A proper diet is the fundamental building block to good health. Getting to know the basics using Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating helps you to determine the number of servings you should be getting each day from each of the four food groups. Understanding the importance of the food groups is our first step to healthy eating.
Grains, also referred to as starchy foods, provide carbohydrates which are essential energy sources especially for brain functiong. We can select grains that have either been unrefined or refined depending on the processing to the grain after leaving the farm. Refined grains result when manufacturing processes remove heart healthy fibre (the bran and the germ). Unrefined grains contain fibre which helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. To eat healthy it is important to limit your intake of refined grain including sugary cereals, white bread, white rice, white noodles and pasta.
Dairy and dairy alternatives:
Dairy and soy foods will provide the calcium, various minerals and protein required to strengthen bones and teeth, contract muscles as well as transmit nerve impulses. There is evidence to suggest that people with a low intake of calcium are at an increased risk for osteoporosis and hypertension. For a heart healthy diet, consume lower fat dairy to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet.
Meat, fish, eggs and meat alternatives:
Protein is provided in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and soy. Protein supports our immune system and keeps us strong for growth and repair. It is important to try and include a protein source with each meal while keeping in mind portion sizes outlined in Canada's Food Guide. For heart healthy it is best to choose lean cuts and remove skins from chicken and meats in order to limit saturated fat intake. Vegetarians need to consume a variety of plant products throughout the day to meet protein needs.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Colour your world everyday. When aiming for optimal health, choose bright produce. The brighter the colour the more nutrients and antioxidants it contains. Research indicates that antioxidants protect our cells from diseases including cancer and heart disease. We should aim to get 2-3 fruits and 4-5 vegetables a day, which will provide lots of fibre and vitamins. Remember when you choose canned items you should rinse before eating in order to remove unwanted sodium and other preservatives.
WHY SHOULD I EAT HEALTHY.
Obesity is on the rise in adults, teenagers and children. There are many theories as to why our weights are increasing. Obesity is caused by a surplus of calories and an insufficient amount of exercise. Obesity is linked to many diseases, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, sleep dissorders, degenerative arthiritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression.
TAKE HOME TIPS
Adopt a healthy nutritious diet
Focus on lifestyle changes which you are able to maintain
Reduce your total caloric intake
Keep a journal for the frequency and amounts you eat as well as exercise
Set specific, realistic goals you can meet
Seek encouragement from family, friends, and co-workers to support your healthy choices
Try to think back to your original motivation and the benefits of achieving a healthy weight