Healthy Living in the North

Canada’s new food guide: What Northern Health dietitians have to say

Lise Luppens holding a copy of Canada's new food guide.
Lise Luppens, Population Health Dietitian, with Canada’s new food guide.

No doubt you’ve heard: Canada’s new food guide has finally been released. With a brand new look (bye-bye rainbow!) and recommendations going beyond food choices, it has already caused quite a bit of conversation!

Wondering about Northern Health’s (NH) take on all the excitement? We polled NH dietitians to hear what they like about the new resource. Read on for what they had to say:

“I like that the new food guide emphasizes the importance of how we eat. Our relationship with food and how we enjoy our meals is as important as the nutritional quality of the foods we’re eating.” -Courtenay Hopson, Prince George

“I appreciate the clear picture on the guide. The fruits and vegetables are easily recognizable and are available in Canada. It features canned and frozen options, in addition to fresh, as at certain times of the year these can be cheaper and easier to find.” -Rebecca Fraser, Vanderhoof

“Canada’s new food guide is simple, to the point, and leaves room for each of our own unique diets – how fresh! It promotes a more normalized way of thinking about food and nutrition, and helps reassure Canadians that if they’re cooking at home and enjoying food, then they are likely eating fairly well. My takeaway? Let’s make meal times important again!” -Olivia Newton, Quesnel

“I love that the new food guide emphasizes plant-based proteins. This will have positive results for personal health, but also supports eating patterns that are more environmentally sustainable.” -Danielle Billey, Terrace

“The new food guide is practical and focuses on HOW to eat by supporting a positive eating environment. It’s important to cook and eat with others, be mindful around your eating habits, and truly enjoy your food.” -Erin Branco, Prince George

Olivia Newton holding Canada's new food guide.
Olivia Newton, NH Dietitian, with Canada’s new food guide.

“I like that industry-funded research did not inform the development of the guide. This goes a long way to increase the trust the public has in the recommendations.” -Judy April, Dawson Creek

“The new food guide focuses on how we eat, more than how much we eat, supporting clients to tailor actions based on their preferences and lifestyle. It’s about implementing small changes to enjoy a variety of healthy foods in meaningful ways.” -Amelia Gallant, Fort St. John

“I like that the new food guide emphasizes food skills and ways to minimize food waste. It also considers other environmental impacts of the foods we choose and encourages more plant-based proteins, such as pulses [the family of plants that include dried peas, dry beans, lentils, and chickpeas].” -Hannah Orfald-Clarke, Fort St. John

“The new food guide supports people to start where they are at and to make small sustainable changes. For example, ‘cook more often’ will mean different things to different people – it might mean starting to cook, cooking on the weekend, cooking every day, or cooking with your kids or grandkids more often, depending on your current practices and available resources and opportunities.” -Flo Sheppard, Terrace

“The new food guide reflects that there is no one way to eat. Enjoying food with others is important, and a wide variety of foods fit within a healthy eating pattern.” -Laurel Burton, Prince George

Well, there you have it – Northern Health dietitians think there’s quite a bit to like about the new food guide! We might also take this opportunity to remind folks that it’s a guide, and that dietitians can be great support for individuals with unique nutritional needs who would benefit from tailored recommendations.

Are you looking for support from a dietitian?

  • There are dietitians in various communities across Northern Health. A referral may be required.
  • BC residents can also access Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, by calling 8-1-1 (or 604-215-8110 in some areas) and asking to speak with a dietitian.
Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise is a registered dietitian with Northern Health's regional Population Health team, where her work focuses on nutrition in the early years. She is passionate about supporting children's innate eating capabilities and the development of lifelong eating competence. Her passion for food extends beyond her work, and her young family enjoys cooking, local foods, and lazy gardening. In her free time, you might also find her exploring beautiful northwest BC by foot, ski, kayak or kite.


The 1970s world of Dietetics: reflections of then and now

They say a picture says a thousand words but they can also offer a peek into another world. In this case: the 1970s world of Dietetics.

When I first saw the picture, a handful of questions came to mind. What were the uniforms for? Why did the women in the photo look so triumphant? I spoke with the owner of the photo, Linda McMynn, a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health, to find out.

Dietetic graduating class photo.

The 1970 Vancouver General Hospital Graduating class of Dietetic Interns. Linda McMynn stands in the back row, second from the right.

Tell me a little bit about this photo.

This is the 1970 Vancouver General Hospital graduating class of Dietetic Interns. Our undergrad caps had a pink stripe (all white when we graduated) and were folded a specific way that was supposed to identify us as dietitians and not nurses.

We were the first class allowed to wear poly/cotton uniforms but they HAD to be at least 3/4 length “to indicate dietitians are not cooks or dishwashers.” The instructors (in the middle) wore the standard cotton starched uniforms at all times.

