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The Four Foundations of Children’s Health: Pillar Two – Family Nutrition

Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

In our family, and for the families we work with, we emphasize nutrition as essential for optimal health. Eating a well-balanced, whole foods diet will improve most health issues and prevent a myriad of chronic health problems.

We also feel better when we eat better!

We do not feel there is one diet for every person, but we do think there are important guidelines that will get most of us, most of the way there.

With so many different diets and eating ways, it is easy to get lost in all the details.

Michael Pollan sums it up so well: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Eat food,

This basically means to eat real food.

Avoid packaged, pre-made, fast food that is so convenient but so unhealthy. If you can eliminate most pre-packaged, prepared or take-out foods from your diet, you are eliminating most of the excess sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, food additives and preservatives you are presently eating. We encourage all of our patients to eat real food, whole foods and get in the kitchen more.  Getting in the kitchen with your kids will help them learn to to eat more sensibly as well, setting an example for a lifetime of healthier eating habits.

not too much,

This reminds me of the Japanese concept “Hara hachi bu”.  This translates, loosely, to: eat until you are 80% full.

Most of us are simply eating too much food. If you cut back on your intake, you will likely strike a better balance with what your body actually needs to be healthy. This is particularly important for those of us who are sedentary and not striking the right balance of calories in versus calories out, and consequently gaining extra body-fat/weight as we age.

mostly plants.

On our home, we structure our food intake according to the Harvard  School of Public Health’s “Healthy Eating Plate”: a simple, visual approach to balanced eating. To ensure a balanced intake of foods, including having “mostly plants”, ensure each major meal consists of:

  • half fruit or “non-starchy” vegetable
  • a palm size serving of healthy protein
  • and palm size serving of healthy grains “starchy” vegetables (e.g., potato)

By eating this way, we are eating about 75% plants, most of which are of the healthier “non-starchy” variety.

Once you’re in the routine of using these simple guidelines, you will actually have, in most cases, dramatically changed the way you are eating, and will notice it in the way you are feeling! Importantly, by modeling healthy eating, we will also be fostering in our children healthy habits they can carry with them through their lifetimes.

If you need more help, we have quick, simple healthy meal ideas and tips and are happy to support you along this journey towards better nutrition! Ask us for help!

Tune in to my discussion of the next pillar, the microbiome.

Until next time,

Du La, ND, Acupuncturist

 

Posted: 2015 January 8