Monday, 3 February 2014

How Can I Eat Healthier?

Hey everyone! Alisha here. Welcome to our blog and very first "informative" post! 

Whenever I mention that I am in school for nutrition, the first question people ask me is, “how can I eat healthier?” 

Although the amount and types of food needed for a healthy lifestyle is highly individual—it depends on many factors such as your activity level—I always respond with this helpful tip: follow Canada’s Food Guide (CFG). 

Although the CFG is a generalized guide, it is a great place to start if you cannot get a personalized nutrition plan from a Registered Dietitian.
Here is the link to Health Canada’s Website and the Food Guide:

You can download a PDF version or you can order a hardcopy that Health Canada will send to you, free of charge. This site is a great resource! I would really suggest that you tour this site, use it to its full potential!
I’ll introduce the CFG to you now though.

First things first. Based on your age and gender, determine your recommended number of food group servings. Keep in mind that this is a minimum number of servings, and it is important to listen to your body and hunger cues to maintain the proper energy levels for a healthy and active lifestyle. For example, I am a 26 year old female, therefore I should be consuming the following:

            ü  8-10 servings of Fruits and Vegetables
            ü  6-7 servings of Grain Products
            ü  2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
            ü  2 servings of Meat and Alternatives

Now you may be thinking to yourself, 8-10 servings of servings of fruits and vegetables?!? I don’t think I can do that, this healthy eating thing is a lost cause. Fear not my friend! The serving sizes are much smaller than most people think. For example, a serving of Fruits and Vegetables can be any of these:

             ü  ½ a mango
             ü  1 medium stalk of celery
             ü  1 medium apple or banana
             ü  1 cup of raw spinach or lettuce
             ü  ½ cup of peas, sweet potato, corn or bell peppers

Go get a set of measuring cups to help visualize what this amount will look like. Also, if you choose a piece of fruit or some veggies with each meal and snack, you will be well on your way to healthy eating!

And don't feel the need to cut back on fruits and vegetables if you find yourself consuming 11 or 12 servings. Fruits and vegetables are incredibly high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so as long as the rest of your diet is healthy and adequate, eat up! However, I would never recommend fad diets involving nothing but grapefruit or spinach (stay tuned for Emma's upcoming post on fad diets!) 

The CFG includes some serving sizes for common food items, and you can find additional examples here:

Last but not least, the CFG includes some tips on healthy eating and physical activity! For example, it suggests that you eat one bright orange and one dark green fruit or vegetable daily, choose whole grain for at least half of your daily grain intake and satisfy your thirst with water. You don’t like drinking water? I’ll have some tips and tricks to keep yourself hydrated next time you hear from me!


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