Why is nutrition important?
What you eat affects the way your body works and its ability to fight off infections and diseases. Here, we'll break down all the nutrition facts and figures so you know how to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
Did you know that our bodies need over 50 nutrients each day to stay healthy? There are steps that we can take to keep our bodies healthy. One of the best things we can do is to eat a variety of nutritious foods and follow these recommendations in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide:
- Start your day the right way – eat breakfast!
- Eat three meals a day and snack only if you are hungry. Regular eating maintains your metabolism and prevents overeating at your next meal.
- Keep your bones strong. Choose calcium-rich skim or 1% milk, skim milk cheese and low-fat yogurt.
- Keep your muscles strong. Enjoy meat and alternatives such as lean beef, skinless poultry, eggs, fish or soy foods, in moderation.
- Take time to eat your meals. It takes about 20 minutes for you to feel full after eating.
How much you eat is as important as what you eat. That’s because a healthy body weight helps reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
An online tool called My Food Guide tells you how much of each choice – from apples to zucchini – is a single serving. For example, a bagel is two servings of grains.
Give yourself a hand with portion size
Measuring everything before you eat it isn’t realistic. You can use your hand to gauge a healthy serving size.
Based on an average-sized woman’s hand:
- Use your two open hands to guide you in selecting a healthy serving of vegetables.
- Use your fist to select a healthy portion of grain products. Your baked potato, serving of pasta or rice should be equal to your first.
- Include a fist-size serving of fruit with or between your meals.
- Use your palm to measure a healthy serving of meat and alternatives. Your chicken breast or lean steak should be the size of your palm.
- Use a thumb tip-size serving of fat. Choose fats that are soft at room temperature, such as non-hydrogenated margarine or vegetable oils. These fats are heart-healthy.
Eat your fruits and veggies!
Fruits and vegetables contain so many nutrients that protect our health and fuel our bodies. Keep a variety of fruits and vegetables in the fridge so everyone will eat more of these vitamin- packed foods. Consider buying locally grown and in-season fruits and veggies. And if fresh produce is unavailable, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are equally healthy and nutritious. Be sure to look for products with no added sugar! A colorful plate is a healthier plate
Think “veggie” all day long
Don’t just save vegetables for dinner time. When kids are hungry, they are more likely to try new things. And they will eat healthy choices if you offer them. After school or after naps is a great time to offer lots of fruits and vegetables.
Healthy Eating on the Go! - Healthy restaurant dining
Restaurant meals are a treat, but are almost always higher in fat, sugar, salt and calories than homemade meals. Here are some tips so you can enjoy eating out and make healthy choices:
- Start your meal with a salad or broth-based soup. That way you’ll feel fuller sooner and won’t overeat.
- Watch portion sizes. Avoid “super size” items. Order half portions or take home leftovers.
- Ask for salad or vegetables instead of fries.
- Look for menu items that have been broiled, baked, grilled, steamed or poached.
- Avoid deep-fried or breaded items.
- Order sandwiches, subs or wraps with whole grain bread, buns or tortillas.
- Ask for dressings and sauces “on the side” and use them sparingly.
Whole facts about whole grains
High fibre, low fat whole grains fill you up and keep you satisfied. A high fibre diet can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Change at least half of your grain servings to whole grains and your body will thank you. Enjoy brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat breads and pastas. Try quinoa, barley and wild rice to add variety.
Have whole wheat toast or bagels instead of croissants, doughnuts, or pastries. Try whole grain breads, pita or tortillas in sandwiches, wraps and quesadillas.