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Healthy and Balanced Diets – Canada’s Food Guide, Nutrition Facts Table, Portion Sizes and More

Healthy eating is about enjoying a variety of fresh and wholesome foods. Supporting children to eat healthy can sustain their growing bodies, and can set them up for a lifetime of success!

This section houses information on micro and macronutrients, Canada’s Food Guide, and activities to engage students in learning about healthy eating.

Nutrients are usually divided into two categories: Macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) are those nutrients that your body need in larger amounts, while micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements) are those that your body need in smaller amounts. Together they are necessary to promote growth and development.

Micronutrients include minerals, vitamins, and trace elements. Your body only requires small amounts of these. Their main function is to assist in the many chemical reactions that happen in the body.

Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein and fats. Your body requires large amount of these as they provide energy to the body.

Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for animals and, glucose (a type of sugar) is the main source of energy for the brain.

When we are physically active, carbohydrates provide the fuel to power our muscles. Having carbohydrate available in our bodies during exercise, helps preserve muscle loss (i.e., protein won’t be broken down for energy).

The major food sources of carbohydrates in the world include:

  • Cereals (rice, wheat, maize, barley, rye, oats, millet, and sorghum)
  • Root crops (potatoes, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, and taro)
  • Sugar cane and beet
  • Pulses (beans, lentils, peas)
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Milk and milk products
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk products
  • Legumes

Lipids are a major source of energy for our bodies; it is the only form in which the body can store energy for a long period of time.

Naturally occurring dietary lipids can come from animal and plant sources

  • Animal tissue: visible fat on meat, lard and suet
  • Milk and products derived from milk fat:  cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt
  • Vegetables seeds, nuts, oils and products derives from them (e.g., margarines)
  • Eggs
  • Plant leaves
  • And fish oil

There are four different types of fat:

  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat

In general, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered to be healthy fats. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. They are found in fatty fish, oils, and nuts and seeds like Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Monounsaturated fats are naturally found in olive and canola oil, avocados, and nuts like almonds, pistachios, pecans and cashews.

Saturated and trans fat are considered to be unhealthy fats. Saturated fats are naturally found in foods from animals such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry with the skin on, and higher fat milk products. Trans fat is, in general, manufactured from liquid oils to be more stable. These are added most often to commercially baked foods, fried foods, and processed foods like packaged salty snacks and convenience foods including frozen foods.

Proteins are part of every cell in the body and are needed to build and repair muscle, tissue, skin, nails, and hair. Following water, protein is the next most abundant chemical compound in the body.

Protein can be obtained from foods including:

  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat

Discover Canada’s Food Guide here: www.canada.ca/foodguide

Nutrition Facts Tables

A nutrition facts table is a great tool that can help consumers make informed food choices when grocery shopping.

These websites have information on food labels (including ingredients lists) and nutrition facts table.

View Canada's Food Guide

Learning to recognize and listen to your body’s feelings of hunger, thirst and fullness can help develop healthy eating habits. Mindful eating is the practice of eating with the intention to care for your body and the attention to the needs of your body. This includes being aware of your body’s physical and emotional cues, as well as other factors that influence the desire to eat and drink.

These lesson plans discuss some of the reasons people eat. Including discussions on hunger, fullness, and thirst cues.

https://teachingtools.ophea.net/activities/levelup/hunger-and-thirst-cues

https://brightbites.ca/paint-plate-lesson-plan-grade-1-im-hungry/

Body image is how a person sees and feels about their body. When someone is dissatisfied or unhappy with their bodies, they have a negative body image. This is also known as body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction can lead to unhealthy eating practices, which puts them at greater risk for eating disorders. As such, it is important to promote a healthy body image in kids from a young age.

Unfortunately, many external factors can affect a child’s views of their bodies. The media and the images of people shown in the media, for example, can set unrealistic “beauty” standards that can create feelings of negative body image in children.

The following resources and lesson plans promote some strategies to promote positive body image in children, including role modeling, parent’s role, media influences, and size acceptance.

  1. BANA (The Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association) http://www.bana.ca/health-promotion/
    Available to provide workshops related to self-esteem, body image, media influences, size acceptance and more.
     
  2. Beyond Images: NEDIC https://beyondimages.ca/
    Online lessons for grades 4 through 8 developed by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). The lesson plans provide an opportunity to explore key issues in today’s society around body image and self-esteem as well as media messaging, while developing critical thinking skills.

    Another negative impact of children’s increased access to the media is exposure to food marketing. Food marketing can affect food choices. Children and youth are targeted through many channels including movies, videos games, websites, apps, and social media. The foods that are most heavily marketed are usually nutrient poor and detrimental to the health of children. Media literacy involves the ability to critically examine, analyze, and evaluate advertising and media influences.

  3. Media Smarts (www.mediasmarts.ca)
    This website includes classroom lesson plans with work sheets, backgrounders, tip sheets and essays, and multimedia games and quizzes. These resources provide parents and teachers with information and tools so they can help children and teens develop the critical thinking skills they need for interacting with the media they love.”  

These websites have lesson plans that can help you teach nutrition and healthy eating

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Last modified: 
Monday, January 18, 2021 - 12:39pm