PEI

5 tips for creating healthy eating habits (and feeling physically good) in 2022

If you want to change your eating habits, it’s important to start small, said Amirah Oyesegun, who is training to become a dietician.

‘Focus more on all the amazing things our body does for us’

Think small changes for healthier eating, says dietitian student Amirah Oyesegun

6 months ago
Duration 1:28
Amirah Oyesegun, who is training to be a dietician through UPEI, offers some advice on how people can help build healthier eating habits in 2022.

After indulging in holiday treats and rich foods for a few weeks, it's tempting to want to make big changes to our diets in the new year. 

If you really want to change your eating habits, however, it's important to start small, said Amirah Oyesegun. 

The recent UPEI foods and nutrition graduate cautioned against an "all or nothing approach." 

"I'm not the biggest fan of making new year's resolutions," said Oyesegun, who is currently doing their placements to become a dietitian.

"I just don't think setting those strict resolutions is healthy."

Instead, Oyesegun offers these five realistic tips for how to approach food and your body in 2022. 

1. Focus on how you feel, not how you look 

"A lot of people think of wanting to transform their bodies in the new year … into something that their bodies aren't," said Oyesegun. 

"I think it's really important for people to focus more on all the amazing things our body does for us. Like, since conception, until this very moment, your body has been working and has not taken a day off." 

When it comes to figuring out healthier eating habits, tiny drops of water make a mighty ocean.— Amirah Oyesegun

Oyesegun said they learned during their UPEI degree that you can be healthy in any body. 

"Your body size … it doesn't equate to health," they said. 

"My schooling in nutrition really shaped and changed a lot of the misconceptions that I had surrounding food."   

They recommend that instead of trying to transform our bodies, we focus on how to better enable our bodies to do the amazing things they already do for us. 

2. Be aware of the impact of diet culture

This can be difficult, said Oyesegun. 

"The most challenging thing is all the, I call it noise, from diet culture," they said. 

"All these fad diets. This month is keto diet, next month it's paleo diet and all these, like, low-carb, low-fat diets just rebranded into, like, a whole bunch of bizarre names and marketed to people as a weight-loss solution."

Oyesegun suggests buying bags of frozen fruits and vegetables which usually cost less than fresh and last a lot longer. (CBC)

The problem goes beyond just the diets, said Oyesegun. 

"All these companies and all these people trying to feed off of people's insecurities and how we feel about our bodies," they said. 

"Constantly, like, going in and out of diets … it doesn't work for people."

Instead, Oyesegun suggests people focus on their goals for healthier eating instead of a transformation. 

3. Start with small changes 

That could mean setting a goal to eat one piece of fruit every day, said Oyesegun. 

If you're grocery shopping on a budget, they suggest buying large bags of frozen fruits and vegetables, which are usually cheaper per pound than small bags. 

"I find there is a misconception that frozen fruits or vegetables aren't as healthy for you as fresh fruits and vegetables, but that's just completely false," they said. 

Another tip? Instead of buying regular pasta, buy high-fibre pasta. 

"I always say when it comes to figuring out healthier eating habits, tiny drops of water make a mighty ocean. So making those small little changes, in the end, it all adds up."

4. Plan your meals and snacks 

"One thing that I realized helps with making plans to eat healthier is actually writing it down," said Oyesegun. 

They plan their meals in advance in a notebook so they're not stuck feeling hungry and wondering what to cook. 

"Snacking throughout the day and making plans of what you're going to eat ahead of time also stops you from feeling overwhelmed," they said. 

5. Add fibre, fruits and vegetables to foods you enjoy 

Eating healthier doesn't mean giving up the foods you love, said Oyesegun. 

"If you like pizza and you don't want to give up eating pizza, find ways to add those extra vegetables on your pizza," they said. 

When Oyesegun first began their degree, they weren't sure what to study. 

"And then someone told me that in the [food] labs, we get to cook and then you get to eat it," they said. 

"I got in and I actually genuinely fell in love with the science of nutrition as a whole … it all just boils down to the fact that I really love to eat." 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isabelle Gallant

Senior writer

Isabelle Gallant is a radio producer and web writer who has worked for CBC in Edmonton and Toronto. She grew up in Halifax and Charlottetown and is now happy to be back home on P.E.I.

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