There was a time when I subsisted on two chocolate bars a day and meal at a fast food restaurant. Let's say I was fairly ignorant of nutrition and quite oblivious towards the effects that food choices had on my health.
My parents never taught me about eating healthy foods. What did they know about food? Nothing. They were immigrants trying to carve out a new life in Canada. The food in our home was traditional South Asian cuisine which is loaded with butter, oil and dairy.
Outside of home, the foods I chose had more to do with the influence of advertising and my friends at school than anything else. It remained that way until I started a regular yoga practice. My time on my mat taught me to tune into my body. That was when I initially shifted the way I was eating. I stopped having so much fast food and sugar, preferring to focus in on fruit and whole foods.
It's a process.
No change happens overnight. It took me years of trial and error, learning and growing before I really got it. Going back to school for nutrition taught me why chocolate bars don't create health. Unfortunately most people don't have a chance or even want to go to nutrition school.
That means the thing that's the most important to their health, what they put into their body, they know little about. Marketing and advertising along with family eating habits is how most people figure out what to eat. I've had quite a few clients who want to make healthier food choices and yet they're pulled back into poor habits by their family.
What's the average person to do?
Last year the Canada Food Guide made some really powerful changes to offer Canadians a path to better health. Generally the meat and dairy industry lobbies the government heavily to be have space on the food guide. However in this most recent iteration of the Canada Food Guide the meat and dairy industries weren't allowed to influence the panel.
That means for the first time ever the committee that recommends what Canadians should eat actually listened to nutrition science. What about all the times before? Sadly all the previous guides were pressured by meat and dairy to give them space on the food guide.
It's like the cigarette industry asking for a government recommendation because it affects the industry's bottom line. These kinds of lobbying efforts do not help the average Canadian. The current food guide is a major step in the right direction.
I wanted to talk about the changes to the Canada Food Guide again because I think many people aren't aware of the changes or the significance of the changes.
Dairy was down graded. Though it still remains on the Canada Food Guide it's been given a less prominent role. The dairy industry spends 60 million dollars every year lobbying the government. Without tax payer subsidies the entire industry will most likely collapse. The demand for cow's milk continues to decline as more people choose healthier plant based alternatives.
There are significant issues with dairy. The biggest one is that most people, about 75%, can't even process dairy. Certain ethnic groups like Asians, South Asians, African Americans, Italians and First Nations people need to avoid all dairy because they don't have the enzyme to process it. Other issues with dairy are breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men due to the casein in milk. All milk, whether it's human or cow's milk, is filled with growth hormones for the species it's intended for. Cow's milk is meant to grow a calf into a 1000 pound cow. When humans have cow's milk those hormones stimulate cancer growth.
Lastly osteoporosis, digestive issues, acne and other skin problems are linked to dairy. There are also studies that suggest the hormones in cow's milk encourages early onset puberty in young girls and boys. With so many plant alternatives on the market, it's wise to choose milk that doesn't come from an animal. Some of my current favourite plant milks are oat and cashew milk.
Meat has also been given a lesser role in the Canada Food Guide. On the Government of Canada website it says- "Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often." In the images on the website meat is shown in smaller portion sizes. This is in stark contrast to how food is marketed and sold to Canadians.
Many restaurant menus have large serving sizes of beef or chicken and very few vegetables and fresh greens even though these foods are much healthier. Meat has been linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and many other chronic health conditions. Meat is highly acidic in the human body, along with dairy. This alone promotes disease within one's body.
More importantly meat consumption changes the microbes in the gut to be pro inflammatory. Chronic inflammation is at the root of all disease in the human body. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and kidney disease are some of the serious illnesses linked to meat consumption.
Become educated about the changes to the Canada Food Guide. Start to bring more veggies, fruits and whole grains into your diet. If you're unsure about where to start contact me for a FREE consult.
Have patience as you learn how to incorporate more and more plant foods into your diet. Keep in mind that the only diet that has successfully reversed heart disease is a 100% whole food plant based diet. There are so many benefits to being plant based. Besides the health benefits it's also better for our planet.
Take it day by day. You got this!