We, as a class, were tired of being mistaken for nurses so we rebelled and submitted a written request at a meeting to wear lab coats over street clothes (unheard of and the instructors were shocked, I think, and didn’t know what to do with us). Anyhow, within the next few years, the interns were allowed to wear the lab coats or the uniforms and the caps were gone.

What was required to be a dietitian back then?

You had to have your Bachelor of Science in Nutrition (you still need this today). There were two streams back then: the dietetic program and the teaching program. Quite a few of the interns went on to become Home Economic teachers. You had to do three years of chemistry and an internship. Dietetic internships are still done today. Back then, they used to be done through the hospitals. I was always planning on becoming a nurse. After the first year I decided to transfer into the Dietetic program.

What was interning like?

We got paid a small amount for doing the internship but most of our time was spent doing full shifts in the various areas working under the direction of a Registered Dietitian (RD), except every other weekend when we had to work on our own, taking responsibility for the unit.

Wednesdays were classroom days when we had lectures, homework to do, and regular exams. We graduated pretty knowledgeable about therapeutic diets, including diets for most of the metabolic diseases that were known at the time.

Tell me about your career as a dietitian

My first job was at St. Paul’s Hospital. Eventually I moved up to Terrace where I was the first dietitian. My closest dietitian colleague was in Prince George. In those days, we couldn’t use long distance phone calls. It was isolating at times but the benefit of being in a small community, and having to do everything, is that you become a generalist. I learned a lot and discovered I liked administrative and operational work. Being in Terrace worked out well for me. In 2014, I officially retired. Now I report on and work on various projects. In 2015 and 2016, I went to Fort St. John to spend time there to help. There were a lot of interesting projects and I worked on from home.

Lady sitting in chair.

In 2014, Linda (pictured here) officially “retired”. She now reports on and works on various projects.

How has the profession changed?

Back then there was a hierarchy, whereas now, it’s interdisciplinary and you work as part of a team. It was a very different world, very rigid. We would take orders from nurses or doctors and didn’t really ever get to prescribe a diet. Now doctors and nurses will leave it up to dietitians to prescribe diets which is pretty exciting. It’s taken a lot of years to get here. Working together now, we’ve made huge strides.

Haylee Seiter

About Haylee Seiter

A Northerner since childhood, Haylee has grown up in Prince George and recently completed her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Northern British Columbia. During university Haylee found her passion for health promotion while volunteering heavily with the Canadian Cancer Society and was also involved with the UNBC JDC West team, bringing home gold as part of the Marketing team in 2016. Joining the communications team as an advisor for population and public health has been a dream come true for her. When she is not dreaming up marketing and communications strategies, she can be found cycling with the Wheelin Warriors or enjoying a glass of wine with friends.
(NH Blog Admin)


Pro tips from Northern Health dietitians

Did you know that today is Dietitians Day in Canada?

Now, I might be a little biased, but I think Registered Dietitians (RDs) are pretty awesome. We get to work in a job where we talk about something that everyone can identify with – food! We love to share our tips on healthy eating, as well as celebrate the social and cultural roles that food plays in all of our lives. We can help people manage chronic conditions and advocate for everyone to have access to nutritious and delicious foods. And you’ll find us working not only in health care, but in the community, with business, and in private practice, too!

Many of our Northern Health dietitians regularly share healthy eating tips and delicious recipes as part of the Foodie Friday feature on the blog. So it was easy to get my fellow RDs (and RDs-to-be) to share their “Dietitian Pro Tips” for Dietitians Day and Nutrition Month. Check them out below, and if you are hungry for more, make sure to check out the #DietitianProTip hashtag on Twitter!


The versatile frittata hits a few of our dietitians’ pro tips: Cook extra supper for a quick lunch; eat breakfast every day; and use eggs for a quick protein when you’re short on time.

What’s your #DietitianProTip to stay on track?

  • Shelly (Haida Gwaii): Eat breakfast every day!
  • Karli (Dietetic Intern): Keep your fruit bowl stocked for quick out-the-door snacks!
  • Courtenay (Prince George): Cook extra for supper for a quick lunch the next day.
  • Erin (Prince George) offered two tips: (1) Menu plan on the weekend to avoid stressful workday evenings. (2) Keep trail mix at your desk to get over the mid-afternoon slump.
  • Tamara (Dietetic Intern) had three great tips: (1) Get your greens! Add spinach to your smoothies. (2) Eat two different coloured vegetables today! (3) Busy day? Choose fish or eggs for quick cooking protein options.
  • Elaine (Dawson Creek) also had two tips: (1) Skip sugary drinks! Choose water to quench your thirst. (2) Want a healthy heart? Eat more beans, lentils, and legumes.
  • Carly (Prince George): Turn off the technology & tune in to your meal! Listen to your fullness cues.
  • Lindsay (Prince George): Challenged by large portions? Try eating from small bowls, plates and cups.
  • Marianne (Prince George): Plan for success! Make a weekly meal plan and grocery shopping list.
  • Amy (Prince George): Save time in the morning! Pack your lunch the night before.

