Start making healthy choices

Healthy changes don’t happen overnight. But you can start making healthier choices for you and your family today. Even small changes will have you on your way towards a healthier tomorrow.

Four key areas where Ontario’s public health units work to support choices for healthy living include:

  1. healthy eating
  2. food safety
  3. hand washing
  4. active living

Making choices to improve your health will:

  • make you feel better
  • reduce stress
  • prevent diseases

Healthy eating

Eating well is one of the most important things you can do to keep you and your family healthy. It can help protect you from heart disease and stroke. It can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer. It can also stop bone loss as you age.

Programs and resources to help people in the province eat healthy include:

  • EatRight Ontario
  • Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program

EatRight Ontario

This free service can help you eat and cook in a healthier way.

You can:

  1. call a dietitian toll-free at 1-877-510-510 – Option 2
  2. email a dietitian to get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions
  3. visit EatRight Ontario for:
    • articles on food and nutrition
    • meal planning advice
    • healthy eating tips
    • recipes

Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program

This program brings healthy, nutritious food to elementary and intermediate school students in the districts of Algoma, Porcupine and Sudbury. The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association coordinates delivery of fruits and vegetables to students at least twice a week from January to June.

Algoma Public Health, Porcupine Health Unit and Sudbury and District Health Unit work with schools in their regions. The program reaches over 190 schools and approximately 37,000 students.

The goal is to teach children and their families the benefits that fruits and vegetables, healthy eating and physical activity have on their overall health and to encourage them to eat more of these healthy foods.

Tips for healthy eating

Food safety

Food safety in Ontario is shared by all levels of government — federal, provincial and municipal. There are three ministries responsible for food safety in the province:

What causes food poisoning

You and your family can get food poisoning when you eat contaminated food. You can’t smell or see these toxins. But they multiply quickly and can make you sick.

Seniors, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, are more likely to become sick.

Signs and symptoms of food poisoning

You may have food poisoning if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • upset stomach with nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • fever

Contaminated food can make you sick anywhere from hours to weeks after eating it. Most people get sick within a couple of days.

Read more about illnesses from food

What to do if you think you have food poisoning

  • seek medical care as soon as possible
  • notify your local public health unit immediately

How to make a complaint about food safety

Contact your local health authorities for concerns about:

Tips to prevent food poisoning

Hand washing

Washing your hands is important to keeping you and your family healthy. Follow these important tips:

  • wash your hands often and carefully — at least 15 seconds for each part
  • remove jewellery and keep nails short

Active living

People who are physically active live longer and healthier lives. They are less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic health problems. Regular physical activity leads to a better quality of life. And, it helps lower the cost of health care in the province.

Ontario’s public health units offer programs that can help you learn to eat healthier, be more active and prevent chronic diseases.

Learn more about the programs offered by public health units

Find a public health office

Exercise tips

More tips for getting active at any age

Watch-and-learn video tips on fitness and activity

How much you should exercise

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has set out physical activity guidelines that tell you how often you should exercise.

Physical activity guidelines for every age

Originally Posted on:

 The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus that anyone can get. But there are several things you can do to protect yourself from catching it, or spreading it to others.

Where to get the flu shot near you

The flu shot is your best defense

The flu shot is:

  • safe (including for kids and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
  • free
  • available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
  • proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
  • different each year  because the virus changes frequently – so you need to get it every fall

Flu season runs from late fall to early spring. Be sure to get your shot as soon as it is available  because it takes two weeks to take effect.

Get the flu shot

Other tips to avoid getting – and spreading – the virus

washing hands under a tap with bubbles

Wash your hands often

  • even after getting the flu shot, washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds helps prevent the spread of the virus, which can live on your hands for up to 3 hours
  • if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 60% alcohol
person coughing into their sleeve

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

  • use a tissue and throw it out rather than putting it in your pocket, on a desk or table
  • if you don’t have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve
keep your hands out of eyes, nose and mouth

Don’t touch your face

  • the flu virus spreads when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk and droplets enter your body through your eyesnose or mouth
avoid crowds and your workplace

Stay at home when you’re sick

  • viruses spread more easily in group settings, such as businesses, schools and nursing homes
wiping down a surface

Clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items

  • viruses live on hard surfaces like countertops, door handles, computer keyboards and phones for up to 8 hours

Who is most at risk

Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, which is a serious illness. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.

Some people are more vulnerable to complications or hospitalization from the flu:

  • Babies under 6 months are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent gets the flu shot while pregnant
  • Children under five years of age  because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
  • People over 65 years old, because their immune systems are weaker and they may have an underlying condition that increases their risk
  • Pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change – especially later in pregnancy – and makes it harder to fight infection
  • People with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes


Symptoms typically appear 1 to 4 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus – but it’s contagious right away, so you can still catch it from someone who shows no symptoms yet.

Most otherwise-healthy people will recover within 7 to 10 days.

You may have caught the flu if you have:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • runny eyes
  • stuffy nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • extreme weakness and tiredness
  • loss of appetite

Some people may have diarrhea or vomit, though this is more common in children than adults

Flu vs. common cold

The symptoms of the flu and the common cold can be very similar but, unlike a case of the common cold, the flu can lead to serious health problems like pneumonia.

Use this chart to help determine if you have a cold or the flu.

Symptom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Common, high (102°F – 104°F or 39°C – 40°C). Starts suddenly, lasts 3 to 4 days. Not all people with flu
General aches and pains Sometimes, mild Common, often severe
Muscle aches Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe
Feeling tired and weak Sometimes, mild Common, may last 2 to 3 weeks or more
Fatigue (extreme tiredness) Unusual Common, starts early
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Complications Can lead to sinus congestion or earache Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, worsen a current chronic respiratory condition, be life-threatening
Chest discomfort and/or coughing Sometimes, mild to moderate Common, can become severe

If you get the flu

Be sure to:

  • stay home and get plenty of rest
  • drink lots of fluids
  • avoid caffeine
  • speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner about over-the-counter medications that can help you feel better (basic pain or fever relievers), but do not give acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin®) to children or teenagers under the age of 18
  • treat muscle pain using a hot water bottle or heating pad — apply heat for short periods of time
  • take a warm bath
  • gargle with a glass of warm salt water or suck on hard candy or lozenges
  • use spray or saline drops for a stuffy nose
  • avoid alcohol and tobacco

Call your doctor or nurse practitioner if:

  • you don’t start to feel better after a few days
  • your symptoms get worse
  • you are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms

You can also call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 to talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not need to provide your OHIP number and all information is confidential.

Posted originally on:

We care for your health

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