Learning to make healthier food choices

A free six-week program in Ladysmith aims to help people feel comfortable in the kitchen and show them they can eat healthy on a budget.

Sue Glenn (left) and Karen Fediuk are excited to offer the free Food Skills for Families program Feb. 18-March 24 at the Frank Jameson Community Centre.

Sue Glenn (left) and Karen Fediuk are excited to offer the free Food Skills for Families program Feb. 18-March 24 at the Frank Jameson Community Centre.

A free six-week program at the Frank Jameson Community Centre aims to help people feel comfortable in the kitchen and show them they can eat healthy on a budget.

Food Skills for Families, an initiative led by the Canadian Diabetes Association, is a hands-on program that makes healthy eating, shopping and cooking easy, quick and fun.

The aim of the program is to provide families with a hands-on cooking experience where they can learn to make healthy recipes with a focus on improving healthy food choices, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and improving the number of students bringing healthy snacks and lunches to school.

From Feb. 18 to March 24, Food Skills for Families will run Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Frank Jameson Community Centre and will offer nutrition, cooking, eating healthy and food preparation skills. The programs is free, and it includes six interactive sessions on healthy and nutritious eating. Pre-registration is required by calling 250-245-6424.

Dietitian and program facilitator Karen Fediuk says people enjoy  Food Skills for Families because they learn a lot, but it’s also fun.

“One of the women who had taken it before, when she found out I was doing it again, asked if there were new recipes because they wanted to do it again,” she said. “It’s fun, and it’s social. They had a chance to try new recipes and get feedback. (They were) feeling they had increased knowledge levels, certainly reading recipes, modifying recipes and reading labels and feeling comfortable cooking. We’re trying to get people to explore different flavours … and increase people’s options and ideas.”

Fediuk says the Food Skills for Families program is targetted to caregivers with children from newborn to age 19.

“It doesn’t matter what time they want to start providing their families with healthier choices,” she said.

Some of the topics that will be covered during the six sessions include comparisons of beverages, meal planning and label reading.

“There’s a lot packed into 18 hours,” said Fediuk. “It’s raising awareness of basic things families can do to make their families healthier and lower their weight.”

There will be  five cooking classes and one grocery store tour.

“I think a big component of the program is the grocery store tour, making healthy choices and label reading,” said Sue Glenn, fitness and sports programmer at the Frank Jameson Community Centre. “I think it’s a great program for the community. We’re just proud to offer it again. It’s quite a successful program.”

The recipes used in the program have all been tested, and they are low in sugar, salt and fat.

“They’re pretty easy recipes,” said Fediuk. “You can involve your kids in a lot of them. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen the Canadian Diabetes Association do yet. I hope it expands across the country. I know from talking to colleagues across the country, it is needed.”