Celebrate Nutrition Month and Dietitians Day by sharing your favourite healthy eating tip in the comments!

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.


Manage your munchies & fuel up: 5 tips for Nutrition Month!

March is Nutrition Month in Canada. For the last two weeks, dietitians Marianne and Rebecca have been sharing their tips for small, nourishing changes that we can all make to boost our health.

This week, they’re offering five more tips to help you on your 100 Meal Journey. Don’t miss the tips for week one and week two.

Bowl of nuts.

Try to keep treat-type snacks out of sight so you’ll be less likely to nibble. Nourishing snacks like nuts can be kept within reach!

Manage munchies! Keep treat-type snack foods out of sight so you’ll be less likely to nibble.

Studies show you are more likely to choose available, easily reached foods, so try these tips to make the healthy choice, the easy choice:

  1. Keep nourishing snacks (e.g., hardboiled eggs, cut-up veggies, yogurt, nuts, whole grain crackers) on an eye-level shelf in the fridge or cupboards so that something healthy is the first thing you see.
  2. Put high-fat, high-sugar treats like cookies into non-transparent containers at the back of the fridge or cupboard so they’re out of sight.
  3. Clear kitchen counters of all food except for a bowl of fresh fruit for crunchy snacking.

Healthy Families BC has tools and tips to check if your home and work are set up to make healthy choices easy.

Fuel up! Eat fibre- and protein-rich foods for long-lasting satisfaction.

Finding yourself hungry too soon after eating meals or snacks? You might need to add more fibre- and protein-rich foods to your meals. Fibre helps fill you up and protein helps your energy last longer. Together, they deliver meal and snack satisfaction!

  1. Fibre up. Choose more vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains (e.g., barley or oatmeal), ground flax, nuts and seeds, and pulses (e.g., lentils, black beans, chickpeas).
  2. Put protein on your plate. Enjoy small portions of meat, fish, poultry or alternatives (e.g., eggs, pulses, tofu) and milk products.

Want to try these tips? Try this fibre- and protein-rich recipe.

What small, nourishing changes have you made this month?

These tips are adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month and join other Canadians on a 100 Meal Journey at

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog. (Vince no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)


Eating 9 to 5 Challenge: And the winner is…

Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is pictured.

Congrats to Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge!

This March was National Nutrition Month and its theme was Eating 9 to 5, which focused on people’s eating habits at the office/work site and their time-strapped schedules around the work day. In support of National Nutrition Month, Northern Health held the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge, which brought four weeks of challenges to northerners who completed tasks for entries into weekly team draws, as well as an individual draw for a Vitamix blender! We truly believe that everyone who took part and experienced a positive change to their eating habits as a result of the Challenge is a winner! Based on the amazing entries that were submitted, a lot of people received a ton of great tips for eating healthier before, during, and after work, and put those tips into action! Before we announce who won prizes, we want to thank everyone who took part and wish everyone good, healthy eats (and drinks) during your 9 to 5, and beyond!

After a brief delay, we’re happy to announce that the grand prize winner of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is Ross Knudson! Ross took part in the challenge on his own, literally naming his team “Ross Solo” … which is close to the moniker he uses when fighting the Empire. Ross won a Vitamix blender. Congrats, Ross!

We’d also like to congratulate The Northern Healthy Eaters, who took home our Week 1 prize of four Dietitians of Canada cookbooks; Anita, who entered as an individual, winning the Week 2 draw for four Thermos lunch bags; The District Divas, winners of Week 3’s four travel mugs; and, lastly, team We Love Our Pharmacy, who won two fruit/veggie trays for their next meeting!

Throughout all four weeks, we received fantastic entries that showed how serious people were about eating healthy in the workplace, but it was the Creative Challenges that put the biggest smiles on our faces! Here are a few random highlights:

The text "Make Lunch Fun"  surrounds a pencil crayon drawing of several pieces of fruit.

The Crazy Cantaloupes sent in this lovely piece of artwork, which, ironically, does not feature a cantaloupe.

A cupcake and a doughnut say "Eat us! We are so delicious!" to which team The Steamed Veggies respond, "No thanks, meeting snacks! I will just have my apple! I'm good!"

We know cupcakes and doughnuts are unhealthy, but, according to The Steamed Veggies, they’re actually evil! Stick to those apples!

And, without a doubt, the most adorable creative entry goes to The OR Health Freaks who put one of their kids to the test with this food quiz:

Thanks again to everyone who entered the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! Feel free to let us know if any of the tips or challenges helped you make positive changes to your eating habits in the comments below.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Advisor – HR at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.


