Developing healthier eating habits can be difficult. If you know that your family needs to eat better, but wonder where to start, you're in luck. March is Nutrition Month, the perfect time to check out the resources put together by the Dieticians of Canada, a professional association dedicated to helping Canadians learn healthier eating habits.

Below is a step-by-step guide created by the Dieticians of Canada to help you make lasting improvements to your diet.

Step 1: Connect with a dietician 
If you want to overhaul your eating habits, it's helpful to enlist the guidance of a professional. Dieticians are qualified nutrition professionals that have undergone rigorous training and education, and are regulated by the province they operate in. They are experts in guiding families and individuals in crafting personalized eating plans and learning techniques to make healthy eating a sustainable part of their lifestyle. 

Dieticians have a unique blend of scientific knowledge and an understanding of human behavior that enables them to be lifestyle counsellors. Working with a dietician can also help you reduce the the risk of developing certain nutrition-related diseases, such as diabetes, as well as improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels. A dietician can be a dependable and motivating partner who can help you turn healthy eating into a sustainable, real-life habit. 

Check out the Dieticians of Canada website has many helpful resources for contacting a dietician in your community.  

eatingA dietician can help you develop a healthy eating plan.

Step 2: Assess your eating habits 
The second step in overhauling your diet is assessing your current eating habits. A great way to do this is by keeping a food journal. Buy a small notebook and record everything you eat for at least two weeks. Write exactly what you ate, the time and how you felt before and after eating. This information is useful because seeing how you felt when you reached for a certain food can help you identify emotional or environmental triggers that may be contributing to your desire to eat. For example, you may find out that you reach for ice cream when you're stressed or get unhealthy take-out every night you need to work late. 

Keeping a food journal gives you the chance to see an overview of the types of foods you eat on a regular basis and take stock of areas that need improvement. 

Step 3: Gather recipes
Once you have an idea of your eating habits, you'll want to assemble a collection of basic healthy recipes that you can make each day. Dieticians of Canada provides a downloadable set of 15 nutritious recipes that are delicious and easy to make for any meal. The recipes include:

  • Roasted Salmon and Broccoli with Lemon Parmesan Sauce. 
  • Spiced Chia Pudding. 
  • Taco Soup. 

Having some simple recipes on hand makes cooking healthy meals much easier. 

Step 4: Make eating healthy as easy as possible
To keep your healthy eating plan going, and not just something you follow for a week or two, you should make enjoying nutritious foods as easy and convenient for your lifestyle as possible. 

"Make enjoying nutritious foods as easy and convenient for your lifestyle as possible."

One way to do this is by prepping your meals ahead of time. This can be very helpful if you have a busy schedule and don't always have time to make balanced meals from scratch each day. Meal prepping means cooking large batches of healthy foods at the beginning of the week - on a day you have lots of free time, like Sunday, for example - and then portioning them out and refrigerating the meals for easy access throughout the week. 

Step 5: Keep going 
You've recruited the help of a dietician, assessed your eating habits, gathered recipes and taken steps to make healthy eating more convenient for you - the next step is to keep going! With a plan in place, you can change your eating habits over time. If you have an off day or indulge a little too much in an unhealthy snack, don't beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself, and remember your ultimate goal: to eat better to improve your health and well-being. You've got this!