Although obesity rates are still climbing, the tide may be starting to turn when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle. Consumers are paying closer attention to the kinds of foods they’re buying at the grocery store. They’re actually taking the time to read labels and figure out exactly what ingredients are going into their favorite products. There’s a growing collective awareness that we all need to improve our diets and eat as many healing foods as we can.
It could be that this change is being spurred on by concerned parents. It doesn’t take long to figure out the source of their anxiety: obesity rates in Canadian children have almost tripled over the past 25 years. As of today, about one and a half million Canadian children are considered obese or overweight. As a result, parents are trying to buy foods that are more nutrient-rich. This trend is spilling over into the general adult population, with seniors now getting on board, too.
To help you kick-start a healthier diet, here are six strategies Canadians are adopting to end the obesity and protect themselves from serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
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1. Use the barbecue. The barbecue is one way to avoid lots of calorie-rich sauces and oily fats. Just throw a small portion of fish or chicken onto the barbecue grill for a tasty meal without unnecessary calories. Don’t forget to throw some veggies on the grill while you’re at it.
2. There are healthy cookies out there — really! Everyone likes a baked good every once in a while — whether it’s a cookie, muffin, granola bar, or brownie. The trick is to buy a product that uses whole grains and has less than two percent of saturated fat per serving, a lower concentration of sodium, and no trans fats, and to eat smaller portion sizes.
3. Go for veggie and fruit snacks. Eat fresh fruit and veggies for a “pick-me-up.” If that’s not possible, some companies now make snack foods made completely with fruits and vegetables. Have a look around your grocery store for them. Just make sure they don’t contain too much sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
4. Nuts, in moderation, are a great snack. Nuts contain a number of healthy fats along with other healthful nutrients. Eat them raw or toasted — but skip the ones coated in salt.
5. Look for healthy frozen products. That means skipping traditional frozen fare and opting for the organic, low-fat, high-fiber stuff instead.
6. Skip the big meal; eat smaller meals throughout the day. Eat some protein snacks first thing in the morning. Try some apple and goat cheese, or natural peanut butter and whole-grain crackers with flax and sesame seeds. Veggies and hummus dip are another great alternative to traditional snacks. When you get that potato chip craving, reach instead for root vegetable chips.