Healthy eating means balanced meals made of various nutritious foods. But how does that actually translate into breakfast, lunch and dinner? The Food Pyramid or the food plate diagram stays as relevant today as decades ago and all of us can agree the appropriate intake of nutrients makes a diet healthy. While everyone knows it’s essential to include whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, as well as fruits and veggies in our daily meals, sticking to that can pose a challenge. Everyday lives are more hectic than ever, and consumers have countless choices and conflicting nutritional information for their foods, making it increasingly difficult to make the most appropriate decisions.
Canadians typically put a lot of thought into their meals and eating habits. Nearly 84% of Canadian consumers recognize the fact that the food they consume has a high impact on physical health, and 63% state its also impacts their emotional wellbeing. In 2018, Statistics Canada released several surveys looking into eating patterns, preferences and beliefs and the findings paint quite an encouragingly positive picture! While there’s still more to do to close the nutritional gap, Canada is on the right track.
About 8 in 10 Canadians value nutrition when choosing their foods. In line with that, nearly half of all Canadians aged 15 to 24 years old say they ‘always or often’ check nutritional information before purchasing products. However, given that 60% of the products found in supermarkets and grocery stores are processed and packaged, many are left confused and risk end up buying foods that are high in sugar, sodium or fat. Similarly, while everyone loves a dinner out or ordering some takeaway every now and then, experts warn about the dangers of not being in control of the ingredients used and their nutritional value. This is extremely important as Canadians spend about 30% of their food budgets in restaurants or on vending machine foods.
When it comes to protein sources in Canadian diets, almost 94% of both adults and children consume dairy products on any given day. The runner-uppers after milk-based products are as expected meat (63.4%), eggs (56.2%) and poultry (43.5%). Curiously, more Canadians choose to exclude shellfish and fish from their diets, more than any other source of protein (7.8%). Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost body and brain health and excluding it from the shopping list means eliminating essential vitamins and minerals from meals. On the other hand, nearly half of Canadians (45%) are shifting their focus on the latest superfoods and would be keen on trying nutrient-dense food products such as chia seeds, kale, quinoa or broccoli and 35% say they feel positive about including them in their healthy meal plans.
A healthy meal is the main driver in combating chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The famous writer George Bernard Shawhad the right idea when he said “there is no sincerer love than the love of food”, however it might just be time to add the love of healthy food.