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Nutrition Resource Centre

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Quality Over Quantity (And What It Means For Your Diet)

Quality Over Quantity (And What It Means For Your Diet)
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Vincci Tsui, RD. Thank you for submitting!
The new US Dietary Guidelines came out last week! The new guidelines say a lot of what we’d expect: Eat less sugar and salt, be picky about fats, stop worrying about cholesterol and some coffee is OK, but Chicago-based FoodMinds did a word analysis of the over 51,000 words in the document and found that there has been a shift to using the word “patterns” versus simply talking about how much or how little people “should” be eating of a nutrient or food group.
Despite this shift towards patterns versus individual nutrients, I would argue the new guidelines still focus a lot on quantity– even when describing different healthy eating patterns, the guidelines are very specific about how many “cup-equivalents” of different food groups a person “should” be eating a week. So, why am I going against the grain, so to speak, and focusing on quality instead?
Why I Started Thinking About Quality over Quantity
Aside from trying to come up with a new blog post topic that would save me from having to read the new dietary guidelines, since the start of the new year, I’ve been participating in an online business coaching/marketing challenge. One of the topics that came up in today’s challenge was the idea of rest. This is also something that comes up with my training at the gym – in both cases, it’s so tempting to just keep working or training more and more, because in your head, the more you do, the further along you get (and, if it’s something that you enjoy, it’s fun!) But in business, if you’re just working and staying busy without any direction, you don’t grow. In training, if you just keep going, your body never has the chance to recover properly, and you actually don’t get the results that you want. Rest is important to give your mind and body a chance to reset and re-focus, so you can get back to work or get back to training with greater intention, focus, and therefore results. There is a higher quality to your work or training, even though there may be less time put in.
What Does This Have to do with Nutrition?
It’s so easy to talk about nutrition in terms of quantity – eat more veggies, eat fewer calories, eat more protein, eat less sugar… quantity is objective (so it makes nutrition sound more legit as a science), measurable and actionable. But at the same time, can you truly say that someone who has protein shakes and iceberg lettuce all day is eating a healthy diet?

This is where quality comes in. I think most would agree that a quality diet includes a variety of foods, as close to whole and unprocessed as possible. But it’s not just food quality that’s important, because I get that good food can be expensive or it’s just not what you’re used to eating, or honestly, what you like to eat. A food’s quality in terms of taste, flavour and value is just as important as nutrition.
But also consider the quality of your mealtimes – do you have the chance to sit down to focus and enjoy your meal, or are you rushing out the door or focused on something else, like work, or an intense TV show, or even worse, driving? And take a look at the quality of your relationship with food is food just food, or is it a source of guilt? Reward? Punishment?
When we consider all of these things together, it’s easier to see the potential for change in a number of areas, instead of spinning our wheels and just trying to play the numbers game and wondering why you’re not getting the results.
Vincci received her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from McGill University and completed the school’s Integrated Dietetic Internship, including rotations in Calgary and in Hong Kong. Vincci has been a registered dietitian and proud member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta and Dietitians of Canada for over six years, and is a certified Craving Change™ facilitator.


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