Nutrition- How to Make Healthier Food Choices
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Why is healthy eating important?
When combined with exercise, a healthy diet can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol level, and improve the way your body functions on a daily basis.
People of different ages and activity levels have different calorie needs. How much you eat of a certain type of food, such as fruits and vegetables, should depend on your individual calorie needs. For example, a person who needs 1,000 calories per day will have food serving requirements that are different from someone who needs 1,600 calories per day.
Health Canada’s website https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/healthy-eating.html offers good information about nutrition for children and adults.
Following are some ways to make healthier food choices.
Whole-grain breads are low in fat; they’re also high in fibre and complex carbohydrates, which help you feel fuller longer and prevent overeating. Choose breads whose first ingredient says “whole” in front of the grain, for example, “whole wheat flour” or “whole white flour” enriched or other types of flour have the important fibre and nutrients removed. Choose whole grain breads for sandwiches and as additions to meals.
Avoid rich bakery foods such as donuts, sweet rolls and muffins. These foods can contain more than 50% fat calories. Snacks such as angel food cake and gingersnap cookies can satisfy your sweet tooth without adding fat to your diet.
Hot and cold cereals are usually low in fat. But instant cereals with cream may contain high-fat oils or butterfat. Granola cereals may also contain high-fat oils and extra sugars. Look for low-sugar options for both instant and granola cereals.
Avoid fried snacks such as potato chips and tortilla chips. Try the low-fat or baked versions instead.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat. They add flavor and variety to your diet. They also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Margarine, butter, mayonnaise and sour cream add fat to vegetables and fruits. Try using non-fat or low-fat versions of these foods. You can also use non-fat or low-fat yogurt, low-fat salad dressing, or herbs as seasonings instead.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
Beef, Pork, Veal and Lamb- Baking, broiling and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare meat. Lean cuts can be pan broiled or stir-fried. Use either a non-stick pan or non-stick spray coating instead of butter or margarine.
Trim outside fat before cooking. Trim any inside, separable fat before eating. Select low-fat, lean cuts of meat. Lean beef and veal cuts have the word “loin” or “round” in their names. Lean pork cuts have the word “loin” or “leg” in their names.
Use herbs, spices, fresh vegetables and non-fat marinades to season meat. Avoid high-fat sauces and gravies.
Poultry – Baking, broiling and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare poultry. Skinless poultry can be pan-broiled or stir-fried. Use either a non-stick pan or non-stick spray coating instead of butter or margarine.
Remove skin and visible fat before cooking. Chicken breasts are a good choice because they are low in fat and high in protein. Use domestic goose and duck only once in a while because both are high in fat.
Fish- Poaching, steaming, baking and broiling are the healthiest ways to prepare fish. Fresh fish should have a clear color, a moist look, a clean smell and firm, springy flesh. If good-quality fresh fish isn’t available, buy frozen fish. Try to eat seafood twice a week.
Most seafood is high in healthy polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in some fatty fish, such as salmon and cold-water trout. They may help lower the risk of heart disease in some people.
Cross-over Foods- Dry beans, peas and lentils offer protein and fibre without the cholesterol and fat of meats. Once in a while, try substituting beans for meat in a favorite recipe, such as lasagna or chili.
TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is widely available in many foods. Vegetarian “hot dogs,” “hamburger” and “chicken nuggets” are low-fat, cholesterol-free alternatives to meat.
Choose skim milk or low-fat buttermilk. Substitute evaporated skim milk for cream in recipes for soups, sauces and coffee.
Try low-fat cheeses. Skim ricotta can replace cream cheese on a bagel or in a vegetable dip. Use part-skim cheeses in recipes. Use 1% cottage cheese for salads and cooking. String cheese is a low-fat, high-calcium snack option.
Plain non-fat yogurt can replace sour cream in many recipes. (To maintain texture, stir 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) of cornstarch into each cup of yogurt that you use in cooking.) Try mixing frozen non-fat or low-fat yogurt with fruit for dessert.
Skim sherbet is an alternative to ice cream. Soft-serve and regular ice creams are also lower in fat than premium styles.
Fats, Oils and Sweets
Eating too many high-fat foods not only adds excess calories (which can lead to obesity and weight gain), but can increase your risk factor for several diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis have all been linked to diets too high in fat. If you consume too much saturated and trans fats, you are more likely to develop high cholesterol and coronary artery disease.
Sugar-sweetened drinks, such as fruit juice, fruit drinks, regular soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk and sweetened iced tea can add lots of sugar and calories to your diet. But staying hydrated is important for good health. Substitute water, zero-calorie flavored water, non-fat or reduced-fat milk, unsweetened tea or diet soda for sugary drinks. Talk with your family health care provider or a dietitian if you have questions about your diet or healthy eating for your family.
FOR MORE INFORMATION