Nutrition

Not only does the food we eat nourish us, but it also has an impact on preventing disease and promoting healthy development. The environment in which we live, work, and play can make it more difficult to eat well. The Brant County Health Unit is working to make eating well more achievable within our community, throughout all stages of life.

We promote:

  • Ways to access credible nutrition advice from Registered Dietitians who are experts in nutrition
  • Community programs and partners involved with food accessibility, and food literacy skills
  • Monitoring food affordability in Brant
  • Nutrition for different ages and stages

Learn more in the links below.

Registered Dietitians

Registered Dietitians are experts in nutrition. Registered Dietitians in Public are working to make it easier to access food and make food choices that are right for you.

Nutrition Advice – In Person

Dietitians who provide one-on-one nutrition counselling can be found in different settings. Some work in healthcare settings as part of a health team and others work alone in a clinic or private practice to provide nutrition counselling. Many Dietitians offer services virtually and they are covered by most employee health benefit plans if you are interested in seeking a consultation from a Registered Dietitian. See the tool from Dietitian’s of Canada – Find a Dietitian to locate a Dietitian near you.

Nutrition Advice – Online

Sometimes the nutrition advice found on social media feeds, through word of mouth and web searches can lead to spreading misinformation if not from a credible source. General nutrition advice on countless food, health and feeding topics for you and your family can be found from these credible sources:

Nutrition Advice – Over the Phone

You can speak with a Registered Dietitian for free from Health811 at 1-866-797-0007 or 811 – ask to speak to a Registered Dietitian.

Or, if you have a general question for the Brant County Health Unit Registered Dietitian, contact 519-753-4937 ext. 458.

Whatever your interest or need related to food, our community partners and programs have a way to help you access it. You may be wondering where to join a community garden, where to access free or low-cost food or where to join a cooking group. Look no further!

Feed Brant

Did you know that there is an amazing local website for you to find free and low-cost places to get, grow, learn about, and eat food in Brantford and the County of Brant? Learn about: community gardens, programs, food banks and cupboards, community kitchens, farmers markets, community groups and more!  Visit Feed Brant to discover this handy local resource managed by the Brant Food System Coalition’s Education Committee.

Feed Brant also hosts the Brant Food Charter & Toolkit – documents made by the community that highlights how our community food system should function. It can be used to plan activities around food and advocate for change. It was endorsed by City of Brantford Council and County of Brant Council in 2019.

Community Health Brokers

Community Health Brokers with the Brant County Health Unit connect people in our community with the health resources that they can benefit from. They are a key component of communicating nutrition information and building nutrition literacy within our community. They also share information on other topics outside of nutrition to take a comprehensive approach to health to reduce chronic disease risk and reduce harm. Community Health Brokers provide programs at different locations throughout our region by collaborating with community partners. Some examples of nutrition programs that the Community Health Brokers facilitate within the County of Brant and Brantford are:

  • Crockpot and sheet-pan cooking groups
  • Healthy Bingo
  • Snack and chat

If you are interested in joining a Community Health Broker’s program or are a community organization interested in hosting a program, please call our health unit at 519-753-4937 ext. 458.

Community Food Educators

What is a CFE?

A Community Food Educator (CFE) is a volunteer trained to help educate the community on a variety of topics related to food.  CFE’s assist with or lead cooking classes, cooking demos and presentations to groups of all ages.

Possible session topics include:

  • Cooking for one or two
  • Food choices on a budget
  • Reading food labels
  • Menu planning
  • Cooking skills

The Brant Community Food Educators will work with you to develop sessions that meet the needs of your group.  Sessions can vary in length and can occur at any time, depending on CFE availability.  We can even do the grocery shopping for you!

If interested in requesting a CFE service on behalf of a group or organization, you can download our service request form and email it to cfebrant@gmail.com.

Service Request Form

If interested in becoming a CFE, email cfebrant@gmail.com 

Please note that organizations/groups requesting a cooking demo or class are responsible for covering any food related costs.  In addition, there is a $20.00 administration fee per session.

Brant Food For Thought

Brant Food For Thought is the lead agency that supports and facilitates Student Nutrition Programs in elementary and secondary schools in Brantford and the County of Brant.  We believe that good nutrition contributes to a child’s ability to learn and that all children and youth should have equitable access to the most nutritious foods possible. Brant Food For Thought is investing in our children and youth today, for a healthy and vibrant community tomorrow!

For more information on Brant Food For Thought and our local student nutrition programs, visit: Brant Food For Thought

Household food insecurity refers to when a household has inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints.

Eating according to Canada’s food guide recommendations is not feasible when there is not adequate, consistent access to food. An individual can only begin making food choices that are right for them once food security is achieved. Food insecurity contributes to chronic disease risk in our community.

Food insecurity goes beyond poor nutritional status; it can have a serious impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Food insecure households are more vulnerable to chronic and infectious diseases, poor oral heath and chronic conditions like depression and anxiety disorders. Food insecurity is affecting people across Canada and right in our community.  Based on data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey (CIS), 15.9% of households in the ten provinces were food-insecure in 2021.

