It’s been one year since I started my nutrition course, and I’m almost half-way through the course materials. I started thinking about what I’ve learned over the past year, and how it’s affected me, when John came back with some groceries the other night. His food choices made me realize that I’m not the only one who’s learned something; my education has influenced his view on food as well.
He opted for black beans vs. ground chicken for our fajitas, avocado instead of cheese, chose organic tortilla chips with natural ingredients, decided against dessert and bought grapefruit (to make natural flavoured water) instead of Coke Zero. It’s not to say he doesn’t still indulge from time to time, but I must say – I was proud.
Over the past year I’ve made some gradual, but significant changes to my (& apparently John’s) diet without even realizing it!
1. Less meat. Many of our dishes that used to include meat have become vegetarian such as fajitas (beans vs. meat), chilli (beans + a whole grain vs. beef), and pasta (chick peas vs. shrimp). Why the change? Because I’ve learned about the effects that too much meat can have on your body. Meat is difficult to digest & poor digestion can lead to all kinds of health problems and can cause inflammation. I still eat meat about twice a week, but its organic or free-from hormones & antibiotics. I’ve just read too much information about the horrors of bi-products in the grain & harmful hormones in non-organic meat (even Canadian beef!), and I can’t ignore it.
2. Less smoked & cured meats. Turkey pepperoni sticks used to be a staple in our house (John would average 2 per day) until I learned about the nitrites in them, and their cancer-causing potential.
3. Choosing organic or seasonal & local produce as much as possible. I never used to pay attention to what produce was in season in Ontario or care about buying organic. Since starting my course; I’ve learned a lot about the pesticides & chemicals used on produce that travels far distances or isn’t certified organic, and the potential health issues that can result.
4. More Omega-3. I’m still working on incorporating fish into our diet twice a week, but I’ve definitely upped my intake of vegetarian sources of Omega-3. We now buy chia seeds on a regular basis, my trail mix consists of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds & walnuts (all high in essential fats!). I include ground flax seeds into my baking, and frittatas (eggs) have become a regular meal in the rotation.
5. Take more vitamins, and actually know why I’m taking them.
6. Cut back on refined sugar. I now use real maple syrup and honey as my sugar sources, and my dessert choices have changed. I don’t buy ice cream near as often (it still makes an appearance now and than, but not every weekend!). If I have a craving for ice cream I choose frozen yogurt instead and make my own healthy cookies or brownies.
7. Choose whole grains. Now I actually know what constitutes a whole grain, and why it’s a healthy choice.
8. Less sweetener. I used to have a Coke Zero everyday at lunch, eat Weight Control Oatmeal (has sucralose in it), and buy sugar-free candies (with Splenda). I admit; I still use a little bit of Twin Sugar in my coffee, but I’ve decided to fully give that up as well. Sweetener is basically chemicals and it just makes you crave regular sugar even more.
9. No more cooking with aluminum foil. The aluminum can be absorbed by food and you end up consuming it. Too much aluminum is toxic and can cause serious health problems and increase the rist of Alzheimer’s.
It’s neat to look back and see what I’ve learned, and the changes I’ve made over the past year. I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2nd year of my course will bring. I have a feeling it’s going to be filled with exciting new discoveries.