“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This old adage does ring true. Opting for a piece of fruit instead of a greasy fast-food burger really is one of the best things you can do to improve your general health and help prevent future health issues.
According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, eating nutritious, balanced meals and healthy snacks may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by fuelling your body with heart-healthy nutrients, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol down and controlling your blood-sugar levels. Combine that with plenty of fresh air and exercise and you have a recipe for a healthy lifestyle.
Follow the Guide
Canada’s Food Guide encourages us to eat a variety of foods daily, including fruits and vegetables; whole grains; lower-fat dairy products; and lean meats, beans and/or lentils. Try to skip the baked goods, salty snack foods and soft drinks when possible, as they’re often low in nutrients.
Read the labels
Fortunately, nutrition labelling became mandatory for all prepackaged goods back in 2007. Get into the habit of reading the ingredient list/health claims and ensure that you understand what they mean. The Health Check symbol found on many grocery items makes it easy to pick healthy options. To earn the symbol, every food or menu item must meet nutrient criteria established by the Heart & Stroke Foundation and based on recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide.
Make a meal plan
Eating wisely starts with making healthy choices at the grocery store. Prepare a list before shopping—based on the meals you plan to eat that week—and stick to it. Try to shop for fruits and vegetables in season, and freeze extra for use during the winter months. Buy whole ingredients whenever possible instead of prepackaged foods, which can be high in calories, fat, salt and/or sugar.
Make sure you always have time to eat well
Eating well should be a priority—even when you’re racing against the clock with after-school activities and other family commitments. Rather than keeping the local pizza place on speed-dial, make healthy meals in bulk on the weekends that you can simply heat up and serve on busy nights. Using canned pasta sauce or frozen chopped vegetables can also speed up meal prep time. Or, opt for a healthy smoothie to take “on the go,” using a variety of fruits and vegetables that you can whip up for you and your family in just a few minutes. (Hint: Putting a cup of baby spinach in your next fruit smoothie should go virtually unnoticed by your taste testers.)
Cook with your kids
Get your kids—from toddlers to teens—in the kitchen to help prepare healthy meals. Not only is it a good chance to spend quality time together but if you get them cooking with healthy habits now, chances are they’ll keep up those habits as they grow older.
Savour the flavour
On those occasions when you do have time to sit down to a leisurely meal, eat mindfully and savour the flavours. Keep in mind that nasal congestion and inflammation can affect your sense of taste by reducing your sense of smell. During cold and allergy season, using an all-natural-source solution may help keep your nose functioning optimally so you can, in turn, enjoy your food fully.
A good diet and exercise go hand in hand
Eating better and making healthier food choices should also give you more energy to lead an active lifestyle, say nutritionists. Be sure to fit exercise into your family’s daily routine. But try not to schedule large meals right before you hit an aerobics class as this can leave you feeling sluggish. After large meals in particular, it’s ideal to wait a few hours before attempting any vigorous exercise.