Educational programs focus on healthy eating knowledge, skills and behaviours. Topics may include nutrition basics, food budgeting, healthy food purchasing, menu planning, cooking skills and understanding the relationships between healthy eating and mental illness.
Educational programs can be provided in a community mental health agency, community centre, hospital, a place of worship or even in someone’s home. You need a space large enough to comfortably accommodate the group. Keep in mind that your program should be physically accessible for participants requiring physical accommodations.
Below are some resources to help you get started.
Basic Facts on Healthy Eating
- Nutrition and Active Living FAQs
EatRight Ontario provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about nutrition and active living.
- EatRight Ontario
Nutrition tools and links offer many additional resources to support you in developing healthy eating habits for you and your family.
- Diabetes and You: Nutrition
Good nutrition and healthy meal planning are vital components of diabetes management. Recognizing the challenges involved in nutrition and diabetes, the Canadian Diabetes Association offers a full breadth of resources and information, including guides, tools, resources and manuals.
- Canada’s Food Guide (Health Canada) Get a range of information to help you eat well and stay physically active by checking Canada’s Food Guide.
- Using Canada’s Food Guide
Get tips on how to use Canada’s Food Guide for planning meals, shopping tips, reading food labels, fast and easy meal ideas, smart snacking, eating out and counting food guide services in a meal.
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario: Healthy Eating
This resource provides information that is Canadian, current and based on scientific evidence and guidelines. Learn how to integrate healthy eating into your life and make heart-healthy choices that will help you lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Many resources are available as downloadable PDFs.
Healthy Eating Toolkits
- Craving Change
Created by a registered dietitian and a clinical psychologist, Craving Change offers tools to help you work with clients to improve their eating habits. The program translates behaviour modification and cognitive-behavioural therapy into appealing and practical strategies that various professionals can use with groups or individuals. This program must be purchased through Craving Change.
- Eat Well and Be Active Educational Toolkit (Health Canada)
The Eat Well and Be Active Educational Toolkit is designed to help those who teach groups of children or adults about healthy eating and physical activity, and encourage individuals to take action to maintain and improve their health.
Grocery Shopping and Label Reading
Grocery store tours are a great way to continue the conversation while exploring specific food items. Call your local grocer for permission to bring your group on a tour. The following links provide an introduction to grocery shopping and label reading.
Meal planning can be a tedious task, even when we’re on top of our game. But when we’re not feeling well, it can be even more challenging. The cyclical nature of some mental illnesses may make it nearly impossible at times to be successful with a “one-size-fits-all” meal plan.
Encourage program participants to develop meal plans to use when they feel well and a modified plan for when they don’t.
Food safety is an important issue for all Canadians. We can all play a role in making sure that the food we put on our tables is safe to eat. Food safety should always be a top consideration when planning community-based programs. Don’t take chances with food safety. Below are some resources to support your food safety efforts.
Having healthy recipes on hand can make menu planning easier. If you are a beginner in the kitchen, choose recipes with fewer ingredients and less steps to prepare. Once you have mastered those, increase your repertoire by trying more advanced recipes.
To keep things interesting, consider trying a new recipe each week.
If you are running a healthy eating program in your organization, provide time and space for a recipe swap. This can be a great opportunity for program participants to share recipes they’ve tried and liked.
See more healthy eating resources in the Resource Library.