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Nutrition Bites: Protect Your Health And Your Pennies

Food myths can be destructive so let’s bust a few while balancing your body and your bucks.
Maryke Schouten

Nowadays grocery shopping burdens your pocketbook, but you can still make healthy choices and watch your money. Food myths can be destructive so let’s bust a few while balancing your body and your bucks.

Myth 1- fresh produce is the healthiest; Myth 2 – plant-based proteins are not as good as meat; Myth 3 – grain foods (aka carbohydrates) are bad.

All not true!

Myth Buster # 1 - fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are all pretty equal nutritionally so don’t beat yourself up for choosing one over the other. Canned and frozen produce are generally processed when they are most nutritious - at the point of harvest - and the processing helps lock in vitamins and minerals (just avoid products with added sugar and salt.) Nutrients decline as fresh produce travels across North America and with time, so consider how long it stays in your kitchen before consumption. Alberta produce is not exactly bountiful in winter therefore canned or frozen, which are generally more economical, are great options.

Myth Buster #2 – plant-based protein versus meat - research has shown that eating a variety of protein types best supports your overall health. Protein supports our muscles and bones for strength and balance and is also required for many hormonal functions. Meat is shockingly expensive these days, so try cutting animal protein in half in your recipe and adding a plant-based alternative like textured vegetable protein or changing your pasta to a higher protein (and fibre) version like a chickpea or lentil.

Myth Buster #3 – grain foods are good for you! They are the major source of energy in our food, which is required by our brains and bodies for optimal performance. Whole grains are a rich source of many nutrients as well as something many Canadians lack: fibre. Fibre helps us feel more satisfied after a meal (reducing the need for snacking), keeps everything moving in our digestive systems and supports gut health. Look for words like ‘whole grain’ on ingredient lists, perhaps try mixing brown and white rice together or even something new like quinoa. Buying bulk (large packages or from bulk bins) is almost always more economical and the bins are a great way to purchase a small amount when trying a new ingredient.

Other important factors to managing food costs are to create and follow a meal plan, make a shopping list and stick to it. Store-specific apps, watching flyers and shopping on ‘deal days’ can all make a big difference to your bottom dollar. Lasting changes are built on baby steps, so choose one area to focus on and work slowly towards healthier choices while also watching those pennies.

Maryke Schouten has been a registered dietitian for over two decades, working with all ages to provide both individual and group health education that serves to help people authentically reflect on all the ways that food is nourishing: socially, culturally, emotionally and physically. She is a long-time Airdrie resident, published author, gardener and avid foodie.


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