Healthy Foods

Healthy Foods

Schools are an ideal place for children and youth to observe and learn about healthy eating. Children learn about nutrition at school and they often eat at school or buy meals and snacks there.

This tool explains how to choose foods and beverages that fit the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education’s nutrition standards for Saskatchewan Schools found within Nourishing Minds:  Towards  Comprehensive School Community Health: Nutrition Policy Development in Saskatchewan Schools. Use this tool to help select foods and beverages to be served or sold in schools.

Nourishing Minds promotes offering high quality nutritious foods and beverages in school lunch or snack programs, vending machines, canteens, school and classroom celebrations, fundraising, sporting events and other special school community events.

Nutrition standards are provided for each of the four food groups in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and for Mixed Dishes. Mixed Dishes contain two or more food groups.
How to use Healthy Foods for my School

Most foods and beverages served or sold in school should fall within the Choose Most Often category. Foods that do not meet the nutrition standards for at least a Choose Sometimes food or beverage should not be offered in schools.

Choosing Foods

Foods and beverages served or sold in schools should fit into one of the four food groups in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.

Healthy Foods for my School builds on Canada’s Food Guide and Nourishing Minds by outlining nutrition standards. Use Canada’s Food  Guide to help decide what food group  a food belongs to and use the nutrition standards to determine if the food or beverage is a Choose Most Often or a Choose Sometimes food.

Choose Most Often foods:

  • are fresh vegetables and fruit; whole grain products; pasteurized and unsweetened milk and alternatives; lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs and meat alternatives such as lentils, beans and tofu
  • contain a variety of nutrients for healthy growth and development
  • are generally lower in fat, sugar and salt and higher in fibre than Choose Sometimes

The Choose Sometimes category provides minimum nutrition standards for foods and beverages.

Choose Sometimes foods:

  • are often processed foods
  • are a source of nutrients for healthy growth and development
  • are generally higher in fat, sugar and salt and lower in fibre than Choose Most Often

It is best for health to select Choose Most Often foods whenever possible.

Health and education are interdependent. The equation is a simple one.

Reading the Label

Find out which food group the food belongs to by looking at the ingredient list.

Ingredients are listed in order of weight, from the most to the least. The first few ingredients usually help to identify the food group that product belongs to. For each food group, look for specific ingredients.

In the yogurt example to the right, skim milk is the first ingredient, therefore this product belongs in the Milk & Alternatives group.

Amount (ServingSize)

All of the information in the Nutrition Facts table is based on an amount of food. The amount of food is listed at the top of the Nutrition Facts table.

The amount of food is often called a serving size.

Keep these points in mind:

  • The amount of food on the Nutrition Facts table can differ from a Canada Food Guide serving
  • Single serving packages may be more or less than one Canada Food Guide

What is % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (% DV) is in the Nutrition Facts table on food packages. It provides a quick overview of the nutrient profile of a food.

Youcan use the % DV to  compare two different food products to make a healthier choice.

You can use the % DV to choose products that are higher in the nutrients you want more of and lower in the nutrients you want less of.

Vegetables & Fruit
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Ingredients: Skim milk, cream,
active bacterial cultures.Yogurt Example 

The food belongs in the Vegetables and Fruit group if:

  • The first ingredient is a vegetable or
  • Sugar is not the first ingredient (sugar comes in many forms such as honey, molasses, fruit

juice and fruit juice concentrate).

Vegetable and fruit juice must be 100% unsweetened. With these juices, water may be the first ingredient. Make sure the juice does not have the words “made with real fruit juice” or “beverage, punch, cocktail, drink”.

To meet the Choose Most Often standard, the food needs to have:

  • no sugar, salt, or fat added
Possible examples of Choose Most Often foods:
  • fresh vegetables and fruit
  • frozen vegetables or fruit without added sugar, salt, fat or sauces
  • unsweetened applesauce

Choose Sometimes

Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Sometimes standard:

Possible examples of Choose Sometimes foods:

  • fresh, frozen or canned vegetables with added sugar, salt, fat or sauces
  • fruit canned in water, juice and light syrup
  • low sodium canned vegetable soup
  • 100% unsweetened juice
  • dried fruit, 100% fruit leathers, 100% fruit or vegetables bars
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Grain Products

The food belongs in the Grain Products group if:

  • The first ingredient is a whole grain, enriched wheat flour or

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To meet the Choose Most Often standard:

