What is the exact definition of a “healthy diet”? And how does that differ from eating “real food”? Well, it can depend on who you ask!

We might define a healthy diet as the food we learn to eat from our parents, or our cultural cuisine, the latest diet trend, or following the Canada Food Guide.

Speaking of the Canada Food Guide, is it actually telling you to eat the best food?

Canada’s Food Guide hasn’t been updated in 10 years! They’ve just recently decided to revise it. Why? It’s because our food guide is currently lagging way behind the latest nutrition science. Unfortunately, these recommendations are what many Canadian’s have been lead to believe are the “healthiest diet” for their entire live.

Currently, Canada’s Food Guide promotes consuming high servings of grains, dairy, soy products and vegetable oils. Let’s look at grains as one example of why things are changing… Grains include breads, pasta and cereal and it’s currently recommended to consume more grains than vegetables and fruits combined! Is this really a bad thing? Yes! For many people they can be! A lot of these grain-based products are produced from wheat, and wheat is one of the top common allergens/sensitivities. Grains spike blood sugar, and offer relatively low levels of nutrients. Plus, many grain-based items like cereal, bagels, or crackers contain high amounts of added sugar which has been liked to multiple health issues (obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease just to name a few).

And this is just the tip of the “healthy diet” ice berg!

So… what is “real food” then?

In my opinion, it’s eating a whole, nutrient-dense diet. In other words, foods that fuels you and keeps your body functioning optimally. A “real food” diet usually consists of consuming large amounts of vegetables in varied colours, minimal fruit, eating adequate amounts of quality protein, avoiding high sugar/high sodium processed foods, and eating fat (the good ones!). If you are going to eat grains, aim for gluten-free options. They’re more easily digestible and less inflammatory.

Top 3 Benefits of Real Food

High Quality Food

I mentioned above about “real food” being nutrient-dense. Nutrient-density is a measure of food beyond the mere calories it offers. Nutrient-dense foods offer a combination of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, fibre or antioxidants. Our bodies thrive off these nutrients to provide us with energy, fuel our brain, and prevent disease. Another perk, nutrient-dense food keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time.

Promotes a Healthy Weight

Why is the way food is used in our body so important when it comes to weight management? If you eat a high sugar food (like chocolate, potato chips, or most take-out), your body quickly digests the sugar then stores the leftovers you don’t need right away, as fat. Therefore, we notice the inches around our waist increase over time. Eating protein and fibre can help balance blood sugar levels and prevent our bodies from going into “fat storage mode”. Fibre can be found in foods like vegetables, beans/legumes and whole grains. Protein sources include: quinoa, nuts and seeds, fish and chicken.

No Need to Count Calories

When you consume “real foods” like fruits or vegetables, you’re naturally going to eat less calories. So, there’s no need to count! This is because you’re feeding your body with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help sustain you. We all know it’s easy to accidentally eat half a cake, but have you ever accidentally eaten two head of broccoli? Probably not. The nutrients in broccoli give us strong satiety signals, so we naturally stop eating when we’ve had enough.

Are you looking to learn more about “real food” and other holistic health principles? Join us for our Holistic Weight Loss Program, starting September 26th. Registration is now open!

So tell us, what does a “healthy diet” mean to you? And what “real foods” are your favourites?

 

ABOUT THE EXPERT
Shadi Said

Shadi’s goal is to aid individuals in realizing optimal health through dietary changes, lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements.

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