Healthy eating habits

Eating "smart" helps you get the most out of life — it’s the key to looking good, feeling great and living longer. To celebrate National Nutrition Month during March, here are five tips designed by the Dietitians of Canada to help you improve your eating habits. After reading each tip, take a moment to write down what you can do to ensure you’re getting the right nutritional value from your food.

  1. Go for grains

    Whenever possible, choose whole grains such as whole wheat, wheat bran, oat bran, oatmeal, barley and bulgur. Grain products give you energy, and their fibre helps keep you regular.

    Here are a few things to try:

    • start your day with a bowl of whole grain cereal
    • make sandwiches with whole grain bread or rolls
    • add barley or brown rice to soups and stews
    • substitute bran or whole grain flour for white flour when baking
    • snack on whole grain crackers

  2. Take a bite from vegetables and fruit

    Dark green and orange vegetables and orange fruit are best — they’re packed with nutrients and fibre:

    • try a new vegetable or fruit each month
    • sprinkle berries over cereal
    • pack a f pieces of fruit with lunch
    • have a salad with dark greens, like spinach or romaine lettuce
    • make a vegetable stir-fry for dinner

  • Make your day with milk products

    Dairy products provide a generous source of calcium. Here are some ways to include them in your day:

    • add milk to soups, puddings or home-baked goods
    • make a dip with yogurt
    • add cottage cheese to lasagna

  • Pick a lean protein

    Meat and meat alternatives are great for protein, iron and other nutrients. Meat, poultry, fish and seafood can be cooked and prepared in many different ways, but experiment with beans, dried peas, lentils, eggs, peanut butter and tofu for added variety. Lean protein tips:

    • bake, broil, barbecue, or stir fry meat instead of deep frying
    • try a meatless meal this week, such as lentils and rice, quiche or omelette, bean salad with pita bread, or tofu burgers

  • Go easy on added fats

    While fats and oils can add flavor to foods, try to use as little as possible. Here’s how:

    • try lower fat versions of salad dressings and mayonnaise
    • add a splash of herbed or flavored vinegar to salads
    • top sandwiches with mustard, chutney or salsa
    • use herbs and spices to season your food

      Good food goals

      Fill your plate with 5-12 servings of grain products every day. A serving is: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 bagel, 3/4 cup or 75 ml of hot cereal, 30 grams of cold cereal, 1/2 cup or 125 ml of rice/pasta.

    • Aim to eat 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day. A serving is: 1 medium size piece, 1/2 cup or 125 ml (fresh, frozen or canned), 1/2 cup or 125 ml juice, 1 cup or 250 ml of salad.

      Have 2-4 servings of milk products every day. A serving is: 1 cup or 250 ml of milk, 2 slices or 50 g of cheese, 3/4 cup or 175 ml of yogurt.

      Enjoy 2-3 servings of high protein food every day. A serving is: 50-100 grams meat, poultry or fish, 1/3-2/3 can or 50-100 grams canned fish, 1-2 eggs, 1/2-1 cup or 125-250 ml beans, 1/3 cup or 100 grams tofu, 2 tbsp or 30 ml peanut butter.

      There are no recommended number of servings for fats and oils. Use them in moderation to add taste to your food. Enjoy!