Nutrition and your health

Dina Daniello-Santiago, RD
Registered Dietician, Employee Assistance Program
May 2, 2021

What is nutrition? Simply put, nutrition is the nourishment that food provides in order for your body to function, heal, grow and survive. Paying attention to what you eat and understanding the role foods have in your body and how they impact your nutrition can help you maintain or improve your health. Here are some helpful nutrition tips that you can apply to improve your HEALTH.

H. Habits. To eat healthier, you may need to change some of your current daily habits. It is not necessary to make huge changes and you don’t have to change your habits all at once. Setting small goals is more realistic and achievable when it comes to changing some unhealthy habits. Sometimes your goals may require you to add in some new healthy habits, for example, adding vegetables to your plate at dinner, and other times it may involve taking out an unhealthy habit, such as ditching the soda. Remember, over time small changes can make a huge impact on your health.

E. Energy. Food gives us energy, and allows us to think, move and thrive. Unfortunately, our food preferences and choices may be influenced more by ad campaigns, food companies and the perception that "faster is better" In today’s society. We don't always pick foods based on what our bodies need for optimal health and wellness. Food fuels us and selecting nutrient dense foods over empty calories will definitely take you the extra mile rather than feeling sluggish and running on fumes.

A. Aim for a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important to minimize the risk of various diseases and allow your body to function at its best. Look at the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference calculators online or talk to your doctor to determine what is a healthy weight based on your height and age. If your goal is to make weight changes, remember that healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Also, there is no “one size fits all” approach to weight management. You may have already experienced that what works for others may not work for you. Try different things and start to make small changes to find what does work best for you, your body and your lifestyle.

L. Longevity. The nutrients in food allow the cells in your body to perform their necessary functions. In other words, nutrients give your body instructions about how to function. In this sense, food can be seen as a source of information for the body. Thinking about food in this way gives us a view of nutrition that goes beyond calories or grams, and “good” vs “bad” foods. Try to focus on foods you could include rather than foods to exclude. Instead of seeing food as the enemy, try looking to food as a way to create health and reduce disease by helping the body maintain function and longevity.

T. Take a moment and think about what you are eating. You may have heard of mindful eating;it means eating with the intention of paying attention. When you eat mindfully the idea is to purposely tune in, without judgement, to your thoughts and body cues that guide your eating choices, along with the sensory experience of eating. Bringing non-judgmental awareness to the process of eating can help you observe and understand your eating choices and behaviours. It also helps you recognize and learn to follow your fullness and hunger cues, which helps you recognize when you need more or when you’ve had enough.

H. Help. So, what is good nutrition? Eating a variety of foods, eating regular meals, including whole grains, fibre, fruit and vegetables, and limiting the amount of fat, sugar and salt you eat are all recommended for good nutrition. But knowing this information and actually applying it are two different things! When it comes to your health there are professionals that can help you get you on the right nutrition path. This is when seeking help from a registered dietitian can be of great benefit.

All Manitobans can access Manitoba Blue Cross's counselling services to discuss lifestyle changes and help you on a path to healthy nutrition. Find the available support that's right for you here.

Alternatively, you can find a dietitian on the Dietitians of Canada website.