by Susan Hanna

March is Nutrition Month – a time when the Dietitians of Canada promote healthy eating. This year’s theme for Nutrition Month is “Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!”

  As part of the month’s activities, the Dietitians of Canada are publishing 31 tips – one for every day in March – on how to eat well. The tips are available at www.dietitians.ca or through the eaTipster iPad and iPhone app.

“Our goal is to remind Canadians of the positive impact good nutrition has on health and wellbeing,” says Almonte General Hospital Registered Dietitian Linda Torbet.

“In a recent poll conducted for the Dietitians of Canada, 63 per cent of those surveyed said they struggle to make healthy food choices in the grocery store at least half the time, and more than one third said they struggle 75 per cent of the time. There is a real need for education.”

Ms. Torbet says the key to healthy eating begins at the grocery store. “What you buy influences what you eat,” she explains. “The key to shopping smart is planning well.”

Ms. Torbet’s tips include planning your meals in advance, making a shopping list, and sticking to your meal plan instead of stopping on the way home from work to buy something ready-made.

“At the grocery store, look for items in every aisle,” she suggests. “There are many healthy choices in the inner aisles.”

Stock your pantry with legumes, dried or canned beans, canned tomatoes, dried, canned or jarred fruit and whole grains such as quinoa and rice.

When stocking your fridge, Ms. Torbet suggests placing healthy foods such as milk, yogurt, fruit and cheese near the front, so they are easy to see and reach when you are looking for a snack.

“To cut down on the time it takes to prepare a meal, buy semi-prepared foods, such as pre-cut squash or pineapple, or a mixture of fresh salad greens,” she adds. “Frozen vegetables, fruit, fish and lean meats are also good to have on hand.”

Another key to healthy eating is to read food labels, which provide information on such ingredients as sodium and fat.

“Use the Daily Value percentage to compare food items to one another, not to track your nutrient intake for the day,” she advises.

“A simple rule of thumb is that a Daily Value of five per cent is a little for any nutrient and a Daily Value of 15 per cent is a lot for any nutrient.”