Healthy Eating is About More than Food

March is Nutrition Month and this year, Canadian dietitians are talking about how healthy eating is about so much more than food! Dietitians are encouraging Canadians to consider not only what they eat, but how they eat, too. Healthy eating habits include not just the food that we eat, but when, where, how and with whom we eat our food.

This year’s Nutrition Month campaign builds on the Canada Food Guide released in early 2019, which encourages us to be mindful of our eating habits, to cook more often, to eat with others and, perhaps most importantly, to enjoy food.

Being mindful means being aware of what, when, where and how much you eat. Use your senses and pay attention to the aromas, textures, flavours and taste of food. Pay attention to your likes and dislikes. Notice when you are hungry and when you are full. This can help you to create an awareness around everyday eating decisions and make healthier eating choices. Being mindful can also help you to reconnect to the eating experience by creating an awareness of your feelings, thoughts, emotions and behaviours around eating.

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With busy lifestyles, we often eat too quickly or while distracted or “multitasking”. Eating quickly can prevent you from knowing when you are full. Eating while distracted or doing other things, such as watching TV, can increase how much you eat and drink. When distracted, we may eat larger portions or lose track of how much we have already eaten. This can lead to eating more than we need. Healthy eating habits include taking the time to make eating an important part of your life.

Taking time to eat can be new to some people who are used to eating meals on the fly, but it can be a rewarding experience. Try giving meals the same priority as you do other things in your life. Set aside the time to prepare and eat good food, so that you can focus on the food and your body when you are eating. Eat slowly and thoughtfully. Notice the smell, texture and taste of the food. Notice when you are hungry and when you are full. Enjoy a good conversation with your family or friends.

Try to eat without distractions. Televisions, computers and cell phones take our attention away from eating and the people we are with. Make meals “electronics free.” At work, step away from your desk and eat in the lunchroom or outside with co-workers. This can have the added benefit of increasing your productivity and allowing you to connect with your co-workers.

Enjoying food with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers is a great way to connect and add enjoyment to your life. It can provide many benefits and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. By eating with others, you can enjoy quality time together, share food traditions across generations and culture and explore new foods.

Mealtime is a great opportunity to bring the family together. Eating together as a family benefits everyone. It can help the whole family to share and connect with one another. It is important to take time, enjoy, and relax over meals and to talk about events that occurred during the day.

Kids especially can benefit from regular family meals as they are starting to develop their eating habits and behaviours. Eating together as a family can help kids to eat better, and develop a healthy relationship with food. As a parent or caregiver, you can be a positive role model. By practicing healthy eating habits, you can help your children to have a good relationship with food and to eat a wider variety of foods.

Cooking more often can help you develop healthy eating habits. You can cook more often by planning what you eat and involving others in planning and preparing meals.

Cooking and preparing food can support healthy eating habits. Cooking can help you to save money compared to eating out and purchasing prepared foods. It can reduce your reliance on highly processed foods. Having your children help with the preparation and cooking of meals helps them to learn new skills and appreciate good food. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Simply prepared meals can be tasty and nutritious.

Enjoying your food is the most important part of healthy eating. Enjoy the taste of food and the many food-related activities that go along with eating. The benefits of enjoying your food include tasting the flavours that you like, being open to trying new foods, and developing a healthy attitude about food. This can include exploring and enjoying culture and food traditions in your family or community. Food is more than just nutrition. It can be a full sensory experience that brings people together and feeds both the body and the soul.

For more information on the food guide: