To have a healthy diet of store-bought foods you need to choose foods from the four food groups every day.
Vegetables and Fruit
We need to eat more from this group than the other groups every day. The foods in this group are healthy because:
They are high in fibre. Fibre can help with good digestion, keep cholesterol down and prevent some types of cancer.
They are high in vitamins and minerals which help our bodies heal and keep our eyes and skin healthy. The other food groups do not have very much of these.
- Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are all good options. When using canned fruit, choose those that are canned in water or juice, instead of syrup.
Whole fruit should be eaten more often than 100% fruit juices.
Vegetables can be added to many meals:
Try adding bell peppers, corn, mushrooms or cooked potatoes to scrambled eggs.
Serve celery stuffed with peanut butter as a snack.
Instead of French fries, use a microwave to bake potatoes.
Toss chopped vegetables with a small amount of oil and bake them in the oven.
Grain products are the main way we get energy:
The healthiest grains are “whole grains” like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, large flake oats and brown rice.
Whole grains have lots of fibre, which has many health benefits, like preventing some cancers.
You can find out if a product is made with whole grain by looking at the ingredient list. Whole grain foods will have the words “whole” or “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain (like oats or wheat).
- Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, whole-wheat bannock, whole grain toast, or whole grain cold cereals (not sugar coated).
- Cereal bars and plain granola bars are handy, but they usually contain more sugar and less fibre than non-sugary cereals.
- Bake with whole wheat flour. In most recipes, you substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour.
Milk and Alternatives
Milk and milk alternatives provide calcium, vitamins, minerals and protein. These nutrients are important for overall health and for developing strong teeth and bones.
The best choices in this groups are the ones that are lower in fat like 1% and 2% milk.
A cup of milk is less expensive than a cup of pop.
Powdered milk or UHT milk are less expensive than fresh milk and just as healthy.
- Skim milk powder can be added when making bannock and breads.
- Yogurt and cheese are popular and are easier to digest than milk.
- Chocolate milk and other flavoured milks have added sugar, so should be offered less often.
- Create smoothies by blending low fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit and ice.
Meat and Alternatives
Meat and meat alternatives (beans, eggs, tofu, nuts) provide important nutrients like iron and protein. Protein helps our bodies to build and maintain muscle and iron is needed for strong blood.
- Unlike the fat in country food meats, the fat in store bought meat is unhealthy so we only should only have a small amount at a time.
- To get good nutrition from meat, it is important to choose fresh or frozen natural meat that looks like real animal muscle. Meats like bacon, hot dogs, bologna and canned meat have a lot of salt and unhealthy fats, and are low in protein and iron.
- Breaded meats like fish sticks or chicken fingers have a lot of salt and unhealthy fats.
- Choose fresh or frozen meat that looks like real animal muscle.
- Eggs, canned tuna and salmon, and peanut butter are healthy, popular and low-cost.
- Beans are healthy and can be added to soups and stews.
Tips for choosing healthier fats
- Fats from fish and sea animals are very healthy. They contain vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for healthy hearts.
- Choose vegetable oil or soft margarine.
- Avoid using lard, shortening and hard margarine in sticks.
Unhealthy foods to avoid
It is best not to have foods that are high in fat or sugar and low in nutrients. Here are some examples of foods to limit:
- High fat foods, such as doughnuts, toaster pastries, croissants, Danish pastries and deep-fried bannock.
- Sugary foods, such as sweetened cereals, icing, jam, syrups, chocolate-covered bars and chocolate-flavoured spreads.
- Very salty foods, like soya sauce and canned or dry soup mixes.
- Fruit drinks, beverages and cocktails. These "fake fruit drinks" contain mostly sugar, water, and artificial flavours and colours. Chose only choose juices that are labeled “100% fruit juice”.