This time of year can be challenging to say the least when thinking about healthy foods. Most of us have eaten all the root vegetables we can bear, and are sick of the heavy carbs we eat over the winter time. Berries and other foods high in antioxidants are hard to find and high priced if you do find them. Grilling fish means treading through the snow on the back deck and brushing off the foot of snow that has accumulated on the BBQ lid. So, how can we get through this last month of dreary weather and grocery drought?
How about adding some quinoa to your diet. Quinoa is not a grain, it is actually a seed which was revered by the ancient Incas. It is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and high in protein and fibre. It is also low fat and low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar and cause weight gain.
Challenge yourself to cut our the extra sugar in your diet. Avoid foods that are considered diet products or that contain artificial sweeteners. Breakfast can include yogurt or cereals that have zero grams of sugar (oatmeal is a great choice). I have recently discovered kale chips to satisfy my snack gremlin, and they are packed with nutrients and a great way to get some healthy greens in. Unsalted nut butters other than peanut butter with whole grain crackers or bread are a great alternative to granola bars, which can be high in sugar.
Shopping the outside of the grocery store is always a good idea, but don’t avoid the inner aisles were you find beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts, and canned fish.
Shake things up a bit and be adventurous. Try foods you have never tried before like wakame, dulse, hemp hearts, turmeric, jack fruits, walnut oil, or edamame. Remember, the uncommon can quickly become common. It’s funny to think that in the early 1950’s, bananas were a weird and wonderful food to most North Americans. Try one new thing each week, which helps to ensure you are getting a good variety in your diet. Experiment with new vegetables or fruits as well as different seasonings.
Think before you drink. Sugary sweet drinks contain more calories than most people realize. Some sweet sugary drinks including slushies, fruit drinks, pop, sports drinks, specialty coffees and tea drinks can have as many calories as your whole meal.
Don’t eat when you are distracted, watching TV, checking your email, or while driving. Distraction during mealtimes can lead to overeating since you won’t be focused on hunger signals and the amount of food you’ve eaten.
Making sure you chew your food well is also important. Ideally, food should be chewed for 30 bites, or until the food is liquid in your moths. Chewing your food well activates the enzymes in your mouth to begin the breakdown of food into the basic component nutrients. This also sends a signal to your stomach and the rest of the digestive system to prepare itself for the vitamin and mineral load that is heading its way.
Enjoy the taste, texture, color, and aroma of the food you eat. Allowing time to eat will also allow you to recognize when you are full and when you are hungry. Do this with anything you eat, including that decadent piece of chocolate cheesecake. If you are mindfully eating, you’ll enjoy your food and eat less at the same time.
Hopefully these suggestions will get you through the rest of the winter and eagerly awaiting the arrival of fresh, locally grown foods that are so widely available here in the County. New patients welcome. 613-476-5444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.