  • a whole grain must be the first ingredient
  • sugar cannot be the first or second ingredient (sugar comes in many forms such as honey, molasses, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate)
Possible examples of Choose Most Often foods:
  • whole grain bread, buns, tortillas, pita bread, baked bannock
  • whole grain pasta
  • brown or wild rice

   Choose Most Often

  • barley or quinoa
  • whole grain unsweetened or low sugar cereal
  • unsweetened oatmeal

enriched white bread, buns, tortillas, pita bread, bannockPossible examples of Choose Sometimes foods:Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Sometimes standard:

  • enriched pasta
  • white rice
  • pancakes and waffles
  • muffins and loaves
  • granola bars (not coated)
  • plain popcorn
  • rice cakes
  • crackers

Milk and Alternatives

The food belongs in the Milk and Alternatives group if:

  • The first ingredient is milk or a milk product, not including cream; or
  • water is the first ingredient and the second ingredient is

Almond, rice and other similar beverages are not appropriate milk alternatives because they do not contain the level of protein found in milk or fortified soy beverage.

To meet the Choose Most Often standard, the food needs to:

  • have no sugar added (sugar comes in many forms such as honey, molasses, fruit juice and fruit juiceconcentrate)
  • be low in fat
Possible examples of Choose Most Often foods:
  • skim, 1% or 2% milk
  • fortified, unflavoured soy beverages
  • low fat evaporated milk
  • plain and unsweetened yogurt

Choose Sometimes

Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Sometimes standard.


whole milk
Possible examples of Choose Sometimes foods:
  • flavoured and chocolate milk
  • fortified, flavoured soy beverages
  • flavoured yogurt
  • pudding made with milk
  • hot chocolate made with milk
  • cheese and string cheese
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Choose Most Often

Meat and Alternatives

The food belongs in the Meat and Alternatives group if:

  • The first ingredient listed is a meat (beef, pork, lamb, wild meat, etc), fish, shellfish, poultry, egg, a legume (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc), nut, seed, tofu or
  • To meet the Choose Most Often standard, the food needs to be:6 
  • lean, with no breading
  • prepared with little or no added fat, salt, or sugar
Possible examples of Choose Most Often foods:
  • roasted, baked or grilled meat, chicken or  fish
  • wild meat if butchered in an approved  facility
  • lean ground meat
  • cooked eggs
  • canned tuna, salmon and chicken with no salt or oil added
  • cooked dried beans, peas and lentils
  • tofu and soy burgers
  • unsweetened and unsalted seeds, nuts and nut butters

Choose Sometimes

Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Sometimes standard: fish canned in oilPossible examples of Choose Sometimes foods:

  • breaded fish, meat and chicken
  • canned beans and beans with sauce
  • lean deli meat such as ham and turkey
  • salted and sweetened seeds, nuts and nut butters

Mixed Dishes

The food belongs in the Mixed Dishes group if:

  • It contains foods from at least two of the four food groups according to Canada’s Food Guide.

Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Most Often standard.

  • the food has to meet the criteria for fat, sodium, sugar, fibre AND at least one of the following: Vitamin A, C, calcium or

Use the Nutrition Facts table on the food package to see if the food meets the Choose Sometimes standard.

  • the food has to meet the criteria for fat, sodium, sugar and either fibre OR one of the following: Vitamin A, C, calcium or
Possible examples of Choose Most Often foods:
  • sub or pita sandwiches
  • wraps
  • tuna and cracker snack kits
  • fruit and yogurt smoothies
  • frozen entrees that meet the standard
Possible examples of Choose Sometimes foods:
  • canned soup or stew
  • pizza, soft tacos, quesadillas, or fajitas
  • stir fry meat and vegetables
  • frozen entrees that meet the standard
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Other Things to Consider

Food Preparation

This tool helps you select healthier foods and beverages, but remember, how the food is prepared also affects nutritional value. For example, deep- frying food or sweetening it with sugar makes food less nutritious.

“Homemade” foods can be healthier than store bought products. Recipes can be changed to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt and increase the fibre content.

Variety

No one food provides all the nutrients for good health. Choose a variety

of foods from all four food groups in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.

Appeal

Make the healthier choice the easier choice by ensuring healthy foods

in schools look, taste, and smell appealing.

Cultural Foods

Traditional foods, from a variety of cultures, help celebrate diversity. Try bannock, naan, lentils, bok choy, kefir or hummus.

Allergies & Other Medical Conditions

This tool supports healthy eating for all. Some students may have specialized needs that require a clinical diet.  Check  the  school for policies regarding allergies, type 1 diabetes and other medical

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