For more information on food insecurity visit:

PROOF (utoronto.ca)

Food Affordability in Brant

Each year, the Brant County Health Unit surveys the price of food items from local grocery stores. Using this data and a survey tool called the Nutritious Food Basket, we calculate the cost of healthy eating in Brantford and the County of Brant and compare it to income scenarios of different groups. This helps us understand how feasible it is for people with different sources of income to eat healthy in our community. Food costing tools can be used to raise awareness about the cost of healthy eating and to assist policy and decision makers to formulate sound health, nutrition, and social policies.

For the full report visit: Reports – Brant County Health Unit (bchu.org)

Resources

 

Recipes

Part of eating well involves eating a wide variety of foods so that each food can complement the nutrients that other foods lack. Finding new recipes can help expand the variety of foods you consume, make eating more enjoyable, and helps with meal planning!

Below are some of the resources for finding delicious new recipes, whatever your diet type may be:

Different age groups and special populations may require specific information on what to eat.

The way adults talk and act around kids matters. Sometimes adults say things about weight or food that can make kids feel bad about their body or what they eat, without knowing the harm. The good news is that parents and caregivers can make a difference with just a few small changes.

Being careful with how we talk about weight and food does not mean that eating well is not important. Eating well is needed for kids to grow and become their best self. We can still talk about these topics with our kids, but not during eating times and when kids are ready to learn about it.

Note: You may need to simplify or enhance word choice depending on the age of your child.

Talking About Weight

Download our printable resource.

Instead of saying… Say…
“Wow, Aunt Brenda looks great with her weight loss.” Nothing about people’s weight change.

If the child talks about it, you could say:

“Yes, Aunt Brenda’s body looks like it has changed. Sometimes weight changes for different reasons. People can be healthy at all different sizes.”

“I could lose 10 lbs.” Nothing about weight loss.

Tip: When kids hear others talk about weight loss, it can make them consider if weight loss if needed for their body also.

“I go to the gym so that I can gain muscle and look fit.” “I go to the gym because exercise makes my mind and body feel good. I exercise so that I can keep my body working the way I want it to.”
“If Joe just ate better, he wouldn’t be so heavy.” Don’t comment on people’s weight, diet or exercise level.

 

If the child talk about it, you can say:
“People eat the way they do for all different reasons, not just for health and body size. We don’t know about the reasons someone is eating the way they are and shouldn’t judge their choices.”

“I could keep up with you if I were in better shape.” “When I was a kid, I moved just as fast as you. As I get older, I have slowed down a bit, but my body still works for what I need it to. I am thankful for the work my body does for me.”
“You’re not fat!”
When your child says…
“I’m fat!”
“What made you feel this way and what do you think that means?”
“Some people use the word fat in a mean way, to hurt people’s feelings. Bodies can be healthy and beautiful at all sizes.” (Explore any follow up that may be needed if bullying is identified.)

Talking About Food

Instead of saying… Say…
“If you eat your broccoli, you can watch TV tonight.” “Hey, let’s play a game about your dinner. Can you describe what you think broccoli tastes, feels, smells and looks like without using the words yuck or yum? Can you think of a food that tastes similar to broccoli? (Play this game with other foods too, not just the ones you are trying to get them to eat more of.)

Tip: The point of this game is to provide neutral exposure to the foods without any pressure to eat it. It also does not use food as a bribe, which can make kids want to eat it even less without being rewarded.

“You can come with me to the grocery store, but you can only pick out one treat.” “You can come to the grocery store with me if you want. You can pick the cookies and some fruit.” (Call food what it is, avoid labels like “treat”.)
“I don’t think you need that extra serving of pasta, you’ve ate a lot.” Do not comment on portion sizes or servings – even when it seems like a lot.

Tip: Kids appetites vary day to day. Outside of eating times you can talk about and practice mindful eating together and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Remove distractions and technology when eating and try to eat together as a family as much as possible.

“You need to make healthier food choices.” “As your parent, it is my role to choose what food to offer you and when. You can choose how much and if you want to eat it. If you chose not to eat the food that I serve, that is up to you.”

 

Tip: Teaching young kids about nutrition and letting them be in charge of making their own food choices can lead to negative relationships with food. Wait until they are ready to introduce these topics and roles.

Additional Resources for Talking About Weight and Food Around Kids

Talking with Your Kids about Food and Weight

How to Talk to Kids About Weight (A Guide for Parents) – Kids Eat in Color

How to Talk to Kids about Weight (eatright.org)

talking-to-kids-about-food.pdf (northernhealth.ca)

Having body-positive conversations with children: A parent guide for confident conversations about weight (hollandbloorview.ca)

 

When a Child is Considered Overweight

Should you talk to your kids about weight (uconnruddcenter.org)

Helping Your Child Who Is Overweight | HealthLink BC

 

If Your Child is Dieting & finding Help with Eating Disorders

Dieting: Information for parents, teachers and coaches | Caring for kids (cps.ca)

Understanding and Finding Help for Eating Disorders (cmha.ca) (Note – it is not recommended to talk kids directly about eating disorders)

 

General Nutrition for Parents and Children

Healthy eating for parents and children – Canada’s Food Guide

Picky Eating – Unlock Food

 

Weight Bias Self Reflection

Take a Test (harvard.edu) (select the Weight IAT button, 5th from the bottom after the consent page)

 

Weight-Based Bullying

Weight-based Teasing and Bullying in Children: How Parents Can Help – HealthyChildren.org