Fat’s Unhealthy, Except When It’s Not (giveaway closed) | I don't blog, but if I did...

Fat’s Unhealthy, Except When It’s Not (giveaway closed)


Red wine is healthy! But not too much. Chocolate’s good for your heart! But no, not really. Fats are unhealthy, but you need healthy fats. Gluten-free is the way to go! Except when it’s not. Man, nutrition is confusing, isn’t it?

It’s hard to separate food fads from facts, and to know exactly what “healthy” really means. When each new month ushers in a new superfood we’ve been missing out on, or a food trend we need to stop following, it can feel pretty overwhelming shopping for healthy meals for my family. This is called, “nutrition confusion”, and I’ve got a really great way to handle it, thanks to a helpful program called “Guiding Stars”.

I was invited to take a tour with an in-store dietician and learn about the “Guiding Stars” program, found exclusively at Loblaw banner grocery stores across Canada. I’m a label reader for a few reasons: my son has life-threatening food allergies, and I’m also interested in nutritional content in general. I’m really happy to report that the Guiding Stars  program is a great resource to help simplify nutritious choices. It just makes it so easy! And easy means that shoppers can feel empowered when trying to choose foods that can contribute to the health of their families without making it an arduous process.

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Every food item in participating stores is rated using a top-secret algorithm (read: lotsa math involved but yay science!) and given a star rating. Read more about it HERE. So foods can be given anywhere from zero to three stars (three being the best), and you’re able to shop using the rating system alone if you wanted. It isn’t there to tell you what to buy, it just guides you towards healthier options. Obviously fruits and vegetables are great options, but even those are rated — something with higher sugar would lose points for that, but if it’s high in fibre, it would gain points. And that goes for packaged items, too. So they’ve made it really easy to compare different brands of, say, premade lasagna or pizza. And no, there’s no bias for brands. If you’re going to be buying an item anyhow, you might as well compare the nutritional content to an equal product, right? And it’s really handy in the cereal and snack aisles, let me tell you.

Something I’d never noticed in store before was this handy book in the produce section:

Handy nutritional information is available for every item in the produce section at Loblaws These handy books tell you everything you need to know about produce including nutritional info and how to use the foodThe book lists the nutritional information for each produce item, with a description of it, and ways to use it. How cool is that? That means you don’t have to guess what that weird-looking root is, you can find out easily, and learn how to use it, too. It’s particularly handy for adventurous eaters like us, who love trying new items.

The Loblaw dietician also suggested I include my kids in meal planning, to make it more fun, and help teach them about nutrition, too. With their four food groups in mind, I let the kids plan out a couple meals:

When kids plan healthy meals, they're more likely to enjoy eating them

Mason really enjoyed the freedom of planning a mealThe only guideline given to them was that they had to choose items from each of the four options, to give them a balanced meal according to Canada’s Food Guide. I’m not sure we’re all going to love Mason’s meal, but I know that it’s a really good step towards the kids planning balanced, healthy menus for me, and that’s a bonus.

The Guiding Stars rating is clearly visible on the price tag for each food, and I like that with a glance, I know what I’m buying. Points are awarded for things like vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, whole grains and Omega-3s, and deducted for things like saturated and trans fats, added sugar and added sodium. And with more than 30,000 foods in their database, it’s a pretty reliable way to shop, I think.

Want to try it out for yourself? I have a $50 PC® Gift Card to give away to one lucky reader! Enter below to win it.

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Good luck, everyone!



Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing this post, and given a $50 PC® Gift Card to award to one lucky winner. But my opinions, as always, are my own. (Plus I’m already a Loblaws shopper, so there’s that.)

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69 Responses to “Fat’s Unhealthy, Except When It’s Not (giveaway closed)”

  1. Stephanie Piche

    My biggest challenge is coming up with interesting meal plans each week. Hard to not end up eating the same things over and over.

  2. Cynthia Hill

    I’ve seen that book in the produce section, but I’m embarrassed to admit I never took the time to see what it was! Now I definitely have to check, since I really am trying hard to improve our food choices around here!

  3. Lisa Bankey

    That’s a great way to know quickly the nutrition factor. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of getting the kids involved with the meal planning. Something I might just incorporate into our weekly routine.

  4. JamieLeighTO

    My biggest dinner time challenge is making the time to cook anything and not giving in to the urge to snack instead of eating a balanced meal. Eating gluten-free means that I’m not tempted to grab fast food but doesn’t always mean that I’m finding a healthy alternative at dinner. Frozen fries are sometimes too easy to just stick in the oven and go!

    • alex durrell

      I find preparing stuff ahead of time is the key to me snacking healthily. My fave snack are edamame beans now. I have them in the freezer and just chuck them in the microwave whenever I’m hungry.

  5. Lisa Bankey

    Oh & our biggest dinner time challenge – getting my youngest to eat ANYTHING. He is SUPER picky. So a few nights a week we are all eating different things. I make his preferences in advance & have enough on hand so that if we want something OTHER than that, I have something easy to just warm up for him.

  6. Emily H

    My biggest challenge is balancing nutrition with time! It’s too tempting some days to pop a frozen pizza in just to have dinner quickly.

    • alex durrell

      My go-to is pasta, which isn’t a great option, either.

