Beyond Your Plate – Nutrition Habits that Support Wellness
March is Nutrition Month, the perfect time to focus on healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices! The 2023 theme is unlocking the potential of food, reminding us that by making simple changes to our diets, we can improve our overall health and well-being, prevent chronic diseases, and support sustainable food systems. Throughout the month of March, we’ve partnered with Vitality Nutrition‘s Registered Dietitian Courtney Berg to share her best tips to help you improve your overall diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Click here to meet Courtney.
Healthy eating is much more than what you eat. It’s also how, why and where you eat! Go beyond your plate by exploring five nutrition habits that support wellness.
1. Schedule time for meals
Eating is an important part of life. It is an opportunity to fuel our body, take a break, and connect with others! The fast paced nature of life may cause us to skip meals, eat quickly, or eat while distracted. Scheduling time for meals ensures we offer our body the nutrition it needs while staying connected to the cues that tell us when we are full and how much to eat to feel satisfied.
Some ways to create time for meals:
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy breakfast at home before heading out the door
- Pack a breakfast like overnight oats the night before to enjoy on a morning break at work or school
- Schedule work breaks to eat lunch with coworkers, classmates, or friends
- Embrace opportunities to enjoy distraction-free suppers with family, friends, or roommates
- Take a break from school, errands, or work to fuel up with a snack
We may not be able to carve out intentional time for every meal and snack! However, creating time to enjoy mindful meals more often helps us enjoy our food, nourish our body, prevent overeating, and enjoy time with others.
2. Eat slowly
Eating slowly helps us stay connected to the cues that tell us that we are hungry or full. Attuning to body cues can assist in determining how much to eat to feel satisfied or comfortably full from a meal or snack.
Dietitian Tip: Use the Hunger & Fullness scale to assess how hungry you are before a meal and how much to eat at the meal to feel satisfied or comfortably full (ie. a 6). What cues tell you that you are hungry or full?
When we eat quickly, we may not connect to the signals that tell us we are no longer hungry. Furthermore, slowing down can also help us chew food thoroughly to improve digestion and experience the benefits of mindfulness by attuning to the taste, texture, and aroma of the meal.
If you are a fast eater, consider these tips to slow down your eating pace:
- Schedule time for meals so you don’t feel rushed
- Set your utensils down between bites
- Take sips of water between bites
- Eat with others to take breaks for conversation
- Take a pause halfway through the meal to assess how hungry, satisfied, or full you feel
3. Eat meals with others
Enjoying food in the company of others provides many benefits that contribute to wellness. Eating with family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or classmates is a valuable opportunity to:
- Enjoy quality time and connect on life events
- Establish consistent eating patterns within the household
- Share food traditions across generations and cultures
- Explore ingredients and meals that you might not normally try
- Create time to enjoy meals mindfully and without distraction
- Take a break from the fast paced nature of life
Making time to enjoy meals with others doesn’t just happen! With busy schedules, making time to enjoy your meals with others can often get pushed aside. Some strategies to enjoy meals with others include:
- Invite friends or family over for a weekend brunch
- Plan suppers with family members or roommates
- Schedule a lunch date with a coworker or classmate
- Participate in community celebrations or potlucks
- Plan a weekly or monthly supper with extended family members or friend groups
- Start a supper club among friends or coworkers where everyone takes a turn hosting
4. Prepare nourishing foods you genuinely enjoy
Enjoying your food is part of healthy eating. Oftentimes when people make changes to their diet to improve their health they focus solely on the nutrient composition of the meal (eg. adding vegetables or fruits).
However, if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating, you are less likely to stick with nourishing choices long-term and experience physical and mental satisfaction from the meals you eat. For this reason, it’s important to choose ingredients, preparation methods, and recipes that genuinely satisfy you.
For example, let’s say your goal is to eat more vegetables but you don’t enjoy eating raw vegetables. However, you do enjoy cooked vegetables in stews, soups, and curries. Instead of forcing yourself to eat salads you’d be best to enjoy your vegetables in recipes that appeal to your taste buds and preferences!
5. Fuel the body and feed the soul
Being “healthy” is about more than eating “healthy food.”
It’s important to strike a balance between physical health and mental health when adopting nutrition habits that support our health as a whole. Food provides key nutrients that fuel our body including carbohydrates, fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. However, food also feeds the soul by providing connection to people, places, cultures, celebrations, memories, and much more!
That’s why a healthy diet is more than the food on your plate but the context behind the choice. For example, a ‘healthy’ food choice may include:
- Baking cookies with your kids and enjoying the cookies together.
- Revisiting a recipe that connects you with your birth place, culture, or family.
- Digging into a slice of birthday cake to celebrate with family, friends, classmates, or coworkers.
- Trying a special delicacy unique to the city, region, or country you’re traveling to.
- Cheersing a glass of champagne with your co-workers after a major accomplishment.
By understanding that foods serve to nourish both our bodies and our souls, we can break away from rigid mindsets, and instead honor our food choices by making them conscious ones.
Meet Courtney Berg, RD, B.Sc. Nutrition
About Courtney | Courtney Berg is a Registered Dietitian and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan in 2016. Her approach to nutrition continues to evolve as she learns and grows with her clients at Vitality Nutrition. However, a holistic approach remains the base of her philosophy with an emphasis on understanding how nutrition as well as sleep, mindset, exercise, and the environment work together to influence whole body health.
About Vitality Nutrition | Vitality Nutrition is a collective of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists supporting clients in Saskatchewan and across Canada! We incorporate a unique and meaningful approach to food, fitness, and performance that empowers clients to build life-long habits and see lasting results.