By: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC
As a dietitian, I’ve seen many food fads come and go. These three trends are here to stay and could change the way you and your family eat.
Trend #1: Eat to reduce food loss and waste
Did you know that the average Canadian household throws out about $1,766 worth of food a year?!
That’s according to a report by Second Harvest, a Toronto-based agency that collects surplus food and distributes it to social service agencies such as breakfast programs, summer camps and shelters. The same report found that 58% of all the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted along the food supply chain – from the farm all the way through processing, distribution, food service, retail and the consumer. Food waste also negatively impacts the environment since food in landfills creates greenhouse gases like methane.
In June 2019, the federal Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the first ever national food policy for Canada that addresses access to healthy food as well as how to reduce food waste. This includes a challenge fund to support innovative food waste reduction ideas. Already, you may have heard about different food waste reduction programs at your local grocery store and restaurants.
3 things you can do:
• Look for “imperfect” produce. A bruised apple or a misshaped carrot still offer lots of delicious nutrition.
• Buy only what you can use and be creative with those leftovers. If you’re buying in bulk to save money, share with a family member. friend or neighbour.
• Store food properly. Remember that unopened foods past their “best before date” aren’t always spoiled or bad. After this date, the product often just loses some of its freshness, flavour or nutritional value.
Trend #2: Eat more plants
Eating plenty of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes can lower our chances of developing heart disease and other health concerns. That’s because these foods are typically lower in saturated fat and higher in fibre. The problem is that most Canadians aren’t eating enough of these health promoting foods. And that’s just one of the reasons why Canada’s food guide recommends eating more plant-based foods. Does this mean that you have to give up meat completely? Read my other blog for the answer.
Trend #3: Eat to stay strong and youthful
Our country’s demographics are changing. For the first time ever, there are more seniors (aged 65+ years) than children in Canada. With this trend in mind, there are plenty of new and innovative products to help ease the aging process – everything from collagen (believed to support skin and bone health) to protein enriched foods (for strong muscles).
It’s never too early to start eating well for our brain health. Another trend for healthy aging is the MIND diet. The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s a diet based on two well-known diets: the Mediterranean diet which lowers the risk of heart disease, and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which is helpful in lowering blood pressure. The MIND diet aims to reduce dementia and the decline in brain health that can occur as we age. In fact, the MIND diet has been shown to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by 35 to 53%.
3 things you can do:
• Eat a variety of foods from the MIND diet every day, including green leafy veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans/legumes, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.
• Exercise regularly to keep your strength, balance and coordination.
• Stay connected. Feeling lonely can affect your health. If you’re a senior, look for social activities or sign up for volunteer work. If you have a senior friend, parent or grandparent, reach out for a visit and call them to keep in touch.