Healthy eating basics

vegetable basketEating nutritious, healthy meals on a regular basis is an important foundation for your self-care routine. Sometimes eating well can seem like a complicated process or a chore. But it doesn’t have to be. Keep these basics in mind to help plan out your weekly meals:

  1. Breakfast. After a long night’s sleep, your body needs to be fueled up by a nutritious breakfast to help you get through the day ahead. Getting a healthy breakfast in can help you focus better, give you energy, and help you feel less tired as you are getting going in the morning. It might seem like a lot of hassle to find a healthy breakfast in the morning, but you can make many healthy breakfasts in less than five minutes, including: cold cereal with milk and fruit, instant oatmeal with raisins and almonds, a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and a banana, yogurt topped with berries and granola, or whole wheat toast with cheese and orange juice.
  2. Backpack snacks. Once you’ve given yourself a head start with breakfast, make sure you keep your body and mind well fueled throughout the day with small, healthy snacks between meals. If there will be more than four hours between your meals, make sure you find time for a snack in the middle. Lots of snacks can fit in your backpack including: Fresh or dried fruit, whole grain crackers, trail mix or nuts, yogurt cups, or peanut butter sandwiches.
  3. Balance. A balanced diet combines carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat and provides you with the nutrients you need to stay healthy and keep your energy levels up. If you do treat yourself to something less healthy, complement it with nutritious choices the rest of the day. If you usually eat lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lower fat protein-rich foods and milk products, then why not enjoy a candy bar or a couple of cookies? Go ahead and indulge in your favourite treats – just watch how much and how often!
  4. Energy requirements. Your calorie requirements depend on a lot of factors including your age, whether you’re male or female, and how active you are. Canada’s Food Guide can help you develop a personal healthy eating and physical activity pattern. Get your copy online at Health Canada.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. If these basics seem daunting to you, start by making changes slowly. If your diet is low in vegetables, start by adding one serving each day. If you are used to eating most meals out, learn how to cook some simple foods for yourself. If you don’t have healthy snacks on hand, take a few minutes to make a shopping list and stock up at the beginning of the week.

To learn more about healthy eating, check out our Survival Guide to Healthy Eating.

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