First Nations and Inuit


Nutrition Labelling Toolkit for Educators - First Nations and Inuit Focus

Canada has new laws for nutrition information on food labels. Nutrition information will now be easier to find and easier to read. More prepackaged store foods will have the Nutrition Facts table. Some foods will also carry nutrition claims. As before, all prepackaged foods will have the list of ingredients. This nutrition information will help make it easier to choose healthy foods when you are shopping.

The Nutrition Labelling Toolkit for Educators - First Nations and Inuit Focus will help you understand the new food labels. The Toolkit will also help you show others in your community how to use food labels so they can make healthier choices in the grocery store. We all know that healthy people grow from healthy choices. Before we look at what the Toolkit has to offer, let's look at why reading food labels is important for our health.

Eating habits have changed

In the past, First Nations and Inuit got all of their food from the land and water around them. The variety and types of animals, birds, fish and plants that were eaten depended on things like the season and where different First Nations and Inuit groups lived. Traditional food was very much a part of the culture and way of life. And as long as there was enough food, it gave people all the nutrition they needed to stay strong and healthy.

Most people now eat a mix of traditional and store food. While the store may offer many healthy choices, it also sells food that is not nearly as nutritious as the traditional food it has replaced. As well as eating less traditional food, people are leading less active lives. Sadly, this change in diet and lifestyle has caused many people, including children, to be less healthy. The good news is that being active and eating in a healthy way may prevent health concerns such as overweight, diabetes and heart disease.

Choosing foods for healthy eating

One of the first steps to healthy eating is to know what it is all about. Healthy eating means to:

  • Choose a variety of foods from the four food groups
  • Enjoy traditional food as often as possible
  • Use food labels to make healthy choices when buying packaged store foodFood labels can help you choose foods that are:
    • higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals
    • lower in fat, sugar and salt

The Nutrition Labelling Toolkit for Educators -First Nations and Inuit Focus provides information on reading, understanding and using food labels. The following resource people can also help you gain knowledge and skills for healthy eating:

  • Elders in your community can provide information on how to harvest, prepare and use traditional food.
  • A dietitian or a qualified nutritionist working in your community or region can share with you information and resources on how to balance traditional and store foods for healthy eating. He or she can also provide more information on using food labels to make healthy and informed choices when shopping.

The Nutrition Labelling Toolkit for Educators - First Nations and Inuit Focus contains

  1. Ready-to-go Presentation
    This ready-to-use package has resources that you can use to share nutrition information on food labels with people in your community. The package contains ideas to help you plan and do a presentation on nutrition labelling. The presentation has basic information on nutrition labelling and some activity ideas to practice using nutrition labels. To show this presentation, you could use either an overhead projector, or a computer with projector. If you don't have either, you could photocopy the papers as handouts.
  2. Consumer Tear Sheet
    This is a colorful handout with key messages on Nutrition Facts table and nutrition claims. You can give this to people.
  3. Questions-and-Answers Sheet
    Common questions with answers - more background information for you.

How to use the pieces of the Nutrition Labelling Toolkit for Educators - First Nations and Inuit Focus

You can use the different pieces of the toolkit on their own or together. Here are two examples of how nutrition labelling information might be shared in your community.

A Community Health Representative or Associate (CHR/CHA) sets up a booth at a local store or a community fair promoting heart health. When community members visit this display he shows them how to use nutrition claims, ingredient lists, or the Nutrition Facts table on various food packages to choose foods lower in saturated fat. People should reduce their intake of saturated fat because saturated fat increases risk for heart disease.

A CPNP worker is counselling a pregnant woman who is really motivated to eat well during her pregnancy. The CPNP program worker has examples of foods labelled with the Nutrition Facts table in her office. She explains to the pregnant woman to look for high % Daily Values for nutrients of concern like iron or calcium.

The Ready-to-go Presentation package has more examples of how to use nutrition labelling information with people in your community.

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