Alberta Cancer Foundation

Smart Eats: Keep Calm and Eat Healthy

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Often, healthy eating advice focuses on topics like vitamins, superfoods, calories and food portions. Although these are all important, placing a consistent spotlight on them can lead many people to feelings of stress, guilt or apathy.

But we can think about food in a different way. Healthy eating can be about turning delicious fresh foods into tasty meals and snacks, and it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some tips for making cooking more fun. After all, you are more likely to make lasting changes to your eating habits if you enjoy what you are eating.

Plan your meals

Most people don’t plan to eat unhealthy food – it just happens when they haven’t planned anything at all. So, plan meals and snacks in advance. Be sure to consider quick, easy meals for days when you’re tired or don’t have much time. Then, use your meal plan to make your grocery list. Using a list will help you avoid impulse buys. Also, try to follow the motto “Cook once, eat twice.” If you make enough for leftovers, you will have a meal for the next day or to put in the freezer for later. Luckily, there are many menu planning and grocery list apps available to make this easy.

Cook and eat with friends or family

The best way to feel motivated about cooking is to make a meal with – or for – someone else. For one, we are more likely to eat balanced meals when eating with others. Cooking with a neighbour or friend also helps us learn new cooking skills. If you know people from different cultures, it’s a great way to try new foods. Ask a friend or family member to teach you how to make one of their favourite recipes. Take your time to enjoy your company and the food. Eat slowly.

Focus on the food

Turn off the TV and put away electronics. Chew slowly and really taste your food. We often eat so fast we don’t even enjoy our favourite foods. Make a point of putting your fork or spoon down in between each bite. Focus on what you are eating to turn eating into a choice not a habit.

Choose fresh foods with minimal processing

Processed foods usually have more salt, fat and sugar, so whenever possible choose foods that are less processed. Make your meals with fresh ingredients like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, meat, eggs and milk. Some fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are only available certain times of year. If you buy from local growers, they often let you taste before you buy and they are usually happy to share their recipes.

Julie Isaacs is with Education Resources and Nutrition Services at Calgary’s South Health Campus