March is Nutrition Month and Alberta Health Services (AHS) are taking the month to promote a wellness campaign that's lasting all year long.
AHS wants to inspire Albertans to make healthy food choices and stick to their nutrition goals at home and at work. They say since many full-time employees spend about two-thirds of their waking hours on the job, what they eat at work can affect their energy levels, their ability to focus and their overall health.
Christine Fletcher is a Registered Dietician with AHS. She says that the year-long campaign being promoted is called, "What's Your Balance." It involves being mindful of the four pillars of good health and wellness. Those four are healthy eating, mental wellness, physical activity and sleep. Fletcher says each of those things can affect the way we eat.
"For example, your mental wellness may affect the way you eat during the day. If you're in a slump, not feeling well, perhaps you're struggling with your mental health at the time, healthy eating may struggle. Physical activity and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. Many people who are feeling well and are physically active, they also pick up on healthy eating. Sleep can really affect how you feel with your overall health. Being over-tired can absolutely affect the meal choices you make throughout the day."
Fletcher says when it comes to healthy eating, meal-planning is the key. both in the home and at work.
"To look ahead and to plan is the number one thing. Expect to be hungry and expect to eat. So making a plan, say bringing food to work, for example, will set you up for success versus being hungry and looking around for what's available and perhaps going to the vending machine or getting fast food. It can be as simple as taking a calendar that you have on your fridge and writing down one meal each day that you're expecting to eat and then making your grocery list from that calendar."
Fletcher says making a meal plan for the week with them so they can be involved in the process and choose some foods for the family meal that everyone enjoys.
According to Fletcher, a full-time employee will spend nearly two-thirds of their waking hours on the job so what they eat at work can affect their energy level, their ability to focus and their overall health.
"So you're going to eat probably at least one of your meals at work. If you're tied to your desk, I would recommend keeping things at your desk that are sort of non-perishable items. Someone working at their desk might have fruit cups for example, or nuts, trail mix, granola bars at their desk that they've shopped for and you can lean on those to tie yourself over or need a snack mid-day. Buy in bulk, and stock up your drawers."
Fletcher says a good visual for proper nutrition is the "Eat Well Plate" from Health Canada. It shows how your plate should be divided.
"Half of your plate should be vegetables and fruits. The main part of your meal should be focused on vegetables. A quarter of your plate should be protein-rich foods, it might be beans or lentils, fish or eggs, something that's protein rich. the final quarter of your plate should be a whole grain, something like brown rice, quinoa, a whole grain pasta. That's a good visual for what a balanced meal should look like, in particular for the lunch and dinner meal."
A link to the "Find Your Balance" campaign can be found here.
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