Mobile Version |

Healthy Living and Seniors

Set text to smallest size Set text to normal size Set text to larger size Set text to largest size

Healthy Eating Tips

Eating healthy isn’t always easy. Today’s families are busier then ever and more often than not, the healthy choice is not the easy choice.  But with a little planning there are ways to make sure we are getting the valuable nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.  Here are some tips for making healthier choices throughout your day.

You are what you eatyou are what you eat

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. 
  • Eat together as a family.  Be a food role model by sitting down at least once a day with your kids to enjoy a healthy, balanced meal.

^ top of page

Good Fat or Bad Fat?

Sometimes the foods we eat can increase our risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and heart disease. 

  • Watch out for foods high in fat.  Even small portions of high-fat foods contain a lot of calories.
  • Be aware of hidden fats.  Processed and prepackaged foods often contain hidden fats.  Check the food label and avoid foods with a high percentage of total fat, trans or saturated fats.  Trans and saturated fats increase blood cholesterol. 
  • Look for the words “low fat” on food packages.  Low fat means the food contains three grams of fat or less per serving. 

Canada's Food GuideEating Well With Canada’s Food Guide recommends including small amounts of unsaturated fats every day.  This includes fats such as vegetable oils (canola, olive, soybean), salad dressings, mayonnaise, and soft non-hydrogenated margarine.

In small amounts, these “good fats” are needed to absorb vitamins and key to good health and disease fighting.  They also help our bodies eliminate “bad” cholesterol from our blood.

“Bad fats” (saturated fats) are found mainly in animal fats and are harder for your body to break down.  Bad fats will increase bad cholesterol in your blood and increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. 

Limit solid fats, such as butter, hard margarine, lard or shortening

All fats add calories.  That’s why it’s important to limit fats and choose “good” fats with the best nutritional value. 

Good FatsHere are some good examples of foods that have “good” fats so you get more health benefits than risks:

  • Nuts, such as peanuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts
  • Soy products
  • Avocados
  • Olive and canola oil
  • Fish like salmon, trout, herring and sardines
  • Ground flax seed and flax seed oil
  • Omega 3 enriched eggs

Read labels for hidden Fats

Many packaged goods are hiding places for bad fats.  It is now the law for packaged food labels to list detailed nutritional information including the type of fat they contain.  Look at the Nutrition Facts panel of your favorite packaged foods; then select items that have a low percentage of fat and contain little or no saturated or trans fats.  Visit for more information on how to read nutrition labels for hidden fats

Look for these hidden fats:

  • Saturated fat, butter, milk fat, any meat fats, or lard
  • Palm or coconut oil
  • Hydrogenated fat or hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Shortening
  • Tallow
  • Monoglycerides and diglycerides
  • Trans fat

Be wary of labels that say:

  • No cholesterol or cholesterol-free.  It means no animal fat but the product can still have hydrogenated fats, a “bad fat” that can increase your risk of heart disease or stroke.
  • Fat-free.  It may have larger amounts of sugar, making it high in empty calories. 

^ top of page

How much is enough?

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.

You can input your food choices and print out your own guide.  Or print the full Canada’s Food Guide with serving sizes. 

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.

^ top of page

Eat your fruits and veggies!bananas

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

You can make choosing new and different fruits and vegetables a game for your kids.  The more colors the better!

Kids can choose a variety of red, green, orange, purple or white fruits and vegetables to mix up the colors on their plates and the nutrients for their bodies.

If you encourage your children to help with shopping and food preparation, they’ll get more excited about different choices.  It’s more fun to eat the vegetables when you helped cut them up!

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. 

“I tried it.  I don’t like it.”

Sound familiar?  Don’t give up.  Research shows children need to try a new food 5 to 10 times before accepting it.  Keep offering different fruits and vegetables.  You don’t want to force them, but ask them to taste it every time. 

^ top of page

Healthy Eating on the Go!

Today’s families lead busy lives.  It certainly makes it harder to keep your commitment to healthier eating.  Planning in advance can make it easier to fit healthy eating into your busy day.  Here are some tips for making healthier choices.  

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.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces “on the side” and use them sparingly.
  • You are what you eatOrder sandwiches, subs or wraps with whole grain bread, buns or tortillas.

Shopping smart

Always use a grocery list.  And never shop when you’re hungry!  Eating before shopping may reduce impulse buying. 

Try to shop the outside area of the store first: most snack foods are in the aisles.

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.

^ top of page