  7. Angela Doiron

    My biggest dinner time challenge is finding time to eat it.

    • alex durrell

      I do not have that problem. I always find time to eat. To over eat.

  8. athena

    Our biggest dinnertime challenge is accommodating my kids’ diverse and picky palettes.

    • alex durrell

      Pickiness is brutal, and it’s not like it’s just easy to work around, like many “experts” have us believe!

  9. Cherie-Lynn Buchanan

    honestly my biggest challenge when it comes to dinner is when i don’t plan. I don’t plan everything down to the last kale leaf but I do have a general idea what I’m cooking and when. This keeps me from eating crap.

    • alex durrell

      Planning is the key for me, too! Otherwise I eat whatever, and it’s never good.

  10. Stephanie Banning

    Our biggest dinner time challenge, is that my husband is a vegetarian, the youngest one only likes pasta, the oldest one hates pasta… trying to find something they all will eat.. without having to modify too much.. spaghetti and meatballs is really the only option… do not put meatballs in, for one, on a bun for the other and all in for the last… exhausting.

    • alex durrell

      Oh man. If the rest of you aren’t vegetarians, I’d be inclined to make him cook his own meals. :p

  11. Kim

    My biggest dinner time challenge is trying to get my 3 year old to eat anything. And I mean ANYTHING.

  12. Tara

    My biggest challenge is having my three kids sit and actually eat the dinner!

  13. Christy

    I don’t like to cook, and don’t have a lot of time…so making dinner is something I dread. Thankfully hubby loves to cook!

  14. Lisa Hicks

    We’re crazy hungry by the time we get home from work (usually after sitting in traffic for an hour) so getting something on the table quickly that’s also healthy is a challenge!

  15. Karen

    I tend to be a short order cook catering to my picky family’s needs.

    • alex durrell

      I used to do that, too. Not any more! It’s eat or don’t.

  16. annet

    My biggest challenge is getting my grandkids to eat at the table!

    RAFFLECOPTER NAME is Anne Taylor

    • alex durrell

      That’s an interesting one. They don’t eat at the table?

      • annet

        lol they like to grab food and walk around the kitchen or dining room; its a wee bit frustrating!

  17. Jenness Mills

    Trying to make healthy and interesting meals for the kids who only want to eat carbs!

    • alex durrell

      I can totally empathize… *I* want to only eat carbs. :p

  18. Krista Miller

    Having a QUIET meal with no interruptions, like the phone ringing or my children’s friends coming to the door. We need some dinner-time boundaries put in place!

  19. Beth

    Biggest challenge is trying to make interesting dinners after so many years!

  20. Sarah (@sarahjanesroom)

    Biggest challenge: getting Kid9 to try something she has decided on sight that she will hate. Kid5 is my adventurous one!

  21. Elizabeth

    Our biggest challenge is to inject a little variety into the menu; if we don’t plan for it, we end up eating the same meals every week.

  22. Dawn Jaycocks

    Getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly. I am not a big fan of cooking and tired after work. PC meals make it very easy some nights.

  23. Donna Desforges

    Trying to please a bunch of picky eaters is my challenge.

  24. Steph

    Biggest dinner time challenge is not having all the ingredients I need. I always forget something, or it’s gone bad in the fridge.

  25. jonnieh

    My biggest challenge is finding something everyone will eat, without fussing about it

  26. Lushka Smith

    My biggest challenge is making dinner on time, before I gnaw my arm off.

  27. fossie55

    My biggest dinner challenge is trying to vary what I cook.
    Florence C

  28. Sarah

    Getting everything on the table quickly so we can turn around get out the door for activities

  29. Jenn Erin L

    The biggest challenge is getting everyone to choose/eat the “cleaner” (i.e. plain steamed/boiled veggies, no sauces, less sodium) dishes

  30. Glogirl3

    The biggest challenge is having variety in our meals. It seems we stick to the same recipes/meals day after day!

  31. zahra premji

    My biggest dinnertime challenge is finding the time to cook healthy. Between working and studying part time it is tough to devote as much time as I would like to making dinner. I have to go with shortcuts sometimes and that affects the freshness and healthiness of meals sometimes

  32. Tricia Cooper

    My biggest dinner time challenge is time. Also, finding a variety of recipes, fitting in vegetables that everyone likes and finding time to eat together!

  33. Andrew Pham

    Biggest challenge is time and with that trying to make something that everyone would like

  34. Rebby Roberts

    My challenge is to make dinner diabetic friendly for my man.

  35. christina07

    Trying to accommodate everyone, those that are gluten free, vegetarian, vegan etc.

  36. Eldon L

    Cooking food thats too plain for some but want to be healthy

  37. Jenny

    I think creating healthy but yummy food is the biggest challenge for us.

  38. Suzi

    Getting enough vegetables in (I’m still working on that one!)

  39. Jen

    Finding something my boyfriend and I will both enjoy with enough vegetables

  40. Wendy Jensen

    My biggest dinner time challenge is setting the table, my husband has taken over the cooking. He says it is better that way?!?!?!?

  41. Valerie Mallette

    My biggest dinner time challenge is finding something to make that’s both healthy and that everyone will like to eat.

Comments are closed.