5 ways to unlock the potential of food in your midlife #NutritionMonth2018

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Frustrated with weight, feeling out of control with food, having poor energy, emotional eating, binge eating, not knowing what to eat, not knowing how to eat…eating “really good” during the day – but by the afternoon and evening you “blow it”. You have a tumultuous relationship with food. These are some of the reasons why women and men seek out my help as a registered dietitian (and nutritionist*). They may be “healthy” according to their doctor, but they don’t feel “well”.

Women and men are often successful and accomplished in their working life – but when it comes to their food, nutrition, lifestyle habits and health, they feel at a loss for what they should do and how they can do it, given their already over-packed lives.

Their friends are talking about the keto diet, intermittent fasting, the results of their food intolerance tests (and comparing what foods are on their green yellow and red lists). They share and compare their pharmacy of supplements. They are left curious about their own health…is there is some truth to what their friends are saying? Is there something deficient about my eating plan? Should I try that approach? Would that detox diet detoxify me?

Food and eating has become a source of frustration, negative energy and confusion. Something that used to be so natural has become…laboured, fearsome, and unnatural. When did it get to feel so complicated?

 

Like air and breathing, food is something we need to live and thrive. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, food can be quite powerful, helping us thrive each day. How can we do this? With a shift in how we think about food and by examining how it fits within other parts of your current life. It is time to make this shift and unlock the potential of food!

I’m so excited to be part of this year’s Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign where we are celebrating Nutrition Month 2018 by helping Canadians unlock the potential of food!

 

Here are 5 ways to unlock the potential of food in your midlife:

Food has the potential to Fuel:

Food is what puts energy into our tanks. Eating a sufficiently energizing breakfast, a satisfying lunch, a basic dinner are ways in which foods has the potential to fuel us. In addition to main meals, adding in nutrient-rich snacks (foods or drinks consumed between meals) in the right portion sizes, can be part of your healthful and energizing eating plan so you can power through your work day, your kid’s activities, your travel.

Planning ahead, being mindful of portion sizes, learning about and listening to your hunger cues, and choosing the right balance of foods will help energize your nutrition to help you fuel your busy day.  Here are some snack recipes to get you started.

 

Food has the potential to Discover:

Food offers the potential for discovery, including the opportunity to travel the world through our mouths. Whether it is trying out a local restaurant, going down the international foods aisle of your grocery store, going to a farmer’s market, a specialty market, or cooking a new recipe, food offers the potential to meet your food growers, to discover new cultures, new flavours and new foods.

Here is a Thai-inspired menu to explore Thai flavours:

Food has the potential to Prevent

When we hit mid-life, we become more aware of our own aging bodies and our health and wellness. Our weight has crept up, our muscles and joints ache, we don’t have the same stamina that we did in our 20s and 30s. How we live, including our eating patterns, can have a significant impact on our health and wellness, both in the short term and long term.  But we also know that losing weight in our midlife is hard. How we live, the luxuries we have earned make navigating this stage of our lives difficult.

Did you know that ~80% of premature stroke and heart disease can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviours? (healthful eating, being active, living smoke free).  While we don’t want to develop cancer, heart disease or some other chronic disease, most of us are not sustainably motivated by fear. Thinking about the kind of life we want is much more motivating. For example, lightening up the load on my knees so I can move better and travel the world is a positive and sustaining motivation for lifestyle habits we have today.

Food has the potential to prevent poor health and to promote our vitality and wellness. Aim to eat an anti-inflammatory diet with more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, yogurt, fish, lean meats, healthy fats. Here are some recipes to get you started.

 

Food has the potential to Heal

Usually by mid-life, we have something to heal – our joints, our weight, our depression, our anxiety, our thyroid, our blood pressure, our blood sugars and cholesterol, our arthritis, our eating behaviours, our stress management and self-care, our relationship with food. Dietitians believe in and understand the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. Knowing what foods will energize and heal you, in what proportion, and the keystone habits needs to do so can help you move toward the life you most want for yourself.

Learn how you can use foods to heal your health.

 

Food has the potential to bring us together

Food is social, contributing to celebration, joy, healing and connection. Food is a tie to our past. Think about how memories can be evoked from the smell of a baking chocolate cake, the site of bubbling gravy, the use of special dinnerware. But 30% of Canadians say it is challenging to find time to eat meals with family and friends.

From children to older adulthood, eating with people is an enriching experience.

  • Children who eat with their family have better diets, better school performance, less risk of eating disorders, less risk for being overweight.
  • Teens who share family meals are less likely to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Adults who share meals tend to eat more vegetables and fruits, and have healthier weights.
  • Older adults who eat as part of a group have improved intake of vitamins and minerals and have better diets.

 

Remember, eating together can happen at any time of the day.  Breakfast, brunch, lunch, appetizers, snack, and of course, dinner. Enjoy the benefits of bringing families and friends together with food. Here are a few fun recipes to get you started:

 

How can you start to unlock the potential of food?

Start by brining awareness as to how you are unlocking the potential of food by recording in a food and lifestyle journal. What do you eat? When do you eat? How much do you eat? How do you feel after eating? When in your day is eating well easy? When is it difficult? Where in your week do you find eating easy vs challenging? What systems do you have in place to make unlocking the potential of food fit within your current life? Recording in a journal raises awareness, a powerful place to start when unlocking the potential of food.

Another way to unlock the potential of food? Take a health-inspired cooking class. I offer both demonstration-style and hands-on cooking classes here in Calgary.

Hungry for more ideas? I have 2 resources to share with you:

If you need help unlocking the potential of food to fuel the life you desire, find a dietitian knowledgeable about midlife health and wellness.

Happy Nutrition Month 2018! Cheers to your health, wellness and vitality!

Kristyn Hall

Related post:

 

*In Alberta, Nutritionist is a regulated title by the College of Dietitians of Alberta. This is not the case in all parts of Canada.

 

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Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD, Food, Nutrition & Culinary Coach, Registered Nutritionist and Calgary Dietitian, Calgary, AB.

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