To begin, follow Canada's Food Guide and make healthy choices from the four food groups (vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives), this is the best way to ensure you are giving your body the best fuel possible for all the activities in your life.
Below are some points to consider as you prepare your action plan:
1. Take a look at your current eating habits.
- Look at what, when, and why you usually eat what you eat. For example: Am I bored? Am I eating when I am not hungry? Do I eat out a lot?
2. What changes can I make to improve the way I eat?
We can probably all find some way to improve our eating. To begin, consult Canada's Food Guide. You may need to eat more vegetables, increase your intake of milk products, decrease your intake of saturated fat or salt, or eat more fibre.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Do I eat the minimum recommended number of servings from the four food groups?
- Do I eat a variety of foods? (Variety helps to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs)
- Do I eat a lot of convenience or "junk" foods? (These foods can be high in saturated fat and salt)
- Do I eat breakfast regularly? (There are many health benefits to eating breakfast every day)
3. Keep it real and start small.
The first thing to consider is how realistic your health goals are. Trying to completely change your habits overnight can be overwhelming and lead to frustration. Your resolution should be something you can reach towards over the course of the year so you do not set yourself up for disappointment. It is easier to make one small change at a time, and once that becomes a habit, make another small change.
Some examples of small goals to start include:
- I will eat breakfast everyday
- I will eat 2 pieces of fruit every day
- I will choose whole wheat bread instead of white bread
- I will have vegetables with dinner everyday
- I will replace butter with non-hydrogenated margarine
- I will drink a glass of milk with meals
- I will eat beans or lentils once a week
- I will use milk instead of cream in my coffee
- I will have regular meals with my family
4. Who can support and encourage your efforts to eat better?
Let people close to you know what your goal is so that they can support you along the way.
- Are there friends and family that have similar goals? Is there a person that can be a buddy so you can encourage each other to make good food choices?
5. Do you have a back up plan?
For example, eating away from home or on the run can make it difficult to make healthy choices. Get to know healthy cooking methods and cooking terms on the menu. Look for entrees that are steamed, baked, broiled, braised, poached or grilled. Skip the sautéed, pan-fried or deep-fried items. Ask for healthy substitutions or request a smaller portion size.
This is a positive and very important change for your health so be proud of that and remember that this is an opportunity for you to look forward in a positive way. Take some time to write down some of the blessings you have in your life in other areas. Be thankful for what you have and be proud of your accomplishments to keep your attitude positive and give yourself the support and encouragement you deserve.
6. Keep things positive including how you see yourself.
7. Healthy Eating is important, but it is only part of the picture.
Consider what your current level of physical activity is. Are there ways you could incorporate more physical activity into your daily life? Make your own physical activity plan to see if you are meeting your body's daily requirements.