The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - ERNIE SCHRAMAYR

If you ever want to make your head spin, go to your local book­store and check out the “nutri­tion” sec­tion.

What you’ll find is a dizzy­ing amount of in­for­ma­tion with books teach­ing you how to cut carbs out of your life, how to stop eating meat, how to eat only or­ganic food … even how to eat “like a cave­man.”

Some of these books will guide you through 30-day cleanses.

Oth­ers will prom­ise to change your life … forever.

Type the word “nutri­tion” into a Google search and you’ll find McDon­ald’s mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial, the Canada Food Guide and even the “Nutri­tion Facts of Beer.”

It’s more than a lit­tle con­fus­ing. When frus­tra­tion sets in, it’s easy to de­fault to what’s com­fort­able, re­gard­less of whether it’s in your best in­ter­est.

Food and nutri­tion are packed with lots of emo­tional bag­gage. Feel­ings of love, guilt, plea­sure and even shame make choos­ing the “right” foods chal­leng­ing.

To meet this chal­lenge, I’ve been search­ing for a tool to help you eat bet­ter in a sim­ple way.

About two years ago, I came across the Brazil­ian di­etary guide­lines and was floored at how much they aligned with my per­sonal phi­los­o­phy.

To keep it sim­ple, the Brazil food guide is bro­ken down into 10 key points. It rec­om­mends eating whole foods rather than fo­cus­ing on sin­gle nu­tri­ents and talks about the im­por­tance of choos­ing foods that are not highly pro­cessed and are as fresh as pos­si­ble.

An in­ter­est­ing an­gle: There is a heavy em­pha­sis on tak­ing the time to plan and cook meals in the home, rather than re­ly­ing on take­out, restau­rant or pack­aged foods. There are rec­om­men­da­tions about en­joy­ing all things in mod­er­a­tion, seek­ing the plea­sure in pre­par­ing your own meals and the positive ben­e­fits of eating with oth­ers as of­ten as pos­si­ble. The ap­proach is holis­tic and refreshing. I would rec­om­mend, strongly, that you do an In­ter­net search for “Brazil food guide” and take a few min­utes to read it.

Food and eating car­ries a lot of emo­tion for peo­ple. While most clients have lit­tle dif­fi­culty in adding some ex­er­cise to their lives, it can be tough to help peo­ple un­der­stand how sim­ple it can be to feed them­selves in a more positive way.

Here are the five most sig­nif­i­cant bits of ad­vice I give my clients when they’re try­ing to clean up their nutri­tion.

One. Never eat a meal that doesn’t in­clude at least one serv­ing of veg­eta­bles or fruits. This can be as sim­ple as hav­ing berries and melon with your toast at break­fast, adding baby spinach to your tur­key sand­wich at lunch and hav­ing a mixed salad with your chicken at din­ner.

Two. Fig­ure out what you are good at cook­ing (or pre­par­ing) and fig­ure out how to make it health­ier. Small tweaks like us­ing ground tur­key for meat sauce have the po­ten­tial to make your foods much health­ier.

Three. When you cook some­thing, make twice as much as you need. Pack­age the rest in stor­age con­tain­ers or freeze for later meals. In other words, stretch a sin­gle meal into two or three future meals. The salmon I grilled tonight will be in a sand­wich for lunch to­mor­row.

Four. Strive for bal­ance. Di­vid­ing your plate into three equal ar­eas for pro­tein, veg­eta­bles and starch is a good way to do this. Most peo­ple load up with meat first and then throw a few veg­gies onto their plate as an af­ter­thought.

Five. Re­mem­ber that no one is per­fect. You’re not a bad per­son if you give in and grab a dough­nut at the drive-thru. It isn’t a mor­tal sin if you feed your kids junk food once in a while. When you do, how­ever, “mit­i­gate the dam­age” by mak­ing sure there is a side salad or some lean pro­tein that goes with it.

Do the best you can. And if you “blow it,” don’t beat your­self up … that’s life.

Just don’t blow it again the next time that you eat!

Ernie Schramayr, CPT, is a Med­i­cal Ex­er­cise Spe­cial­ist in Hamil­ton who helps his clients man­age med­i­cal con­di­tions with ex­er­cise. You can fol­low him at ErniesFit­, erniesfit­ or 905-741-7532


Ernie’s top nutri­tion tip: Never eat a meal that doesn’t in­clude at least one serv­ing of veg­eta­bles or fruits.

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