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Let’s talk about healthy eating and look at how it affects us

Quality, not quantity, and moderation are part of the equation

By Elvenia Sandiford

Every once in a while, I reminisce on healthy, tasty food from my childhood that I have not had in a long while.

In all cultures, food has international symbolism. Food brings families and communities together and gives us a sense of camaraderie. It is not surprising that when most of us think of healthy eating, we immediately think of weight loss and dieting. We can attribute this to the multiple ads from various media. We are flooded with information telling us about diet fads, detox, or super foods that typically have a story to go with them.

Having a celebrity’s endorsement is even more convincing. People are confused, as our society jumps from diet to diet looking for some magic formula.

In the real world of industrialized countries, we are surrounded by a limitless supply of inexpensive, supersized, high calorie food. Healthy eating is a huge topic that sounds simple in theory, yet is complex in practice. Conceptually, the eat-less-move-more jargon that we hear every day is not as easy as it appears. Depending on our dietary goal — whether it is weight loss, eating healthy, reduced overeating, or a longer, better life — we always need changes that lead to increased energy and fewer food-related chronic or lifestyle diseases.

Let’s look at healthy eating in another way. Let’s focus more on structure and in-person social support. Let us remember that diets are really about rules and patterns in our eating habits, with a focus on quality and not quantity.

Healthy eating will also affect how we sleep and how we feel. Maybe we can look at healthy eating as a part of stress management, which then affects our sleeping habits. We can be more alert and aware, and make better choices, when we are rested, and make better choices about other factors that affect out lives. It is all inter-related.

Let us then try to practice moderation in all the things we do, and worry less about less meat or veggies or fruits or dessert. Let us try to eliminate the determinants of health. Let us think about the possibility of shopping at the farmers’ market or outside the processed food aisle at the grocery store.

Let us try to grab the opportunities for affordable, healthier eating. Let us look at those aspects of our cultures that lead to healthier outcomes and better health benefits, like reducing dementia, cancer, and heart disease.

For eating healthy, let us set a goal of aiming to maintain — as much as possible — a regular and healthy eating pattern throughout each day.

Here are 10 general tips for healthy eating habits:

1. Try to create a healthy eating environment.

2. Try to educate yourself about proper nutrition along the way.

3. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with vibrant colours.

4. Make as many meals as you can at home.

5. Read the ingredients on labels.

6. Organize ourselves and our food by making a meal plan for the week.

7. Watch the portion sizes for each meal (try not to overeat).

8. Keep up fluid intake and drink plenty of water.

9. Keep track of what works.

10. Review as necessary.

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