Put your best food forward

March is Nutrition Month — the perfect time to start thinking about how food choices can affect your health. Small changes can pay off big by reducing your risk, and your family’s risk, for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Interior Health’s registered dietitians have a few simple tips to help you make healthier food choices.

Plan weekly meals. Spend a few minutes before you shop and plan your meals for the week; it’s one of the best ways to save money and time.

“Looking at recipes, reading flyers, and checking your kitchen inventory can help you decide what meals you would like to prepare and what you will need to prepare them,” says Alexis Blueschke. “When you have all the ingredients you need to make a healthy meal at home you will be less tempted to go out for dinner or order take out.”

Use a list when you shop. Once you know what meals you are going to eat, you are ready to make a grocery shopping list.

“A shopping list not only keeps you on track, it can also help you make healthier choices.  Without a list, you might walk up and down the aisles filling your cart with less nutritious food that you don’t really need,” said Karen Graham. “A list helps you avoid the temptation to buy heavily promoted processed foods which often are less nutritious.”

Grow some of your own food. Many of us have heard the saying “healthy eating begins at the grocery store.” While this is true it’s important to remember that healthy eating can also begin with a visit to your local farmers’ market, and you can grow your own food as well.

“Growing your own food is a great way to have more fresh produce. You can grow your own food in your backyard, in a container or in a community garden. Your local garden store, Community Food Action Committee or Food Policy Council can help provide information on how to get started,” said Cindy Bossio.

Eat your meals together. Meal time is an excellent time to connect as a family. Make the most of meal times by turning off the TV, phones and other distracting electronics. Families who eat together are healthier and happier. Children who have meals with their families eat more vegetables and fruits and are less likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs.

For more nutrition information:

Check out the Shopping Sense virtual grocery shopping tool: http://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/topic/grocery-shopping