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Healthy Eating and Weight Management

Resources, Tips and Guidance on Living and Eating Healthy

Your dietary requirement will vary depending on the level that your spinal cord is affected, but you can benefit greatly from understanding what you should be eating to avoid obesity and other health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that are becoming more common in people with spinal cord injury.

To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.

We have gathered some information and links to help you learn more about maintaining a healthy weight and how to get the proper nutrition to lead a healthy life.


Canada’s Food Guide

Canada’s downloadable and printable Food Guide is an excellent source of information. This food guide may answers questions that you regarding a balanced diet such as: How many daily servings of certain foods should I be eating depending on my age and gender? What are these food groups?

You also have the option of creating a custom made food guide. Take a few minutes to enter some information (your age, gender, and select the lists of each food groups already provided to you, the list of physical activities that you like best) and then you can print and follow your own personal guide-it’s as simple as that

You can take Canada’s Food Guide One Step Further with added tips and details for specific groups such as: 1) Children at different stages 2) Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women 3) Men and Women over the Age of 50

Would you like to have the food guide broken down for you with tips on how to do grocery shopping, save on your grocery bills or more extensive guidance on what to look for within each food group?


Nutrition Labels

Are you confused with how to read nutrition labels and how to make educated choices on what you choose to eat and buy? Would you like some tips on how to compare nutrition labels for the same food item? Do you know the difference between a nutritional claim and a health claim? This link wil aloow you to use nutritional facts, the ingredients list, nutrition and health claims to make informed food choices.


Are you aware of what your daily caloric intake should be?

You want to be careful and stay within your daily caloric requirements for your physical activity, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain your current weight. The link below has a calorie chart for all ages and activity levels that may be useful in determining how many calories a day you should be eating to maintain a healthy weight.

One of the most important choices that you can make to maintain a healthy weight is your portions sizes at meal. Most people have a tendency to eat portions that are bigger than they should and this leads to weight gain. To better understand portion size, portion distortion and to find helpful hints to measuring your portions look here:


Smartphone applications to help manage what and how you eat, and weight loss

My FitnessPal App (iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android)

This is a diet and exercise-tracking app that has obvious appeal to the general population, but might be especially useful to TM patients whose mobility is limited and for whom weight management can be especially problematic.

Just download the app (it’s free on various platforms, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android) and you’re ready to go. Enter your e-mail address, whether you want to gain/maintain/lose weight and how much, your activity level, gender and birthday, height and weight, and choose a user name. Now you’re setup!

The app is easy to use and walks you through its various options at first. Throughout your day, you can input the food you eat and your exercise, if any. It’s easy to do; just search a keyword and a number of options will pop up. The calorie content and usual portions of most foods are searchable. Enter whatever you just ate for your meal or snack. Just remember to be honest about portion size otherwise you’re cheating yourself! You can also scan in your food item if there is a bar code on the outside of the container.

There’s also an option to add your friends who also use the app and share your progress.

Weight Watchers (iPhone,iPad, Android)

Getting started is easy. You enter your starting weight, your goal weight and even your measurements if you want to. You then select the day you want to track your weight. The app will work out your daily points allowance based on what you enter each day after you tell it what you have consumed, helping you stick to your plan.

Week by week a chart shows you your weight loss (or gain) and it congratulates you-sometimes a little positive feedback goes a long way

This app also features more than 30,000 foods as well as a variety of restaurants, so finding a particular food isn’t a challenge.


Eating for a healthy neurological system

The brain and nervous system are probably the most complex and sensitive physiological structures in the human body. The importance of a healthy diet in the maintenance of these structures should not be underestimated.

A well-balanced diet is important for a healthy nervous system, but some nutrients are more necessary than others. Vitamin B6, B12 and folate are particularly essential for nerve health. Vitamin B6 is needed for proper brain functioning. A deficiency can lead to depression, trouble learning, memory loss and numbness. Vitamin B12 helps with the growth of the nervous system and the protection of nerves. It is possible that this vitamin may help to prevent some neurological diseases. Folate is also linked with healthy nerve function and a lack of this nutrient may lead to irritability, insomnia and depression.

Essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3’s, make up part of nerve cells. A variety of amino acids are needed for the development and support of the nervous system. Eating a variety of protein and fat sources, including seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, is the way to get plenty of essential fatty acids and amino acids in your diet for a healthy nervous system.

To find a list of foods with the essential nutrients for your neurological system look here:


Tips for Eating When Dining Out

How can you work around restaurant meals both in what it is you can order and in your portions? Click here for some useful tips on how to work around this for healthy consumption of foods.

Have you ever noticed that many meals are heavier in salt content when eating out? Find some tips on how to avoid this here.  This includes foods to avoid versus the healthy alternative to order for North American, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai food!


Looking for Healthy Recipe Ideas?

There are tons of places to find healthy recipes but this is a good place to start.


Finding a dietician in Canada

Consulting a professional for advice on how to eat and to maintain or lose weight is never a bad idea. To find a dietician in your area or to get some useful tips on nutrition, contact the Dieticians of Canada.


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