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Nutrition Month: Tips to help unlock the potential of food

by Gwen Simms

March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Unlock the Potential of Food.” Food is nourishment, but it is also so much more. Food can improve health, prevent disease, and keep us feeling our best for longer. Food inspires, fuels activity, and ultimately unites us all. The 2018 campaign has five topics that will help us explore the potential of food.

The Potential to: FUEL    

Food gives our bodies the energy they need to function. From the most basic act of breathing to running a marathon, providing our body with the necessary fuel is crucial. However, almost half of Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is a challenge because they are so busy. This means they often skip meals and graze throughout the day.  Snacking can definitely be part of a healthy diet and is a helpful way to get all the nutrients the body needs each day. The key to healthy snacking is to choose nutritious choices in manageable portions to meet hunger and energy needs.

Remember, the goal is to provide your body with consistent energy during the day to keep yourself well fueled. So whether you are eating mostly meals, mostly snacks, or a mixture of both, make sure you are eating regularly and making the most nutritious choices you can.

The Potential to: DISCOVER

Did you know that improving food skills leads to healthier eating? This is especially important for kids as many grow up lacking basic food skills like how to shop, cook, and build a balanced meal. This is paired with children being exposed to more and more unhealthy food and beverage messaging, which is building a culture that relies heavily on processed and take out foods which are not as nourishing as home-cooked meals and snacks.

Teaching children basic food skills can give them the power to discover better health as they grow. If you have a child in your life, involve them in cooking and other food related activities and watch as they become inspired.

The Potential to: PREVENT

Lifestyle factors, including what we eat, are a major influence in disease prevention. Studies consistently show that a nutritious diet can help prevent illness and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. A basic healthy diet for disease prevention follows a Mediterranean dietary pattern which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy foods. Choosing more of these whole foods and less processed foods is a great place to start.

The Potential to: HEAL

As dietitians, we believe in and understand the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. You can find dietitians working in hospitals, family health teams, public health, long term care settings, and so many other exciting places, all with this same belief. We all use food to promote healing and help others discover how nutrition can play a role in leading your best life at any age and any stage. From picky eating to diabetes management and from celiac disease to malnutrition, food is healing.

The Potential to: BRING US TOGETHER

We come together over food to celebrate and to grieve, and often food is a joy, a comfort, and an act of love in our lives. It is all of this to us because sharing food has power. Making these meals a priority, setting down our cellphones and turning off the T.V. even a few times a week can make a difference.

So what does food mean to you? And how can you unlock the potential of food in your own life this month?

For more information about any of the free services offered by the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team, visit the website at www.mmfht.ca or call the Drayton/Palmerston office at 519-638-2110 or Clifford office at 519-327-4777. Like the team on Facebook (Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team) and follow them on Twitter (@MintoMapleton) for healthy living tips and information on upcoming programs and events in the area.

For more information about any of the free services offered by your local Family Health Team ask your doctor or nurse practitioner during your next visit, visit the website www.afhto.ca or google ‘family health team locations.”

Gwen Simms is a registered dietitian with the Mount Forest Family Health Team.

 

March 9, 2018

 
 

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