June 23rd, 2018

From Our Table: Take the fight out of food

By Medicine Hat News on March 28, 2017.

Submitted Photo Pizza for breakfast? Want not try this egg, tomato and cheese concoction?

In my last column I wrote about March being Nutrition Month, a time to showcase a healthy eating theme brought to you by the Dietitians throughout Canada. This years theme is “Take the Fight Out of Food – Spot the Problem, Get the Facts, Seek Support.”

This week let’s take a look at a very common problem among many of us, myself included.

Meet Sue. She works full-time while raising a family, and has a typical busy lifestyle. She’s frustrated because she often makes poor food choices when coping with the stress in her life. She wants to use the right tools to deal with stress and negative emotions without relying on her comfort foods which tend to be unhealthy choices. Sue is going to try to problem solve with the three-step approach — spot the problem, get the facts and seek support.

Spot the problem: Sue says “When I’m stressed at work or frustrated at home, I turn to food for comfort and it’s usually not the healthiest choices which just ends up increasing my stress and frustration in the long term. I want to learn better eating habits.”

Get the facts: Sue makes an appointment with a dietitian. She learns that craving food when you feel stressed instead of hungry is called emotional eating. She recognizes many of her own patterns in the information the dietitian tells her such as:

* Eating too much without realizing it

* Craving foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar

* Feeling even more stress and anxiety after eating too much

Sue learns about mindful eating as a way to manage her eating habits. It involves paying attention to eating using all senses: really seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling and feeling food.

Then instead of eating a whole bag of chips when she’s stressed, she can learn to be more mindful of her choices — perhaps eat a smaller portion or choose a more nutritious snack.

Mindful eating can help everyone become more aware of the reason why you’re eating, so you eat when your hungry and stop when you feel full.

Sue learns that with the help of a dietitian, she can become more aware of her emotional and physical responses to food. With training, she can manage her stress-related eating and pay more attention in the present moment when she’s making food choices.

Seek Support: Sue learns that many dietitians are coaches who teach mindful eating principles during individual or group counselling sessions. She decides to find a dietitian at http://www.dietitians.ca find to help with stress reduction techniques and mindful eating.

I’m sure many of you can totally identify with Sue’s story of stress and emotional eating. One of my stress foods is salt and vinegar chips with herb dip. I totally recognize it so try to make sure I just take out a small bowl of chips instead of the whole bag. Or if I’m willing to try harder I get a plate of veggies like carrots and celery so I have something crunchy to eat. Someone told me once that hers was chocolate so she keeps it in the top cupboard of her garage so she has to get a ladder to get it down. This means she really has to want it to go to all that trouble — one of my all time favourite food stories! Let’s face it, we’re all human.

Another great way to not give in to unhealthy foods when stressed is to be sure to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day so you don’t get super hungry and crave those low nutrient, high fat, calorie and sugar foods.

This recipe from the Dietitians of Canada website will get you started on a day of healthy mindful eating. So take the fight of food and enjoy eating nutritious foods for a healthy you!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Egg, Tomato and Cheese Breakfast Pizzas

4 whole wheat pita breads, about 7 inches (18 cm) diametre

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced


4 large eggs

1/8 tsp dried basil

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp butter 10 mL

1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or green onions

If you have fresh basil on hand, add 1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh basil to the eggs instead of the dried basil, and sprinkle baked pizzas with more chopped fresh basil, to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pita breads on a large baking sheet, overlapping slightly at edges, if necessary. Sprinkle evenly with half of the Mozzarella and top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper to taste. Bake for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and tomatoes are hot.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together eggs, basil, salt and a pinch of pepper until frothy. In a nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add egg mixture; cook, scrambling gently for about 1 minute or until just set.

Remove pitas from oven. Spoon egg mixture on top, dividing equally. Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella and chives or green onions. Bake for about 2 minutes or until pitas are crisp around the edges and cheese is melted.


Nutrition information per serving: 349 calories; 14 g fat; 644 g sodium; 39 g carbohydrates; 4.5 g fibre; 19 g protein; 17% vitamin C

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