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Healthy eating is essential to keeping you energized and strong.  It allows your body to balance the food you eat to keep your and keep you well nourished. Learning how to plan nutritious meals and snacks by yourself is a key to healthy eating. When you eat well, you are taking good care of your body.

Just the facts!  Proper nutrition allows you to:

  • Have energy all day long
  • Get the vitamins and minerals your body needs
  • Stay strong for sports or other activities
  • Reach your maximum height (if you are still growing)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent unhealthy eating habits, like skipping meals and feeling overly hungry at the next meal

What is "healthy eating?"

  • Aiming for regular meals (usually 3 meals per day in the morning, afternoon, and evening) and snacks (when you are hungry or need extra energy)
  • Eating foods from all of the food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy proteins, and healthy fats) each day to meet your nutritional needs
  • Balancing nutrient-rich foods with moderate amounts of other foods, such as sweets or fast foods
  • Eating when hungry and stopping when full

Important Tips for Healthy Eating

1.      Don't skip meals - plan meals and snacks ahead of time.

·   Believe it or not, eating 3 meals with snacks in between is the best way to maintain both energy levels and a healthy weight. You are more likely to choose foods that are not as healthy when you skip meals and are over-hungry.

·   Eat breakfast. 20% of teens skip breakfast, which makes them more likely to over-eat later in the day.

·   Eating away from home? Don't leave yourself stranded—take foods with you or know where you can go to buy something healthy and satisfying.

2.      Learn about simple, healthy ways to prepare foods.

·   Try grilling, stir-frying, microwaving, baking, and boiling as healthy ways to cook foods instead of deep frying.

·   Try fresh or dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) and spices (lemon pepper, chili powder, garlic powder) to flavor your food instead of adding less healthy toppings such as butter, margarine, or gravy.

·   Trim the skin and fat off of your meat—you'll still get plenty of flavor and it's more nutritious.

3.      Sugar - avoid getting too much.

·   Sugary drinks are a big source of empty energy. This means that they contain a lot of energy (in the form of calories) that your body may not need, and they don't have vitamins, minerals, protein, or even fiber. Try diet sodas, sugar-free drink mixes, water, and flavored waters instead of regular drinks or juice. Even "natural" unsweetened juices contain a lot of energy you may not need. Don't go overboard—if you are going to drink regular soda or juice, try to limit the amount you drink to 4-8 ounces, one time per day.

·   Lots of sugar is also found in desserts such as cakes, cookies, and candies. It's okay to enjoy these foods once in a while as long as they don't replace healthier foods.

4.      Be mindful when eating

·   Slow down when you eat. Try to relax and pace yourself so that your meals last at least 20 minutes, since it takes 20 minutes for you to feel full.

·   Listen to your body. Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full will help your body balance its energy needs and stay comfortable. Ask yourself: Am I eating because I'm hungry, or because I'm stressed or bored?

·   Try fiber rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to increase your feeling of comfortable fullness.

5.      Avoid "diet thinking."

·   There are no good foods or bad foods. All foods can be part of healthy eating, when eaten in moderation.

·   You do not need to buy low carb, fat-free, or diet foods. These foods are not necessarily lower in calories—they usually have lots of other added ingredients to replace the carbs or fat.

·   YOU are more important than your weight or body size—believe it! Your health and happiness can be hurt by drastic weight loss plans. If you have not yet reached your adult height, too much weight loss could interfere with your growth, even if you are overweight. For younger teens who are overweight but still growing, it may be important to keep your weight steady as you continue to grow, instead of focusing on weight loss.

You can find lots of information about health and nutrition on the Internet, but don’t forget to check in with you doctor or nutritionist if you’re concerned about your health, eating habits or weight.

What are the benefits of healthy eating?

When you adopt healthy eating habits you are most likely to feel your best, have tons of energy and look your best. You are also more likely to enjoy all kinds of exciting physical activity like:

  • dancing
  • swimming
  • skate boarding
  • playing basketball
  • bike riding

Proper nutrition can also prevent many medical problems from developing now and in the future including:

  • becoming overweight
  • becoming underweight
  • developing weak bones

Healthy eating habits also help reduce the risks of diseases like:

  • heart disease
  • some cancers
  • diabetes

If you treat your body well now you will have a better chance of staying healthy throughout your life.

What should I be eating and how much?

Following Canada’s Food Guide is a simple way to determine the size and number of portions you should eat of the different food groups in order to remain healthy.

On average, active teenage girls require about 2,350 calories per day and should eat the higher range of servings from Canada’s Food Guide. Remember that eating a variety of foods is the key to good nutrition. If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with other foods like fish, meat, tofu, pasta, rice, cheese and whole grain breads and cereals – you should be fine.

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