Take the 100 Meal Journey!

“Take a 100 meal journey. Make small changes one meal at a time.” – that’s the main message for Nutrition Month led by Dietitians of Canada to promote healthier eating to Canadians. It turns out that it takes about 100 meals to make a small dietary change stick.

Earlier this month, I had an interesting conversation with Becca Sterritt about sugar addiction and her family’s ‘One Year Without’ project to cut out sugar and processed food for a full year. That conversation made me realize that although I eat healthy most of the time, I have an addiction to dark chocolate (it’s my kryptonite!) and a carton of ice cream at our house will be demolished within a few days – one spoonful at a time. And so my personal ‘100 meal journey’ will be a quest to rein in my own sugar addiction.

It’s funny because on the surface it feels like it should be easy –after all it’s not like sweet treats are a huge portion or even regular part of my diet but I know it when it comes down to it, it won’t be easy. That’s in part because we seek sugar when we need a boost or when we’re in social situations and…sugar is everywhere!

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Position on Sugar, “It has been estimated that Canadians eat 110 grams of sugars per day (26 teaspoons or 21% of total energy intake, based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet).” That includes all sugars that occur naturally within food as well as added food. It’s notable that, “beverages accounted for 35% of adults’ daily sugar intake”

The significant contribution of sugar to the diet from sugary drinks, is a big part of the reason so many health professionals advocate for taxing them. Lucky for me though, I don’t drink pop and take my coffee and tea, black.

Processed food is another spot where sugar lurks – often in places we wouldn’t even guess. And if it tastes like everything has gotten a whole lot sweeter, it’s because it has. CDA quotes a study that estimates, “sugar supply has risen across the globe from an average of 218 kilocalories per person per day in 1960 to over 280 kilocalories per person per day by 2013.”

Again, processed food isn’t a huge part of my diet – but there are so many basic food stuffs that are processed but that you barely think of them as being processed, like bread, crackers and yogurt.

The World Health Organization recommends reduced intake of ‘free’ sugars (what we might think of as added sugars) and that they should be limited to less than 10% of energy in the diet because of sugar’s contributions to chronic disease and dental caries.

I know this journey won’t be easy – so I’ve made my pledge on the Dietitian’s website and I’ll be getting pro tips emailed to me and I’ll be looking for recipes and tips from blogs like Becca’s OneYearWithout. What about you? What small change will you make?

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Advocacy and Communications
March 2016

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