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Healthy Eating at Work

Choosing Healthy Foods

Fad Diets

Many Canadian adults are trying to loose weight by dieting. For many of us, the pursuit of the "ideal" size and shape fails over the long term, especially when we're looking for a quick-fix dieting method. In fact, most people usually regain one- to two-thirds of the weight lost through fad diets within one year, and almost all the weight is back within five years (2004 Chief Medical Officer Report - PDF, 1.48MB, 76 pages).

What is wrong with fad diets?

Slowed Metabolism - Restricting food causes your body to reserve energy by slowing metabolism. This makes it increasingly hard to lose weight while on the diet and easy to regain the weight once the diet ends. Food is a necessary ingredient to keep our metabolism humming (like wood is necessary for stoking a fire). Dieters also lose muscle which causes their metabolism to drop even further.

Binge Eating - Many dieters attribute this to emotional situations - comfort food for instance - or a lack of will power. In most cases it's a response to hunger and low energy. Dieters often binge in the evening because they have eaten less food than their body needs during the day. When dieters break their diet, they binge on restricted high-fat, high sugar foods. This pattern of under-eating and then over-eating can lead to a vicious cycle.

Weight gain - When dieters come off the diet, they tend not only to regain the weight they have lost but to gain some extra weight. Long term dieters can end up far heavier than they were before starting to diet. This has to do with their slower metabolism and changed body composition (less muscle, more body fat). Dieting actually becomes a contributing factor to obesity rather than a cure.

Fad DietsHealth problems - Although we are constantly hearing that losing weight will improve our health, there are many reputable studies that paint a very different picture. The ongoing process of losing and regaining weight (yo-yo dieting) can increase the risk for premature death and for health problems like heart disease and osteoporosis.

Feelings of failure - Unrealistic goals lead to failure and affect our mental and emotional well-being:

  • Diets increase our stress level
  • They lower our self-esteem with each dieting failure.
  • Dieting leads to decreased concentration.
  • They make us feel tired and depressed and wreck havoc on our relationships.
  • Long term dieters often feel totally burned out, both physically and emotionally.

So fad dieting doesn't work and often makes us fatter. Yet we blame ourselves and not the diet and keep right on trying to lose weight with the next big fad. This is great for the diet industry that earns an estimated $50 billion per year. Break the cycle!

The only diet is a lifelong diet of healthy eating and exercise!

  • Your weight is determined by the energy you take in (food) and the energy you put out (activity).
  • Your body needs a minimum amount of energy to sustain life and perform daily tasks.
  • Increased age = decreased energy requirements.
  • An increase of 50 calories per day will lead to a weight gain of 5 lbs (2.25 kg) per year.
  • On the other side, if you consistently take in less then you burn, you lose weight.

How do I manage my weight in a healthy way?

Be Active

  • Be ActiveEvery effort counts - Walk the dog, play with your kids, rake the leaves and take the stairs. The more active you are in everyday life, the healthier you'll be. Keep moving. Feel alive. Enjoy!
  • Start small - Increase your activity level by just 10 minutes a day, then slowly increase it again when the activity has become part of your regular routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity each day, whether it's 30 minutes at one time or three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Be active just for the fun of it. Feel your body respond.
  • Set realistic goals - Remember, you are aiming for better health. Set activity goals that you can reach and chances are better that you will continue to be active. Choose activities that energize you.

We've got a full list of Be Active (PDF 338KB, 1 page) ideas for you to download. You can also visit the Physical Activity section of this website for lots of tips on being active.

Eat Well

  • Variety adds enjoyment - A healthy eating plan includes a wide variety of foods - even decadent desserts from time to time. Eat the foods you enjoy balanced with healthy choices and size-wise portions.
  • Fibre is filling - Vegetables, fruit and whole grain products are high in fibre, which helps you feel full and satisfied. Fuel up with high-fibre foods for your meals and snacks.
  • Surround yourself with healthy snacks - Got the munchies? Prepare fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables with low fat dip, unbuttered popcorn, a small handful of nuts or low fat yogurt to fill that between-meal gap. Bring healthy "to-go" snacks for smart snacking wherever you are.
  • Health is a life-long experience - Don't look for a quick fix for your long-term health. If a "results-right-away" meal plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Enjoy eating balanced, nourishing meals. Visit the Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide website.

We've got a full list of Eat Well (PDF 385KB, 1page) ideas for you to download.

Be Yourself

  • Enjoy being unique - Like your fingerprint, your body is one of a kind, the result of genetics, lifestyle and experiences. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on the best possible you. Adopt a healthy attitude for life.
  • Forgive yourself - If you stray from your eating or activity goals, forget about it and carry on with your plan. A chocolate bar cannot break your overall spirit! Celebrate your successes.
  • Turn negatives into positives - Recognize how people or events trigger negative feelings about your body image. Develop coping strategies to deal with these situations. Don't let others control your happiness - only you have that power.
  • Relax - Sleeping well, managing stress and feeling good about yourself are as important to your health as eating well and being active. Deep breathing, walking or talking to a friend are all good stress relievers. Experience the joy of relaxing your mind and body.

We've got a full list of Be Yourself (PDF 349KB, 1 page) ideas for you to download.

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Healthy Eating at Work

Revised: August 10, 2015

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