How we eat is as important as what we eat.
“There are two parts to how we eat. There’s the nutritional aspect in that we should eat to fuel our bodies properly, but there’s also the social aspect of eating, which enhances our lives,” says Christiana Dizon, registered dietitian at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
Christiana says these two aspects of how we eat affect our body’s health, our mental health and our relationship with food. Food is more than just fuel. People will enjoy food more when they embrace the social aspects of eating as well as filling a physical need.
“Canada’s food guide has stopped being prescriptive. Now it’s focusing more on eating behaviours as well as food quality and proportions,” says Christiana.
A good place to start is with mindful eating. This is one strategy that helps people pay attention to their relationship with food. Mindful eating is as simple as listening to your body when eating and thinking about what the food is doing for you.
The food guide says mindful eating can help you make healthier choices, be more conscious of the food you eat and your eating habits, and make positive changes to your eating behaviours.
Incorporating different flavours and trying new dishes can add enjoyment to your eating.
“You can pay attention to the smells, textures, flavours and
taste of food,” says Christiana. “I encourage people to enjoy their own
cultural traditions and foods so they can enjoy what they are eating. You
don’t need to be on a specific diet to eat well.”
Christiana says eating together is important at all stages of life, whether it’s eating together as a family or with friends. Eating with those outside your home is more challenging with the need to be safe due to COVID-19.
People can get creative about connecting with others while still being safely apart, says Christiana. And it is worth the effort, since eating together may encourage people to make better nutritional choices. It often helps people try new food or dishes. The social interaction of eating with others — even virtually through technology such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime — can decrease loneliness and isolation.
“I think people need to change their mindset that food is just fuel,” says Christiana. “Food is what brings us together.”
There are lots of great resources available online to help people with meal planning, including two resources from the Dietitians of Canada: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Recipes and http://www.cookspiration.com/, a meal-planning app.
Good eating is about more than food
Canada's food guide provides tips about the benefits of making time to eat.
Taking time to eat can help you:
Take time to eat
Eat slowly and thoughtfully
Eat without distractions
Source: Canada's food guide
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