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Health Canada’s New Guidance on Healthy Eating Habits puts Cooking in the Spotlight

February 19, 2019 by HealthyFamilies BC

This blog post is the third in a series of four posts about Canada’s new Food Guide, which was released by Health Canada on January 22. Last week we discussed the recommendation to limit highly processed foods. If you haven’t already, you can check it out here.

Canada’s new Food Guide is encouraging a shift in how healthy eating is being discussed in Canada. Previous food guides focused on what food choices a person should make and how much they should eat. Not anymore. While Health Canada is still encouraging Canadians to eat a variety of healthy foods each day, they are also acknowledging that “healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.” 

Healthy eating habits start when we’re young and often carry into adulthood. Teaching young children healthy eating habits will help them stay healthy throughout their life. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late for the rest of us. Healthy eating habits include each of the following:

  • Being mindful of our eating habits. This means paying attention to our food and our bodies while eating. This helps us know when we are hungry and full, and we become more aware of the food choices we’re making.
  • Enjoying our food. Ideally, our food choices should reflect the foods we like to eat, our culture and lifestyle. Best intentions aside, if you don’t enjoy and feel comfortable with what you’re eating, you probably won’t keep eating it.
  • Eating meals with others. Eating together is a great way to feel connected. It has nutrition, health, social, and mental benefits. 
  • Cooking more often. Cooking is a life skill and one of the best ways to support healthy eating. It gives you control over what foods and ingredients you and your family eat.

Many people find the thought of cooking overwhelming because of busy schedules or lack of experience in the kitchen. However, as with any behaviour, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Here are some ideas to get you started successfully.

Start Small

Perhaps “cooking” is a step further than you want to start. Making a sandwich, a meal-sized salad, or a fruit and yogurt smoothie don’t require cooking per se, but are great ways to start gaining comfort in the kitchen. Another helpful place to start may be asking a family member or a friend to share their favourite easy recipes with you. Or, if you know someone who is a good cook, ask if they’d be willing to show you some of their tricks. 

Meal Planning

Meal planning is a great tool that makes cooking easier. Nothing slows you down like discovering you’re out of cooking oil, onions or canned stewed tomatoes as you start making chili for dinner, for example. Whether you meal plan for a couple of days or the whole week, the steps are the same:

  1. Choose what meals you’re going to make. Plan the whole meal, including side dishes.
  2. Make your shopping list. Remember to check what ingredients you already have.
  3. Go shopping. Having a list also makes you less likely to buy foods you don’t need.
  4. For more information on meal planning, check out Meal Planning: Getting Started.

Batch Cooking

If you’re going to make one recipe of chili, the amount of extra time it will take you to double the recipe will save you much more time later. (Remember to make sure you have freezer space and storage containers to store the extras.)

Cooking with a Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

What’s not to love about mixing together a bunch of ingredients, turning on your slow cooker, and walking away while it prepares your dinner? Slow cookers are quite inexpensive to buy and can turn the most basic ingredients into something flavourful and delicious. There are a few tips to getting started, which you can find here. And we recommend using tried and true recipes for slow cookers rather than trying to adapt your own. If you want slow cooker results fast, pressure cookers can turn simple ingredients into flavourful meals in a hurry.

For more information, tips and resources on healthy eating habits, check out Health Canada’s new Canada’s Food Guide at

Related Blogs

Top 10 Slow Cooker Tips (Plus a Recipe)

Slow Cooker Fast Dinner

Reccomended Resources 

The Benefits of Eating Together For Children and Families

Meal Planning: Getting Started

My Menu Planner



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