“When the joy goes out of eating, your nutrition suffers.” That gastronomic food for thought by Ellyn Satter, an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding, sums up nutrition well, says Halee Pachal, a Chronic Disease Clinical Dietitian with Boundary Trails Health Centre in the Southern Health-Sante Sud region.

March is National Nutrition Month

Pachal believes it’s important to enjoy food and the time spent eating a meal.

“It’s not always about the food that we’re putting into our bodies, but the experience with the food and who we’re enjoying the food with.”

There are many ideas floating out there about what we should be eating.

A good place to start says Pachal, is creating a workable meal plan because there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

“People have different physical needs, different emotional needs, social needs. Some people have bigger families or smaller families. Some people have lots of family gatherings, which can include a variety of different foods.”

It's more about what works for your lifestyle, she explains.

“Do you need more of those quick and easy meals that you can prepare? Or using maybe a slow cooker, setting it in the morning so that you know it's ready for after school and then you can run the kids to activities.”

When working with clients, Pachal often begins by identifying and addressing the meal that poses the biggest challenge.

She emphasizes avoiding fad diets.

“I think the most common ones that I've seen everywhere within Manitoba, and even in Canada, is the low carb and keto diet. If we think about even going to a grocery store, I see keto this, keto that, keto friendly. It's a really big marketing tool that producers are using to get people to buy their product.”

According to Pachal, fad diets are a short-term fix that typically restrict calories or a certain food group like carbs, but fail to support a person’s long-term health. Not only that, she points to research which shows that 90% - 95% of people who go on fad diets will gain all the weight back, and likely more.

Overall, Pachal doesn’t like to look at food as good or bad.

“It's more looking at what foods are more nutrient-dense? What foods might support our overall health more? Having more vitamins or minerals, or even having some more protein if you just did a workout.”

Even sweets have their place.

“Include some less nutrient-dense foods in there, which could be like your cakes, your cookies, things that we typically think of as comfort food or something that we might have during a celebration. Those are really important for our social health and even our emotional or mental.”

As the human body’s main source of fuel, Pachal says carbohydrates contain vitamins and minerals.

Pachal employs a ‘health at every size’ approach to nutrition, because body size isn’t always the best indicator of health. She focuses on overall well being that encompasses physical, mental and social needs.