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Food & Nutrition

Healthy eating plays a very important role in your overall health and the health of your family. Healthy eating promotes and supports social, physical, and mental wellbeing for everyone, at all ages and stages of life.


Healthy eating can help lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and certain types of cancers. It can also be an important part of managing a chronic disease.

It is important to know that good nutrition is not only about individual choice. Your ability to eat healthy can be shaped by other factors, such as family circumstances and social support, the safety of your community and the availability of affordable, nutritious food. What works best for you and your family will depend on what you like to eat, your food budget, where you live, and your community's food traditions.

Follow Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide or Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide – First Nations, Inuit and Métis to learn about how you and your family can plan meals and make healthy food choices that include:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • whole grain products
  • milk and alternatives
  • meat and alternatives

Resources

HealthLink BC's registered dietitians offer nutrition information, education and counselling to BC residents. Visit their Dietitian Services webpage, or call 8-1-1 toll-free in BC to get connected to this free service.

In addition to the general advice for eating well at any age, there are a number of age-specific recommendations and resources.

 

‎Prenatal

Eating well during your pregnancy gives your baby healthy nutrients to grow and develop. Some nutrients – like folate (folic acid), iron, calcium and omega-3 fats – are particularly important during pregnancy. Following Canada's Food Guide will provide the nutritional building blocks you need for a healthy pregnancy.  Talk to your doctor, midwife, or a dietitian about your supplement needs during your pregnancy.


Gaining weight is a natural part of pregnancy. It helps your baby grow and prepares you for breastfeeding. Most weight gain during pregnancy happens in the second and third trimesters. The healthy amount of weight gain will be different for each person. Your care provider can advise you.


Resources

Baby's Best Chance: Parent's Handbook of Pregnancy and Baby Care  (Healthy Families BC)

Eating Guidelines for a Healthy Pregnancy (Healthy Families BC)

Healthy Eating in Pregnancy (HealthLink BC)

Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy (Health Canada)

Our Sacred Journey: Aboriginal Pregnancy Passport (Perinatal Services BC)

Our Special Journey: Pregnancy Passport (Perinatal Services BC)


Infant

Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk for some types of infections and allergies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast milk may also protect your baby from health problems such as eczema, obesity, asthma and diabetes. Breastfeeding can lower your own risk for certain health conditions, such as breast cancer.


Numerous health authorities, including the World Health Organization and Health Canada, recommend that:

  • babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months;
  • you introduce solid foods at about six months; and
  • breastfeeding should continue for two years and beyond.

Introducing solid foods

When introducing solid foods, start by offering iron-rich foods two or more times per day. After this, you can begin to introduce a variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, and dairy products (except cow milk or goat milk beverage) in any order. Your baby's first foods should be soft in texture, including finger foods. Generally, there is no need to introduce new foods one at a time.


Certain foods should be introduced one at a time. These are the most common food allergens: cow milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, seafood (fish, shellfish, crustaceans), wheat and sesame. There is no need to delay introducing these foods to your baby if they are ready for solid foods.


For more detailed information regarding infant food allergies, please call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and ask to speak to the allergy dietitian.  


Resources

Baby's Best Chance: Parent's Handbook of Pregnancy and Baby Care (Healthy Families BC)

Baby's First Foods (HealthLink BC)

Breast-feeding (HealthLink BC)

Feeding Babies (0-12 Months) (Healthy Families BC)

Feeding Your Baby (BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre)

Reducing Risk of Food Allergy in Your Baby (HealthLink BC)

 

Formula feeding

For babies who cannot be breastfed or where a decision has been made not to breastfeed, store-bought infant formula is recommended.  If you are considering using infant formula, talk to your health care provider for support with your infant feeding choices.


Resources

Formula Feeding Your Baby: Getting Started (HealthLink BC)

How to Choose, Prepare and Store Infant Formula (Healthy Families BC)

 

Healthy eating is important for your child's growth, development and learning. Eating good food from an early age will help your child develop healthy habits for life. Sharing healthy meals and snacks with your child can encourage them to eat a wide variety of foods and develop a regular eating routine. 


Toddlers often need to see a new food 12 to 30 times before they will accept it. Give your toddler many chances to look at, touch, smell and taste new foods. This will help them accept new foods more easily.


Family meal time can be an enjoyable social experience, offering your child the opportunity to develop healthy eating habits and learn new skills.  As your child gets older, get them involved in planning and cooking family meals. Children are more likely to eat foods that they have helped prepare.


In order to support the development of a healthy relationship with food, parents and children have different roles to play at snack and meal times. Child nutrition expert Ellyn Satter describes these roles as the "division of responsibility", in which the parents/caregivers have the responsibility for when and where the child is fed, while the child decides whether to eat and how much to eat. Trust in your child's ability to make this decision.


Resources

Choosing Healthy Food (Healthy Families BC)

Healthy Eating for Children (HealthLink BC)

Healthy Eating for Children (6-11 Years) (Healthy Families BC)

Healthy Eating for Toddlers (12-36 Months) (Healthy Families BC)

Helping Your 1 to 3 Year Old Child Eat Well (HealthLink BC)

Toddler's First Steps (Healthy Families BC)

Eating well can help teens concentrate and perform better in activities such as school, sports and hobbies. You can help your teen make healthy food choices by being a positive role model and creating a healthy food environment at home.


Consider:

  • Getting everyone involved in meal planning, shopping and cooking. These are important life skills for everyone.
  • Eating together as often as possible. Eating together is a great way to connect and catch up on the day's events.
  • Role modeling healthy habits and actions. Avoid going on short term "diets" or talking about "good" or "bad" foods. Talk about healthy choices instead.
  • Teaching your kids that health is more important than weight, and that everyone's body develops differently and at different ages. 

Resources

Encourage Healthy Eating Away from Home (Healthy Families BC)

Healthy Body Image (Healthy Families BC)

Healthy Eating for Teens (12-18 Years) (Healthy Families BC)

Help Your Teen Make Healthy Food Choices (Healthy Families BC)

Sodium Sense (Healthy Families BC)

Sugary Drink Sense (Healthy Families BC)

What if Your Teenager Decides to Become a Vegetarian? (HealthLink BC)

 

Choosing healthy foods for meals and snacks can help you feel your best every day. Eating well as you age helps your body and mind stay strong.


Healthy eating also can help to prevent some chronic conditions and other illnesses. Some people who have a chronic disease or a specific health concern may have different eating needs. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about what dietary changes might be right for you. For the generally healthy person, it is advised to follow Canada's Food Guide.

 

Health Canada recommends that all adults over the age of fifty should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. 


 

Resources

Healthy Eating and Healthy Aging for Adults (HealthLink BC)

Healthy Eating for Seniors Handbook (SeniorsBC.ca)

Healthy Eating Guidelines for Women with Menopause (HealthLink BC)

Maintaining a Healthy Diet as You Age (Healthy Families BC)

BC Elders' Guide (First Nations Health Authority)

Plan, Shop, Cook (Dietitians of Canada) 

 

SOURCE: Food & Nutrition ( )
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