You may have recently seen in the news that diet is the top risk factor for disease and premature death in Canada. This is based on a study entitled the Global Burden of Disease. They’ve created a number of reports for countries around the world. The report for Canada indicates that the number one risk factor for disease in our country is diet. The top diseases that it contributes to are: cardiovascular, cancer, and diabetes. The second greatest risk factor is smoking, followed by body mass index (BMI) which (in some cases) can also be an issue of diet. Scrolling down the list there are a number of additional risk factors which are also closely related to diet: high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, high total cholesterol, alcohol use, iron deficiency, and low bone mineral density.
I think that there are two sides to this coin. On one side, it’s unfortunate that we’re essentially making ourselves ill. On the other side, diet is a controllable risk factor so we have the power to improve our health. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Healthy eating doesn’t mean never having a cookie or french fries. The most important step you can take to improve your diet is to simply prepare the vast majority of the food you eat at home. Don’t rely on restaurants, take-out, or pre-packaged meals. Take a page from this year’s Nutrition Month theme which is: Plan, Shop, Cook, Enjoy! Use the findings of this report and the fact that it’s Nutrition Month as motivation to set a healthy eating goal for yourself. Start small. If you eat lunch out everyday make a plan to bring lunch from home at least one or two days of the week. Or, ensure that you always have nutritious snacks on hand so that you’re not buying a chocolate bar or bag of chips when you get hungry. Don’t try to overhaul your entire diet at once. You’re too likely to get frustrated and give up entirely. Chose one goal for the month and then build on that.