An Unbiased Approach To The Food Guide? Is that even possible? – My Take, Part 1
An unbiased approach to the food guide? Is that even possible?
Wow. What a question. I really don’t know the answer. And I suppose I say this knowing how I was trained, compared with the learning and research I have had to do along the way to unlearn a number of ‘truths’ that were en’grained’ into me. And, if I recommended changes to the food guide, would I be biased? Probably, if I’m honest. But I also know that my current position comes from the latest research, and also comes from a position of trying to make you as healthy as possible, and not sell you a product.
So let’s try? ☺
The Globe and Mail had an interesting article by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff on this topic, talking about the history of the food guide and its tie to corporations… Read it here.
So, here is my thought for today:
First, remove all processed foods from the food guide – and this includes cereals.
Cereals are not a balanced breakfast.
Let’s take an example: Cereal with low-fat milk and fruit juice or a fruit (which would be considered balanced by the food guide’s standards as 3 of the 4 food groups) = carb, carb and carb (and in general, relatively low fibre/no fat/very little protein). And guess what? This will spike your blood sugar (because carbs are digested into glucose which is sugar) and lead to a sugar low (probably around 2 hrs), making you hungry after breakfast.
Maybe this is why my patients continuously reported that if they ate breakfast (generally with cereal/toast), they would be hungry all day, but if they skipped breakfast they wouldn’t be (until the evening when they binged on foods because they didn’t eat enough during the day). So what do I suggest for breakfast? Well, what would you eat for lunch? Try that. My go-to is eggs (from happy chickens purchased from my farmers’ market friends, yes throughout the whole year!), cooked in avocado oil (a merry amount 2 tbsp!) with sautéed vegetables – e.g. onions and garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, 1-2 handfuls of spinach, ½ an avocado. THAT will keep you full until lunch time. Why is that? Because you have a decent amount protein, AND FAT, and vegetables.
So you might ask where the grains are. Did you know that you don’t need to eat grains at every meal? In fact, limiting carbs from grain products/starchy vegetables can help you balance out blood sugar and insulin levels, helping you to lose weight. The reality is that North Americans eat way too much of them.
Suggestion: Try eating them at 1-2 meals in smaller amounts like ½ cup. And eating more vegetables (1-2 cups per meal!) and fat! Yes, eat fat at every meal and snack. But if you don’t eat eggs for whatever reason, that is fine. Eat left overs from last night’s dinner!
Here is my breakfast formula (adapted from my wonderful colleague Dietitian Cassie, founder of Healthy Simple Life):
✔ Protein—20-30g, the higher the quality, the better for your body,
✔ Fat – 2-4 TBSP oils (preferably coconut, olive, avocado, nut oils, 100% pure nut/seed butters) ½ avocado, heavy cream (my suggestion is that you get this from happy animals/grass fed animals as that will be the healthiest), and
✔ Carbohydrates – did you know that non-starchy vegetables are carbohydrates? But because they are so high in fibre, there is very little carb absorbed (called the ‘net carb’). I recommend 1-2 cups per meal. The second best option would be having maybe ½ cup of fruit (preferably higher fibre fruit like berries) or a starchy vegetable. The third best option would then be a small portion of grain product. The last option would be a sweet treat to eat – these I would recommend scheduling 1-2 times per week and eating them when you CHOOSE to eat them, not because you feel you MUST eat them. The attitude behind when you eat something tells me about how well balanced a person’s hormones are. If a person feels they MUST eat something sweet, then I’m wondering if their blood sugar is low? How are their leptin levels? When did they eat last? Or is this the time/place/people with which a person regularly eats a treat? We, like Pavlov’s Dogs, can make associations with places, people and times of the day.
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you the best of health,