Santé et Services sociaux Québec.

Previous page Text size

Healthy Diet

Even though your metabolism slows, your body still has the same or even higher requirements for vitamins and minerals. That—combined with the need for protein, carbohydrates, and fat—underscores the importance of eating three balanced meals a day, along with 1 to 3 snacks, if desired. Choose foods from at least 3 of the 4 food groups at every meal. Variety is often the key to a good appetite. Try new cereals, varied breads, and colorful fruit and vegetables. In short, you have to make sure that your diet is varied and that you eat at least the minimum number of servings recommended in Canada's Food Guide in order to meet your body's needs.

Recommended Servings according to Canada’s Food Guide

7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day

1 medium vegetable or fruit; 125 mL (½ cup) of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables or fruit; 250 mL (1 cup) of greens or lettuce; 125 mL (½ cup) of vegetable or fruit juice (no added sugar); or 60 mL (1/4 cup) of dried fruit.

  • Go for dark-green or orange vegetables because they are high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and folic acid.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

6 to 7 servings of grain products a day, depending on gender

1 serving = 1 slice of bread or ½ bagel; 125 mL (½ cup) of cooked pasta, rice, or couscous; ½ pita bread or ½ tortilla; 30 g of ready-to-eat cereal; or 175 mL (¾ cup) of hot cereal.

  • Prefer whole-grain products because they contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Enjoy grain products that are lower in fat, sugar, and salt.

3 servings of milk and alternatives a day

1 serving = 250 mL (1 cup) of milk or fortified soy beverage, 175 mL (¾ cup) of yogurt or kefir, or 50 g of cheese.

  • Enjoy milk and alternatives that contain less fat.
  • Look for alternatives that have been fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • This food group contributes calcium and vitamin D, among other nutrients, for healthy bones.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that everyone over the age of 50 should take a daily vitamin-D supplement of 10 mcg (400 IU), since the need for this vitamin is higher after this age.

2 to 3 servings of meat and alternatives, depending on gender

1 serving = 75 g (2½ ounces) or 125 mL (1/2 cup) of poultry, lean meat, cooked fish or seafood; 175 ml (¾ cup) of cooked legumes; 150 g or 175 mL (3/4 cup) of tofu; 2 eggs; 30 mL (2 tbs.) of peanut butter; or 60 mL (1/4 cup) of shelled nuts and hulled seeds.

  • Substitute tofu or legumes for meat.
  • Eat at least 2 servings of fish par week.
  • Opt for lean meat and alternatives cooked with little or no fat or salt.
  • This group provides protein, vitamins, and minerals, in particular, iron.

Other foods and beverages do not belong to the food groups above, but they can also add variety, flavor, and enjoyment. Some of them, however, are higher in fat, sugar, and/or energy…so enjoy them only in moderation !

Butter, margarine, dressing, mayonnaise, cake, pie, doughnuts, candy, soft drinks, sugar, wine, and beer are examples of these foods.

Hydration

Hydration is also an integral part of a healthy diet. Unless contraindicated, you should consume 8 to 10 glasses of water a day (the equivalent of 1.5 L to 2.0 L or 50 oz. to 65oz. a day). Did you know that dehydration is a major cause of constipation? Moreover, dehydration can also lead to kidney problems and confusion.

Hydration is even more important if you have vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, or when the temperature is high, so you can replace your lost fluids.