Updated: Feb 2
In my younger years, I didn't eat a lot but I ate what I wanted, mostly at restaurants. Moving to Canada, eating out was just not a thing in my new country 28 years ago. I had to cook for my family and started paying more attention to nutritional value. When comparing tips with my colleagues, I was shocked to learn about steroids, fat substitutes, flavor enhancers, preservatives, pesticides and colorings in my food. Over the years, I developed my own food consumption do’s and don’ts.
What I know for sure
1. Take control by cooking most of your meals at home. We cannot control the quality and quantity of oil, sugar and salt in restaurants so I eat out only when there's company. Occasionally, when I dine out I'm never picky. I just eat whatever the restaurant is known for and indulge myself for an evening.
2. Stay away from processed foods and use fresh ingredients as much as you can. In order to lengthen shelf life, enhance flavours and appearance of the products, chemicals are added to processed food. Pay attention to the list of ingredients. For words you cannot pronounce, they are likely chemicals.
An example of unnatural ingredients on a salad dressing label.
3. When you see low fat, low sugar on the packaging, run. What it means is that alternative chemicals are added to make the product tastes good.
4. Avoid drinks with sugar. There're nearly 10 sugar cubes in a can of Coke. Energy drinks are sugar water created by marketers to sell at a higher price. Don't fall for it. More importantly, avoid fructose, corn syrup, and other words that ends in ”ose”. They are bad for you, period.
5. Surprise! Fat is not always bad for you. Our body is made to process fat just not man made fat with chemicals. For example store bought cakes, pastry and croissants are usually made with margarine, a hydrogenated fat that gets stuck in your bloodstream. I would rather pay more for pastry using real butter and enjoy it on special occasion.
6. Avoid fads. Over the years, I have seen popular diets come and gone. Cabbage soup, Atkins, South Beach, Keto diets. Having a balanced diet is healthier than plunging into a popular diet or starving yourself for a short period of time. 7. Eat in moderation. I like to eat 80% full and avoid stuffing myself. I don’t want to stretch my stomach all the time and get used to eating in big quantity.
8. Eat everything from all food groups. Fat and carbohydrate are as important as protein and vegetables. Just keep the ratio of fat and carb lower as we aged.
In conclusion, go for quality not quantity. Be a snob when it comes to food, but only at home.