It’s been one month since Canada’s new food guide was released, and a lot of people are saying, “Yay!” to the new guidelines. However, some people (aka moms) are also saying, “Yay, but how am I really supposed to do that?”
The first change to the food guide in over a decade has shifted focus from providing exact serving numbers and portion sizes to a more open approach (read: less measuring); encouraging Canadians to:
- Eat protein foods
- Have plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Choose whole grains
- Make water your drink of choice
Seems simple enough, right? I mean, these are all key stepping-stones to a healthy diet.
I have written a few posts on how many meals the twins get each day vs. my dismal attempt at nutrition. And the fact is when your focus is on your kids – especially children under 2 – you don’t focus on yourself. Like, at all.
So, yes, my 13-month-old kiddos are mostly eating nutritionally balanced meals that may or may not be worthy of a Michelin star while I survive on the classic college kid diet of ramen noodles, frozen pizzas and literally whatever happens to be in the fridge from the last grocery shop I did… which was mostly food I thought I should eat, but don’t actually want to eat (hello pickled beets and Swiss chard).
And the fact is when your focus is on your kids – especially children under 2 – you don’t focus on yourself. Like, at all.
But I’m here to tell you that incorporating these guidelines into your every day CAN be done.
Try these 4 easy-peasy ways to get your Food Guide on.
4 Ways to Make Canada’s Food Guide Work For You
1 // Pack your Protein
Protein is the macronutrient that we know we need, but also fail to include in most of our meals and snacks. To me, protein is a little less convenient compared to, say, fats or carbohydrates. I mean, think of how easy it is to carb up. Whole proteins, like eggs, require some prep – but it is a totally manageable amount of prep! Two large eggs contain 13g of protein.
Try one of these make-ahead egg ideas this week:
- Mini frittatas. Mix eggs, veggies, and a little cheese, and bake in large muffin tins. These are freezable so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!
- Mini omelets. Same idea as muffin-sized frittatas but instead of baking, pan fry and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Hard-boiled eggs. My mom swears by a 20-minute egg; boil for 5 minutes then turn off and leave sit in the water for 15 min. Cool them off and pre-peel — you’ll thank yourself later. (But your fridge might not so be sure to seal ‘em up real tight.)
- Egg salad. Put aside 2 of your hardboiled eggs and dice to your heart’s content along with some celery, carrots, radishes, garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix in some mayo and/or creamy avocado. Serve on whatever bread makes you happy. Seriously.
- Check out Eggs.ca for great recipe ideas on how to fit Canadian eggs into your family’s diet.
2// Veg Out
Try and include some kind of vegetable at each of your meals or snacks, and fruit 1-2 times a day. When it comes to vegetables and fruit, it’s important to branch out as much as your taste (and bank account) can afford. You may have heard things like, “Eat the Rainbow.” At its most basic, this saying is a good outline for incorporating different types of produce, but if you’re dealing with kids or picky eaters, it’s also okay to just go with what works.
- For Kids: As your children’s palate develops, try to offer more vegetables than fruits and don’t be sneaky. Let them try individual vegetables as they are.
- For Adults: At meals, serve vegetables first, then protein, then carbs. Load your plate with veggies. Think around 50%.
- For Everyone: Spend 10 minutes washing, peeling and preparing raw or cooked vegetable and fruit kits. It’s less work than full meal preparations and will increase your likelihood of snacking on, and feeding, veggies during the day.
3// Grainy Goodness
Choosing whole grains over refined grains is kind of a no-brainer because whole grains are packed with nutrients and vitamins whereas refined grains are essentially stripped of the bulk of their nutritional value during processing, and then enriched (read: added in after) with some of the same nutrients they were just stripped of. It’s not realistic for most to swap out all the refined stuff – I mean, I’m all about my flaxseed bread and quinoa breakfast oats but you will likely never catch me eating a whole-grain crust pizza.
Keep in mind:
- You don’t have to make a full switch to whole grains right away. Start small with bread, then some rice or quinoa, then cereals, pasta… you get the picture.
- Treat grains as the supporting cast, not the main star, of your meals and snacks. For example: The egg salad I mentioned earlier would pair wonderfully on a 12-grain baguette. Or sweet and sour egg drop soup can be built up with protein and vegetables (like bok choy and carrots) before adding in noodles. Or even a fried egg on a whole grain waffle for some sweet and salty goodness!
4// Win at Water
I’m not ashamed to admit that water is my favourite beverage. I’ll go a step further and tell you that I’m a room-temp agua chugger – a fact that disgusts my ice cube stacking husband to no end. Here’s the thing about lukewarm H20: it’s a lot easier to drink in a hurry when you have toddlers plotting to overthrow your home. (At least that’s what I assume they’re doing during their gibberish conferences.)
Do your body a favour and try:
- Drinking a pint glass full of warm water first thing in the morning
- Leaving a large glass or water bottle at whichever sink you wash your hands in during the day. Every time you wash your hands have some water. (Being an adult is fun, isn’t it?)
- Placing a full water bottle in every room, or on every floor of your house. You will not believe how handy this is ESPECIALLY if you’re nursing. In that case, leave a large full bottle next to every area you feed your baby in.
- Resetting the hydration scales. Coffee is a diuretic which means you are actually losing hydration when you drink it. For every pot cup of coffee you consume drink one cup of water. #balance
So tell me, based on these suggestions do you think you can make parts of the food guide work for you? Which of these tips will you try first? Share with me in the comments!
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Canadian Eggs, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for reading!