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Smart snacks

Cathy Paroschy-Harris believes everyone deep down wants to do what’s best for their body.
Marisa Tamasi cooks up some Thai Bok Choy at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's cafeteria Monday morning. (Jodi Lundmark,
Cathy Paroschy-Harris believes everyone deep down wants to do what’s best for their body.

“It’s difficult when you have the temptation of things in front of you and maybe not the temptation of the healthier bowl of fruit in front of you,” said the director of nutrition and food services at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

The hospital has been a longtime participant of the provincial Eat Smart Program – run by the Nutrition Resource Centre. The program is now evolving with newer standards and the Health Sciences Centre has been chosen as one of nine work sites across the province to test these new standards.

The three key elements of the program are placement, pricing and promotion of healthy foods in work site cafeterias.

Paroschy-Harris said if the food is visible and available, people will eat it.
“I think Northwestern Ontario struggles with a very high population of obesity, diabetes and other health disorders that it is important we take this initiative and try to encourage people to make healthier choices,” she said.

“People who eat healthy and live healthy lives tend to have healthier attitudes, healthier approaches and will maybe cost the health care system a lot less as well and be able to enjoy life,” she added.

Thunder Bay District Health Unit public health dietician Kim McGibbon said the Eat Smart program aims to make the healthier choice, the easier choice by making them more visible and by making them the less expensive option.

“Pricing does play a significant role,” she said. “But taste and convenience also play a big role in what the research says.”

Paroschy-Harris said at the hospital they have made changes in the layout of the cafeteria to make the more nutritious food more readily available as you enter the cafeteria and they also have better signage to encourage healthy eating when walking down the grand staircase.

Other chances patrons will see are 100 per cent fruit juices offered in smaller serving sizes, daily specials that include at least three of the four food groups and the vending machines will be selling fruit juices at a lower cost than pop.

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