Having a nutritious and balanced diet is part of adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Regardless of your age, it is one of the best ways to improve your health and protect yourself against many health problems.
All foods can fit into a balanced diet. How often and how much you consume varies with each type of food. A balanced diet means:
In addition to satisfying your body’s needs, eating is a source of pleasure. Sharing a good meal with family and friends and discovering new foods and flavours are ways of enjoying the pleasures of eating.
Canada’s Food Guide helps you make wise food choices. It also helps you meet your needs in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which are necessary for achieving good health and well-being.
The guide features the following 4 food groups:
For each food group, the guide suggests the amount and types of food to consume daily. These suggestions are given according to age and gender. They may also vary according to your height and weight, your level of physical activity, as well as where you are in life – if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, for example.
Canada’s Food Guide also recommends that you:
For more information on Canada’s Food Guide, go the Health Canada website .
Excess of weight (overweight and obesity) is a major risk factors for many health problems, including:
Along with being overweight, smoking and poor diet are lifestyle habits that are harmful to health.
There are no miracle recipes for losing weight and keeping it off in the following months. Also, multiple attempts to lose weight and the methods employed can be dangerous to health. The key is to have a physically active lifestyle and a healthy diet. It is better to prevent gaining weight rather than trying to lose it.
Definitions of being overweight and obesity are based on body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of someone’s weight in relation to height. BMI = weight (kg)/height (m)2. It is used to indicate the risks of developing health problems.
However, BMI is not a good indicator of body fat because it does not distinguish between a excess of fat and a excess of muscle. It is the body fat, especially around the stomach, that can have harmful effects on health and life expectancy.
Weight-loss diet programs are generally very strict and often impossible to follow forever.
The body reacts to dieting the same way it does to starvation: it reduces energy expenditure at rest. When you start to eat again like before, or even more than previously due to a sense of deprivation, the body stores the calories it finally receives in the form of fat. Thus you regain the weight lost, and often more. The more you diet, the more the body tries to protect its reserves and the harder it is to lose weight.
Many weight-loss diet programs recommend weighing or measuring the amount of food consumed. However, everyone has specific energy and calorie needs. The servings suggested in these diet programs are therefore not suitable for everyone. The only way to make sure you are eating the amount of food that meets your body’s needs is by relying on the hunger and fullness signals it sends.
Many dieting programs come with a list of forbidden foods. However, it has been shown that depriving yourself of a food completely or exaggeratedly increases craving for it and leads to consumption of it in larger quantities.
You can get additional information on a healthy and balanced diet at the following websites:
Last update: November 29, 2016 1:07 PM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.