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Eating Well

Eating healthfully improves our physical and mental health and our quality of life. Good food gives us energy, improves our mood, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Why eat well?
Studies show that many women in Canada are not eating enough high-quality foods and eating too many processed foods to ensure good health. The diets of Canadian women are similar to women in other high-income countries – in general, we eat energy-rich foods that lack essential nutrients. 

Also, we eat a lot of processed and pre-packaged foods. These foods tend to have a lot of salt to preserve their freshness. The result is that most women in Canada consume 8 times the amount of salt recommended to maintain our health.  

Challenges women in Canada face to eating well

  • finding time to regularly make meals at home
  • not having enough money to purchase and prepare healthy food
  • not having easy access to affordable, healthy food in their neighbourhood
  • not being mentally or emotionally well. For example, midlife women with depression are more likely to eat fast food than women without depressive symptoms. 
Following a healthy diet can help you lower your risk of developing these chronic medical conditions related to poor nutrition:
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • osteoporosis
  • some cancers
Well-balanced eating, along with regular physical activity, can also help you stay at a healthy weight. 

How to eat well

What works best for you and your family depends on what you like to eat, your food budget, where you live and your community’s food traditions. 

A healthy well-balanced diet energizes you and provides the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need. A healthy diet includes:
  • vegetables and fruit
  • whole grain products
  • milk and alternatives
  • meat and alternatives
  • moderate amounts of unsaturated oils and fats.
Canada’s Food Guide is a research-based tool that can help you choose food types and amounts based on age and sex. The Guide is available in 12 languages.

Canada Food Guide recommendations

  • Eat the recommended amount and type of food each day.
  • Have at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables more often than drinking juice.
  • Minimize your intake of food and drinks high in calories (pop, fruit drinks), fat, sugar and salt (cakes, pastries, chips and granola bars).
  • Choose food low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt.

This guide offers healthy eating recommendations which include wild game and plants for people whose food comes more directly from the land. It also recognizes the use of foods for traditional and spiritual practices.
Finding help

Work with your family doctor and use nutrition counselling services for help with food choices. Visit our online resource centre or borrow books from your local library.

Many non-profit organizations offer nutrition guidances for people with particular health conditions, such as the Canadian Diabetes Association, as do other PHSA programs and services such as BC Renal, which specializes in guiding you to manage with kidney disease. You can also visit Healthlink BC to find a dietition.

If you have a chronic illness

Women are more likely than men to experience chronic conditions and diseases, especially as they age. If you are living with osteoporosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, kidney, or heart disease you may have particular dietary needs.

Mental health challenges can both arise from, and influence how we eat. For example, both eating too little and eating too much have been associated with depression.

See the resource links on the right for more information on eating well with illness.

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SOURCE: Eating Well ( )
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