I’ll Have What She’s Having…Unravelling my personal dietary strategy
Everyday, readers and clients ask for my opinion on certain foods and dietary approaches. As a dietitian, I feel that it is my duty to support dietary strategies that differ from my own…as long as I help keep you healthy on the path of your choosing. I truly believe that there is no one prescription for all seven billion of us – except to eat your veggies.
Of course, others are keen to know what it is I actually eat and if I have any food rules of my own that I follow. As a busy professional and mom of (soon to be) two, I have to say that with each passing year, I grow less tolerant of strict rules. Still, there are many ideals I strive towards in my personal eating choices. So today, I thought I would begin that peek inside my own kitchen and share some of the foods I avoid and why I do so.
In truth, there is only one food I never eat, and that is meat. I have been vegetarian for 18 years now. I ate a bit of ’emergency’ meat to boost protein intake in my first pregnancy but in this second, not a morsel. I choose to restrict meat for environmental, ethical and health reasons. And, because I know how to craft a delicious, healthy diet for myself I never miss it.
Something relatively new in my lifestyle, however, is fish. I maybe eat it 2-3 times per month, which was a big decision for me. I don’t believe that it is sustainable to eat a lot of fish nor does it fit with my ethics. But after my first child, I developed an intolerance to wheat (NOT gluten) and typically, vegetarians are served big plates of pasta or pizza so occasionally, I will choose the fish option which is often far healthier than the vegetarian option. It allows me to dine out more widely – particularly when I travel to non-vegetarian friendly places – but my preference is plant-centred whenever I can. Which is 99% of the time.
Another thing I avoid is genetically modified foods. While research may be conflicting about the long term consequences of eating GMOs, I am strongly against our acting as guinea pigs in the GMO experiment, especially as long as GMOs exist to maximize profit margins for chemical companies with no discernible benefit for human health. I also try to avoid my exposure to pesticide residues and for this reason, I choose certified organic foods. I still eat out, however, so I know that I am not 100% organic or GMO free but I know that the large majority of the time, I am.
High fructose corn syrup (glucose-fructose in Canada) is another reason I put foods back on the shelf. Not only is it a GMO byproduct, used only for increased profit margins for food companies, but the small increase of free fructose over what is found in regular table sugar is enough to potentially cause health consequences.
Hydrogenated oils also get the red light from me. It’s not enough to look for trans fat free products as a loophole in labelling allows foods with less than 0.5g trans fats per serving to be labelled as trans fat free. This is the most caustic form of fat for our health, increasing risk of chronic disease and stoking inflammation.
And finally, the “white stuff”. As much as possible, I ensure that my daily diet doesn’t include refined grain flour or sugar. That doesn’t mean I won’t help myself to a cookie from time to time, just that these foods don’t show up on my mealtime plate that often. Pasta is either corn or brown rice, and I have started to be able to tolerate a bit of whole wheat pasta thrown in there. I eat 100% whole rye sourdough and crackers are either whole rye or gluten free whole grains. My goal is keeping blood sugars, appetite and inflammation in check, along with increasing my intake of cleansing fibre. So white flour and sugar have to go.
If that’s what I avoid…what do I eat? Well, to be honest, the recipes and food ideas I share online truly reflect my dietary principals. And of course, keeping up with my instagram account is a sure way to get a glimpse of my everyday plates if you’re interested. In the coming weeks, I will share my goals for my own personal diet, so stay tuned!