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Nutrition

Good nutrition is key to healthy living at all stages of life. Renfrew County and District Health Unit offers nutrition programs, resources and services to promote healthy eating and create supportive nutrition environments. We work to make the healthy choice the easy choice where you live, work, learn and play.

We do not provide individual nutrition counseling or complete the Special Diet Allowance (SDA) or Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Nutritional Allowance forms.

Registered Dietitian VS Nutritionist

  • A Registered Dietitian is a trained food and nutrition expert. They are licensed professionals and recognized as experts in translating the scientific, medical, and nutritional evidence into practical information that can be used to help individuals, families and communities achieve better health.
  • Registered Dietitians complete an accredited undergraduate degree, an accredited internship and successfully pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination.
  • In Ontario, Nutritionist is not a legally protected title. Nutritionists can have diverse levels of education, as specialized education is not a requirement. There is also no regulatory body that governs a Nutritionist’s practice. Nutritionists can still be a great resource and source of nutrition information.
  • If you are wondering whether or not your provider is a Registered Dietitian or a Nutritionist, Registered Dietitians can be found through the regulatory body College of Dietitians of Ontario.

Where Do Dietitians Work?

Registered Dietitians can be found in a wide range of settings in Ontario, some of these include:

  • Hospitals: Dietitians can be found in many hospital settings. They support and monitor the patients who are sick and require special diets due to medical conditions. A referral from a physician is often required to see a Dietitian in a hospital.
  • Family Health Teams: Family Health Team Dietitians can help support patients with their nutrition and lifestyle concerns. Counselling and group programs are often only for patients of the family health team.
  • Long-term Care Homes: All long-term care homes have a Registered Dietitian to help monitor and support the residents’ nutritional concerns and intake. The Dietitian’s services are usually available for anyone who lives in the home.
  • Public Health Departments: Public Health Dietitians help support the community and provide information and resources to the public on a variety of nutrition topics. They also support policy development and several health promotion programs. Individual counselling is not available through a Public Health Dietitian.
  • Private Practice: Private Practice Dietitians can help you develop a plan for your nutrition and lifestyle goals and can help you with a variety of health concerns. In most cases you do not need a referral to see a private practice Dietitian, however a fee will be charged for their services. Check your insurance plan because many plans cover the cost of a Registered Dietitian.

Speak to a Registered Dietitian

  • Reach out to your primary physician or family doctor as they may be able to refer you to a Dietitian.
  • Health Connect Ontario: Health Connect Ontario offers free nutrition information and advice to residents of Ontario. If you’re looking for guidance about food and healthy eating call 811 or start a chat on their website.
  • Dietitians of Canada: Find a private practice Dietitian through the Find a Dietitian feature on Dietitians of Canada’s Website.

Each year Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) monitors food affordability and food insecurity. Read the 2022 report here: Food Affordability in Renfrew County and District, 2022.

The Nutritious Food Basket

  • RCDHU uses the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) tool to monitor food affordability across Renfrew County and District (RCD). The NFB tool is a list of food items that make up a hypothetical grocery basket consistent with foods found in Canada’s food guide, and commonly consumed by Canadians.
  • The basket was created to reflect an average household’s purchasing pattern. It assumes that people have the time, food skills, and equipment to make meals from scratch.
  • The NFB does not include items such as premade food, infant foods, cultural foods, foods for special diets (e.g., gluten-free), etc. Cleaning, and personal hygiene products are also excluded.

Results of the Nutritious Food Basket Survey

  • In June 2022, staff surveyed the price of the same 61 food items in eight local grocery stores. After calculating food cost, RCDHU incorporated housing rental rates and different income scenarios to determine the local affordability of food.
  • Survey results showed the average monthly cost of food:
    • for a single person: $408
    • for a family of four: $1,132

What is Food Insecurity?

