Nutrition

We all know that when it comes to eating we have no choice - we have to eat! But we can make choices about the types of foods we eat. Eating is one of the great pleasures in life and is also important to your overall health.

You may have lots of questions about eating healthy and nutrition, like :

You can find lots of information about health and nutrition on the Internet, but don’t forget to check in with your doctor or nutritionist if you’re concerned about your health, eating habits or weight.

What are the benefits of healthy eating?

When you adopt healthy eating habits you are most likely to feel your best, have tons of energy and look your best. You are also more likely to enjoy all kinds of exciting physical activity like:

  • Roller blading
  • Soccer
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Skate boarding
  • Playing basketball
  • Bike riding

Healthy eating habits also help reduce the risks of diseases like :

  • Heart disease
  • Some cancers
  • Diabetes

If you treat your body well now you will have a better chance of staying healthy throughout your life.

What does healthy eating mean?

Healthy eating involves paying attention to the types of foods you choose to eat. It also means making sure that you are:

  • Eating a variety of foods
  • Choosing a diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • Selecting calcium-rich foods such as milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, green leafy vegetables and almonds
  • Choosing a diet moderate in sugars and salt
  • Choosing a diet that provides enough iron to meet your body’s requirements
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day

Making sure you balance the food you eat with physical activity is also an important part of a healthy eating program. Following Canada’s Food Guide is a simple way to determine the size and number of portions you should eat of the different food groups in order to remain healthy.

What should I know about vegetarian diets?

Adopting a vegetarian diet can be a very healthy choice as long as the right mix of nutritional requirements is met. There are different kinds of vegetarians:

  • Those that just avoid red meat
  • Those that avoid all meat and fish but still eat dairy products and eggs
  • Those that avoid all meat, fish and dairy products but still eat eggs
  • Those that avoid all meat, fish and eggs but still eat dairy products
  • Those who do not eat any foods that contain animal products (these people are called vegans)

If you choose to follow a vegetarian diet, it is important that you educate yourself about what your body needs and how to meet these requirements. You can use the Internet to research the topic and find great vegetarian recipes. Also talk to your doctor or nutritionist about your decision to make sure you’re staying healthy.

What do I need to know about bone health?

Your peak bone producing years are in your childhood. By making sure you get enough calcium and weight bearing physical activity (e.g. walking, dancing, tennis) you can develop strong bones and reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis later in life.

Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens bones to the point where they break easily. This is most common for bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Why is iron important in my diet?

Iron is a mineral that is an important part of healthy diets. It helps you develop strong muscles and it helps in the production of healthy blood.

To get enough iron choose foods like:

  • Red meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Raisins or other dried fruits
  • Whole grain breads

 What is a healthy weight for me?

Many kids and teens (and adults too) want to know the answer to this question. This is no surprise, given that we live in a world obsessed with weight! Unfortunately though, there is no easy answer, as everyone’s healthy weight is different. What is healthy for you might not be healthy or even possible for someone else.

Everyone’s body has what’s called a set point. This is your body’s natural healthy weight. No matter how much you try to control your weight, your body will fight to get back to its set point. If you’re curious to know what your set point is, it might help to look at your family members. Genetics play a role in determining your set point, so often (although not always) kids and teens may find that their healthy weight is similar to their family members.

A lot of times, people try to control their weight by dieting. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Many people who diet actually end up gaining more weight over time, because dieting interferes with the body’s metabolism (the amount of energy it uses throughout the day). Instead of dieting, try focusing on following Canada’s Food Guide. As far as weight, if you are practicing healthy eating and exercise, your body will take care of the rest.

Bottom line: work on accepting the body you have, no matter what its weight and treat your body right- after all, it’s the only one you’ve got!

Last Reviewed September 2012 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team


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