Real People Unlocking the Potential of Food

The month of March always excited me as it marks the beginning of a warmer spring season. As I entered into my profession I also learnt that the month which I’ve always anticipated is known to Registered Dietitians and Nutrition Educators as Nutrition Month. Throughout this month, nutrition professionals dedicate their energy towards bringing awareness and education to a particular topic. Every year a different theme is explored. This year the theme is: Unlock the potential of food – Realize the potential of food to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.

What a wonderful holistic subject to discuss! Food is so much more than just a routine part of our daily lives. The food we choose to nourish our bodies plays a role in all aspects of our well-being. I strongly believe that each of us can find ourselves connected to one or more of the Nutrition Month 2018 concepts. When a human connection to a concept is established this naturally produces a deeper level of influence and importance for an individual.

For this article I took a different approach this time. I chose to communicate the topic through the words of ‘real’ people. I reached out to several individuals from all walks of life to get their input on what the topic means to them personally. The responses I received were phenomenal! Not only are their personal answers impressive, but I was also reminded to look at all facets of health with fresh eyes…and I think you will be too. 

  • Potential to Fuel – Stay energized by planning nutritious snacks into your day.
    Snacks are “food or drinks consumed between meals” and can be thought of “as mini-meals that offer some nutritional value and an energy boost(1).” Whether your 9-5 is highly active or sedentary, we should all be fueling our bodies adequately throughout the day. This aides in maintaining blood sugar levels (prevents those ‘crashes’), helps keep your metabolism revving all day long, as well increases your ability to focus; eliminating those hunger pangs and stomach grumbles between meals. The trick is to be prepared; a challenge due to our busy lifestyles. When we take the time to prepare snacks there is a less likelihood of hitting up the local convenience store or vending machine. Some easy and nutritious snacks are apples slices with nut butter or baby carrots with hummus. Both these examples pair fiber and protein, which together will keep you satiated and satisfied until your next meal.

Adam Stuart– Hockey Player for Brest in the France2 League
“Staying energized for a pro hockey player is very important. I do this by eating frequently throughout the day, including my main meals, as well as smaller portions in between. I start my day with a morning practice or workout. Before I head out I like to get something in my stomach like yogurt bowl with cereal to fuel me through my workout. When I get home, I need to make sure I have a huge breakfast that is rich in protein. After breakfast, I continuously eat smaller meals throughout the day, along with constantly consuming water so I remain hydrated. I try to keep in my how important it is for me to be constantly fueling myself with high protein/carbs, after expending my energy daily with practices, workouts and games. 

It’s important for me to follow this regime because it allows me to feel my best every day. Everyone is different, and no one knows you as well as you know yourself, so it should be a priority to find something that works for you and allows you to stay disciplined. 

Balance in life is the most important thing to keep in mind. Everyone is going to have those cheat days where a Big Mac is too good to say no to. However, as long as you’re staying consistent in my opinion that’s all that matters. I find surrounding myself with good options helps me. Instead of stocking the kitchen with chips and unhealthy snacks, I like to keep the cupboards stocked with nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and berries.”

  • Potential to Discover – Foster healthy eating habits in children by teaching them to shop and cook.
    Off the top of your head we can all name some rockstar parents whom instinctively have a special knack for passing healthy habits onto their children, fostering the future generation. Children are sponges. They observe our behaviors, mirror our actions, and repeat our words. Thus, there is great importance in “starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, cook, and prepare food”1. There are countless opportunities for parents to turn an everyday errand into a teachable moment and create fun memories together. Ever tried a theme dinner like a Mexican Taco Party or an Italian Pizza Night? When you get your kids involved in the process they are more likely to try new foods, which in turn challenges their taste buds and provides greater variety to their diet.

Cheylynn Wyatt – Mompreneur
“Healthy food has become a big priority in my family’s life over the past few years as we learn about food sensitivities and restrictions.  I have two daughters aged 1(nearly!) and 8. I quickly learned how crucially important it is to foster healthy eating habits early on to set-up my children for a healthier future.  

One of the ways I’ve built a healthy food foundation for my older daughter, Cara, is to include her in meal prep.  She loves to get her hands dirty in the kitchen and feel involved in the food preparation process.  We look forward to this to not only spend time bonding with each other but looking at food as fuel.  Every couple of weeks I have Cara look through recipes on the internet and cookbooks.  Cara is given the welcomed responsibility of picking out a healthy recipe, making the shopping list, shopping for ingredients at the store, prepping the food and cooking it (of course with Moms help!).  This is one of Cara’s favourite things to do and she looks at it as an activity and not a chore.  Little does she know that in the midst of all the fun she is learning the essential skills of meal planning, shopping, and preparing food that will stay with her for life.”

