Active Living, Balance, Food, General, Student Life

Eating Well to Stay Well

I am a lover of food. I tend to be one of those people who scoff when friends stop to take a photo of their food before they eat– I am too busy lovingly staring at it to ruin the moment with cameras and clever hashtags. This week, I made an exception to my “no-phones-at-the-table” policy to capture my food choices and share them with you.

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Given the chance, my food (and the lighting in the room) rose to the occasion. Work it, noodles, work it.

Food is my first line of defence against all the sickies that are going around on campus. I focus on maintaining a balanced and nutritionally vibrant diet (way of life) of three meals a day, plus healthy snacks when I get a grumbly tummy between meals.

I live on residence, and I often hear complaints about how hard it is to eat well in the cafeteria (particularly on the all-you-care-to-eat, unlimited, all-day meal plan that we purchase to live on the residence.)

I can understand where these complaints originate, but I also think that there are so many options to make healthy choices with my meal plan. It’s convenient, and a large part of the reason that I decided to live on residence past first year.

Eating well to stay well (even without grocery shopping, preparing, and cooking the foods) does involve strategy, experience, and a little bit of charm.

Please note that the examples I have provided are representative of what I strive for every day. Sometimes, I make other, less healthy choices, but I care about my wellbeing to also notice when this is happening and be patient with myself. Every meal is an new opportunity to eat well.

Breakfast, and specifically made-to-order omelettes, are one of the few things that can convince me to roll out of bed in the mornings.

I love to start my mornings with an omelette packed with vegetables. Combine that with a serving of fruit, or fruit and yogurt, and I am satisfied and ready to learn

Meatless Mondays are an initiative that takes place weekly, and participants pledge to avoid eating meat on Mondays. I try to go meatless at least once a week: regardless of an ethical stance, there are numerous health and environmental benefits to reducing meat intake.

On Meatless Mondays I have to make a conscience effort to choose protein options

Salad. I love salad. I love salad the most when I don’t have to prepare the vegetables for myself. This is why I love the salad bar option at my residence’s dining hall, which is open all day.

Formula for a satisfying salad: Starting with leafy greens, I add some combination of the following: fruit, grilled vegetables, garden vegetables, a sprinkle of cheese, seeds or nuts, grilled tofu or grilled meat. I top this off with vinegar, olive oil, and cracked pepper.

Balanced meals. The Canada Food Guide is a wonderful resource. I’m not just saying that. Ideally, making food choices should not be complicated: rather than focusing on counting (and first identifying) calories, fats, and sugars, I like using the “Great Plate” model to visualize my plate. It’s simple.

"The Great Plate" Guide

“The Great Plate” Guide helps me to visualize appropriate serving sizes on my plate

My game-plan when I enter the arena of the all-you-care-to-eat cafeteria is to first get to know my options for the day. I walk in a circle opposite to the one that is intuitive to the design of the space– first I check the fresh vegetable option, then the soup station, and finally the three hot food stations. Once I am aware of all of my options, I make choices about what I want to eat (keeping in mind the “Great Plate” guide).

The “Great Plate” Guide is approximately half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of a plate of protein, and a quarter of a plate of [grains, starches, milk, milk substitutes, fruits].

 Sometimes, I have to be assertive and speak up to the serving staff to get the portion sizes that I want. I will politely ask for a small serving of grains, a small serving of protein, and “as much space as there is left on the plate” to be filled with vegetables. Then I smile sweetly at the line forming behind me.

Even though I don’t have to cook or clean up my meal, I try to budget at least half an hour for each meal. This gives me a chance to savour my food, eat mindfully, and chat with my peers in the dining hall. At the end of my meal, I try to take a moment of gratitude for the meal that my body is going to digest into beautiful energy.

Eat well!

Madelin

 

News: Blender Bike Bonanza event has been scheduled for Friday, December 4th from 12-2pm in the Medical Sciences Building lobby! This event will be a great opportunity for the FuelU Team to engage with students about incorporating fruits, vegetables, and dairy into their diets, and giving students a chance to create their own, customized smoothies for FREE.

Stay tuned in the New Year for a post on my beverages of choice!