Day 3 Healthy Eating: The good, the bad and the best of carbs/fats/protein

By now, you’ve gotten into the habit of recording what you eat, which not only helps you keep track of the progress you’re making, but also makes you more aware of how you’re eating—and what you’re eating.

You’ve also learned to think of foods in terms of which food group they belong to, and to balance your meals based on how well you’re meeting Health Canada’s food group suggestions.

Now that you’ve built the foundation, it’s time to start improving upon it.

The good and the bad carbs

Carbohydrates give your body energy. About 50% of the calories you consume daily should come from carbohydrates (this information comes from Claudine Gandolfi’s book, the diet & fitness journal).

Good carbs:

  • Whole wheat flour (not enriched)
  • Whole wheat toast
  • Whole wheat pasta, brown rice
  • Sweet potatoes, yams
  • Dark chocolate (start cheering!)

Bad carbs:

  • White flour
  • White toast
  • Pasta, rice
  • White potatoes
  • Milk chocolate

The good and the bad fats

Say this with me: Fat is not bad for you. I know it goes against everything you’ve ever been taught, but fat is one of the three essentials for your body (carbohydrates, fat and protein). Your brain is 70% fat—do you really want to compromise that? Fat helps your body absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) and without it, your liver won’t be able to break down the fat you have now.

It’s all about eating the RIGHT fats. So, no, I didn’t mean that candy is good for you. About 15% to 25% of your daily calorie intake should come from good fat.

Good fats:

  • Poly- and monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, olive and canola oil)
  • Vinaigrettes
  • Broth-based soups
  • Olive oil and garlic
  • Skim/fat-free milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free cheeses and yogurts

Note: If you’re of a healthy weight, don’t replace your yogurt with low fat. As my dad says, I really need all the good fat I can get from those things. Fat isn’t the enemy—it’s the source of the fat, and how much you eat.

Bad fats:

  • Saturated fats, trans fats (hydrogenated oils, margarines)
  • Fried foods
  • Creamy dressings
  • Creamy soups
  • Whole milk
  • Cheese and yogurts

The good and the bad proteins

I think we all agree protein is a good thing. Protein helps your body build muscle and keeps your hair, skin and nails healthy and happy. About 25% to 35% of your daily calorie intake should be protein-based.

Good protein:

  • Veggie burger, soy burger
  • Soy dogs
  • Vegetable protein (soy, beans, nuts)

Bad protein:

  • Fatty cuts of meat

An important note on protein: Vegetable sources of protein are incomplete and require a companion in order to complete the protein. There are some delicious protein combinations you should make to ensure you’re doing your body right.

Vegetarians, switch it up between nuts, beans, legumes and dairy. And don’t go overboard on the soy—it’s known to increase the incidence of women’s cancers.

Meat eaters, thank you for following along and eating healthy. Keep in mind that one serving of meat is only three ounces—that’s not much. And don’t forget you really do need to get your protein from OTHER places as well, like beans, legumes and nuts. Your body doesn’t want meat every day! (Though you may feel you do.)

Keep up the good work!

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Day 2 Healthy Eating (follow up): Do you eat enough?

Among my friends, I’m known for loving food and making sure you don’t forget it—I either talk about it too much or my reputation for devouring nacho dips precedes me. (At the last party I attended, the nachos weren’t taken out until everyone arrived lest I eat too much—oops.)

But last week I found myself just below the mark on reaching those recommended serving sizes in the four food groups. I’m doing a great job on vegetables, always on the protein, but today I only had TWO servings of grain products!

Do YOU eat enough? Take the quiz. And tell your friends! We here would love to hear too.

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Day 2 Healthy Eating: Food groups and serving sizes

Think of everything you eat as belonging to a family. We have the grain product family, which you probably have no trouble filling up on. Fruits and vegetables are like the in-laws-you-see-in-the-movies part of the family; you know they’re good for you but you find yourself spending less than a desirable amount of time with them. Alternatives to meat are like your parents; we concentrate a lot on this group, because they are basically what defines our vegetarianism. Finally, dairy products are the cousins that some of us love and some of us forget about.

Think of your dinner plate as resembling a clock: the area between 12 and 6 o’clock should be covered in fruits and vegetables; grain products should make up 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock; and protein should cover 9 o’clock to 12.

Grain Products 6-8 servings

This group includes oatmeal, cereal, bread, rice and other products of a grain-y origin.

Now what constitutes one serving?

Carbs/pasta/rice/potato: 1/2 cup (size of your palm)
Bread: 1 slice
Bagel: 1 (size of a hockey puck)
Potato: 1 potato the size of a computer mouse
Pancake: 1

Fruits & Vegetables 7-10 servings

This group is the most self-explanatory, yet the most neglected, as well. Keep in mind that corn is actually a grain, and potatoes are so starch-y that you really shouldn’t feel you’ve accomplished much in this sector if you’ve stocked up on those.

Aim for dark green or orange vegetables, and be mindful of the sugar content of fruits (though it’s a healthy, natural sugar!).

Fruits: 1 cup (size of your fist, or a tennis ball)
Vegetables: 1/2 cup cooked (size of your fist, or a tennis ball cut in half)
Lettuce: 1 cup (4 leaves)
Juice: 120 mL (NOT a 450 mL Minute Maid bottle)

Alternatives to meat 2-3 servings

We’re looking at legumes, nuts and soy products.

Protein/meat: 3 oz (sze of your palm or a deck of cards)
Nuts: 8 (handful)
Peanut butter: 1 tsp (tip of your thumb)

Dairy products 2-3 servings

Cheese: 1 oz (two thumbs put together)
Milk: 120 mL
Yogurt: 175 g (NOT  a cute 100 g package of yogurt)
or Milk/Yogurt: 1 cup

Food for the soul 0-3 times a week

Let’s restrict the junk food intake! But it is acknowledged that food of this category is good for the health of our soul.

Today’s goal: Aim to consume at least 6 servings of grain products, 6 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 servings of alternatives to meat (to our dear meat-eating readers, try to make the other serving a legume or  nut source), and 2 servings of dairy products.

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 Sources: Workshop by Peer Health Educators at York University, Diet & fitness journal by Claudine Gandolfi, Health Canada food group guide

Day 1 Healthy Eating: Keeping track of what you eat

My New Year’s resolution this year was to eat healthy, and I considered keeping records of my meals to be an important part of that process. I’d also included a sub-clause where I exercise regularly.

I am proud to say that I have successfully recorded my meals in a food journal (okay, a regularly notebook) for the past six months. Yay! This weekend, I decided to use a Chapters gift card to treat myself to a diet and fitness journal, whose pages are already organized into perfect food-recording form.

Click on this image to view its inside pages. (photo credit: Peter Pauper Press)

I highly recommend this journal. Claudine Gandolfi provides some invaluable information in the first few pages of the book, walking readers through the importance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats before delving into portion sizes and fitness routines.

The book allows you to see whether you’re consuming enough calories, reaching your fibre intake, etc. You can also calculate how many calories you consume while exercising.

The book was published by Peter Pauper Press and can be purchased at your nearest Chapters or Indigo for $14.99 CDN. I would never force you to spend money; you can keep up with this new healthy eating routine with a simple notebook and pen, or even a computer document. But if you’re looking to buy a journal for this healthy journey, this is the one for you!

Today’s goal: Start recording what you eat.


If you don’t like the idea of keeping a portable book (who wouldn’t like this nice book?), try the Calorie Counter online. This online food journal gives you the nutritional information for all you eat (you have the option of inputting the information yourself) and provides a detailed analysis of how well you’re doing in terms of the major macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and more. You can keep track of your workouts too!

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