Good morning, friends! I hope the start to your day has been fantastic! I am excited because, a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go on a Registered Dietitian Consultation at my local Loblaws, and today, I am going to share my experience with you!
With the school season right around the corner (omg!) and less and less time on our hands, making healthy choices can sometimes be on the back of our minds. Which is completely understandable. So, I met with a local Registered Dietitian, Melanie, at the Loblaws City Market, to do a little grocery store tour, and learn some tips and tricks to make back to school, and healthy eating a breeze.
As a student, I have classes, labs, meetings and projects all throughout the day, and usually tend to stay a bit late to study. So finding the easiest and most simple way to be healthy is huge for me. Melanie started off the consultation by introducing me to two quick tools I can use when I’m in a time crunch and grocery shopping.
First, the PC Blue Menu – when grocery shopping under a time constraint, this can be a great tool to use. PC Blue Menu items are clearly labeled and are healthier options that are lower in fat and sodium, and higher in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, among other! For instance, when stocking up on cereal, nuts & seeds, granola bars, frozen entrees, desserts, snacks and more, look for the PC Blue Menu boxes.
She also introduced me to the Guiding Stars- something that I had never heard of before! Guiding Stars is a program created by third-party scientists to make healthier choices easy to spot. Foods in Loblaw stores are categorized by having 0, 1, 2 or 3 stars (this includes fresh foods like produce). 3 stars is the highest rating a food can have. So the way to use this tool is when deciding between products, you can refer to the stars to help you make healthier, more nutritious choice, without having to extensively study the nutrition label or ingredients list! So this tool is absolutely perfect for students who don’t have the time to spare reading labels for an extra hour every time they are at the grocery store! Just simply look at the shelf tags to find out how many stars an item has! How do foods get their stars? It works on a credit/debt scale. Foods get credits for having Vitamins, Minerals, Dietary Fibre, Whole Grains and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, however, they lose stars by having Added Sugar, Added Sodium, Trans Fats, and Saturated Fats!
While touring through Loblaws, Melanie gave me some amazing tips and tricks to make back-to-school and eating-on-the-go (AKA in the library) easy!
Of course, it’s super important to get in your vegetables every day. Not only are they high in vitamins and minerals, but also dietary fibre! If looking to save a few bucks on veggies, try buying in season vegetables! If running short on the amount of time you have to prep food. Pre-cut and washed vegetables are available, and also pre-made salads that can be used for 2-3 meals! The nice thing about these salads is that the dressing is on the side, so you can choose what you want and also limit the amount you want as well!
If wanting to make a salad from scratch, try making it in batches. Have two bowls, one just for the salad leaves, and another for all other vegetables, toppings, and dressing. You want to keep these separate because salad leaves get soggy and discoloured very easily. On the day of, just through some of each bowl into a container, and you’re good to go! You can also omit the salad dressing and just take a smaller, separate container with you! Other ways to incorporate vegetables into your day! Chopped veggies and hummus! A great way to add protein too 🙂 and if you’re lucky there might just be some made in-store!
Fruit, of course, is another amazing and healthy snack option. Buying in season produce, again, can help students to save a few dollars, and there are options for pre-cut fruits and fruit salad, done in-store! I love cutting up a green apple and taking it with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, or a slice of cheddar cheese! That way you get some yummy fruit and some protein to keep you going!
Money Saving Tip: Buying frozen vegetables and fruit is much cheaper than buying fresh!
Another way to incorporate fruit is by making a yogurt parfait! Try to find a yogurt that is plain in flavour! I like Oikos Greek yogurt, or Skyr (so thick and creamy). Plain yogurt has less added sugar, and if you add frozen fruit to it, it provides you with natural sweetness! I like to buy big containers of yogurt, as this reduces waste and is better on the wallet compared to individually packaged yogurts, but if looking for a quicker option, the individual yogurt containers work perfectly, and some frozen berries or other fruits can easily be tossed on top!
Now, on to the most important meal of the day – breakfast! Which also happens to be my favorite meal of the day. One great tip Melanie gave me, is to try to incorporate eggs into my breakfast. Eggs are jam packed with protein, giving me fuel to start my day and get my brain going. They also are super-fast to scramble or make an omelet – which is a perfect way to add in some spinach. Or on a Sunday, make an easy crustless quiche by mixing eggs, milk, veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, anything really) and a little cheese. Pair it with a piece of whole grain toast, and you have breakfast for the whole week done, on a Sunday! Boiling eggs in batches is also super convenient. By doing this, you have the option to take them to school and add them to a salad, sandwich or eat them plain throughout the day!
For students really wanting to cut back on spending $$$ – consider beans and lentils rather than meats (steak, pork, chicken), which is quite expensive right now. Beans and lentils are super friendly on your wallet, but are JAM PACKED with protein (they share a food group with meat!) and fibre and TONS of minerals and vitamins! Batch cook curries, lentil salads, and more on Sundays for super easy on-the-go meals! Loblaws also has frozen PC Blue Menu beans and lentils, so you can use as much or as little as you want at one time!
Now, onto something that I always struggle with – snacking. The best tip I received about this was to NOT snack while studying. If we do this, we are mindless about it and can overeat without even thinking about it. It is SO important to take a break and focus on our food rather than just chowing down and not even realizing how much we’re eating. It’s also important to have healthy options and treats as well – especially when studying. If you love granola or a certain processed snack like chips or popcorn, take a small amount, and really enjoy it when you eat it!
Of course, the best way to reduce the stress involved with eating healthy and being in school is to plan ahead. As a type-A nutrition student, this is something I always try to do, but still struggle with. Finding one day a week to prepare meals and food is important! Spend time cutting fresh vegetables, prepping salads, slicing fruits, making breakfast, batch cooking eggs and anything and everything on your menu for the upcoming week. Not only will this give you extra time to study or relax during the week, but it will also give you peace of mind!
Overall, Loblaws completely swept me off my feet. The one in Edmonton is located in an area filled with students, and so the healthy options they have available, for people who both want to save money or want to save time, are incredible. And with the tools they have to make choosing healthy foods easy, you really can’t go wrong. Along with this, they have unique and local items in stock, as well as fresh juices, GUACAMOLE, desserts (treat yo-self!) and more… I don’t think I’ll be able to grocery shop anywhere else ever again!
Loblaw stores are here to help Canadians achieve their health and wellness goals with the support of its in-store Registered Dietitians who provide expert advice in a convenient location. Dietitian Consultations are FREE OF CHARGE at your local Loblaw store – you can either choose to have a one-on-one nutrition counselling session, or head to one of their in-store workshops, classes or food demos! They also have grocery store tours where you can turn to them for advice on meal prep, healthy eating and more! Learn more about the dietitian services and find out what store locations offer the service, visit loblaws.ca/dietitians. When you book your consultation, be sure to mention you read about the services on With Love Meg.
Thank you so much for reading this post! Hope you all have a fantastic rest of your day and are motivated to get into the swing of things for back to school! And thank you to Loblaw for this great opportunity!
With Love, Meg