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.
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:
Sometimes the foods we eat can increase our risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and heart disease.
Eating 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.
All fats add calories. That’s why it’s important to limit fats and choose “good” fats with the best nutritional value.
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 www.healthycanadians.ca for more information on how to read nutrition labels.
Look for these hidden fats:
Be wary of labels that say:
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.
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:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.