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Your Best Health: Adult Weight Management

Eating well for weight and health

Eating well for weight and health can lower your risk of:

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • cancer

What you’ll learn about in this section is how to:

  • eat well for weight and health (what, how much, and when)
  • be aware of portions
  • choose healthy drinks
  • keep a lifestyle journal
  • plan meals (purchasing, preparing, and packing meals)
  • eat well away from home

Eating well for weight and health isn’t just about what you eat. It’s also about how much and when you eat.

Nutrition Services, Alberta Health Services 2021.

What you eat and drink​​

What you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your health and weight. The Canada’s food guide plate model can be used as a guide to help you get the nutrients you need. A balanced meal includes protein foods, whole grain foods, vegetables, or fruit.

What you choose to drink can also affect your weight and health. Calories from drinks with sugar, fat, and alcohol can add up quickly and don’t make you feel full. This can lead to weight gain over time.

​Something to think about...

Go to your reflection journal as you think about these questions.

Do you drink fruit or vegetable juice?
100% fruit juice has vitamins and minerals but also has the same amount of sugar and calories as regular pop. 100% vegetable juice is lower in sugar and calories but may be higher in salt (sodium).

Do you drink water?
Drink mostly water throughout the day. Water is a great way to satisfy your thirst and it doesn’t have any calories. Use these tips to help you choose water more often.

  • Drink water throughout the day.
  • Take a water break instead of a coffee break.
  • Carry your own water bottle for a refreshing drink, anytime, anywhere.
  • Add a lemon, lime, or cucumber slice for a different flavour.

Do you drink other healthy drinks that aren’t water?
There are some healthy alternatives to plain water. Other healthy drinks include:

  • milk (low fat, unflavoured) *
  • fortified, unsweetened plant-based beverages (almond, soy, rice, pea, hemp, oat) *
  • tea or coffee, plain or with milk
  • herbal tea

*Contains calories but is lower in calories and higher in nutrients than most alternatives.

Do you choose drinks with calories (except low fat, unflavoured milk or fortified unsweetened plant-based drinks)?

Drinks with calories include:

  • regular pop
  • regular iced tea
  • juice
  • fruit-flavoured drinks
  • slushes
  • alcohol
  • energy drinks
  • coffee and tea drinks made with sugar, syrups, cream, or whitener

Tips to choose healthy drinks:
Drink 9 to 12 cups (2.25 to 3L) of fluid each day.

  • Choose water most often. Choose other healthy drinks for variety.
  • Replace higher calorie drinks with water or lower calorie alternatives.
  • Cut back on calories, not fluid.​​

How much you eat

Calories are fuel or energy for your body. You get calories from what you eat and drink. The number of calories you take in can affect your weight.

Be aware of portions When it comes to weight, how much you eat is as important as what you eat. You can use your plate as your guide. A balanced plate can help you get the nutrients you need and help you be more aware of your portions.

A balanced plate is ½ vegetables and fruit, ¼ protein foods and ¼ whole grain foods (see Canada's food guide for more details).

Some strategies to help you be more aware of your portions are:

  • Choose a smaller plate, this can help you take smaller portions.
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Vegetables and fruits give you lots of nutrients and fibre with fewer calories.
  • Divide the other half into smaller portions of Whole grain foods and protein foods. If you eat more vegetables, you’re more likely to have a healthy body weight.
  • Here are a few meal ideas using the balanced plate:​​
Eat a variety of foods each day
Image credit: Canada’s food guide - Government of Canada

Talk to a registered dietitian for more information on calories and the role they play in weight management.

How often and when you eat

How often and when you eat can change day-to-day. It can depend on your daily schedule, stress, emotions, or physical activity.

Some people find choosing 3 meals, and snacks if needed, works well for them. Spacing what you eat over the day and not skipping meals can keep you from getting too hungry. If you skip meals, you may choose foods that are higher in fat and calories when you do eat. You may also eat faster and end up eating more food and calories than you need.

You may benefit from eating most of your calories when you’re more active and need more calories. This is usually during the day.

Consider starting your day with a healthy breakfast. Eating a meal earlier in the day that includes protein foods, whole grain foods, and vegetables or fruit can help you get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need. See Canada's food guide for details. This kind of healthy breakfast can also help you keep from overeating later in the day.

Keep a lifestyle journal

People who keep a lifestyle journal tend to make changes that last. You can choose to record: ​

  • the food you eat – what, how much, when, and why
  • your physical activity
  • how you want to record – on paper or using your smart phone, computer, or tablet.
  • how often to record in your journal

It’s up to you what and how to record. Find what works for you.

This 3 Day food journal can help you get started.

Something to think about...

Go to your reflection journal as you think about these questions.

  • Did you have breakfast this morning?
  • Do the portions on your plate look like the balanced plate?
  • What’s 1 thing that you’re doing well?
  • What’s 1 thing you could improve?​