Unlock the Potential of Food


Snacks are foods or drinks that are consumed between meals. When you’re on-the run during a busy day, think of snacks as mini-meals that offer some nutritional value and an energy boost. Examples are an apple with peanut butter or cheese with crackers. These are different than treats, such as cookies, chocolate and chips, which are not as nourishing as snacks. Choosing healthy snacks can be a great way to get all the nutrients your body needs each day.

Here are five helpful snacking tips:
1. Plan ahead.
Keep a variety of healthy, ready-to-eat snacks on hand for when you get hungry, like cut up veggies, nuts and cubed cheese. Being prepared helps you avoid less-healthy treats.
2. Be aware of portion sizes.
Instead of snacking from a large bag or box, take a portion and put it on a plate or bowl.
a portion and put it on a plate or bowl.
3. Listen to your hunger cues.
Ask yourself: am I truly hungry, or am I eating because I am bored, tired or stressed?
4. Skip distracted snacking!
Avoid munching while looking at a screen, driving or working. You may eat more than you need if you’re distracted from your feeling of fullness.
5. Snack on vegetables!
About half of all Canadians don’t eat enough vegetables or fruit. Snacking on them between meals is a great way to add an extra serving or two to your day


We asked dietitians about their favourite snacks. They recommend looking for snacks with some protein and fibre. Here are 11 great ideas!
1. Carrots and peppers with hummus
2. Almond butter on banana slices
3. Greek yogurt topped with berries
4. Whole grain toast with peanut butter
5. Cheddar cheese and apple slices
6. Small handful of trail mix made with nuts, seeds and raisins*
7. Roasted chickpeas and popcorn mix*
8. Whole grain cereal with milk
9. Sliced vegetables with yogurt dip
10. Tuna on crackers
11. Whole grain toast with avocado and sesame seeds
*Great to keep in your bag, car or desk drawer


It’s fun and rewarding to involve kids in meal preparation – whether it’s at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Here are five tips for getting your kids involved:

1. Pick a recipe together:
Children need to be part of the plan from the beginning, and it helps if they prepare something that they love to eat. Shop for groceries together too!
2. Incorporate learning:
Build on lessons they learn in school, such as math, social studies, media literacy, spelling, science and reading. Younger children can practice fine motor skills.
3. Keep it fun!
Imaginative play helps children get deeply involved. Make a theme night or turn your kitchen into a restaurant or reality cooking show.
4. Be a role model
If you’re excited, they will be too. Try a new food, describe the flavour and be adventurous to inspire your eaters to do the same. Get other members of the family involved.
5. Be cool about the mess
Spills and accidental messes happen, and it’s important to remain calm about little mishaps. Keep kitchen towels handy for cleaning up spills

Here’s a guideline of kitchen skills based on age:
• 2-3 year olds can wash vegetables and fruit or tear lettuce and salad greens
• 3-4 year olds can mash potatoes and bananas or mix together batters
• 4-6 year olds can measure dry and liquid ingredients or set the table
• 6-8 year olds can toss salad ingredients together or make a simple breakfast
• 8-12 year olds can make their own school lunch or help to plan meals
• Teens can follow more complicated recipes or assemble and mix most ingredients. They can also be in charge of making one meal per week.


There are many diets or “eating patterns,” and some are healthier than others. The best eating pattern is one that you enjoy and can stick with in the long run. The eating patterns that have been the most researched for their health benefits include the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets. The foods that are recommended on these patterns can help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and some types of cancer.

The eating plans listed above may have different names, but the foods are mostly the same! Here are some foods that are common to all of them:

• Vegetables and fruit
• Whole grains
• Legumes like beans and lentils
• Nuts and seeds
• Milk, cheese and yogurt
• Fish, seafood and poultry
• Healthy oils like canola and olive oil.

These nourishing foods are the basic ingredients that form the diet for disease prevention. You may also notice what’s missing from these eating patterns. They don’t contain a lot of highly processed foods, like cake, chips, cookies and sugary drinks that are high in added sugar, salt and trans fat.

Almost 80 per cent of premature stroke and heart disease can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviours. These include eating healthy, being active and living smoke-free.

The journey towards wellbeing begins with how we eat and dietitians have the knowledge, compassion and flexibility to help you achieve your goals.

Consider working with a dietitian if you have health goals or concerns about your risk of chronic disease. They will work with you to embrace food, understand it and to enjoy it while considering your overall objectives, needs and challenges. We look beyond fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Find a dietitian at www.dietitians.ca/find


The biggest barriers to eating together are busy schedules like work and evening activities. It takes creativity to balance busy schedules, but it’s worth the effort because everyone benefits when you eat in the company of others!
• Children who eat with their family have more nutritious diets, better academic performance, a lower risk for being overweight and less risk of eating disorders. Plus, children tend to have increased intake of vegetables and fruit, and a decreased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Teens who share family meals get better grades, and are less likely to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or to participate in serious fights.
• Adults who eat with friends and family tend to eat more vegetables and fruits, drink less pop, eat fewer meals at fast food restaurants, and have lower body mass indexes.
• Older adults who eat as part of a group have better diets, improved nutrient intake and lower rates of malnutrition.
• People who come together in communities can eat together at community kitchens, where they learn to cook, share meals, try new foods, have fun and learn about nutrition.

For many people, sharing meals is a favourite time of day to interact with family and friends. It allows people to connect share traditions, learn, communicate and listen. If you are new to family meals, here are some do’s and don’ts:

1. DO give everyone at the table a chance to speak.
2. DON’T use it as a time to scold or discipline picky eaters.
3. DO ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. So, instead of “did you have a good day?” try asking “tell me something interesting that happened today.”

Sharing family meals doesn’t only mean dinner! If your evening schedule is hectic, share breakfast meals or have brunch together on the weekends. Most studies done on the benefits of family meals start with sharing at least four meals together per week. They all count!

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