The missing ingredient in healthy eating goals

More than 50 per cent of Canadians are not meeting the minimum intakes of fruits and vegetables.

by Sandra Turnbull

Most people have a pretty good idea of what it takes to eat healthy: lots of fruits and vegetables, cut down on highly processed foods, avoid too many fried goodies and drink plenty of non-sugary fluids.

And many of us are well versed in the benefits of having a healthy diet. In a survey commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, Canadians agreed that healthy eating can reduce health problems associated with aging (93 per cent), that it can add years to life (92 per cent), that it helps to prevent disease (90 per cent) and that it helps one deal with everyday stress (83 per cent).

And yet still more than 50 per cent of Canadians are not meeting the minimum intakes of fruits and vegetables and almost four out of every 10 are likely consuming too much fat in their diets.

So what’s getting in the way?

Among the top factors: Time.

In the same survey, nearly 40 per cent said it’s hard to find time to eat healthy food, while over a third felt that healthy food takes too long to prepare. In our crazy busy lives, many of us have left little room to care for ourselves at the most basic level- to properly nourish our bodies.

Choosing to eat healthy and lovingly nourishing our bodies on a regular basis certainly does take commitment. However, with just a few simple tips you might be surprised just how fast and easy it really can be.

Use these simple tips to get you started:

Prepare extra. When preparing your meals chop up extra fruit and vegetables so you have some on hand for lunches or quick snacks. Cook double the chicken or ground meats and keep them for wraps, salads or sandwiches the next day.

Double batch your soups, stews or casseroles and freeze the extra for a quick meal on busy nights.

Try the new selections of washed and ready-to-eat produce items. Salad mixes, stir-fry veggies, carrot or broccoli slaws and pre-veggies that can make meal preparation super speedy.

Choose lower-sodium convenience foods. Try canned or bottled tomato-based pasta sauces, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit, canned tuna or salmon and canned beans or lentils. Keeping a variety of frozen vegetables on hand can be an easy way to boost up soups, sauces and casseroles with minimum fuss.

Invest in time-saving appliances. A blender can help you make quick and easy smoothies, sauces or soups.

A slow cooker is a great way to come home to a warm meal.

Use a mini-chopper to dice up garlic and onions.

With a little experimentation you may find that you have all the ingredients you need for your recipe of healthy eating, including time.

For more ideas on healthy eating join me at the next Eat, Drink and Be Healthy class on Jan. 27 at the Summerland Health Centre.

Please call 250-770-3530 to register.

Or check out the Dietitians of Canada website:

You can always speak with a dietitian by simply calling 411(Healthlink BC).

Sandra Turnbull is a registered dietitian and certified executive coach with the Interior Health Authority.