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Ditch the diet, rekindle your relationship with food

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A sheet pan of cooked yams, green beans, and salmon.
One pan, one delicious, nutritious, and easy way to eat healthy in 2020!

The start of a new year often brings resolutions to eat better and be more active. In a recent Northern Health staff poll, 25% of respondents said “healthier eating habits” is their top goal for 2020. As a dietitian, I’m all for that! But, with the latest diet trends and celebrity weight loss stories hitting the media, it’s easy to get swept up in the promise of a quick fix.

I read that 90% of dieters will quit their new “healthy eating” regiments by February. If you’ve been on a diet, chances are you already know that it can be impossible to stick to. Dieting, with its strict food rules, and “good” and “bad” foods lists, can lead to feelings of deprivation, anxiety, and guilt. Also, many of the things people do for the sake of weight loss are harmful to their physical and mental health.

Healthy eating should be flexible and make you feel good! So this year, consider ditching the diet and rekindling your relationship with food! Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful:

  • Feed yourself faithfully. Try to eat regularly throughout the day, and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues to guide how much you eat.
  • Know that all foods fit. Healthy eating includes eating for health, taste, and pleasure. Plus, you may find that you’re more likely to eat fruits, veggies, and other nutritious foods because you enjoy them, not just because they are “good for you.”
  • Add on, don’t take away. Think about what foods you can add to make a balanced meal that includes all three food groupings (vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and protein foods) from Canada’s Food Guide.  
  • Eat food with others. Eating together is a great way to connect with others, and supports our overall health and wellness.
  • Focus on healthy behaviours, not weight. Health is not measured by a number on a scale. Focus on taking care of your body, mind, and soul in ways that make you feel good.

Life is busy and we all struggle to get food on the table sometimes. Having a few quick and easy meal ideas up your sleeve can make a huge difference. In my household, the “sheet pan” meal has become a week-night favourite. It comes together quickly, uses simple ingredients, and is super flexible. Plus, cooking everything in one pan means less dishes to wash, which is a huge win in my books!

Here’s a simple mix-and-match guide to help you create a balanced and tasty “sheet pan” meal:

Mix & Match Sheet Pan Dinners

Ingredients:

  • The vegetables: Choose your favourites, whether that’s whatever is seasonal or just what’s on hand. Heartier veggies such as potatoes, yams, or winter squash will need an extra ten minutes or so to cook. Pop those in the oven first while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients. Quicker cooking veggies include zucchini, green beans, corn, cabbage, peppers, broccoli, and onion.
  • The protein: Great options include fish, shrimp, beans, tofu, eggs, chicken, pork, beef, or game meat.
  • The seasonings: Use pantry staples such as vegetable oil, salt, and pepper and add spices or sauces of your choice. Some of my favourite flavour combinations include soy sauce and ginger; chilli powder and cumin; and oregano, garlic and lemon juice. Add a dash of hot sauce or cayenne if you enjoy some heat.  
  • The extras: You could also serve your sheet-pan meal with whole wheat bread, rice, or wraps.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
  2. Toss your chopped veggies and protein with vegetable oil and desired seasonings/sauce and place on baking sheet-pan.
  3. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until protein is cooked.

For more sheet pan meal ideas, check out these recipes.