Mediaplanet  What is your number one nutrition tip for those trying to stay healthy? 

Kathy Smart  My number one nutrition tip is a simple one. Eat veggies, like it’s your job. When you fill your plate with at least half vegetables you do not leave room for the bad stuff. Vegetables are chock full of fibre, vitamins and cancer-fighting properties.

MP  There are so many healthy-eating buzzwords that can get pretty confusing, such as organic, non-GMO, natural, local, whole, and gluten-free, how can consumers navigate these terms in the grocery store and choose the best products for them?

KS  Eating healthy is simple really. Stick to as close to nature as possible. Fresh fruits, veggies, organic meats, beans, nuts and seeds are what we should be eating. Real food doesn’t have a long ingredients list. The real food is the ingredients.

MP  What is the biggest benefit to eating organic food?

KS  Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic foods contain fewer pesticides, are usually fresher and taste better, and are GMO-free. Some studies are showing that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterpart.

"I believe when we see where our food comes from an important relationship occurs, the gap is bridged between what we eat and where it comes from."

MP  There is popular consumer belief that eating these types of food is unaffordable – do you believe this to be true?

KS  It absolutely is not true.  

MP  What are some tips to eat healthy on a budget?

KS  Easy ways to save on eating healthier is to go directly to the farmer or to the farmers market, buy in bulk and buy when in season and freeze.

MP  There is growing attention being given to the farm-to-fork movement and the importance of knowing where our food comes from – do you think this is an important consideration when shopping for food or just another trend the health-conscious shopper should skip over?

KS  I believe when we see where our food comes from an important relationship occurs, the gap is bridged between what we eat and where it comes from. So often when we shop and just look for the fastest packaged food, we forget that real food was grown somewhere by someone. Get to know our farmers- they are our friends and they feed us!

MP  What is the first part of a label a shopper should look for? What are some dangerous buzzwords to look out for?

KS  The first part of a label that a shopper should look for is the ingredient list. If it is long and you need a dictionary to navigate what the words mean, put it down. Real food is the ingredient list. Look also for the sugar grams in a product. Divide that number by four to give you the amount of sugar per serving in a point of reference.

When you divide that sugar grams number by four that will give you the number of teaspoons of sugar per serving. Many so called healthy packaged foods will have as much sugar as a chocolate bar! That simple equation will help you navigate what is best. Look for products that have less than 8 grams (or 2 teaspoons of sugar) per serving. That one tip will change how you eat.

MP  What are your favourite healthy treats to satisfy your sweet tooth?

I do have a large sweet tooth! To satisfy that I like to melt dark chocolate and dip my fresh pineapple or strawberries in it.

MP  What should people look for to choose the healthiest protein mixes and bars?

KS  First, I prefer people to pick real food over powder and protein bars, however I sometimes need them too in our fast paced life.

If you are choosing protein powders or protein bars, look for a plant based protein powder as many of the others that are whey derived (dairy) can give many people digestive issues. Also, look that the product is naturally sweetened with either stevia or brown rice syrup. If you see the words sucralose or aspartame run away!

MP  What foods are always in your shopping cart?

KS  Oh this one is fun. Baby spinach, eggs, organic chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, salmon, cashews, organic dark 70 percent chocolate, watermelon, mangos, pure Canadian Maple Syrup, chia seeds, brown rice and Greek yogurt.

MP  What are ways you eat healthy when you are on-the-go?

KS  One of the ways is to make sure I am prepared. For example I always have a small bag of almonds, a vegetable juice and a fruit in my bag in case I am in a meeting longer than expected or have flight delays.