Take the 100 Meal Challenge!

Did you know that you eat approximately 100 meals every month?! March is Nutrition Month in Canada and Dietitians of Canada is challenging us to make small changes to our eating habits one meal at a time. 1 month, 100 meals, lots of opportunities to start new healthy routines! With more than half of adult Canadians (52%) living with chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, and approximately 30% of our children living with overweight or obesity, its time for us to start thinking about sustainable changes to promote life long health among ourselves and the ones we love most! 

While eating well is just part of the equation (combined with your genetics and other lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity), it can help you be healthier and feel better. This March, join the #domesticphd on a journey of small changes! It's high time we all stop focusing on the numbers on the scale, going on juice cleanses (or any cleanse in general), trying to detox or bodies (we have livers, people- we don't need to detox!) and falling for Dr. Oz's newest claim. Instead, its time we start thinking about our behaviours and how those behaviours impact our goals (like fitting into last year's jeans).   

While you may be reading this and thinking, "Great! I've been thinking about making some changes to my eating habits," that's awesome, but you are likely in the minority. When most of us think about changing the way we eat, we break out in sweats and start thinking about all the things we will have to give up (not the chocolate!). Feeling saddened by the loss of our favourite foods and overwhelmed with the number of changes we have to make, we don't last too long on our health kicks.  But this is just what Dietitians of Canada is trying to help us with. Instead of cutting things out and making a million changes, make changes one at a time and choose those changes based on what is most important to you. Who cares if your neighbour is training for a marathon and only eats salads- its time to stop comparing ourselves or making changes because we think its what we should do. Use the next 100 meals to make changes that resinate with your life and the goals you have for yourself! 

Wondering where to start? First, think about where you might be able to make positive and easy changes in your diet. Here are some ideas that can really make a difference: 

  • Fill your plate with more veggies. Aim for half of your plate at each meal. 
  • Choose whole grain breads instead of white. 
  • When you are thirsty, choose water instead of sugary drinks like juice (even 100% fruit juice) and pop. 
  • Serve smaller portions. 

The #domesticphd bloggers have all taken the Nutrition Month pledge. Here are the changes we are attempting to make this month! 

Michelle: Near the end of my PhD I was really boring with my meals because I was too focused on writing and studying. I had no energy to think about what I wanted to eat, and I whipped up whatever was quick and easy. Now that I have more free time I want to make an effort to plan meal ideas in advance. I need to get back on track with eating healthy and making sure I'm not letting food go to waste. My goal is to use 10 or so items each week to make my weekday meals. Hopefully that will help with grocery shopping, brainstorming ideas, and yummy meals Mon-Fri!

Kathryn: My goal is to eat more fish! Fish is high in both heart healthy omega-3s and protein and through a research project that I am working on, I have realized how little omega-3 I have in my diet. I am aiming to eat fish twice a week- once for dinner and once for lunch. For me the toughest part is going to be planning ahead for this as  I don't like frozen fish very much (although it is just as healthy). March is going to be a busy month for me as I will be completing my PhD qualifying exams (yikes!) so I will have to plan out my weekly meals and grocery shop in advance. Canned fish will come in handy for lunches! 

Sam: I moved to Normandy (in the north-west of France) just over 4 months ago. Since then, I have been enjoying French cuisine to its fullest. (When in Rome, right?) I buy a baguette from the local boulangerie everyday, and although in Canada I used butter only on rare occasions (such as when baking cookies), I now eat it quite liberally on a * gasp * white baguette (I buy the “baguette cereale”, which is a baguette with flax and other seeds in it, and is the closest I can find to whole grains at my local boulangerie…but it’s still white bread. The Canadian me would have been horrified; the French me is enjoying every bite). I also now consume French cheese almost everyday, as there are literally hundreds of types of French cheese and I am determined to try as many as I can! On top of this, I get a 3-course lunch at the university cafeteria for about $5 CDN. That 3-course meal includes a dessert, and there are about ten different French patisseries to choose from everyday. There are also a few types of fruit, and several types of yogurt available. (Did I mention the ten types of patisseries??)  Unsurprisingly given my new French diet, I have finally started to notice a bit of a bulge at the waistline. More importantly, with all this bread I’m consuming, I know I’m not meeting my daily quota of F&V or calcium. A fruit bowl or a yogurt cup are a great way to fit in an extra serving, disguised as dessert. For nutrition month, my goal is to choose fruit or yogurt more often at lunch, while allowing myself one patisserie per week, since every food fits!

Anna: My goal for March is to ensure that I am consuming an adequate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. I leave for Australia on March 1st and do not have a fixed address or even know if I will have access to a kitchen when I am there. Additionally, this will also be a challenge for me as I have been informed that produce is very expensive down under. I have always loved fresh produce but access to it will be a barrier.

Kathryn's Dietitian Tips! 

You know yourself best, but here are some tips that have worked for my clients when they have embarked on making healthy changes: 

Follow the #domesticphd all month long as we post tips to help you along your 100 meal challenges! For more information about Nutrition Month, or to make your pledge, check out: www.nutritionmonth2016.ca

Remember, all foods fit in moderation. Eat the food you love with the ones you love! 

- Kath 

Please note, materials for this blog were adapted from Dietitians of Canada's Nutrition Month Campaign Materials.