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Nutrition Month 2013: A Tip For Every Day Of The Month

03/01/2013 07:07 EST | Updated 03/03/2013 02:35 EST
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There's no question it's harder to eat healthier in the dead of winter. Those enticing cherries and raspberries, so full of antioxidants, are ridiculously overpriced when you can find them at all, and grilling fish on the barbecue means first brushing off an avalanche of snow.

Which is why, we believe, the Dietitians of Canada have chosen March as Nutrition Month — as half challenge, half inspiration for 31 days meant to get Canadians thinking about eating healthy again after months of carb-loading and snack food hoarding throughout the winter.

With an eye toward better meal planning and grocery shopping, there's plenty to learn from the experts who take their food, and its impact on our bodies, seriously. After all, we now know it's not merely a matter of cutting carbs to lose weight or taking in as many superfoods as possible to stay healthy.

So check out these tips from nutritionists and dietitians from across the country for a tip to get you through every day of this final month of dreary weather.

Have a tip of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

25 Tips For Nutrition Month

Eat The Right Superfoods

NUTRITION TIP: "Hipsters and trendy restaurants are discovering what nutritionists have been raving about for decades — quinoa. This non-grain seed, revered by the ancient Inca civilization, is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients. Quinoa is considered a ‘smart carb’ because it is low in fat and glycemic index, and high in protein and fibre. This means it will not spike your blood sugar and cause weight gain."

THE EXPERT: Randy Fritz, certified nutritional consultant at Real Food For Life, based in Edmonton, Alta.

Store Your Meats Properly

NUTRITION TIP: "Put meat and poultry into containers on the bottom of the fridge so juices won’t drip and contaminate other foods. Split bigger packages and freeze in meal-size portions for easy defrosting."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Try Going Sugar-Free

NUTRITION TIP: "Challenge yourself to cut out the extra sugar in your diet. Avoid foods that are considered diet products or contain artificial sweeteners. For breakfast, try plain yogurt or breakfast cereals with zero grams sugar [oatmeal is a great choice]. For a snack, try plain, unsalted nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole grain bread instead of granola bars. This will help you re-learn to appreciate the natural sweetness in wholesome food, as well have increase your enjoyment of sweet fruits and desserts when you have them."

THE EXPERT: Mary Bamford, registered dietitan and director of nutrition of the Cleveland Clinic Canada, based in Toronto, Ont.

Don't Forget The Inner Aisles

NUTRITION TIP: "You've probably heard that you should shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. It’s good advice — that’s where you’ll find vegetables and fruit, fresh lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products. But don’t avoid the inner aisles. You’ll find nutrient-rich staples such as no-salt-added canned tomatoes, dried legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole grains, high-fibre cereals, nuts and low-sodium canned light tuna and salmon."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Trust Your Body

NUTRITION TIP: "The most accurate and least expensive advice will ultimately come from your own body. The moment you put a food in your mouth, there is an immediate reaction –— not controlled by television ads or the latest health fad – IF you are aware and listening. For example, eating whole foods instead of processed junk food or chocolate bars. This may not seem exciting or dramatic at first, but if used as a process toward knowing yourself and your body, can reap a lifetime of health rewards."

THE EXPERT: Randy Fritz, certified nutritional consultant of Real Food For Life, based in Edmonton, Alta.

Try Something You've Never Heard Of

NUTRITION TIP: "Shake things up and create a little adventure with friends or family by trying a food that might seem weird and unusual to you. Consider trying prickly pear, jackfruit (pictured here), teff, Job's tears, wheat berries, edamame, wakame seaweed, hemp hearts, turmeric, walnut oil, or salmon jerky. And remember, the uncommon can become common. It is funny to think that in the early 1950s, bananas were a weird and wonderful new food to most North Americans."

THE EXPERT: Mary Bamford, registered dietitan and director of nutrition of the Cleveland Clinic Canada, based in Toronto, Ont.

Try New Shapes To Get Your Kids To Eat

NUTRITION TIP: "Having trouble getting kids to eat vegetables? Try changing the shape. Grate carrots, make cucumber ribbons with a peeler, and cut peppers into stars using scissors. Give them creative names too — kids eat more power peas and X-ray vision carrots than plain ol’ peas and carrots."

