, here’s a few tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Cook More Often
Between work, school, family life, and activities, life gets busy! It can be a challenge to find the time to cook meals at home, but cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. It also brings about many benefits, like:
- Discovering new culinary skills
- Being in control of what goes into your meals, like including more vegetables and fruit
- Saving money on meals bought outside the home
Save time in the kitchen with these tips:
- Create a weekly meal plan
- When you have a plan in place, you’re more likely to stick to it, and that includes cooking meals at home. If you’re new to meal planning, start off with planning one or two meals per week and involve your family in the planning process. This will help you on those busy nights, where you’re left wondering “what’s for dinner?”
- Cook in big batches
- Big batch cooking is a great way to prepare meals in advance, especially for lunches the next day or on busy weeknights. Weekends can be a great time to batch cook. Try these freezer-friendly meal ideas: cream of carrot soup, head-to-toe broccoli soup, bean, sweet potato and garlic stew, and chickpea sweet potato stew with barley.
- Invest in healthy ready-to-eat foods
- Washing, cutting, and preparing food can be time-consuming. Save time in the kitchen by investing in a few healthy convenient options, such as: pre-washed salads, pre-cut stir fry veggies, and cored pineapple.
Tip #2 Enjoy Your Food
All foods can fit into a healthy diet. When you enjoy your food, it can help you develop a healthier relationship with food. That means enjoying foods that actually taste good. Say goodbye to limp asparagus or overcooked broccoli!
Add more flavour to your veggies with these ideas:
- Try pickling beets, cucumbers, carrots, onions, and radishes for a zingy twist! Add to salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Try these easy fridge pickles.
- Roast your vegetables. Roasting releases the natural sugars found in vegetables, enhancing the flavour of broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, and beets. Add grated parmesan at the very end for a savoury boost. Try this roasted fall veggie medley.
- In the summer, grill sliced eggplant, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes on the BBQ. Try these grilled eggplant halloumi stacks.
- Embrace herbs, spices, and citrus. These flavour boosters enhance the flavour of veggies. A simple crowd-pleaser is olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.
Tip #3: Eat Together
No matter what time of day, eating together with family, friends, and co-workers can bring about many benefits. It’s not only a great way to connect with others, it can also help you discover new food traditions and cultures. Eating together can also help your kids explore new healthy foods and improve their overall eating habits.
Whether you live alone or have a busy family schedule, here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Plan a monthly potluck brunch or dinner with friends
- Try a picnic-style dinner at the park during busy nights at the soccer or baseball field
- Schedule a bi-weekly dinner with extended family
- Take the time out of your workday to have lunch with co-workers
- Attend local community celebrations or events
- Join a community meal program
Bottom line: Try implementing one or two of these healthy behaviours into your lifestyle. Whether it’s planning more meals at home or eating more meals with others, you’ll reap the health benefits in the long term!