Healthy Choices


What is Healthy Choices?

The Healthy Choices Programming at the ILRC had pretty humble beginnings.  Many years ago, members had asked if we hold some cooking classes. These classes started out with simple recipes being cooked by the group of attending paritipants and always ended with sharing the meal that had been prepared. Along the way, was information about how to do this for yourself at home and people began to get excited and more informed about the choices they could make when it came to their nutrition and overall health.  Years ago, there was very little funding to promote this specific initiative - but eventually the United Way of Thunder Bay was approached with the concept and the newest version of Healthy Choices was born in 2008! 

The United Way agrees that the benefits of ensuring that all Persons with Disabilities have access and information to make the best choices possible is important.  This program goes well beyond the science of eating healthy and staying active - it gives us the ability to explore food in the social sense as well.  Coming together as a group; learning and sharing in the process is what has made this program the success it is today.

There are many individual components to our Healthy Choices Program but they can be best broken out into the following categories. 
If you have any requests or ideas for upcoming workshops, feel free to let staff know.

Good Food Bag:

Meeting monthly, this group discusses healthy eating and living well in a variety of different ways.  Each month, participants will leave with a bag of food items that they can use to cook at home and often accompanied by recipes and storage tips to enhance thier experience with these foods.  These foods are purchased the same day, and are ALWAYS fresh.  The food gift is purchased to enable a single person to access fresh, whole foods and gain knowledge and experience about the costs and preparation of healthier choices, in accordance to the Canada Food Guide portion requirements. This group learns to cook new and healthy meals, shop for healthy meals, shop on a budget, and sometimes prepare a small meal to enjoy together.  


Ultimately,  any active member of our centre can participate in this area of Healthy Choices Programming, however, it is geared toward individuals who live alone, and are seeking to break the cycle of relying on preprepared and, oftentimes, less healthy foods.  Ideally, the foods purchased for Good Food Bag are generally whole, fresh foods.

Participants in this area of the program are able to recieve food gifts for a determined period of time and new participants are cycled onto this program.  Participants that remain interested in this area of the program may request renewal after a short period.  

Please note that this area of our programming is intended as an education tool to enable independent persons with disabilties to become familiar with and learn more about making healthy choices - This is not intended as emergency food or as a substitute for the amazing and much needed work undertaken by the RFDA and other intiatives that provide emergency food to those most in need in our region.

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Impress the Chef:

This monthly club will challenge your culinary skills.  Create your own unique recipe and see whose food masterpiece reigns supreme!  These fun and friendly mini-competitions take place in the centre and will have you baking up a storm.  You will try new flavour combinations that you've never experienced.  Plus, our in house chef will judge your creations and the winner will have their recipe published in our newsletter.

Restaurant Club:

Join the Peer Group on an outing to a local restaurant for lunch!  This a great opportunity to try new foods, make healthy food choices and talk to friends while enjoying a meal.  The second part of this club is to gather and share your experience with the group.  This is your chance to be a food critic and review the food and to give your opinion.

Action! Wellness Group

This group offers participants a chance to take control of their health and well-being.  Together, we will learn tips for shopping and budgeting from nutrition experts, develop healthy habits, create meal plans, exercise and even pamper ourselves from time to time!

Useful Information

Eat Right Ontario - My Menu Planner

This site is an amazing tool to assist you in eating healthy and planning your healthy goals.  It allows you to personalize a menu that works for your sex, age and goals.  Some of the specific individualized goals include:

  • Healthy Weight, Healthy You
  • Eat Right for Less
  • Easting for an Active Lifestyle
  • Cooking for One or Two
  • Eating Right the Vegetarian Way

 You can access the Eat Right Ontario Website here and start working towards your personal healy goals today!

Understanding Canada's Food Guide

Health Canada produces the Canada's Food Guide to assist Canadians to ensure that we are eating enough nutrients from each of the food groups.  The food guide separates foods into major groupings: Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives.  Our Healthy Choices Program has put together a guide to help you better understand how to use the food guide. 

You can access our Understanding Canada's Food Guide in PDF format here.

If you would like a copy of the Canada's Food guide or other useful information, please follow the links below:

National Labels - Understanding What's In Your Food

The information found on the Nutrition Facts label gives us the power to understand what is in the food we so that we can make informed choices about the foods and drinks we consume.  Knowing 'how' to read these labels gives us more skill than ever to make the best choices possible for our health.

You can access a Guide to Understanding Nutritional Lables in PDF format here

Eating Healthy on a Budget

This resource was produced by ILRC and helps identify way to eat healthy on a modest budget.

You can access this Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget in PDF format here.