Brazilian diet: Cook from scratch

Kendra B. Hamilton
Brazil Ministry of Health says home-made food keeps people healthier Kendra B. Hamilton Brazil Ministry of Health says home-made food keeps people healthier

Kendra Hamilton
Life Reporter

Making food from scratch is the way to stay healthy and slim down. according to the Brazil Ministry of Health in a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines of the Brazilian Population.

The idea is to combat rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

The guide emphasizes cooking with fresh ingredients and limiting intake of ready-to-eat products and processed foods.

Experts agree this might be exactly what Canada needs to combat our own rising rates of obesity.

In 2007, Canada’s Food Guide tripled in size to help Canadians make healthier decisions, yet obesity rates have continued to climb, according to the most recent reports from Statistics Canada.

“I think that taking the essence of Brazil’s new dietary guidelines and joining forces with the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate is where we need to go,” said Sarah Coulson, Humber professor and registered dietician.

“I think Brazil’s initiative to tackle the food environment is gutsy. Their Ministry of Health is actually saying, ‘Be critical of the food industry.’”

“I definitely think if more people cooked meals there would be less obesity and people would be a lot healthier if we eliminated packaged foods, especially things like frozen dinners,” said Katie Hart, registered holistic nutritionist.

Labels on processed food are misleading, she added.

“Low-fat, fat-free, low-calorie, low-sugar, all that means there are 10 times more chemicals. They put in all these chemicals to make it taste the same as a full fat version.”

While staying away from processed foods is a good idea in theory, some don’t believe it is always a realistic expectation.

“If you can do it, that’s great,” said Kim Hammond, mother of two who works part-time. “But if you have two parents working with kids in school…it’s just not doable.”

Still, Coulson said it might be worth make cooking a priority, despite the large amount of nutritional information that surrounds us.

“We have somehow scheduled cooking out of our lives. This, I believe, is the missing link to re-claiming health.”