By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
March is National Nutrition Month, but really, every month should be Nutrition Month! Approximately 90% of Canadians state that they “try to eat healthier, but would like to do better.”1 We are a very health-focused nation, but often knowing what foods are healthy doesn’t translate into healthy eating behaviours.
The key is to “eat for wellness,” finding healthy foods that fit your specific needs and lifestyle and making them taste good in simple meal ideas.
Below are 3 simple tips that you can use throughout Nutrition Month to bring focus on healthy eating to your entire family:
1. Make Healthy Taste Good
Taste is the most important predictor of food choice2; make sure nutritious is also delicious!
The best way to do this is by adding flavour to food. Typically, flavour is given to food by adding (a) butter/fat and (b) salt. Not in your healthy kitchen though!
Try adding flavour in the following ways:
- Spice it up. Use oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, and coriander to boost up the flavour in your dishes. If you like heat, use chipotle peppers or spicy curry powder.
- Make a marinade. Meat and vegetables can be marinated to infuse flavour into them. A marinade will make meats tender and vegetables more exciting!
- Add interest. Sometimes a side dish of dark-leafy greens, beans, or broccoli can be a little bit dull for the more gourmet guest at the table. Adding balsamic or lemon juice and olive oil will liven up your greens.
2. Read the Label
All the nutrition messages and labels on packaging in the grocery store (although sometimes helpful) can make you wish your fridge would choose what’s healthy for you! There is a lot of information on food packages in Canada, including a Nutrition Facts Panel, Ingredient List and Health Claims to name a few.
Although Health Claims such as “Low in trans fats” are great to build awareness of a specific attribute of a product – they do not tell the whole story. Focus on the Nutrition Facts Panel and Ingredient List.
The Nutrition Facts Panel is the best indication of what nutrients are in the serving of food that you are selecting.
This link provides you with information on how to use a Nutrition Facts table to make healthy shopping decisions.
The Ingredient List will let you know what is actually IN the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order based on weight3. For example, if salt is the second ingredient appearing on the ingredient list, the product most likely contains a lot of salt (or sodium).
3. Make a Healthy Meal Plan
The entire family needs to commit to healthy meal making throughout the week. This can be done through planning to make meals in large batches, slow cookers, and making the most of your leftovers.
Here are a few quick healthy meals:
This can be made early in the week as a base for multiple meals. Make a larger amount and use the leftovers for Tacos the next night!
Make a roast chicken a staple part of your weekly meal planning regime. You can keep it in the fridge and use leftovers for chicken Caesar salads or chicken and rice dishes.
If you are making this pasta dish for dinner – make enough pasta so you can use the leftovers for school or work. Try making a leftover Greek-Style Pasta Salad by adding some grape tomatoes, parsley, black olives, and feta.
- Ipsos. (2005). Canadians on Healthy Eating. Retrieved December 14, 2012
- Goodman, S., Hammond, D., Pillo-Blocka, Glanville, T. & Jenkins, R. (2011). Use of Nutritional Information in Canada: National Trends between 2004 and 2008. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, 43, 356-365. Retrieved December 18, 2012
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (2011). Basic Labelling Requirements. Retrieved December 18, 2012