Healthy eating is a pattern of eating that contributes to best possible health through positive relationships with food and diverse, balanced food choices that meet a person’s needs for nutrients and energy.
Healthy eating promotes and supports social, physical, and mental well-being for all people at all ages and stages of life and contributes to the overall health of individuals, families, and communities. Healthy eating helps minimize the risk and occurrence and supports the management of disease.
Under the leadership of the Provincial Dietitian, the province is addressing healthy eating by:
- Building partnerships to support healthy living
- Creating, identifying and communicating evidence-based best practice resources with partners and stakeholders
- Developing strategic policy to ensure activities and programs are both effective and aligned with goals
- Ensuring accountability for managing resources and monitoring outcomes as programs and policies are developed and implemented.
Since September 2009, British Columbia has restricted the amount of trans fat served in food service establishments. Under this regulation, all food service establishments in the province must meet three regulatory requirements for all food located on the premises, used in preparation, served, or offered for sale.
Healthy Food and Beverage Sales
In British Columbia, guidelines have been developed that set out the minimum nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in a variety of public places. The guidelines are tools to help create healthy eating environments where people work, learn and play.
The Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools define the nutrition standard that schools are required to apply to all food and beverages sold to students. This document contains information, tools and fact sheets to support implementation of these mandated Guidelines in schools and at school sanctioned events.
The Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings Policy came into effect in 2006 and was updated in 2014 to align with other provincial nutrition standards. The policy applies to vending machines located in provincial public buildings, including health care facilities.
Sodium Reduction in Health Care
As part of B.C.’s Sodium Reduction in Health-Care Initiative, the Province is working in partnership with B.C. health authorities to lower the sodium content of patient and resident meals in publicly funded health-care facilities. B.C. hospitals and care facilities have made significant progress reducing the amount of sodium in meals served to patients and residents and continue to work towards the sodium target. See the link below for a summary of the initiative. For more information, visit HealthyFamiliesBC
The Informed Dining in Health Care Facilities program requires retail food service establishments located in health care facilities to provide customers nutrition information with a focus on calories and sodium. Calorie and sodium information is highlighted for all standard menu items. Daily calorie and sodium requirements are also displayed to help the public understand how menu items compare to daily nutrient needs.
Pediatric Nutrition Guidelines
The Pediatric Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals were developed in 2016 in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to provide guidance for all health professionals who work with infants and children in British Columbia. This document is intended to be a quick reference guide and outlines evidence-informed nutrition and feeding guidelines and nutrition risk indicators for healthy, full-term infants and children from about six months (introducing solid foods) up to six years of age.
Many healthy eating programs and services are available to British Columbians through partnerships between the Ministry of Health, health authorities and non-government agencies. Discuss any food or nutrition issue with a registered dietitian by calling DietitianServicesHealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and asking to speak to a dietitian or by emailing a HealthLink dietitian.
Informed Dining BC
Participating restaurants provide their guests with nutrition information, at or before the point of ordering, for all standard menu items.
In 2015, a comprehensive evaluation of the voluntary private sector Informed Dining program was conducted.
BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program
The program delivers fruit and vegetable snacks to Kindergarten to grade 12 students in 90% of B.C. schools to support learning about healthy eating and local, seasonal food. The program also delivers milk to students in Kindergarten to grade 2.
Farm to School BC
Farm to School BC brings healthy, local food into schools through partnerships with local farmers and helps students learn about the food system.
Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program helps lower-income seniors and families, including pregnant women, access locally grown produce and food products.
Food Skills for Families
This hands-on cooking program helps lower-income families learn to select and to prepare healthy food.
ShapedownBC provides medical, nutritional and psychological assessment, education and support for children ages 6-17 dealing with weight related health and social issues. ShapedownBC is delivered in Fraser Health (Surrey/Langley), Island Health (Nanaimo), Interior Health (Kamloops) , Northern Health (Prince George), BC Children’s Hospital (Vancouver) and a Chinese language version is offered in Vancouver Coastal Health (Richmond).
Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! (MEND)
This community based program supports children ages 7-13 at an unhealthy weight to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. MEND is offered through recreation centres throughout BC.
A variety of print and web resources are available to provide individuals and families with the knowledge and skills needed to choose and enjoy nutritious foods for optimal growth and development, preventing chronic disease and lifelong wellness. Find articles, blogs, videos and recipes focusing on reducing sodium and sugary drinks and increasing fruits and vegetables at the HealthyFamiliesBC website.
Bake Better Bites
Find recipes and tips for preparing healthy baked goods while supporting schools to meet the 2013 edition of the Guidelines for Food and Beverages Sales in BC Schools. Bake Better Bites is helpful for parents, community volunteers, school staff and students.
- Bake Better Bites (PDF, 2.43MB)
Tips and Recipes for Quantity Cooking
Get tips on how to choose healthy recipes, substitutions to make favourite recipes healthier and a selection of recipes that meet the 2013 Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools.
Sip Smart! BC™
An education program that helps teach children in grades 4 to 6 about sugary drinks and about making healthy drink choices.
Eat Smart, Meet Smart
Plan work meetings, events and conferences that are healthy for your participants and your organization.
- Eat Smart, Meet Smart (PDF, 5.02MB)
Home and Community
Take a virtual grocery store tour with a dietitian. Watch videos, read articles and get tips on menu planning, grocery shopping and food safety.
Use this interactive tool to explore common sources of sodium in our foods.
Sugary Drink Sense
Use this interactive tool to explore common sources of sugar in our beverages.
Healthy Eating for Seniors Handbook
Find recipes, menu plans and information on good nutrition to keep you healthy as you age.
Baby's Best Chance
A resource for new parents from pregnancy, through birth, and in the parenting of a baby up to six months of age that includes information about healthy eating for pregnant women and new moms.
- Baby's Best Chance (PDF, 10.9MB)
Toddler's First Steps
Find parenting tips and child health and wellness information for parents and caregivers of children between the ages of six months and three years of age.
- Toddler's First Steps (PDF, 3.63MB)
Plan H: Healthy Eating and Food Security
Find information and tools for local governments to support healthy eating and food security in their communities.