THE EXPERT: Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian of Words To Eat By, based in Toronto Ont.

Think About Quantity

NUTRITION TIP: "Buy only what you need. Break up a bunch of bananas, buy half a dozen eggs and ask the butcher to split packages of meat."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Eat Local

NUTRITION TIP: "We are one superfood nation so stay in touch with what's local, and think outside the traditional garden. Kombu is the easiest sea veggie to add to the diet. It's very high in iodine and can be added to water when cooking rice, soup or stew. You don't even have to eat it."

THE EXPERT: Lisa Kilgour, registered holistic nutritionist of Eat More Real Food based in Peachland and Penticton in B.C.'s Okanagan region.

Rules For Tomatoes

NUTRITION TIP: "Keep tomatoes on the counter, out of direct sunlight, so they stay fresh and flavourful."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Don't Eat When You're Distracted

NUTRITION TIP: "Avoid eating while you are distracted – by watching TV, driving, or checking e-mail. Distraction during mealtimes can lead to overeating since you will be less focused on hunger signals and the amount of food you’ve eaten."

THE EXPERT: Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian of Words To Eat By, based in Toronto Ont.

Look For Colour

NUTRITION TIP: "Look for fruits and vegetables that have rich colour and colour that goes right through them. One way to increase the colour in your diet is to top your meals with grated colourful beets, sweet potatoes, carrots or broccoli stems."

THE EXPERT: Lisa Kilgour, registered holistic nutritionist of Eat More Real Food based in Peachland and Penticton in B.C.'s Okanagan region.

Think Before You Drink

NUTRITION TIP: "Sugary drinks contain more calories than most people realize. In fact, some sugary drinks have as many calories as a whole meal. Sugary drinks include energy drinks, fruit drinks, pop, sports drinks, slushies, specialty coffee and tea drinks, and vitamin-enhanced water. Most sugary drinks provide little or no nutrition, so stick to healthier beverages such as water, herbal tea, or milk or even chocolate milk (although it has added sugar, it is a nutrient-rich choice.)"

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Create New Recipes

NUTRITION TIP: "Trying a new food or new recipe every week helps to ensure you are adding variety to your diet. Experiment with new vegetables and fruits as well as different seasonings."

THE EXPERT: Mary Bamford, registered dietitan and director of nutrition of the Cleveland Clinic Canada, based in Toronto, Ont.

Shop As A Team

NUTRITION TIP: "Grocery shop with a friend so you can split large packages and take advantage of volume discounts such as, club packs or 'buy one, get one free' deals."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Kick The Carbs By Using A Scale

NUTRITION TIP: "Rate your food based on a scale of one to 10, and don’t bother finishing foods that rank below a six. How many times have you taken a bite of a stale pastry or a tasteless entrée and complained about its flavour? It’s a waste of calories."

THE EXPERT: Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian of Words To Eat By, based in Toronto Ont.

Keep Calm And Carry On

NUTRITION TIP: "These 'speak easy' words are popping up all over social media, yet we are forgetting to apply the message to an important part of our lives, our eating habits. Eating in a calm relaxed state will not only help you to enjoy the wonderful meal that is on your plate but it will also allow your body to properly digest and absorb the food that is being consumed."

THE EXPERT: Melody Quinlan, a certified holistic nutritionist based in Toronto, Ont.

Don't Rely On One Ingredient

NUTRITION TIP: "One healthy ingredient doesn't necessarily make a food a healthy choice. For example, cheesy popcorn starts off with a healthy ingredient: whole grain popcorn, but the final product has almost as much fat and more sodium than potato chips. When shopping, read food labels and consider a food’s overall nutrient content. Some foods that are low in fat and salt, such as candy and pop, can be high in sugar and calories and low in nutrients."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Eat More Fat

NUTRITION TIP: "Fats are one of the most important parts of our diets and part of the biggest problem is that we eat far too many poor quality fats. Try unrefined oils, avocados and nuts."

THE EXPERT: Rich Ralph, a registered holistic nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C.