  • Potential to Prevent – Understand how food can help prevent chronic diseases.
    The food that we put into our bodies every single day can do so much more for us than just fill our stomachs. There is a science to food; nutrition science. A constantly involving field of study with new research findings always arising to show us which foods can act as ‘medicine’ curing ailments in a natural manner without or minimizing the need for drugs. As well as helping our bodies by lessening chronic disease risks in the future.

Dr. Kelle Hurd – Resident at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine
“Being healthy is about having a strong physical, mental, and emotional state of health and that begins with how you choose to fuel your body. Choosing the right nutrients gets tricky when life gets busy and it’s easy to fall into bad habits either eating some with empty calories or arguably worse, not eating at all.

Our bodies can’t heal or fight disease when we have not maintained proper nutrition as macro and micronutrients are a foundation to cell recovery. Many illnesses I treat are directly associated to poor lifestyle and nutrition including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In fact, a low sodium diet, high in protein and good fats (DASH diet) is still one of the best ways to lower blood pressure naturally.

Do I think good nutrition has the ability to prevent the development of chronic disease? Absolutely. However, as a society we are faced with the challenge of accessing affordable nutrition options at work, in schools, and in various communities.”

  • Potential to Heal – Learn how food can promote healing and how health professionals work to make a difference.
    Health professionals interpret research and then present the information to the public in an easy to understand way helping “you select and prepare the foods you need to meet your nutrition needs… They use food to promote healing and educate about how nutrition can help prevent or manage certain conditions, such as diabetes, celiac disease, swallowing problems (dysphagia), heart conditions, cancer, and more1”. Dietitians, Nutrition Educators, Holistic Nutritionists, Nutrition Councilors, Health Coaches, Doctors, and Nurses etc. are all part of an integrative team available to you in an array of settings.

Cailyn Morash – Nutrition Educator for FoodImpact Inc.
“Food has the potential to heal. Food can heal emotional wounds by bringing friends and family together to share an experience. Whether it be gardening, prepping, or dining, food connects us all in some way. Then there is the other side of healing, where we turn to food to provide comfort. Think about how comfort foods make you feel when you consume them and which foods you’d consider comforting. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve curled up with a tub of ice cream after a bad day. But, and possibly most importantly, food physiologically heals.

As a Nutrition Educator, I have the opportunity to heal every day. It truly makes my heart full when a student catches up with me in the hall, holds up a food product and says “Miss Cailyn, is this healthy? Because I want to have ALL of my superpowers.” These are the moments that I embrace. It’s these learning experiences that reduce the risk of chronic disease. It’s all about making small, maintainable changes to your daily routine – nothing drastic. It’s about bringing fun back into the kitchen and being proud of what you’re putting into your body. Food heals. We just have to unleash its potential!”

  • Potential to Bring Us Together – Enjoy the benefits of bringing families and friends together with food.
    All over the world, in every culture we know that food connects us. Food has the special ability to bring individuals to a particular spot to share in a meal together; whether it be for a celebration or just a regular day. It is good to remind ourselves to slow down and really savor this moment in time socializing with others, plus enjoying each and every bite of our meal. Not only is this beneficial for our digestion, but it provides lasting memories.

Brett & Emily McDermott – Company Owners of Our Daily Brett in Calgary, AB
“Creating meals to share with family and friends is at the core of what we do at ODB. This is true of our dine-in and grab-and-go offerings alike. Recently, we obtained a liquor license and have been hosting more events at our harvest table such as wine and food tastings and a weekly “happy hour” every Friday evening that features small plates (designed for sharing) and a selection of natural wines. Because we have a single large harvest table at our market, any event we do involves gathering around a shared space and often results in new connections and getting to know the couple, person or people dining beside you.”

We all have the innate ability to unlock the potential of our food, as revealed above. I would like to thank all of my contributors! I truly appreciate your brilliance and your enthusiasm to share. Each of you are excellent role models who exemplify inspiring healthiness.

Remember that the concepts from Nutrition Month 2018 can last longer than a month; becoming a practice which can last a lifetime.

If you would like more information on Nutrition Month please visit: www.nutritionmonth2018.ca

Pharyne Hrywkiw
Nutrition Educator, FoodImpact
B.Sc. Nutrition and Food Sciences