Nutrition expert Brad Dieter gives us his best nutrition tips.
We all know that cooking for ourselves at home is definitely the healthiest way to go, but after a year of the pandemic, our recipes might be getting boring, and a stale repertoire of recipes can make ordering in unhealthy options more attractive.
But it’s important to take care of our bodies by fueling them properly. Healthy food makes all the other aspects of healthy living possible.
So, let’s hit the refresh button on healthy eating with the help of nutrition expert Brad Dieter, PhD, and co-author of NASM’s (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Nutrition Coach program.
Eating healthy food should be something that makes your life more enjoyable, not more stressful, and Dr. Dieter explains how a feasible long-term diet is a much more sustainable approach, especially during the pandemic.
Q: What are your approaches to healthier eating during the pandemic?
A: I always make sure my energy is balanced and staying physically active. It can be very easy to over consume calories when you are at home a lot and not able to go out and exercise. Being mindful of my intake and energy expenditure is important.
My other approach is to cook more, and order out less. I try to make sure that I cook more often when I am at home more. Generally speaking, I have much more control over the quantity and the quality of the food I am consuming when I am at home. And, I’m able to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in and use lower calorie options when I cook from home.
Q: What are some choices you can make to stay on track with your healthy eating and exercise?
A: The first thing to consider is what you are going to be able to stick with long-term. There are dozens of dietary approaches that can help you improve your health, but the most important thing to consider is long-term adherence. Find an approach that fits your life and one that you can stick with for an extended period of time.
A general guideline would be to make sure you’re getting a moderate amount of protein, consuming several servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and limiting the amount of processed food you consume. This can get you 90% of the way there.
Physical activity is also incredibly important, but the exact type of exercise is far less important than the amount you do and how consistent you are. Walking and daily physical activity are critical for weight loss, whereas things like resistance training are important for building or maintaining muscle tissue. Cardiovascular/endurance training is important for improving cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure.
Q: What are some other healthy eating tips to stay healthy, in your mind and body?
A: There are a lot of different ways to interpret what eating healthy means for both physical and mental health. From a physical perspective, there are a few key tips that people can follow:
Watch your total calorie intake: Maintaining a healthy body weight is the best way to stay healthy from a physical standpoint.
Eat your fruits and veggies: In virtually all scientific research, individuals who consume more fruits and veggies have better health and better health outcomes when compared to individuals who consume fewer fruits and vegetables.
Be mindful of processed food intake. We know that higher intakes of processed food are associated with worse health outcomes, and minimizing how much you consume can help with being healthy.
From a mental health standpoint, food can be a tricky thing. First, we know that “healthier” diets are associated with better mental health, so encouraging a healthy dietary pattern is important. However, having a lot of stress around your diet can also be detrimental, so find a good balance of being mindful of your food choices, but don’t allow it to become a major source of stress.
Q: What are some misconceptions about our relationship with food?
A: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about our relationship with food is that we actually have one! Most of us don’t really have a relationship with food, or if we do, we view it as a problem, when in reality, food is one of the most important aspects of our lives and cultivating a good relationship with it is important.
Q: The Canadian food guide has been more geared towards plant based, what are your thoughts on this?
A: Plant-based diets can be a great option and encouraging people to consume more plants can be helpful. Generally, increasing the amount of plants in one’s diet can improve the overall quality of one’s diet and lower the risk of many chronic diseases. However, if someone chooses to adopt a plant-only diet they should be aware of some of the potential nutrient deficiencies that might arise, in nutrients like vitamin B12, choline, and iron.
Q: Can you explain the concept of “mindful eating”?
A: Mindful eating really just refers to paying more attention to what you are eating. Watching each bite, paying attention to hunger and satiety cues, and watching how much food you are actually consuming.
Q: Anything else you like to add?
A: When it comes to “being healthy” it is important to remember that there is no single thing or single food that gets you there. It is an accumulation of behaviors and choices over time. Long-term lifestyle change is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
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Author: Christine is a nationally published health and fitness writer. She writes a weekly column in the Sherbrooke Record, Quebec’s second-largest English language newspaper. In addition, Christine is the creator, producer, and host of Canada’s only Running, Fitness and Health program called Run With It airing on Novus (TELUS) and YouTube channel.