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More Than Food: The 4 Factors of How We Eat!

Every March, Canadians celebrate Nutrition Month and this year we are talking about how healthy eating is so much More than Food! Dietitians are encouraging Canadians to consider not only what they eat, but how they eat as well.

Last year, Health Canada released the new Canada’s Food Guide which incorporated more guidelines about how we eat.

The four factors outlined in the Food Guide are:

1. Be mindful of your eating habits

2. Cook more often

3. Enjoy your food

4. Eat meals with others

Let’s look at these recommendations a little closer!

1. Be mindful of your eating habits

For many of us, we eat our three square meals and a couple snacks a day without ever questioning our eating habits. Meals are such a routine part of life; often our whole schedule revolves around them. It is easy to consume a whole meal without ever stopping to think about how hungry we are or savouring the moment.

Take the time at meals to really engage in the experience. Set the table, turn the TV off, put the phone down and enjoy your food. Chew slowly and taste every bite. Think about how food is not just filling the stomach, it is also fueling and strengthening our bodies.

Listen to your body. If you are full, stop eating. If you are hungry, have a bit more.

2. Cook more often

Meal prepping is a popular term right now, but frankly - it can be daunting. To plan every meal for every occasion a week in advance isn’t easy. Try picking out your proteins as a simple start to meal planning, without trying to define every single element of the meal. Some great protein sources include lean meats like poultry and fish, eggs, beans, lentils and tofu.

Now that’s all well and good for those of us that can cook, but what about if cooking if not your forte? There are a ton of ways to still participate in meal prep. Grab a knife, slice some veggies, chop some deli meats and shred some cheese - and you have an easy salad bar.

Local grocery stores and restaurants are regularly hosting cooking classes now, a great way to get out, learn something new and meet some new people.

Okay, okay - if we just cannot convince you to cook then try to be involved in meals in other ways. Help set the table or serve or clean up. Everyone should participate in meals, as it helps us appreciate the work that goes in to nourishing our bodies.

3. Enjoy your food

It is a cultural phenomenon, that we celebrate using food. A birthday party isn’t a birthday party, without cake. A golf game isn’t a golf game, without a quick hot dog between the 9th and 10th hole (okay that is a personal ‘tradition’ if you will). Food brings people together and transcends culture as the ultimate unifier.

Many of us were raised with food traditions that span generations. But it is also important that we enjoy food by passing on and creating new food traditions.

Food traditions don’t always need to involve overindulging and naps either, consider giving back with new traditions. You could take your family/friends to a soup kitchen and help serve meals for those in needs. At your next holiday celebration, ask guests to bring a canned good that can be donated to a local charity. Invite a friend or neighbour who is alone at the holidays.

Sharing food brings family, friends and communities together.

4. Eat meals with others

Sharing meals with others is the ultimate time for socializing. In fact, research has shown that it can decrease the likelihood of depression, increase positivity and reduce stress. As well, social isolation is a key factor in predicting poor nutritional status for Seniors. People who eat with others tend to eat more, consume more fruits and vegetables and have better nutrient intake overall.

Task yourself and others around you to make mealtimes, more social and engaging. Everyone benefits from it!

So in summary, what you eat is just as important as how you eat. Challenge yourself to think a little bit more about mealtimes and get more social with food. You, your family and friends all serve to benefit from it!

Contributor: Carol Donovan RD, President Seasons Care Dietitian Network As the President of Canada’s Largest Dietitian Network, Carol’s passion is Seniors Nutrition. In addition to her role as President of Seasons Care she also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Dietitians of Canada. Seasons Care Dietitian Network is a family business with a network of over 150 Registered Dietitians. Seasons Care specializes in Nutrition Counselling, Menu Planning, Group Presentations and On-Site RD Services in the Long Term Care, Retirement and Independent Living sectors. For more information or to complete an online referral visit or 1.855.895.5609.


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