Moderation is a dietitian’s favourite word. The media is filled with sensationalized headlines about the latest food that has been outed as a danger to our health (butter and red meat). This spurs a wave of confusion and concern, and many questions from steak and pastry lovers about how much they can safely consume without threatening their health. The answer to this question is hardly ever simple, and the word moderation is usually a part of it. The problem – it’s an extremely subjective term that’s not all that helpful in guiding the average person towards a healthy lifestyle change. Moderation is not a well defined term; it means different things to different people and it is ultimately based on a judgement call.
I love to bake, but I almost never follow the original recipe. I’m always looking for ways to pack more nutrition into my treats without sacrificing flavour or that light, cakey, crumby, chewy, flakey texture we all love! I thought I’d share some of the swaps and substitutions I make when I’m in the kitchen, and what nutritional value you’ll get out of these changes if you try them too!
There’s no reason why baked goods can’t be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. But by baking your morning muffin at home instead of picking one up at the drive thru on your way to work or popping into your favourite cafe, you control the nutritional value and portion size. Loading up your homemade baking with whole grains, healthy fats, and keeping the sugar content in check can really boost the nutritional value and make your treat more of a nutrition powerhouse than a guilty pleasure.
Butter. First we loved it, then we feared it. We started spreading margarine on our toast after being told it was the healthier alternative. Now it seems the tables have turned once again with people second guessing whether hydrogenated oils are really benefiting us. I thought it fitting to address this topic, seeing as we will all be faced with a shortbread cookie or two, and maybe even some pastry around the table this holiday season. I’m here to tell you that there’s no need to pass on that flakey shortbread cookie made with real butter. And to all those people out there who scrape only the pie filling from their slice because they say they don’t like the crust: I kind of don’t believe you.
Pay attention to what you are eating. Be present.
No, I don’t just mean paying attention to your food choices – opting for lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of veggies. What’s on your plate should demand your attention. We have become mindless eaters. We absently scroll through our newsfeeds while we sit down to eat, we eat on the go – on trains, in cars, walking down the hallway in between meetings – failing to acknowledge or even notice the food in front of us. It’s no wonder we are constantly fighting cravings to snack. Our bodies are missing an important sensory aspect of eating when we consume without really paying attention.
I’ve been learning a whole lot about the gut, digestive health, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the low FODMAP diet as of late. It’s fascinating stuff! The low FODMAP diet is a relatively new protocol for managing symptoms of IBS, and research has proven it to be successful in relieving the symptoms of 75% of people dealing with IBS and digestive health issues. Diet is an obvious factor when it comes to our digestive health, but other factors like gut bacteria, stress, caffeine consumption, exercise, hydration, and eating patterns can also have a significant impact on how well our bodies absorb nutrients and whether or not the digestive process causes us uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and abnormal bowel movements. These things can really impact your day to day life, and prevent you from living fully and confidently. Sometimes, the only advice given to people with digestive health issues (diagnosed or not) is to eat more fiber and drink more water, which usually doesn’t help. The low FODMAP diet is a welcome addition to IBS and digestive health symptom management, and it’s seeing real results!