Opinion Column

Becoming a healthier eater begins with slow small steps

By Brittany Doner

Susan Jones, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of The Healthy Approach in Barrie. (Submitted)

Susan Jones, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of The Healthy Approach in Barrie. (Submitted)

With February fast approaching, more than half of those who made New Year’s resolutions have likely quit their crusade. Luckily, for anyone whose resolution was to eat healthier, these four tips should help keep you on track and keep you from eating your words.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting a health or weight loss goal is they make too broad a statement,” said Susan Jones, registered holistic nutritionist and the founder of The Healthy Approach in Barrie. “Losing weight and/or eating healthier are both great goals, but they focus more on the ‘what’ than the ‘how’.”

Jones designed her Healthy Approach program specifically for the growing number of people who know they should be eating better, but find themselves on a cycle of crash dieting or wavering eating habits.

Jones encourages clients to set simple goals to start, for example:


“Many times thirst signals are mistaken for hunger signals. What we really need is water and what we actually reach for is food,” said Jones.

Humans need water for the body to perform all of its functions properly, including burning away unwanted pounds. When the body is dehydrated many of the organs that work to control weight-loss will not function optimally.

Jones recommends increasing your water intake slowly. Sip water throughout the day and not just while eating meals; this will allow for better hydration.


“Give your body the most nutrient-dense food you can. Your body will be better able to assimilate the nutrients,” said Jones, who also recommends avoiding ‘white’ foods such as white flours, white rice, white sugars, etc., as they deplete your body of nutrients. She also said to pay special attention to where your food comes from and how it was grown.

The best way to know your food is to meet the people who grow it. Buy from local farmers markets and talk with the people who grow your food. Whenever possible choose low pesticide residue foods and organic when feasible. If you can, choose fresh, in-season food. During the colder months, aim for frozen produce if fresh is unavailable.


Chewing slowly adds necessary enzymes to start the digestion process, which assists food in breaking down. By chewing well, the body knows food is coming. This allows the stomach to start making digestive juices to better allow proper breakdown of nutrients. Jones recommends taking a few slow deep breaths before a meal. This will let your body switch to the proper digestion mode. Additionally, everyone should take at least 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy a meal, as the body isn’t able to digest food properly when it’s rushed.


It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal your brain that it is full. Under no circumstances should you strive to finish what is on your plate if you are full.

If you worry about wasting food, Jones suggests switching to a smaller plate when eating at home. We can trick our brains into believing less is more simply by filling a smaller plate. If you start with a small helping, eat slowly and wait; you may be surprised by how much less you actually require and you won’t have a lot left over.

“Healthy eating is a lifestyle, so most people cannot flip a switch and overhaul all of their bad habits overnight,” said Jones. “The most effective approach is making small changes each day and then continuing to build upon those changes.”

Jones has worked with clients wishing to lose weight, those recovering from adrenal fatigue/burn-out, those wanting to improve their health with issues such as celiac disease, dairy intolerance, food allergies, diverticulitis, gout, hyatial hernia, Alzheimer’s, constipation and many more. For more details on The Healthy Approach, visit www.thehealthyappraoch.ca.

To find out where to purchase local food in Simcoe County, visit www.simcoecountyfarmfresh.ca.

Food Matters is a monthly column addressing a variety of relevant topics concerning the food system in Simcoe County, as identified by the Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter. Topics may include: healthy eating, food access, and hunger; food and skills development; farming, the environment, and farmland protection; food and economic development; education and employment; and food and culture. For more details, visit www.fpa.simcoe.ca.

Brittany Doner is project manager, Simcoe County Food & Agriculture Charter, and Simcoe County Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy.

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