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Food Isn't Good Or Bad, It's Just Food

03/14/2016 03:50 EDT | Updated 03/15/2017 05:12 EDT
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The latest nutrition trend isn't a fad diet. It's finally the opposite! People are moving away from diet foods and embracing health foods and wellness.

Finally, North Americans are starting to care about their health and enjoy food rather than see it as an enemy. I see this with my clients: you want to hear what to eat, NOT what not to eat.

So how is that working out for us?

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(Photo credit: Tijana via Fotolia.com. Used with permission).

Despite this positive trend, we aren't eating healthier foods. Obesity rates continue to rise, and Canadians get an average of 22 per cent of our calories from nutrient-poor foods.

These foods are what I would call non-foods. They're manufactured products such as sugar-sweetened beverages, refined carbohydrates and highly processed snack foods.

Most of us know these foods are bad for us, right? So where is the disconnect between knowledge and action?

I recently did a Food Face-Off Quiz for Nutrition Month on "What She Said" on Sirius XM satellite radio.

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(Photo credit: What She Said. Used with permission).

I compared everything from coconut oil versus olive oil, to vitamin water versus coconut water, to chicken versus beef. I did this to prove a point.

Yes, some food choices are healthier than others, but sometimes both choices can be healthy. Especially if we are looking at whole, natural foods rather than highly processed, packaged foods. You really can't go wrong!

I asked the radio show hosts to choose whether a sandwich or sushi is healthier. Yes, this was a trick question. It all depends!

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(Photo credit: Bing via Flickr).

Sometimes sushi has a health halo over it for being gluten-free and bread gets a bad rap, but a sandwich on whole grain bread with lean meat, veggies and mustard could be a healthier choice than sushi made with white rice, tempura, mayo and a sliver of vegetables!

For the chicken versus beef example, it also depends... you can choose fatty cuts of chicken or lean cuts of beef, so you need to know which cuts are leanest to make the right choice. Choose a lean striploin and you're getting less saturated fat.

With red meat you can see the marbling and trim off even more of the fat. Also, beef offers double the amount of iron than chicken does, so if you're low in iron, beef could be a better choice for you. There is no hard-and-fast, one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to choosing food. Listen to your body and choose real food.

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(Photo credit: Roderick Eime via Flickr).

I recently spoke to Dai Manuel, fitness guru, coach and author of the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto about his take on the new shift from diets towards health and wellness.

Dai tells me he advises his clients to stop blaming particular foods for weight gain and to take a look at their overall lifestyle. He's a big picture guy, and it's worked wonders for him and his clients.

Dai explains he refers clients to see a dietitian when they have specific nutrition needs or questions. Otherwise, he asks clients to do a photo journal of what they're eating for seven days. Just the act of tracking what they're eating helps them see the little things they're doing that can add up to extra calories throughout the week.

"People are trying to eat healthy and slim down and they'll switch from lean proteins to nuts. They don't realize that they're now eating 100 almonds and getting less protein than if they ate 75 grams of cooked beef. Essentially they're getting an extra 500 calories by switching over to almonds!"

I've seen this work wonders with my clients too -- often they come to me suggesting their own changes or with revelations around how that handful of candy or trail mix a few times a day is really much more than they thought it was.

Another great tip from Dai: he tells clients, "Be mindful of what you're eating. Every time you eat something, ask yourself: Will this get you to or away from your goals?"

Dai also encourages people to take time to enjoy their meals as a family as often as possible. "Cooking a roast on the weekend encourages people to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family. It's a meal that takes time but it's worth it. There's something nostalgic about it that makes you feel great."

He has a point: it has been shown that eating at home more often is linked to a more nutritious diet.

Dai's final piece of advice: "Eat what makes you feel good. Food isn't good or bad. It's just food."

Do you have a list of "good foods" and "bad foods"? Join the discussion on Facebook at 80 Twenty Nutrition.

Christy Brissette is sponsored to support the discussion around the #BeefAdvantage. Hashtag x. All opinions are 100% her own.

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