Food has limitless potential. There’s the potential to fuel our bodies; to discover through cooking with our kids; to prevent chronic disease; to heal what ails; and to bring us together, through shared experiences with families and friends. This is the message that dietitians across Canada are getting out tto celebrate Nutrition Month in March.
Dietitians are registered health care professionals that provide a really important yet often invisible service in our community. When we think about getting healthy, we often first think that a doctor is the place that we need to visit. I would challenge that while doctors play a vital role in our healthcare; when it comes to illness prevention and management of our health, dietitians can be an amazing resource. I believe in the saying that “Our food is our medicine” and while we take an active role in what we feed ourselves, dietitians are here to help be our guides.
“A third of cancers can be linked to poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise. Eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains can help protect you against some types of cancers. I love coming up with easy recipes to fill half your plate with vegetables. I work with clients to help them plan healthy diets that meet their individual needs and prevent disease,” says Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian from Toronto who is helping to get the word out about Nutrition Month across Canada.
Some local dietitians that I know and greatly respect are Fiona Devereaux in Aboriginal health, and Swati Scott and Janelle Hatch who work with Island Health. These women are incredible resources working right here in our community. When you think about what a dietitian does you may know them for their work assisting people with diabetes to plan their diets and manage their blood sugars, or give advice on improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels and helping promote weight management. What you may not know is that dietitians do really amazing work in community to increase food skills and knowledge, and promote food access and healthy eating in a range of settings. The dietitians I work with are not only supporting new mothers, families and isolated seniors in Saanich directly; they are also working in schools, health centres and in the community to promote healthy food environments. A healthy food environment is one the “Healthy choice is the easy choice”. Too often it is unhealthy foods that are the cheapest or more convenient. In schools this can include things like promoting the provincial School Fruit and Veggie Program, healthier school meals and drinks, salad bars, knowledge building around cultural and traditional foods as well as supporting Farm to School programs.
I have known and worked with these powerful women for over 20 years and I want to hold them up to you as professionals who are making a difference in our communities.
If you want to unlock the potential of food, I encourage you to seek out a dietitian. The Dietitians of Canada want to shine the light on their passion for the potential of food during Nutrition Month. “We will work with you to embrace food, understand it and to enjoy it while considering your overall objectives, needs and challenges. We look beyond fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.”
Are you ready to know more about the power of food for your health? Find a dietitian at www.dietitians.ca/find.
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.