Is eating well a privilege or a curse?

As a trainer, I hear a lot of people complain about ‘having’ to eat whole grain rice or chicken breasts all the time, or being sick of broccoli or spinach, etc.

There is an attitude in our society that health food directly equals bland, yucky, gross, boring food. It strikes me as sad that people think eating well and feeding their body properly is a pain, or a curse, or a ‘have to’, rather than a ‘privilege’.

I have personally visited people in Mexico and Belize on humanitarian trips with Rotary International, and have met people who have nothing but a few scraps of rice and occasionally some chicken or fish to eat every day (if they are lucky). Unlike us, they are happy to get it.

Food is fuel.

I think many of us have forgotten that food is just the fuel for our body, and that all this superb taste and the ‘food experience’ stuff is secondary, something to be enjoyed on special occasions.

I’m not saying it isn’t important that food taste good or that healthy food has to be devoid of taste or fun – far from it!

The reality is though that poutine and a pop may taste good, but it is not the appropriate fuel for a body at lunch time.

Would you drive away from a gas station when filling up your car, because they only had ‘spinach’ gasoline today and you like ‘strawberry’ smelling gasoline? Hardly.

The question here is this: Is eating lean protein and healthy vegetables a curse that we must endure to meet our goals of being fit and fabulous?

I sure hope you don’t feel that way, because it simply isn’t true! It is a 100% privilege in our country that we may choose to eat such excellent fuel on a daily basis. You’ve heard it so many times from your mom and other moms, or even the doctor or on TV: “Eat your vegetables (or whatever), don’t you know there are people starving that would give anything to eat what you have?”

I never liked to hear that as a kid, but now I understand because I have seen people who have nothing.

The food we have available here is such a gift, and to me, being very healthy is worth a little bit of telling the ‘little three-year-old boy’ voice in my head that wants a few donuts for supper “thanks for sharing, but I’m eating this healthy meal, and I’m lucky to be doing so!”

How do we take our healthy, regular, standard food, and make it more FUN?

Once a week, I have my clients cook up a dozen chicken breasts by placing them on a cookie sheet, in the oven at 350F for 45 minutes (from frozen). To change them up each week, you can pour sugar free pasta sauce, mustard or salsa on each breast. Colourful spices are not only tasty, but a source of anti-oxidants and vitamins. Try oregano, thyme, steak spice, curry, or any number of choices.

You can change how your chicken tastes every single week!

Another change you can make is with rice. The long grain rice comes in many, many varieties. One of my favourite brands, Lundberg, comes in five different blends. One of them smells and tastes like popcorn!

Yam is another favourite carb to add to your protein and vegetable meals. It has more vitamins and fibre than a potato, and is very tasty.

With an effective meal plan, butter can be added to really make the taste enjoyable! Changing out your vegetables each week is another way to change up the flavour and texture of what we eat. Peas, carrots, broccoli, green beans, peppers, spinach etc, etc.

We are so lucky that we can go to the store, and choose whatever we want. Enjoy the amazing gift we have in choice in our country!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out for more information.