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Give your Body a Break

Contributed by: News Canada

Healthy Living with Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod (NC) - For many, the phrase "take care of yourself" means controlling or watching food consumption, participating in regular physical activity and while doing so, reducing the risk of cardiovascular, diabetes and other diseases. Ensuring the body gets essential requirements and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a priority for many Canadians. Hosts of Body Break and celebrated fitness experts, Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, answer some of the most frequently asked questions on active and healthy living.

Q. What is meant by the term "healthy eating"?

A. Eating healthy means enjoying a variety of foods from all the four food groups (grain products, vegetables and fruits, milk products and meat and alternatives); limiting saturated fats, sugar and white flour foods; eating fibre each day and maintaining portion sizes. People should eat only when they are hungry and should enjoy the taste, texture, and smell of their meals. Eating a breakfast high in fibre, such as bran flake cereal or oatmeal, can improve metabolism and help to start the day on the right foot. Also, don't forget it takes approximately 15 minutes for the stomach to send a message to the brain that you are full.

Q. How can someone know whether they are eating healthy enough for their age, gender or size?

A. Canadians should follow Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating. Also, a person's energy level, mental health and physical appearance can determine if their eating habits are good. Too many fatty foods, sugary foods or beverages and empty calories will make you feel sluggish and tired, will affect weight, skin, hair, bones and nails. Each of your three meals a day (plus two snacks) should be equally important. If you make healthy food choices throughout the day, it will give you an appropriate supply of energy and the necessary vitamins and minerals to ward off sickness.

Q. What is the best way to cut fat from a diet?

A. Make simple choices each day by choosing lower fat dairy products, lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken as well as limiting fried foods. Make substitutions whenever possible: jam instead of butter on bread; spices and herbs when cooking; mustard instead of mayo as a condiment and steamed vegetables rather than sautéed. Choose healthier snack foods such as trans fat free, low fat Grissol Melba Toast and Melba Rounds instead of crackers and bread products and limit baked goods, especially those made with white flour. Make a salad a meal, by using pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables and precooked chicken slices.

Q. What is the recommended amount of physical activity for the average individual? Should children and teens exercise more often than adults or seniors?

A. Generally, 30 minutes of cardio activity three to five times a week and strengthening exercises three times a week is a good guideline to follow. Individuals should adjust how often/long they exercise depending upon their needs, goals and how their body feels. This amount of physical activity can improve energy levels, metabolism, sleep patterns, cholesterol levels and self esteem, while reducing stress and assisting to maintain a healthy body weight. Children and teens don't have to be physically active more often than adults or seniors. It depends upon their current weight, lifestyle and fitness goals; however they should limit the use of strengthening exercises.


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