Living with a dietitian

Young woman eating a dish in a restaurant.

Dietitians are a great resource to make sure that you are getting everything that you need to make your body function the way it should! Ashley was lucky enough to live with a dietitian for a while and shares her experience!

One of the best things that has ever happened to me and something that I highly recommend to anyone for whom it is possible is to live with a dietitian. I had a roommate who was a dietitian intern for Northern Health last year and it was seriously life-changing. She got my butt into gear by making me think about almost everything that I put into my body by simply asking me to consider what that food is giving me. Is it protein? Vitamins? Calcium? More often than not, my answer was: I have no idea, but it tastes really good. That’s totally fine – healthy eating should be enjoyable and balanced – but she was able to show me new recipes that tasted amazing while giving my body everything that it needed to function properly. As an added bonus, I had more energy and healthy, shiny hair! Sign me up!

For example, did you know that you can make brownies from black beans? Oooey, gooey brownies! Or that you can make ice cream from frozen bananas, peanut butter, cocoa, and cashews? I also learned that you can use ground white beans to make creamy soups instead of adding extra fat (like cream)!

Luckily for you, Northern Health has Foodie Friday blog posts and will be featuring tons of healthy eating information during the Eating 9 to 5 challenge so you may not need to rent out that spare bedroom just yet! Getting tips and recipes like these on a regular basis through blogs and Facebook helps to keep you thinking about nutrition and healthy eating while also keeping your daily meals fresh and exciting. Tune in to the Northern Health Matters blog throughout the month of March as well as every other Friday for Foodie Friday and start eating more delicious, healthy food tonight!

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe.
(Ashley no longer works at Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)


Your health HQ

A thumbs up in front of the health link BC website

A thumbs up for HealthLink BC.

Please tell me I am not the only one to ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of health information out there! A Google search for “health tips” will yield well over one million results in a quarter of a second. It doesn’t matter how good you are at making sense of information, even the savviest of researchers can be stunned.

Even for a healthy individual without a clinical diagnosis of disease, the situation can be confusing. For example, some of the things I wonder about:

  • How many servings of dark green vegetables should I get each day?
  • How many hours of sleep am I supposed to get?
  • Should I get a flu shot?
  • Is it better to walk 10 minutes each day, or 20 minutes every other day?

In one of my previous jobs, I worked with cancer survivors and learned about their experiences in northern BC. One of the interesting things that I took away from that job is that people care about finding quality information. That is, information that is trusted and true; people value information from a reliable source.

Have you ever heard of HealthLink BC? While it may not be as sexy as the cover model on the front of the magazine at the checkout stand, it is written by experts who live and work in your province and it’s developed with you in mind.

HealthLink BC is a free resource to all British Columbians where you can find any and all non-emergency health-related information. You can search healthy lifestyle tips, medications, and diseases and their symptoms. All information is medically-approved, so it can be trusted.

HealthLink BC is accessible. They have a user-friendly website and you can talk to a registered nurse (a real person!) on the phone any time of the day or night by calling 8-1-1. Translation services are available for more than 130 languages. They even have an app!

But, 8-1-1 is more than just nurses! When you first call, you will talk to a Health Service Representative. This person will talk to you about what you are looking for and get you in touch with the right people.

  • Pharmacists – talk about your medications (available every night, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
  • Dietitians – talk about healthy eating and nutrition (available Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Nurses – talk about symptoms, procedures, or whether you should go to the doctor for your inquiry (available all day, every day of the year!)

You can even call any time of the day or night to learn where the closest health services to you are, including walk-in clinics, travel clinics, and immunizations.

Bonus tip: Did you know that you can talk to an exercise specialist for free by calling the Physical Activity Line? By talking to them, you can get physical activity guidance tailored to your needs and lifestyle. Their number is 1-877-725-1149. They are available Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I can hear that little voice in your head saying, “It’s great to know that these resources are there, but I’m not going to call them.” Why not?! I challenge you to pick up that phone and to call a nurse next time you are Googling a symptom. Chances are you will get better, more accurate information than using “Dr. Google.”

Have you ever been overwhelmed by health information? Do you think this resource might help you?

Win a $300 GC to help support your healthy habits in 2014!

Chelan Zirul

About Chelan Zirul

Chelan Zirul is the Regional Manager for Health Promotions and Community Engagement for Northern Health. As a graduate from UNBC, she did her Master's of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. She explored regional development decision-making and is an advocate for policy that is appropriate for the needs of northerners. This, combined with her personal interest in health and wellness, drew her to work in health communications. Born in northern B.C., she takes advantage of the access to outdoor living. She enjoys hunting and exploring the backcountry with her dog and husband and enjoys finding ways to use local foods.