Think Small

NUTRITION TIP: "Those jumbo packs of snacks aren’t a bargain if you end up throwing some away, plus having bigger packages at home means you’ll eat more."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Follow Your Nose ... To Whole Grain Foods

NUTRITION TIP: "The smell of freshly baked breads wafting through the grocery store can be tantalizing. You don’t have to cut bread out altogether, just make smart choices. Breads made with whole grains have more vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients that are good for your health. People who eat a diet rich in whole grains are more likely to have a healthy heart."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Chew Your Food

NUTRITION TIP: "Your mother taught you to chew your food and keep your mouth closed while eating. Somehow with our busy schedules and eating on the go, we have forgotten our Ps and Qs. Food should ideally be chewed for 30 bites or until the food becomes liquid in your mouth. Chewing food activates the enzymes in your mouth (salivary amylase) to begin the breakdown of food into absorbed nutrients. This also sends a signal to your stomach and the rest of your digestive system to prepare itself for the vitamin and mineral overload that is heading its way."

THE EXPERT: Melody Quinlan, a certified holistic nutritionist based in Toronto, Ont.

Look For Shortcuts

NUTRITION TIP: "Healthier versions of convenience foods can be time savers when it comes to getting healthy meals on the table in a flash. Next time you’re shopping, look for these nutritious options: Pre-cut butternut squash, ready-to-go stir-fry vegetables and pre-made salads"

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Learn How To Read The Labels

NUTRITION TIP: When you know how to read nutrition labels, shopping for healthier food gets a little easier. The Nutrition Facts table provides information on the calories and nutrients in a specific serving size of food. You can check the serving size and compare it to how much food you actually eat. The % Daily Value (% DV) on the Nutrition Facts table shows you if a food has “a little” or “a lot” of a nutrient. For example, 5 per cent DV or less is a little of a nutrient, and 15 per cent DV or more is a lot of a nutrient."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Find Time To Sleep

NUTRITION TIP: "No amount of multivitamins, super foods or juices can help you if you are neglecting your REM cycle. Sleeping seven plus hours per night is required in order for the body to detoxify, repair and rebuild for the next day. When you are tired you will oftentimes opt for food that is high in sugar and caffeine to give you that temporary energy boost. Failing to ignore your body’s silent cries for sleep can result in potential health issues, as well as weight gain."

THE EXPERT: Melody Quinlan, a certified holistic nutritionist based in Toronto, Ont.

Storage Rules

NUTRITION TIP: "Store eggs in their carton and dairy products inside the fridge, not on the door, which is the warmest part of the fridge."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Reinvent Kid Food

NUTRITION TIP: "Skip the nitrite-laden hot dogs and deep-fried chicken fingers — 'kid food' is what YOU decide it is. Don’t underestimate your kids’ palates. Instead, introduce them to new flavours by making one healthy meal the whole family can enjoy. It’s quicker, healthier and you won’t have to create two dinners every night. Try fajitas, tuna casserole or homemade pizza."

THE EXPERT: Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian of Words To Eat By, based in Toronto Ont.

Think About Portion Sizes

NUTRITION TIP: "Reduce your portion sizes by using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Your brain will still register that you are eating a full plate of food and you can leave the table satisfied, even though you've consumed fewer calories. Once you've mastered small plates, shrink the size of your bowls, glasses and spoons too."

THE EXPERT: Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian of Words To Eat By, based in Toronto Ont.

DIY Foods

NUTRITION TIP: "Try a “do-it-yourself” meal such as fajitas, tacos, sandwiches or salads. Put all the healthy ingredients on the table and let everyone assemble their favourite combo."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada

Eat Mindfully

NUTRITION TIP: "Enjoy the taste, texture, colour and aroma of the food you eat. You should also recognize when you are hungry and when you had enough. And do this with any food — if you are mindfully eating chocolate cheesecake, you'll enjoy it and eat less of it."

THE EXPERT: Areli Hermanson, registered dietitian of Eat It Up, based in Victoria, B.C.

Stick To Your Budget

NUTRITION TIP: "Pay with cash, not plastic. You’ll have to stick to your budget if you bring only the amount of money you plan to spend."

THE EXPERT: Experts at Dietitians of Canada