Healthy Living in the North

Eat real food

Eat a variety of food!

Eat a variety of real food every day from all four food groups!

Eat real food. Sounds simple. Right? But is it? Where’s the “real food?” Diet crazes, demands for convenience foods, and industrial/agricultural innovations have left grocery stores packed with anything but. Our great grandparents probably wouldn’t recognize most of what’s on the shelves these days as food! There seems to be a low fat, baked or “healthier” version of everything but, are they really healthier? Or, are they just a more processed, chemically laden version of the original?

Food labels and packages can be very misleading. Many fruit snacks are really just repackaged sugar. An average 14 gram serving contains 11 grams of sugar and pretty much nothing else. Parents may end up buying them for kid’s lunches thinking they are doing something good for their kids. Or what about a product like Sunny D that contains almost no real juice and the second ingredient is corn syrup! The commercial implies it will help our children grow up “happy, healthy and successful” when it’s really just sugar water full of emulsifiers, dies, gums and even oil….yuch!!! What kind of juice contains oil?

So what are my thoughts?

  • Eat real food. Or, as Michael Pollan would say “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
  • Become a “qualitarian” make every bite a quality bite!
  • Get a variety of foods from all four food groups and don’t limit any particular group – they are all important for a balanced diet.
  • Share food with friends and family. Multiple studies have shown that this has huge social benefits and fosters healthy relationships with food, especially for children.
  • Check out those ingredient labels – they should be short and pronounceable. Or better yet, try incorporating more foods without ingredient labels into your meals, as these are usually minimally processed, real foods!
  • Focus on eating food, not nutrients.
  • Buy food from farmers’ markets when possible.

Stick to the basics, and enjoy good food and traditions with friends and family, and eat a variety of real food every day from all four food groups!

Do you have real food experiences you would like to share? Leave a comment below!

[Editor’s note:  This is a great example of what the key message “Eat a variety of real food every day from all four food groups!means to Melissa. Tell us what it means to you! Visit our Picture YOU Healthy contest page for more details on your chance to win!]

Melissa Baker

About Melissa Baker

Melissa is a UBC Dietetic Intern currently completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Melissa has an immense passion for food and all it has to offer – from nutrition, joy, community, traditions and culture to social outings and family ties. This career allows her to mesh her love for teaching and helping others with her interest in the components of healthy eating and all the complex issues involved. She also enjoys blogging and being involved in social media.