Looking for a smart health investment? Healthy eating pays dividends by helping you look and feel your best. Start with a plan; then stock your kitchen to put it into action.

Your Investment Strategy

Canada’s Food Guide describes the variety of foods that make up a healthy diet. It suggests what and how much to eat each day from the four food groups to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.

Choose Your Portfolio

What you eat is important. Food supplies energy (calories) and essential nutrients (carbohydrate, fibre, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water).

  • Seek variety. Different foods and beverages supply different nutrients, in variable amounts. For example, oranges are rich in vitamin C, but not vitamin A; carrots are rich in vitamin A, but not vitamin C. Milk offers calcium, but not iron; beef offers iron, but not calcium. Bottom line, it’s important to eat a variety of foods from all four food groups.
  • Go for "gold standard" choices. Select nutrient-rich, lower-calorie foods from each food group. For example, for breakfast, opt for whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and a banana, instead of a frosted doughnut and mocha latte.
  • Practice moderation. When eating foods high in sugars and/or fat with few other nutrients, enjoy sensible amounts that meet your energy needs. For example, choose a small ice cream cone over a hot fudge sundae. Skip the cake after dinner and have fresh fruit.

Watch your Balance Sheet

How much you eat counts, too. Eating too much of any food affects your calorie intake. The Food Guide can help you figure out how much of each food group is recommended for you.

  • Track food deposits. The amount of a food or beverage you eat or drink is called a serving. It’s important to know how the total number of servings you eat compares to recommended daily food group totals. Managing how much you eat helps you maintain or get to a healthy weight.
  • Earn activity credits. Spend calories with physical activity for valuable health benefits. Move more; burn more calories. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Get greater rewards by working up to 60 minutes or increasing the intensity of your activity.
  • Visit healthcanada.ca/foodguide for more information on making healthy choices, tracking your food intake and being physically active.

Market-Savvy Stock Tips

Shop wisely to stay on track. Having nutrient-rich foods, basic staples and other flavourful ingredients in your kitchen makes it easier to prepare delicious and nutritious food. Before you go grocery shopping, plan ahead. Scan grocery store ads for seasonal produce and specials and then make a list by category (e.g., fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, pantry, frozen foods). In the store, look for claims, flags or other symbols on packaging to identify the items that are healthier choices.

Buy Food Group Foods: Check out short-cut items such as single-serve whole grain crackers or cereal bars, bagged salad, grated carrots, cut-up fruit, shredded cheese, lean deli meats (turkey, roast beef), grilled chicken, cooked shrimp and canned beans.

  • Vegetables and Fruit Group: Fresh, frozen and canned are all healthy choices. Look for products that are pre-cut or pre-washed. Enjoy variety in your diet with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, beets, sweet or white potatoes, salad greens, frozen vegetable medleys, pasta sauce, onions, oranges, berries, melons, grapes, peaches, dried fruit and 100% fruit or vegetable juices. Hint: limit fruit juice to about one cup per day.
  • Grain Products Group: Look for the words whole grain on the packaging of bread, rolls, english muffins, tortillas, cereals, crackers, rice (brown, wild), waffles and air-popped popcorn. Try to make half your grain choices whole-grain.
  • Milk and Alternatives Group: Use mostly fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat options. Look for milk, yogurt, cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, Mozzarella), cottage cheese, pudding made with milk and fortified soy milk.
  • Meat & Alternatives Group: Look for extra lean, lean or low-fat choices. Try beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey (remove skin before eating); fresh, frozen or canned fish; eggs, egg whites; soy burgers; dried or canned beans, lentils, tofu; nuts, seeds and nut butters.

Check Your Oil Stock

Oils supply essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Make most of your fats the types found in fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils such as canola, olive and sunflower. Look for soft-tub margarine with no trans fat, light mayonnaise and salad dressings.

Use “Extra” Care

  • Flavourful ingredients: Add flavour without adding extra calories by using salsa, garlic, vinegar, mustard, low sodium broths, low sodium soy sauce, fresh or dried herbs, spices and barbeque sauce.
  • Treats: Look for the words free, low, light or lower calorie on versions of your favourite treats such as ice cream, whipped topping, gelatin desserts, cookies, chips, soft drinks and candy.
  • Discretion with calories: Practice good judgment with your favourite high calorie and high fat foods. Since, all foods can fit into a healthy diet, choose from the four food groups most of the time and enjoy your less healthy favourites in small portions in moderation.

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