by Robyn Stevens and Paula Porter

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”  Great words by a great philosopher but in this day and age trying to figure out the world of nutrition can be a very confusing process. Here are some basics to get you started…

Whenever possible, try to eat whole, nutrient dense food.  We hear this phrase all the time, but I often get asked “what does that mean”, and “what are some examples of these foods”?  Whole food is food as close to the way it grew as possible.  Nutrient dense food is not processed at all or minimally processed,  and and contains high amounts of micro and macro nutrients: vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates.

When your diet has a good variety of nutrient dense foods, you are getting the full complement of nutrients and building blocks that you need for overall health.  Aim to have several of these nutrient rich foods every time you have a meal. Examples of nutrient dense foods are:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Wild caught salmon and other oily fish like sardines
  • Berries 
  • Nuts (almond, Brazil, walnut, etc)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts)
  • Seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sesame, flax, chia)
  • Garlic
  • Quality lean meats
  • Heart healthy, omega rich fats and oils; flax seed, olive, and avocado are good examples

Easy ways to ensure that you are getting a variety of these foods? Top a leafy green salad with walnuts, salmon and a good glug of olive oil; Add a small handful of pumpkin seeds on top of your steamed veggies for crunch and extra goodness; Make a hearty lentil soup on a Sunday and take it for lunch during the week – top it with healthy nuts and seeds or even wilt some baby spinach into it before eating; Sprinkle sesame seeds on a stir fry; Top literally anything with avocado!

Meeting the recommended servings of each food category can be challenging for some, but it’s important for a healthy body.  

  • Fruits – 2-3 servings / day
  • Vegetables – 5-7 servings / day 
  • Healthy fats – 3-4 servings / day
  • Protein 2-4 servings / day
  • lots of clean filtered water – 48-64 oz / day 

Does it have to be organic?

In a perfect world, organic food would be more available to all. Shopping for good quality, organic food does cost more but there are ways to do it and not break the bank. Prioritizing which foods are more important to be buying organic can also be easier on the grocery bill.  EWG’s dirty dozen is a good resource. In addition, Farmers markets are still active in the GTA this time of year and are a great way to explore locally grown, seasonal food.  My advice to any client is to be buying the best quality that they can comfortably afford, and to be washing produce well.

Everyone can benefit from improvements to their daily intake of food.  If you have specific dietary needs, working with a Nutritionist can be really beneficial.  We offer a great price of $49/month to patients of the clinic for nutritional counselling.  We work with you to help improve your health from the inside out.  Contact the clinic to get started, or for more information.