25th Anniversary of Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Monthฎ Campaign
NEWMARKET York Region Public Health Nutritionists reinforce the national nutrition month theme "Make Wise Food Choices Wherever You Go" by stressing the importance of selecting healthy food choices, whether at a supermarket, a restaurant or a workplace cafeteria.
Make healthy food choices in the supermarket
With many new food products entering the marketplace daily, shopping for food can be overwhelming. It is no longer the basic 2% milk, cheddar cheese, bread and eggs. Now, foods such as DHA enriched milk, lower-fat cheeses, multigrain breads with flax and omega-3 eggs are available. But don't despair because food shopping doesn't have to be confusing.
In December 2005, Health Canada mandated manufacturers to include food labels on most pre-packaged products. These food labels must follow an explicit format and list specific nutrients. This new legislation makes it much easier for consumers to compare products.
In addition to reading the label on food products, below are some handy tips to help make wiser food choices in the supermarket:
Choose whole grain breads, buns, pitas, bagels, cereals, pastas, crackers and rice. Look for the words "whole wheat" at the beginning of the list of ingredients to ensure that you are eating a whole grain product
Select cereals with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving and crackers that do not contain any trans fat
Purchase fatty fish more often, as it contains heart healthy omega-3 fats
Choose milk and yogurt with 2% milk fat (MF) or less, and hard cheese with 20% MF or less
Be aware of the salt added to canned vegetables and opt for lower sodium versions
Choose fruit "packed in its own juice" or with "no sugar added"
Make healthy food choices in a restaurant
Eating out continues to grow in popularity. The percentage of food eaten at restaurants or purchased for take-out by Canadians rose from 53% in 1994 to 61% in 2004 . On average Canadians spent approximately 30 cents of their total food dollar on these convenient options in 2001 . Research also shows that healthier food choices are becoming more common but the most popular food and beverage items at Canadian restaurants are still french-fries and coffee.
In response to the high level of interest in nutrition, restaurants are introducing a wider range of healthier menu options. But it is up to the consumer to take advantage of them and make the healthier choice. Here are a few tips to help make wise food choices in restaurants:
Choose a restaurant with a lot of variety and not a restaurant that specializes in single food items such as pizza, fish and chips or chicken and ribs
Be wary of portion sizes. Do not fall into the meal deal trap. It is not a deal if it forces you to eat more than you had intended. Consider sharing a larger portion with a friend or taking some of the meal home for another day
Choose lower-fat foods such as grilled meats, poultry and fish; meals with tomato sauce instead of cream sauces and entrees with lots of vegetables
Hold the extras such as mayonnaise, rich sauces, gravy and butter. Use condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish and salsa instead
Specialty coffees such as Mochaccinos and Frappaccinos can pack as many calories and fat as an entire meal. Drink wisely by opting for lattes or cappuccinos made with low fat milk
Choose an Eat Smart! restaurant. These restaurants have received an award for excellence in nutrition, food safety and being smoke-free. Please visit www.york.ca
for a list of restaurants in your area
For more information on healthy eating or other health-related questions, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca
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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and the services our Region offers, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca
Media Contact Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
905-830-4444 Ext. 4016 or after-hours pager (905) 830-3302