Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Understanding Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Eating well provides the building blocks for your body to be healthy now and in the future. By improving how you eat, you can help lower your risk of disease. Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer. There are also specific times in women’s lives where nutrition needs may need special attention, such as during pregnancy.
If you are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or have recently given birth, use this time to make healthy eating and active living a life‑long habit for you, your baby, and your family. Some experts recommend making lifestyle changes 3 months before trying to get pregnant – but it’s never too early, or too late.
Healthy Eating Tips:
- Choose foods from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (Canada’s Food Guide).
Canada’s Food Guide is a tool that can help you to eat healthy. Create your own food guide at My Food Guide: an interactive tool that will help you create your own healthy eating plan based on Canada's Food Guide.
- Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you feel full (when you no longer feel hungry).
Many people have been taught to eat everything on their plate, but this can lead to over‑eating. The best way to know how much you should eat is to listen to your body.
- Plan for 3 meals plus healthy snacks at about the same times each day.
Having meals and healthy snacks at about the same times each day helps maintain energy levels and helps avoid unhealthy snacking. At each meal, aim for 1/2 plate of vegetables and fruit, 1/4 plate of grain products, 1/4 plate of meat and alternatives, and a serving of milk or alternatives.
Source: Eating to Fuel Your Mind and Body, Vancouver Coastal Health, April 2009. Reproduced with permission from Vancouver Coastal Health, 2010.
- Choose healthy fluids.
Water and milk are healthy options. Small amounts of 100% fruit or vegetable juice are okay but eating the whole fruit or vegetable gives you more nutrients and fibre. Limit caffeine and limit or avoid sugary drinks. Sugary drinks like pop, slurpees, and choices labelled “drink” and “beverage” have a lot of energy (calories) but little nutrition. For women of childbearing age, Health Canada recommends a maximum daily caffeine intake of no more than 300 mg (a little over two 8‑oz or 237 ml cups of coffee).
Eat a healthy and balanced diet by following Canada’s Food Guide. Note that the number of recommended Food Guide servings for each food group does vary for women and men in some food groups. Here are some tips to help you get the best nutrients from your food choices and keep your energy levels up throughout the day:
- Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
- Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar, or salt.
- Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
- Make at least half of your grain products whole grain.
- Choose whole grains that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
- Select lower fat milk and milk alternatives, like skim, 1% and 2% milk.
- Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.
- Eat at least two Food Guide servings of fish each week.
- Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.
For more information about healthy eating with Canada’s Food Guide, see the table below.
Recommended Number of Food Group Servings Each Day
|Vegetables and Fruit
Recommended Number of Servings: 7-8
Recommended Number of Servings: 6-7
|Milk and Alternatives
Recommended Number of Servings: 2
|Meat and Alternatives
Recommended Number of Servings: 2
|Oil and Fats
Recommended Number of Servings: 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp)
Source: Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, Health Canada, 2007. Reproduced and adapted with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2010.