Proper nutrition is important to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Vitamins, minerals and a balance of foods can also help your body function well. Here, Kids Help Phone shares information so you can get the nutrients you need to feel strong and energized.
Why should I eat healthy?
Eating healthy is one of many things you can do to care for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising can help our bodies and brains do all of the things we want to do! Food can also be a great way to connect with friends, family, community and culture.
What does healthy eating mean?
Eating healthy means different things for different people. Generally, it involves being intentional about the food and nutrients you consume and paying attention to what your body is telling you. Practising balanced and intuitive eating routines (listening to your body, eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full) from a young age can help you get the nutrition you need. Focusing on balanced and healthy eating can also reduce the risk of things like diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
What are some healthy eating tips I can try?
- eat foods with a mix of carbohydrates to provide you with energy (this includes carbohydrates with fibre, like bran, nuts and vegetables; carbohydrates with starch, like beans, bread, potatoes and rice; and carbohydrates with sugars, like fruit and milk)
- consume healthy fats from a variety of sources (e.g. fish, eggs, dairy, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, corn, canola or sunflower oil)
- get enough protein to meet your body’s needs (e.g. meat, eggs, dairy, tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc.)
- eat foods rich in fibre for a healthy digestive system (e.g. whole grains, oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
- be mindful of foods with lots of sugars and salt
- stay hydrated by drinking water
- try new foods and cuisines and experience different flavours
- enjoy what you eat!
Can I be healthy at any size?
People often start dieting because they think they should be a certain shape or size. Unfortunately, many messages portrayed in the media place false value on appearance that can cause feelings of shame and stigma. In reality, every body has its own naturally healthy weight range, and wellness is possible at any size. Your body and weight can also fluctuate over time, and that’s OK. Everybody and every body is unique, so what’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another.
What does it mean to be vegetarian?
There are lots of reasons why someone might choose to be vegetarian, or to eat more plant-based meals, including environmental, cultural, religious or ethical reasons. While being a vegetarian can be a healthy choice, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right variety of foods and nutrients. There are also different kinds of meat-free or meat-reduced diets including:
- people who avoid meat (i.e. pescatarian)
- people who avoid all meat and fish but still eat dairy products and eggs (i.e. lacto-ovo vegetarian)
- people who avoid all meat, fish and dairy products but still eat eggs (i.e. ovo vegetarian)
- people who avoid all meat, fish and eggs but still eat dairy products (i.e. lacto vegetarian)
- people who do not eat any foods that contain animal products (i.e. vegan)
It’s up to you to choose the type of meat-free diet that makes sense for your life and values. Whatever you choose, it’s important to make sure you’re meeting your body’s nutritional needs. To learn more about specific foods and/or nutrients, check in with your doctor or a dietician.
What is iron?
Iron is a mineral that helps you develop strong muscles and produce healthy red blood cells. Many foods contain iron, including red meat, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, spinach, whole grain cereals, dried fruits, whole grain breads, etc. Not getting enough iron can reduce the amount of oxygen in your body’s tissues and make you feel tired or low energy. You can talk to your doctor or a dietician if you have any concerns, questions or want to learn more about consuming the right amount of iron.
Why is bone health important?
You produce most of your bone density during childhood. To develop strong and supported bones, it’s important to consume calcium and stay active. Many foods contain calcium, including fish, leafy greens, dairy, legumes, almonds, etc. Not consuming enough calcium could lead to osteoporosis (a disease that thins and weakens your bones so they could break more easily) later in life. Making sure you get enough calcium now can reduce this risk.
If you have concerns about anything to do with your health, it’s best to talk with your doctor or a dietitian. They can help you make informed choices about food and come up with a plan to feel healthy, strong and energized.