What is a Healthy Body Weight and How Can You Achieve Yours?

A Healthy Body Weight

First things first. It is important to realize and respect that healthy bodies come in many different shapes and sizes. A healthy body weight is one that your body weighs when you are living a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthy, enjoying regular physical activity, sleeping well and enjoying positive mental health. A healthy body weight for one person, is likely going to be different than that of your friends and family and that is okay!

What Contributes to Weight?

It is important to understand that weight is an outcome, not a behaviour that can be modified. Also, body weight is not necessarily an indicator of health as there are so many factors can influence body weight such as eating habits, cooking skills, access to food, physical activity, genetics, sleep, our environment, mental health, age and medications. Some of these factors are out of our control and cannot be changed. Some such as eating behaviours, physical activity and getting adequate amounts of sleep are modifiable health behaviours which may or may not impact body weight, but definitely will improve health.

Practice Mindful Eating

Try paying attention to what you’re eating, how much you’re eating and why you’re eating. This includes listening to your hunger and satiety cues – eating when you are hungry and stopping when you feel full.

Here are some quick tips to practice mindful eating:

  • Ask yourself why you are eating. Are you truly hungry or are you just eating because you are bored, distracted, stressed or because the food is sitting in front of you.
  • Limit distractions. This involves shutting off the TV and putting down the cell phone. Try eating with family or friends at a table and really connecting with each other. This also provides much needed social time.
  • Eat regular meals. Eating regularly prevents you from overeating at a later meal.
  • Slow down. When you eat slower, it allows your body time to send signals to your brain that you are satisfied. This prevents you for overeating and feeling stuffed.

Follow The 80/20 Rule

It is important to realize that it is unrealistic to think anyone can eat perfectly 100% of the time. The 80/20 rule provides a perfect opportunity to make sure you are providing your body with important nutrients while still providing a place for your favourite foods. Try to make healthier food choices 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, enjoy your favourite less healthy choices, without guilt.

Move More!

Physical activity has many health benefits, including a decreased risk for heart disease and diabetes, and decreased level of stress.

Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults enjoy at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity weekly (at a moderate to vigorous level), which can be achieved by accumulating sessions of 10 minutes or longer throughout the week. Adding strength activity to your routine can also be beneficial. This does not mean that you have to join a gym. Choose activities that you enjoy whether this is cycling, walking or something else entirely. This will increase the chances of sustainability.

Get Adequate Amounts of Sleep

Did you know adults require anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night? Making sure that you get adequate sleep can have a positive impact of health. A regular bedtime routine including the elimination of screen time can have a major positive impact on the quality of sleep you receive.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Whether or not positive lifestyle changes have an impact on your weight, they do have a positive impact on your health. This is something that should be celebrated. Be proud of what you have accomplished!

Let’s Talk About Fiber!

Most know that fiber is an important nutrient for health, but what exactly is fiber? It is an edible portion of plants that cannot be broken down by the body. It can be classified as either insoluble or soluble. You need both types of fiber each day!

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does is not fully digestible. It absorbs water like a sponge. This fiber produces softer, bulkier stools making them easier to pass, it helps promote regularity and control bowel problems. Insoluble fiber comes from whole grain breads and cereals as well as vegetables and fruit.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber forms a gel when it mixes with water in the stomach. This slows down the digestion of food. This type of fibre helps control blood glucose levels and to lower blood cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables and fruit.

What Else Can Fiber Do?

Fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy. As mentioned above, it helps regulate blood sugars and cholesterol levels. It also helps to control your appetite by making you feel fuller longer.

How Much Do You Need?

Well, that depends on your age and gender. The chart below summarizes how much fiber is needed each day!

Source: unlockfood.ca

Add Fiber Slowly!

People who typically eat a low amount of fiber may experience some gas and bloating when they begin to eat large amounts. To minimize these symptoms, it is important to gradually increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Ensuring adequate fluid intake is another way to minimize these discomforts. Aim for 2L a day.

How can you increase your fiber intake?

Here are some easy ways to increase the amount of fiber in your diet:

  • Choose whole grains as much as possible
  • Substitute whole wheat flour in recipes
  • Choose fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers and popcorn for snacks
  • Eat skins and edible seeds of vegetables and fruit
  • Add lentils and beans to soups and salads

Increase the fiber in your diet and see the health benefits!

What’s new with Canada’s Food Guide?

Canada’s Food Guide recently underwent a huge overhaul! This was the first update it has underwent since 2007. So why did it change? Canada’s Food Guide was updated to keep up with the latest evidence in nutrition. The new food guide goes beyond making recommendations for what we should be eating and makes recommendations for healthy habits. Let’s explore the changes together!

Why is it Important?

Canada’s Food Guide was created to provide evidence-based information to help Canadians make informed decisions about healthy eating. In Canada, food choices is one of the three leading risk factors for chronic disease. Chronic diseases include heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancer. By following Canada’s Food Guide, we can reduce our risk by becoming healthier!

The Plate Model

“Canada’s Food Guide”
Health Canada, 2019

Goodbye food groups! Canada’s Food Guide has shifted focus from portions to proportions. The plate model suggests that you make ½ your plate vegetables and fruit at each meal! Why is this important? Vegetables and fruit provide important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals that our body needs. Try choosing a variety of colours each day! The remainder of the meal should be split into protein and whole grains. The protein portion can be from lean meats, dairy products or eggs; however Canada’s Food Guide encourages choosing plant-based proteins more often. These include things like beans, peas, lentils and tofu. Plant-based proteins are lower in saturated fat making them heart healthy protein choices! The food guide is putting an emphasis on carbohydrate quality by suggesting that we choose whole grains. This is due to the higher fiber content of these choices. Health Canada recommends making water your drink of choice. Water doesn’t contain the added sugar that is found in sugar and soft drinks, that contributes to negative health outcomes.

The remainder of the meal should be split into protein and whole grains. The protein portion can be from lean meats, dairy products or eggs; however Canada’s Food Guide encourages choosing plant-based proteins more often. These include things like beans, peas, lentils and tofu. Plant-based proteins are lower in saturated fat making them heart healthy protein choices! The food guide is putting an emphasis on carbohydrate quality by suggesting that we choose whole grains. This is due to the higher fiber content of these choices. Health Canada recommends making water your drink of choice. Water doesn’t contain the added sugar that is found in sugar and soft drinks, that contributes to negative health outcomes.

Other Components

Canada’s Food Guide has gone beyond just making recommendations to Canadian’s on what to eat and has also made recommendations to influence eating habits. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Mindful Eating

Canada’s Food Guide recommends we practice mindful eating, but what exactly does that mean? about the reason that you’re eating. Are you hungry or bored? Are you finishing your plate because you’re hungry or you were taught you had to? Pay attention to what you’re eating, why you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Think

Cooking

There is a number of benefits to cooking. Unfortunately, most of us find that we don’t have the time to cook. If this is the case for you, try preparing and freezing meals, so they are quick and easy on those busy nights.

Eating Together

Food has a strong social component. Take the time to sit and enjoy meals with family and friends. It can make healthy eating fun and reinforce positive eating habits.

Overall

The new food guide provides many good recommendations for healthy eating. It is important to realize that everyone is different, so what works for you may not work for someone else. Canada’s Food Guide provides a good starting point for healthy eating. I recommend choosing it as a starting point to determine what works best for you!

For more information, check out: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/