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Eat Food... Not Too Much.... Mostly Plants

Posted by Julia Smith on

I know I talk a lot about eating less meat but I know that it is easier said than done. Western society has a messed up relationship with food and with meat  in particular but, like many relationships, it doesn't matter how messed up they are.... if they are familiar, they're hard to get out of. If you've never been known another way, it can seem overwhelming to form new habits. 

The way we eat is not only messing with the environment, it is messing with our health with 52% of Canadians classified as overweight or obese according to Statistics Canada.  Rates of Type 2 Diabetes have grown by 70% in the past 10 years. So, even if you are a card carrying member of the Climate Change Deniers Club, it is still in your best interest to change the way you eat. Our fast paced, demanding lifestyles have given rise to "fast food" to the point where renowned food journalist Michael Pollan estimates that up to 20% of meals are now consumed in cars. Time that families used to spend preparing meals and eating together has been taken over by drive throughs and "convenience food." This isn't working for anyone. 

In fact, it seems as if everyone has some kind of food sensitivity these days. Gluten, nitrates, corn, soy, etc. etc. But I often wonder if what folks are sensitive to isn't actually the dreaded <insert demonized nutrient here> but in fact, the other crap that so often accompanies it. For example, a lot of folks feel better when they cut gluten out of their diets. But giving up gluten usually means cutting back on all the other nasty ingredients you find in processed foods that typically contain gluten. Have you looked at the ingredients label on a muffin lately? 

Or how about some turkey sausage?

The solution to so many of our environmental, economic, health and social problems is really quite simple. Michael Pollan nailed it when he said "Eat food... not too much.... mostly plants." "Eat food" means to eat real food -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat -- and to avoid what Pollan calls "edible food-like substances." What if instead of jumping on the latest fad diet bandwagon you did just that? 

Eating mostly plants means that you can take the same amount of money you would have spent buying way too much meat in the past and buy smaller quantities of healthier meat that was raised more locally, ethically, sustainably. Conventional meat is routinely injected with "liquid enhancement" before sale so you're actually getting less meat than you are paying for. This is one of the reasons why folks report feeling more "full" after a smaller portion of better quality meat. Pasture raised meats are also higher in healthy nutrients like omega 3's  and simply taste much better so you really are getting more for your money.

The truth is that it doesn't take very much meat to complete a healthy diet: One serving of meat and meat alternatives a day for children under 9, one to two for pre-teens , two for females over 14 and three for males over 14. "serving" is:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter
  • 3/4 cup of beans
  • 1/4 cup of seeds or nuts
  • 1/2 cup of fish or meat 

One way to think of it is that the meat on your plate should be no bigger than the palm of your hand and there should be at least twice as much vegetables.  That's easy, right?

Are you at least curious? Want to learn more? I strongly recommend Michael Pollen's new film based on his book "In Defence of Food." You can watch the whole film online now. Please post your comments/feedback/suggestions below!

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