  • Food Insecurity occurs when a person is not able to regularly access safe and nutritious food. Insecure access to food often occurs due to financial constraints. When incomes are low, people may have to choose between eating well or paying for other basic necessities like housing and utilities.
  • Food insecurity can range from worrying about having enough to eat, (referred to as marginal food insecurity), to not eating for entire days due to a lack of money (severe food insecurity).

Negative Health Impacts

Individuals who are food insecure are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

The effects of food insecurity on the mental and physical health of individuals places a substantial burden on the health care system resulting in an increase in cost. For instance, those who are marginally food insecure and severely food insecure have a 26% and 69% higher odds of being admitted to acute care compared to those who are food secure.

Food Insecurity in Renfrew County and District (RCD)

  • In RCD, nearly 1 in 7 (13.3%) households are food insecure. This includes those who are marginally, moderately, and severely food insecure.
  • In 2021, roughly half of households experiencing food insecurity in Canada reported wages, salaries, or self-employment as their main source of income.

Children and Food Insecurity

  • In Ontario, one in five (20.6%) children under the age of 18 live in a food insecure household.
  • In Canada, the prevalence of children or young adults being food insecure is more than triple that of adults 75 and older.

Children experiencing food insecurity are more likely to develop:

  • asthma
  • mental health conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression)
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence needed to make positive lifestyle choices (e.g., eating well, being active)

Solving the Problem

Rather than focusing on the symptoms of food insecurity (e.g., lack of food) solutions need to be grounded in its root cause – poverty. Policies that target poverty are needed, including policies that ensure:

  • Adequate working incomes and benefits for the basic necessities of living, like housing, food, and other expenses (e.g., living wage)
  • Social assistance income (e.g., Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Program) that reflects the true cost of living
  • Tax subsidies, exemptions, and credits for low-income households
  • Guaranteed basic income for all

Food Banks are not the solution. Emergency food programs, such as food banks and meal programs cannot solve food insecurity. These programs can offer temporary relief, but those who access these services continue to experience food insecurity. Statistics show that only 20% of people who are food insecure access food banks.

How You Can Take Action

We all deserve to have our basic needs met and live with dignity. Take a strong stance against food insecurity and use your voice to advocate for change.

To Learn More

Reports

Food Affordability in Renfrew County and District, 2022

The Cost of Eating in Renfrew County and District, 2019

The Cost of Eating in Renfrew County and District, 2018

General

  • Canada’s Food Guide: Beyond the food guide, you can also find tips for eating, recipes, and information to help you achieve your food goals.
  • UnlockFood.ca: Managed by Dietitians of Canada, UnlockFood.ca offers resources on a variety of nutrition topics for all ages.
  • Cookspiration: Created by Dietitians of Canada, Cookspiration is an app that helps you find recipes for any time, or day of the week.
  • Foodland Ontario: Learn about Ontario in-season produce, seasonal recipes and buying local food.
  • Diabetes Canada: Diabetes Canada has resources, recipes and information to help manage type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
  • Heart&Stroke: Find recipes and resources to help support heart health and healthy living.

Infants

Children and Youth

  • NutriSTEP®: Worried about your child’s eating habit? NutriSTEP® is a fast and easy way for parents or caregivers to find out if their child is a healthy eater. To fill out the questionnaire contact:
  1. Health Connect Ontario: speak to a Registered Dietitian for free by visiting the website or calling 811.
  2. RCDHU offers the NutriSTEP® preschool screening as part of the Healthy Babies Healthy Children home visiting service. It is also available to parents living in Renfrew County and District by request. Call 1-800-267-1097 ext. 5 or 613-732-3629 ext. 5.
  • The Ellyn Satter Institute: A resource for parents and caregivers who want to transform family meals into joyful, healthful, struggle-free events, free from drama and conflict. Learn to support your child in developing a positive eating relationship.
  • Find more information on by visiting School Health Healthy Eating in Schools.

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Pembroke Office

TEL: 613-732-3629 or 1-800-267-1097

Renfrew Office

TEL: 613-432-5853 or 1-800-465-5000

Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. – noon and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.