Healthy Eating Makeover

Healthy eating starts at home. Make eating well easier for your family, with a healthy eating makeover. It's simple really. Start by taking stock of the foods you keep on hand in your kitchen. Then follow the tips in this section on how to stock your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator with plenty of healthy food choices.

Learn how to Take Stock at home and get back to healthy eating basics.

Make healthy eating easy

The foods you keep on hand in your home can really make a difference when it comes to healthy eating. One of the simplest ways to get your family making healthier food choices is to make these choices readily available. Learn how to recognize ingredients for healthy eating you'll want to have in your kitchen.

Print a copy of our Mission Nutrition* Healthy Kitchen Checklist.

Learn how to Take Stock so you can 'clean up' your kitchen. Try our Short Cuts to Healthy Choices to help make healthy choices easier.

Tip:Parents, remember that your family chooses from the foods they have available to eat at home. You can make wise food choices easy for your family simply by stocking a healthy kitchen in your home.

Take Stock

Follow these tips to help you take stock of the foods in your kitchen and go for healthier options based on Canada's Food Guide. You can make changes gradually by choosing one food group to work on at a time. Aim to limit foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar such as cakes, cookies, candy, potato chips, french fries, fruit flavoured drinks and soft drinks. Take a look in your kitchen for nutritious foods from the four food groups...

    Vegetables and Fruit
    • Go for a rainbow of colours in your vegetable crisper and fruit bowl, especially dark green and orange.
    • Make dark green vegetables a daily staple. Try arugula, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, green peas, kale, parsley, Swiss chard, mustard greens, romaine lettuce and spinach.
    • Have a variety of orange-coloured vegetables and fruit handy to enjoy every day. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, orange-coloured squash, apricots, cantaloupe, mango and papaya.
    • Choose fresh vegetables and fruit that are in season and turn to frozen or canned options for variety when not in season.
    • Keep fresh or frozen berries on hand for topping cereal, for making smoothies and to enjoy as part of a refreshing snack or dessert.
    • Store 100% vegetable and fruit juices to enjoy at home or on the go.
    • For convenience, have dried, canned or jarred fruits such as raisins, dates, apricots, applesauce (unsweetened), and peaches, pears or fruit salad (in juice, not syrup). Try keeping vegetable soups like tomato or butternut squash on hand too.
    Grain Products
    • Have a variety of whole grain and high fibre cereals and cereal bars in your cupboards.
    • Look for the words 'whole' or 'whole grain' as the first item in the ingredient list to identify grain products that are mostly whole grain.
    • Create a fibre-zone in your bread box with fibre coming from whole grains or bran. Include whole grain breads, bagels, buns and flat breads such as naan, bannock and tortillas.
    • Keep a variety of grains handy, such as brown and wild rice, barley, quinoa and wheat berries. Try using them in casseroles, pilafs, soups and salads.
    • Make whole grain pasta or couscous the standard.
    • Bake oatmeal cookies or squares made with high fibre cereals and keep them handy for snacks.
    • Experiment with home-made muffins and breads baked with whole grains and/or high fibre cereals.
    • Stock some whole grain, low sodium crackers.
    • Keep an airtight container full of home-made trail mix ready for a quick snack. Try any mix of whole grain or high fibre cereal, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
    Milk and Alternatives
    • Make sure the milk in your refrigerator is skim, 1% or 2% and that soy beverages are fortified.
    • Check that the milk fat content of yogurt is 2% M.F. or less.
    • Keep boxes of UHT milk in the cupboard. The small single serving boxes are great for lunch bags and the larger 1 litre boxes are good to have on hand for emergencies like running out of milk.
    • Experiment with some lower fat cheeses (15% to 20% M.F. or less) like shredded skim mozzarella in lasagne or slices of lower-fat Cheddar cheese on sandwiches.
    • Store skim powdered milk for baking, smoothies and soups.
    • Replace regular sour cream with low fat sour cream or lower fat yogurt.
    • Keep a can of low fat evaporated milk to use instead of cream.
    Meat and Alternatives
    • Have a variety of dried or canned lentils, beans and peas in your cupboard to use as meat alternatives in soups, salads, casseroles or with rice.
    • Keep fish in stock. Try different types of fresh fish, canned salmon or tuna (in water) and frozen fish fillets (not breaded, battered or deep-fried).
    • Make sure the meats in your refrigerator and freezer are lean and trimmed of visible fat (without added fat, salt, rich sauces or gravy). Meat cuts with the words 'round' or 'loin' tend to be among the leanest.
    • Choose skinless pieces of poultry or remove the skin before cooking. For a quick and convenient meal, pick up a rotisserie chicken rather than deep-fried chicken nuggets or chicken wings.
    • Have eggs and tofu on hand to use as meat alternatives.
    • If you have luncheon meats, sausages or pre-packaged meats, check the label to make sure they are lower in salt (sodium) and fat.
    • Designate some shelf space for a variety of unsalted nuts and seeds to toss on cereals, in salads and with stir-fries or to use on their own as a tasty nutritious snack.

    Health Canada provides advice for limiting exposure to mercury from certain types of fish. Refer to www.healthcanada.gc.ca for the latest information.

      Spreads and Seasonings
      • Have unsaturated vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean on hand.
      • Look at the Nutrition Facts table for a soft non-hydrogenated margarine that has 2 grams or less of saturated and trans fat combined.
      • Keep a variety of fresh and dried herbs and spices, flavoured vinegars, mustards and chutneys to add flavour without adding fat and salt.
      • Check your dried herbs and spices as they can lose flavour over time.

    Short Cuts to Healthy Choices

    Offering a healthy variety of foods makes it easier to eat well. Try these ideas to steer your family toward healthy choices for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.

    • Set up a simple breakfast bar to make your morning meals a breeze. Aim for foods from at least three of the four food groups. Here are some ideas:
      • Fresh, dried or frozen fruit or 100% juice
      • Whole grain and high fibre breads and cereals
      • Lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese
      • Nut butters, nuts and seeds or hard boiled eggs

      Find more simple solutions for your morning meal in Breakfast First!

    • Have a variety of healthy snack choices ready for when the munchies hit. Try these nutritious snacking ideas:
      • Fresh fruit bowl (make it a fixture in your kitchen)
      • Fresh veggie and dip plate (try hummus, black bean or yogurt dip)
      • Home-made whole grain baked goods
      • Yogurt cups or tubes
      • Cheese and crackers
      • Home-made trail mix (made with whole grain cereals, dried fruit, nuts and seeds)
      • Nuts and seeds (unsalted, e.g. almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds)
      • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of soft drinks to quench thirsts
    • Pack nutritious school lunches in a snap. Kids can even make their own lunch when you're well prepared. Aim to include foods from each of the four food groups:
      • Fresh fruit, raw veggie pieces, fruit cups and fruit sauces (e.g. apple sauce) and 100% juice boxes
      • Whole grain sandwich breads, buns, wraps and bread sticks
      • Lower fat cheese and cheese strings, yogurt cups and milk boxes
      • Lean meats, tuna or egg salad or hummus

      Find more good ideas for A+ Lunches!

    • Sit down at the table with your family to enjoy a healthy dinner meal together. Follow Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide for a healthy balance of:
      • Vegetables (especially dark green and orange varieties)
      • Whole grains (like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or quinoa)
      • Lower-fat milk, cheese or yogurt, or fortified soy beverage
      • Fish, lean meats, tofu, eggs or lentils, beans and legumes

      Learn how to strike a healthy balance at dinner and Rate Your Plate.