Canada turns 150 years old in a few days and, as a proud Canadian dietitian, I am always trying to do my part to help make our country a healthier place.
With that in mind, there are 3 major dietary changes that I believe that the majority of Canadian’s need to make to improve their health.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruit are, without question, the most important foods that the average person could consume to improve their health and well being.
Canadians aged 14-51 should be consuming 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, unfortunately most of us do not even come close to this range.
How do I know if I am consuming enough?
A serving of fruit is considered 1 medium sized fruit, or 1/2 a cup of fruit ( like berries).
A serving of vegetables is considered 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw vegetables.
Now that you now what a serving looks like, try to make a point of having at least an extra serving of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
2. Eat less meat & more meat alternatives, especially if you are a male.
Canadian males are suggested to eat about 9 oz ( 3 servings) of meat on a daily basis, but some eat more.
This is especially problematic in males who frequently select foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken wings, salami and sausages. These foods are high in calories, fat and sodium.
My #1 suggestion to Canadian men out there is to cut down your consumption of the foods listed above and incorporate more meat alternatives into your diet like lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts/seeds.
3. Consume less calories from unhelpful foods
This probably does not come as a massive surprise, many Canadian adults consume more calories than they need.
A large majority of these calories come from two specific sources:
1. Foods high are particularly high in dietary fat: pizza, hot dogs, salad dressings, hamburgers,, cheese, and butter.
2. Foods that are considered “treats” : soft drinks, baked goods ( cake, cookies, muffins donuts), beer, chocolate bars, potato chips, syrups/sugars and fruit drinks.
If you are looking to manage your caloric intake and keep your weight at as healthy a level as possible, look no further than reducing your intake of these specific foods.
For many Canadians, the three changes that I’ve outlined above will be your best bet to take the health of both yourself and your family to the next level. I hope you take these points to heart and know that, by making these changes, you will be doing your part to help make Canada a healthier and happier place.
Happy 150th Birthday Canada!
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Special thanks to Health Canada & Statistics Canada for their work in monitoring the health and consumption patterns in the Canadian population.