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Nutrition Resource Centre

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Bacon Isn’t The Enemy

Bacon Isn’t The Enemy
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Jessica Zupan, RD, CDE. Thank you for submitting!
 
Bacon isn’t the enemy – when it’s not the star of the plate.
 
This may be a strange concept coming from a dietitian, but I am about to tell you how we can rethink how we think about healthy eating. An inclusive way to eat that includes foods that we’ve always forbidden such as bacon, butter, cheesecake, and chicken wings on a daily basis.
 
The issue may not be these foods themselves, but rather the problem may be when these foods dominate the plate and are eaten in an inordinate amount rather than enjoyed as a delicacy.
 
Today there is amplitude of nutrition information available, with often an overload of conflicting messages. Are eggs ok to eat? What about the super foods? Butter or margarine?  Nutrition is a science that is continuously being studied leaving the general public left to fend for themselves in a messy confusion.
 
One thing has stayed consistent over the years is that vegetables are healthy and as a general rule, we don’t eat enough of them in our diets. The struggle isn’t the lack of information available.
 
So how does one include more vegetables and plant based foods in their diet and where’s the bacon in all this?
 
We are told to include half a plate of vegetables at each meal leaving us to rack our brains trying to figure out what would be the best vegetable to go with the delicious steak or the roast beef dinner.  Perhaps we must instead think of vegetables and plant based foods as the main feature of the meal instead of the side. Move over meat, it’s time to rethink our plates!
 
The first step in remodeling our plate to include primarily vegetables is to be able to prepare them in a way that tastes delicious. The main struggle with eating vegetables is not that they taste boring; it is that they are prepared poorly. We have all had (with likely much dislike) boiled broccoli before. The texture is that of mush and the taste is particularly bland. Foods such as bacon and chicken are familiar to us and quite simple to make taste delicious, therefore an easy go to. The key to eating vegetables is making them taste good. To do this we need to gain some basic culinary skills and learn how to prepare these foods. It is as simple as learning a few sauce recipes, homemade dressings, and investing in a few good spices. Perhaps try a cooking class that includes how to prepare foods you don’t normally eat such as an Indian, Asian or vegetarian cooking class.
 
Another strategy to incorporate more veggies is to experiment with vegan and vegetarian recipes. The advantage of a vegan diet is that it resifts your meal planning from meat based meals towards plant based foods. I am by no means suggesting a vegan or even vegetarian diet. Some days you may still have roast beef dinner or meat as the main course, and on those days you may not eat as many vegetables and that’s ok too, we focus on small changes at a time. Think of vegan as a way to drive you out of the box and find creative ways to include foods that may be foreign to you. Trying out vegan meals is where my culinary skills around lentils, beans and other vegetables grew. I however, love real bacon, cheese and other non vegan foods so I always find a way to include them in the meal; sprinkling feta cheese on a vegetarian Greek skillet, tacos with honey lime black beans and sweet potatoes are delicious, but I also love shrimp tacos. This is a concept referred to as “flexaterian” (a vegetarian who still eats meat sometimes).
 
Once we have achieved the proper vegetable portions on our plates, we can enjoy the more decadent foods as a side to the main meal; A creamy kale salad with blueberries and bacon. Deconstructed burrito bowl with spicy pulled pork, chickpea curry with buttered naan bread, Caesar salad with homemade dressing, zucchini spaghetti noodles with homemade garlic bread and juicy Italian meatballs. All our favourite delicious foods can be including in our diet when we eat an abidance of plant based foods.
 
The key to healthy eating and including half a plate of vegetables is simple, no diet required. All you have to do is introduce a few simple habits into your own life. Learn a few basic cooking skills; try new vegetables and experiment with flavours. Once we master the ability of making vegetables the star, adding any small indulgence on the side is a healthy way to enjoy good food in the right way. Bacon is not the enemy; we just need to rethink our plate to include it in a healthy way.

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