By: Melissa Cugliari
It is more important now than ever to care for ourselves and the planet. One foundational way to do this is through impeccable nutrition. Here are a few tips to consider the next time you’re selecting groceries for you and your family:
Do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store: this is where most of the whole foods are located. A diet rich in whole, fresh foods is integral for health. They also tend to have less of an environmental footprint, particularly when you choose locally grown items. Select items with an expiry date and read all labels; look for items grown in Canada. A good rule of thumb is that the best foods are those that do not require an ingredient list.
Eat the rainbow: consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, aiming for 8-12 servings per day (1 serving = 1/2 cup). Pigments that give fresh produce colour are indicative of different nutrient profiles. For example, spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens are high in B vitamins, purple-blue items like blueberries or purple cabbage are rich in anthocyanins which are potent antioxidants, and orange vegetables provide the body with precursors to vitamin A. All of these nutrients are integral to health.
Consciously select your proteins: proteins include land and marine animal meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds. To optimize your health and preserve that of the planet, select organic proteins. Avoid processed proteins and instead select whole foods - an organic grass-fed steak from a local farm, wild sustainably caught canned salmon, or organic eggs from well cared for hens. Rotate your proteins daily, ensuring you regularly have meals that are plant-based and contain a protein like lentils, chickpeas, organic tempeh, or nut butter.
Healthy fats are your friend: eliminate poor quality fats like vegetable and canola oils, and opt for a source of healthy fat in each meal. Examples of one serving of good quality fats include: 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive or coconut oils, a small handful of raw nuts, 1/4 avocado, a generous sprinkling of raw seeds or 2 tbsp of nut butter.
Don’t avoid carbs: just choose the right ones. Opt for grains that are close to what they look like when grown in nature. Avoid grains that have been ground into flour and combined with other ingredients. Whole brown or wild rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, millet and buckwheat groats are all excellent options that support healthy fibre intake and gut health.
Diet is one aspect of our daily lives where we can exercise choice; by choosing wisely, we will not only optimize our health as individuals, but also that of Mother Earth.