Know your nutrition | Toronto Sun


Did you eat your veggies yesterday? The day before? Most likely not! Some 85% of us fall short of the recommended intake for fruits and veggies, reports the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the past five years, we’re eating less and less of what we need most, according to brand new research by Precision Nutrition’s 2020 Nutrition, Fitness, and Health Trends + Insights Report. Protein intake has taken a nosedive too.

There’s an increase in percentage – some 22% of women and 26% of men – who either eat no fruits and vegetables or only eat them at one meal per day. Pretty well that same percentage applies to men and women who don’t consume a palm-size portion of protein at any meal, or barely eat that small amount at one meal per day.

According to registered holistic nutrition consultant Lisa Tsakos, we struggle to include protein, vegetables and fruit in our diets because carbs are easy and accessible.

Lisa Tsakos

“For many, a large percentage of their day is spent at work or on the road, and grab-and-go foods make up a significant part of their calories,” says Tsakos, of Nu-Vitality Health & Wellness at There are lots of carbohydrate-rich options to grab and go, but very few protein options. And just who’s grabbing fruit and veggies to go?

“These are unfortunate and concerning dietary trends,” says Dr. Karen Davison. She recently conducted research that suggests low fruit and vegetable consumption is linked with depression, in both men and women.

“Based on cross-sectional studies, diets that contain a lot of processed foods are associated with depression,” says Davison, Health Science Program chair at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in B.C. “Healthier diets that contain many plant-based sources such as fruits and vegetables are associated with better mental health.”

Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant components in fruits and vegetables may help protect against depression, she says.

Other unhealthy trends highlighted by the study: More than 70% of women report emotional and stress eating being the number one nutrition challenge, and it’s increasing for men.

Brian St. Pierre

Add to that a significant uptick in alcohol consumption during the last five years. “We all understand that alcohol can be a temporary stress coping mechanism. While a daily drink can help you unwind, it’s important not to become over-reliant on it,” says Brian St. Pierre, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.

.According to Davison, lack of proper veggie and fruit intake may be in part attributed to “the misperception that fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive and that they are not convenient to prepare.”

Add a few veggies and fruit here and there. Along with protein sources such as poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds, they offer essential nutrients, anti-oxidants, and plant chemicals that can help prevent and/or delay the development of many chronic conditions adds Davison.

Most people need five fruits and vegetables per day plus six to eight ounces (or 150 to 200 grams) of good quality protein foods.

Adds St. Pierre: “Forget the ideal workout and meal plan and make small changes, a little at a time, and keep going. Go for progress over perfection.”

Up your veggie and fruit intake with tips from nutrition consultant Lisa Tsakos:

  • Make vegetables and fruits visible. Place a bowl of fruit or sliced vegetables (with a tasty dipping sauce) on the kitchen or coffee table – wherever there is traffic at home – and on your desk at work.
  • Cut up vegetables as soon as you get home from the grocery store for easy snacking. Slice vegetables, place them into glass containers and store them in water. Don’t discard the water – it’s full of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C. Drink it straight or use it to make a soup or smoothie.
  • No time to slice and dice? Buy pre-cut vegetables at your grocery store.
  • Sneak veggies into tomato sauces, scrambled eggs, chili, stews, and even muffins. Add to pizza and sandwiches. Add onions, olives, peppers and more.
  • Make your salads a meal, or at least make them more interesting. Top with grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocado, olives, quinoa, pickles, chick peas, seeds, and goat cheese.

Get Physical

Physical activity is a powerful way to boost brain health and help protect against depression or Alzheimer’s disease, reports a study from Massachusetts General Hospital. “Our research using real-world health care data has suggested that even people who are genetically predisposed to depression are more likely to avoid depression episodes if they are physically active,” says Dr. Karmel Choi, of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit.

Recent work also indicates that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can also lower Alzheimer’s risk. We are learning that genes are not destiny when it comes to these conditions and there are things people can people can actively do to lower their risk,” says Choi.

Little things count: Stand more at the office, go for daily walks, take a bike to work or park far away if a vehicle is necessary.

Get Moving

Exercising is a tough go for most of us – there’s little time and even less motivation – yet the benefits are enormous. Maybe you can jump in on one of these fitness trends for 2020, as forecasted by

  • Wearable technology, like fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, will rule for the second consecutive year.
  • HIIT, high-intensity interval training programs, will rule. This typically involves short bursts of high intensity bouts of exercise, i.e. for seven minutes, followed by a short period of rest or active recovery. Repeat.
  • Group training classes will continue to be popular, including training with free weights in a group setting.
  • Personal coaching continues to be big as individuals seek customized workouts to meet needs, goals and time limitations.
  • More outdoor activities such as group walks, group rides, or organized hiking groups are expected to keep growing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here