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Starting a new year with wholesome choices

Starting a new year with wholesome choices

by Agnes Chung

Happy New Year – it’s a time many of us resolve to treat our bodies better. Many of us make this same resolution every year, perhaps because it’s a worthy endeavour to improve our own well-being and also our family’s health. We do this partly by adopting wholesome food choices, and cutting back on unhealthy high calorie foods like refined carbohydrates including processed grains and sugar.

Healthy Choices Start with You

With respect to trying to eat more healthfully in 2016, Anne Swann, a Public Health Dietitian at Vancouver Coastal Health says: “Understand that we set the tone for our family’s eating by what we bring into the home, how we display it and what we emphasize. Canada’s Food Guide and its four food groups are meant to be a guide, not a set of rules. Children learn by what they see, and tend to copy what we do.  This is important, and probably more effective than having a bunch of rules to follow of what can and cannot be eaten.

“Serve meals and snacks with healthy options like vegetables, salads and fruits that can be available to the family year round.  Having fruits and vegetables easily available and ready to eat and serve is a way to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Another key point is to eat mindfully, listening to body cues of hunger and fullness, and enjoying the tastes and flavours of food as you eat.”

Swann recommends visiting Canada’s Food Guide and the Healthy Families BC websites for more information on healthy eating.  Additional Ways to Inspire Healthy Choices:

• Maximize flavours and nutrients by preparing meals with fresh, healthy and sustainable ingredients.

• Keep healthy snacks like cut vegetables in your bag to curb hunger pangs.

• Be mindful of your sugar, carbohydrate, salt and fat intake, and reduce alcohol as it increases appetite.

• Avoid skipping meals, like breakfast or lunch and eat a big dinner

• Dine the Japanese Hara Hachi Bu style – eat until 80 per cent full. Eat slowly giving the brain time to recognize satiety.

Keeping hydrated is crucial to ensure the body is not confusing hunger with thirst, and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised, wash your hands to be safe and healthy. Equally imperative is incorporating an active lifestyle.  Engaging in physical activities like brisk walking, swimming or playing fun backyard game like soccer, baseball and hockey with the kids.

Wholegrain for Wholesomeness

Indeed, the advocacy for wholegrain consumption has never been more evident today than a decade ago in many countries. “Wholegrain is very important and necessary for our health.  The lack of wholesomeness in wholegrain has caused great health problems in our nation,” says Bob Moore, Founder of Bob’s Red Mill. A strong believer, Moore integrates his faith into his business, and continues to generously give away shares of his multi-million dollar wholegrain foods business to his employees.

In wholegrain flour, the bran, germ and endosperm are intact.  The bran and germ are removed in refined flour processing. Moore’s executive assistant, Nancy Garner shares that research work by Dr. Robert Martindale, Chief of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University authenticated that wholegrain are natural prebiotic, which is the food that good probiotics (your friendly gut bacteria) need to grow.  You can get good probiotics naturally by eating wholegrain, thus resulting in better health.

Demystifying the Sugar Myth

Sugar, regardless of variety should be consumed with a Healthful Approach.  Is processed sugar a risky food for your health?  “Some nutritionists consider it a high risk food, however I do not believe the evidence supports such a claim,” writes Dr. Tom Elliott, an Associate Professor of Medicine at UBC, Endocrinologist/Diabetologist and Medical Director of

Elliott continues, “It is a diet high in calories which results in overweight that causes type 2 diabetes, not the sugar itself,” confirms Elliott.  When asked whether individuals with diabetes can still consume sugar, Elliott replies, “Yes, no food is forbidden.  Sugar & simple carbohydrates (or starches) like white rice, white flour, baked goods, instant cereals, potatoes and tropical fruits increase blood sugars quickly, and require more insulin to process than other choices such as wholegrain carbohydrates, parboiled or basmati rice, pasta, noodles, waxy or nugget potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, split peas, lentils and beans that cause a lesser rise in blood sugar.”

“Keeping your body in shape is a spiritual discipline. It’s not just about losing a few pounds, wanting to live longer, or trying to look nicer,” writes Pastor Rick Warren in his daily hope article, Take Care of Your Body where he explores 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Healthy choices is not deprivation, it’s about loving, enjoying and nourishing a wholesome you – and your family.

Canada’s Food Guide: Healthy Families BC:

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