‘You are What You Eat’ – Under the Northern Sky

Under the Northern Sky

How important is it to have a healthy diet? Well, most recent research tells us that if we have a healthy diet then we have a better chance of living a long life with fewer health problems. However, what does it mean to have a healthy diet.

We understand through a lot of research over the past couple of decades that sugar, fatty foods, processed foods and a lot of meat can impact our health over time in many ways. Too many of us are overweight, have bad hearts, stomach issues, cancers and other critical issues because of our terrible diets. That old saying, ‘you are what you eat’, very much tells the story.

Sugar intake is insanely high and in fact it is well known that this substance is very addictive. We start consuming sugar at a very young age in soda drinks, treats, pastries, candies and ice cream to name a few.  The food industry pushes processed foods high in fat, sugars and salt to all of us when we are young. Fast food restaurants promote most of their foods to the very young and families. Burgers, fries, sugar drinks and sweet desserts are around us all the time when we are growing up. It becomes normal at one point to eat mostly fatty, processed foods high in sugar and fat rather than anything healthy to eat. We believe that it is cheaper and faster to pick up fast foods or visit the local chain restaurant.

The problems occur in five, 10 and 20 years when there are health consequences for falling for all of these bad foods pushed on us. Most people these days that have unhealthy diets for many years are overweight, have diabetes, suffer from heart and kidney problems and some even end up with all types of cancers.

For my people the Cree of the James Bay coast obesity, diabetes and all kinds of health issues are directly related to poor diet. Many people I know consider vegetables as “rabbit food”, which is sad. We need a huge intake of vegetables to be healthy and to keep health issues away.

Certainly, when it comes to natural foods we Cree have had meat as the big part of our diets in the Canada goose, caribou, moose and fish. With the coming of colonization and the Europeans our diets changed and our hunting and gathering ways were more restricted. We turned to canned foods, processed foods, soda pop, chips and foods laden with sugars and fats. The result has been horrific. In many cases people still don’t want vegetables as part of their diet.

One book myself and my friends have enjoyed when it comes to learning how to eat healthy is ‘How Not To Die’ by Dr. Michael Greger. This book can really help you learn just how important it is to be eating vegetables and legumes, less sugar and remove fatty foods from your food intake. All the information in this book is backed up by good scientific research. When I followed this information I lost 20 pounds and I felt better with much more energy. Dr. Greger also features his work and talks on www.nutritionfacts.org where he continually adds the latest information on nutrition and healthy eating.

The biggest obstacle that most people in the north have with eating more vegetables is the access to affordable healthy foods. It can be expensive but in the long run, the money one saves by eating cheap food today is lost when they have to pay for expensive medical treatment later in life. Governments at all levels have a role to play as northern communities should receive more support to access healthier food choices at a better price. The public costs will be paid either now in food subsidies or later by paying for the public health services that an individual will need to treat chronic problems caused by eating unhealthy foods over a lifetime. Why not invest in keeping people healthy now rather than leave them with no choice but unhealthy options?

Just because we have been sucked into having poor diets for years does not mean we can not learn about healthy ways to live. Is it better to stay with lousy diets, feeling terrible, being overweight, having terrible health issues because of what we eat or in educating ourselves and getting a handle on achieving better health?

I care about my people, my family and my friends and encourage everyone to read this book and check out this website as it could really change your health for the better. Really, you are what you eat.


Previous articleNew release Within Me by Ace Musician Steven Jean-Jacques
Next articleFort Frances OPP Investigating Death on Railroad Tracks
Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.