March is Nutrition Month and this 40th celebration has made it a priority to focus on Ingredients for a Healthier Tomorrow.
In case you are unsure of the roles of a dietician, this snippet from the Dietitians of Canada states it clearly: “Dietitians, through their roles in various sectors of work, influence change across key ingredients within a sustainable food system. From food security to food literacy and food sovereignty, to sustainable food choices, and nutrition care and prevention, dietitians from across Canada are acting on the ingredients needed to create a healthier tomorrow with you, your community, and the planet.”
In addition to my role as an online nutritionist/consulting dietitian for Health Stand Nutrition, I am also a community and media dietitian, and actively advocate for food security and food literacy in the local community. In the past two years since the covid pandemic started, I have hosted more than 20 virtual health and wellness workshops as well as cooking demos for the community in partnership with non-profit and non-governmental organizations. Some of these organizations provide services to older adults, new immigrants and people that are facing food insecurity and barriers to access public health information due to literacy and language barriers.
These workshops have reached 20,000 + people across Canada and Asia. In these virtual workshops, the participants are helped to make food decisions that are right for them by communicating trustworthy nutrition information, building confidence in their food skills, and addressing the external influences that impact their food decisions. The workshop hosts generously awarded food samples and supermarket gift cards to the participants.
According to the 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report released in December 2021, the average Canadian family of four is predicted to pay an extra $966 for food in 2022, for a total annual grocery bill of $14,767. This represents a 7% increase compared to the previous year. It also indicates that almost one in five Canadian households struggle with food insecurity and has difficulty putting foods on the table for their families.
How can I eat a more sustainable diet on a budget?
Eating a more sustainable diet involves making food choices that will enhance your health and promote a healthy environment and ecosystem to meet the future food needs of the population. A few tips for those seeking to eat a more sustainable diet include buying local, choosing plant-based proteins more often, diversifying your protein sources by adding nuts, lentils, or beans, reducing food waste by planning meals, and drinking tap water when it is safe to do so.
Another tip to save money and reduce food waste is to follow the ‘4 Rs’:
- Reduce food waste by doing meal planning
- Replace animal protein with plant-based protein
- Recycle veggie scraps to make soup or stock
- Reuse foods by eating leftovers
Other money-saving tips:
- Cook more often from scratch instead of ready-to-use or highly processed foods.
- The price of meat has increased the most. Look for items on sale and freeze them, and cheaper cuts of meat are a viable choice when using cooking methods to tenderize the meat.
- Choose cheaper non-dairy alternatives (fortified soy, almond, oat beverage, etc.) in tetra packs.
- Buy dry beans, lentils, or whole grains and cook them in a pressure cooker or crock pot ahead of time for quick and easy pre and breakfast on the go.
- Only buy what you need and keep shelf stable items in the kitchen cupboards
- Buy both fresh and frozen vegetables and produce as they are equally nutritious and provide the vitamins, minerals and fibre that are good for your body and health