Healthy Food Choices for Life
Throughout our lives, nutrition is essential at every stage to develop and keep our bodies at their healthiest. As we get older, our nutrient needs change as our bodies and activity levels evolve.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about what it means to have a healthy diet. Registered Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists have the expertise and background to offer you reliable and current nutrition and food information for you and your family.
Explore the information and links below to learn about nutrition and healthy choices for:
- Babies and toddlers
- Kids and teens
- Healthy aging
Eating for Two
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight throughout pregnancy, as well as before and after, is key for both baby and mom. This includes eating a balanced diet, gaining the right amount of weight, enjoying regular physical activity, taking vitamin and mineral supplements if recommended by a dietitian or physician, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.
Moms-to-be need a variety of foods from all food groups. Pregnant women should eat a balanced diet, including:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables,
- Lean protein from animal and plant sources
- Low fat milk and milk products/alternatives
Having a well-balanced and varied diet will help ensure you eat food sources of folic acid, iron and calcium, which are especially important nutrients during pregnancy.
Because healthy weight gain is important during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, 2-3 additional food group servings are usually enough to meet your increased nutrition needs. For example, one additional low fat milk and alternatives serving and one additional vegetables and fruit serving may be all you need in addition to your usual food intake for healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Eating a healthy diet and staying active when pregnant ensures you and your baby receive the nutrients you need while maintaining healthy weight gain. For more information and advice, consult a Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist who can help you meet the nutrition needs of both you and your growing baby.
Check out these websites for more reliable nutrition information:
Starting Strong: Infants and Toddlers
It’s never too early to set the stage for healthy eating habits. Even in infancy, feeding choices can have a lifetime impact on a child’s health and weight.
Take a healthy approach to your baby’s growth and development by offering and encouraging a variety of foods and textures such as vegetables and fruit, milk and alternatives, whole grains and meats and alternatives. Remember to also take a balanced approach to weight gain during your baby’s first years. Parents should not put babies or children on diets or restrict their intake of nutrient-rich foods. Your goal is to help your baby or toddler regulate their own food intake based on internal cues of hunger and fullness. This helps them eat what they need for healthy growth and development. Discuss your baby’s weight gain pattern with your health care provider at every checkup so you understand how your child is growing.
For more information and advice, consult a Registered Dietitian or a Registered Nutritionist who can help you meet the nutrition needs of yourself and your family.
Further reliable nutrition information can be found using these sources:
- Infant Feeding, Health Canada
- Feeding your baby in the first year, Canadian Paediatric Society
- Feeding Your Child Using Division of Responsibility, MyHealth.Alberta.ca
- Nutristep screening tool for toddlers
- How much food does a toddler need each day, Health Canada
Kids and Teens
Healthy eating is important to the growth and development of children and teens. Providing balanced meals can make a big difference in the overall health and well being of your child. Good nutrition fuels kids for school, family time and play. When they consume the right balance of calories and nutrients for their growing bodies, they’ll feel better and have more energy.
Take a healthy approach to the growth and development of your preschoolers, tweens and teens by offering and encouraging a variety of foods from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. The amounts from each of the four food groups needed for your kids varies depending on their age, gender and activity level. However, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low fat milk and alternatives and lean meat and alternatives should always be encouraged over processed foods—regardless of age.
Make your meals colourful. Have fun at family meals and involve your child in the planning and preparation. When you make healthy eating a family affair, everyone benefits.
When you need advice, Registered Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists can help you and your family members to:
- Enjoy healthy eating that supports normal growth and development of kids and teens within a supportive environment where healthy eating is the easy choice
- Engage in healthy food behaviours, including developing a positive body image and self-confidence
- Achieve healthy shopping and cooking skills
- Engage in active living
- Support young athletes to help them achieve increased fuel and nutrient needs
Explore these websites for further reliable nutrition information:
- Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits, MyHealth.Alberta.ca
- How much food does your child or teen need each day, Health Canada
Women have unique nutrient needs at different stages of life. During childhood, foods fuel growth. During the childbearing years, diet plays a role in fertility, a healthy pregnancy and prevention of chronic disease. During the later years, what women eat can help to keep their minds sharp and their bodies strong. Eating well, staying active and maintaining a healthy body weight also reduces the risk of the leading health concerns for women: heart disease, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.
Take a look at these websites for more reliable nutrition information for women:
- Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
- Healthy Eating Starts Here, Alberta Health Services
- Healthy Eating, Government of Alberta
- Menopause and Perimenopause, MyHealth.Alberta.ca
- Check your food and activity choices, eaTracker
- Learn about planning, shopping and cooking, Dietitians of Canada
Food is more than just fuel. What you eat can help fight disease and how a man eats throughout his life can help predict how well he ages. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide gives you guidance on healthy food choices and portions so that you have the energy to focus on what matters to you.
Check out these websites for more reliable nutrition information for men:
Healthy eating promotes overall health and independence as we age. Because our nutrient needs change as we get older, it’s important to know which foods offer the vitamins and minerals that will promote good health as we age.
Always feel your best by learning how to make healthy food choices—especially those that are lower in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients—and by being physically active every day. Getting the right fuel doesn’t have to be complicated—eating a variety of foods can help you get the nutrients you need.
Remember to choose milk and alternatives that are high in Vitamin D (like skim or 1% milk) when possible as Vitamin D requirements increase after the age of 50. Speak to your health care professional about taking a Vitamin D supplement to help meet your nutrient needs.
More information on nutrition for aging can be found using these sources: