Sunday, September 12, 2010

The 5 to 9 Review: Does wine count as a serving of fruit?

And do potato chips count for veggies? Yikes, last month was a lot harder than I expected it to be and I was definitely scrambling towards the end to make my numbers. I had pretty high hopes after the first week when I saw that my regular diet wasn’t too far off from the food pyramid’s recommendations, but even when I really did put in the effort, I never managed to make it.

Why though? Truth be told, I eat a pretty healthy diet already and consciously make an effort to include fruits and veggies wherever I can. A lot of the problem was that I had a busy month (between work and end of summer festivities) and because of minimal time to prepare my own meals, I ended up eating out a lot. Even though I was ordering vegetarian entrĂ©es, I was lucky if they contained even one serving of veggies. It seems problematic that unless you’re ordering a huge salad, it’s difficult to get more than a serving of vegetables when you eat at a restaurant. Do I really need to order a side to make my meal complete? Why are veggies always sidelined?

In the last few years (probably because of the rise and general awareness of food allergies), restaurants have been a lot better about telling us about what’s in our meals. Whether it be a calorie count, if it’s vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free, or my personal favorite: if it’s local and organic, there seems to be a lot more transparency in the restaurant industry. My suggestion is that they let us know what buckets we’re filling in relation to the food pyramid too. Maybe I’m only interested in this after trying to actually commit to this diet for the past month, but wouldn’t it just make you feel better to know that your meal was actually giving you some of the nutrients you need?

I was on the train a few weeks ago and read an article over someone’s shoulder about how some grocery stores have developed a program that assigns a nutrition rating to products so customers can easily determine which foods are better for them than others. Some stores even have a full-time nutritionist on staff to answer questions and to help people make healthier choices. While it’s ultimately up to the individual to educate themselves about their own health, let’s face it, we’re all so busy nowadays that a little guidance here and there doesn’t hurt.

Overall though, it was an interesting experiment to try to eat my 5 to 9 for the month, but I think I might take another stab at it when I have a bit more time. As for this month, I’m eating whatever I want and resting after a busy (but awesome) summer. Lent will commence again on October 1st.