Dave Monro

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

Healthy eat­ing is not about ex­tremes for the Heart Foun­da­tion’s food and nu­tri­tion man­ager. But Monro and other foun­da­tion staff try dif­fer­ent di­ets to un­der­stand their chal­lenges and ben­e­fits so they can pro­vide tips for healthy, bal­anced eat­ing. “We tried eat­ing on a bud­get in June and now we’re go­ing veg­e­tar­ian for a month.”

What nu­tri­tion is­sue is fre­quently raised with you? That but­ter and co­conut are best for our heart be­cause they’re nat­u­ral. I’m all for peo­ple re­duc­ing their pro­cessed-food in­take, but the best nat­u­ral fats come from foods such as av­o­cado, olive oil, oily fish, seeds and nuts other than co­conut and palm.

What’s the foun­da­tion’s view of co­conut oil? It’s ex­pen­sive, fash­ion­able and over-hyped. Stick with ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil.

How im­por­tant is healthy eat­ing to you? I trained as both a di­eti­tian and chef, so eat­ing healthily is a per­sonal pri­or­ity, as is food taste and en­joy­ment.

How would you de­scribe your diet and life­style? Life’s busy. My wife and I work full-time and we have three chil­dren at pri­mary school. I keep ac­tive by do­ing three cir­cuits a week and also help coach my chil­dren’s rugby teams. The trick to mak­ing food and nu­tri­tion work in our house­hold is plan­ning and be­ing or­gan­ised.

What’s your typ­i­cal break­fast? To­day I had two slices of whole­meal toast thickly spread with peanut but­ter, a piece of fruit and a milky cof­fee. What about lunch? To­day’s was left­over chicken drum­sticks, coleslaw, pita bread and an or­ange. What’s your favourite evening meal? We’re en­joy­ing cau­li­flower rice as a re­place­ment for nor­mal rice or pasta. It’s easy to pre­pare and a great way to boost your veg­etable in­take. I also en­joy Sun­daynight fam­ily meals – of­ten that will be a roast. It’s a time to talk about the high­lights of the week­end and look ahead to a new week.

What hap­pens when you dine at other peo­ple’s houses? I’ve lost count of how many times peo­ple have said, “Sorry, this won’t get the tick of ap­proval!” What’s the coun­try’s most im­por­tant nu­tri­tion is­sue? The widen­ing poverty gap. Some fam­i­lies are strug­gling to make ends meet and af­ford good food. We need a food en­vi­ron­ment that sup­ports fam­i­lies to be health­ier and to arm them with the knowl­edge and skills to eat

well.

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