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Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods from the four food groups specified in the Canada Food Guide to feel good and maintain your health. These four groups are: vegetables and fruit; grain products; milk and alternatives; and meat and alternatives (no, ice cream is not a food group!). If you eat well, don't smoke, and exercise actively, you will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other serious diseases. It will also help you to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight.

If you are on a budget and short on time, you can plan grocery shopping so you and your family eat healthier.

Planning Grocery Shopping

• Planning meals may seem like a hassle, but planning meals ahead and developing your grocery list accordingly will save time, stress and extra trips to the store.
• Keep healthy basic foods on hand such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, and cereals.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables are often healthier than canned or frozen, but canned or frozen choices are better than none
• Keep a grocery list handy so it can be updated when you run out of items.
• When shopping store areas with high calorie foods that are low in vitamins and minerals (candy, cookies, chips etc.).
• Avoid buying specials items promoted in prominent areas (end of aisle displays, at the cash register, etc.) These are usually low nutrition foods.
• Only shop when you are not hungry, to help avoid the temptation of buying less healthy foods.

When You Shop for Groceries

• Plan your grocery list carefully so you choose more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and shop only from your grocery list.
• Buy leaner meats (chicken, turkey, lean cuts of pork or beef) and low fat dairy products.
• Buy whole grain breads and cereals.
• Avoid soda pop, sweets, chips and other snack foods, which contain calories and little food value.
• Dietetic foods prepared specially for people with health problems may cost extra and may not be healthier than simply following these suggestions (But there are of course exceptions to this such as buying gluten-free food for people with celiac disease.)

Be Smart About Eating

• Sodium in canned vegetables can be reduced by draining and rinsing, then heating in fresh water. Draining can also reduce added sugar in canned fruits, unless they are packed in juice, which should be retained.
• Start meals with salads or soups with lots of vegetables. Vegetables are better to fill up on before getting to the higher fat and calorie courses.
• Keep healthy snack foods handy in the fridge, such as fresh carrots, grapes or apples.
• When eating out check with your waiter to see if meats can be grilled rather than fried, and if sauces can be provided as side dishes. Fruit, salads or other vegetables are much healthier than French fries as side items. Start with a salad or soup and then share an entre with others. Lots of empty calories can be avoided by skipping dessert.

Budget conscious grocery shoppers should visit the EatrightOntario budget web site for ideas. There are many other online sources of diabetes and heart-healthy recipes. Some good examples can be found at the Canadian Diabetes Association website (search keywords: Canadian Diabetes Association recipes) and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation website (search keywords: Canadian Heart Association recipes).