You are what you eat

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How important is a healthy diet? Well, the latest research tells us that if we have a healthy diet, we have a better chance of living a long life with fewer health problems. However, what does it mean to have a healthy diet.
Thanks to a lot of research over the past two decades, we have come to realize that sugar, fatty foods, processed foods, and a lot of meat can have many repercussions on our health over time. Too many of us are overweight, have heart problems, stomach problems, cancers and other critical issues because of our terrible diets. That old adage, “you are what you eat,” tells the story very well.
Sugar consumption is incredibly high and in fact it is well known that this substance is very addictive. We start consuming sugar at a very young age in soft drinks, sweets, pastries, candies and ice cream, to name a few. The food industry pushes processed foods high in fat, sugar, and salt at all of us when we’re young. Fast food restaurants promote most of their foods to the very young and families. Burgers, fries, sugary drinks and sweet desserts surround us all the time when we grow up. It becomes normal at some point to eat mostly fatty, processed foods that are high in sugar and fat rather than something healthy to eat. We think it’s cheaper and faster to grab fast food or visit the local chain restaurant.
The problems arise in fives, 10s and 20s when there are health consequences from all those bad foods being forced upon us. Most people these days who have had an unhealthy diet for many years are overweight, suffer from diabetes, suffer from heart and kidney problems and some even end up with all types of cancers.
For my people, the Crees of the James Bay coast, obesity, diabetes and all sorts of health problems are directly linked to poor nutrition. A lot of people I know consider vegetables to be “rabbit food”, which is sad. We need plenty of vegetables to be healthy and avoid health problems.
Certainly, when it comes to natural foods, we Crees have had meat as a large part of our diet in Canada goose, caribou, moose and fish. With the arrival of colonization and Europeans, our diets changed and our hunting and gathering methods became more restricted. We turned to canned foods, processed foods, soft drinks, chips, and foods loaded with sugars and fats. The result was horrible. In many cases, people still don’t want vegetables in their diet.
A book that my friends and I 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 understand how important it is to eat vegetables and legumes, less sugar and eliminate fatty foods from your diet. All of the information in this book is backed by good scientific research. When I followed this information I lost 20 pounds and felt better with much more energy. Dr. Greger also showcases his work and lectures at www.nutritionfacts.org where he continually adds the latest information on nutrition and healthy eating.
Access to affordable healthy food is the biggest barrier most Northerners face in eating more vegetables. It can be expensive, but in the long run, the money you save by eating cheap food today is wasted when you have to pay for expensive medical treatments 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 the form of food subsidies or later by paying for the public health services an individual will need to treat chronic problems caused by the consumption of unhealthy foods throughout their lifetime. Why not invest now to keep people healthy rather than leaving them with unhealthy options?
Just because we’ve been sucked into poor diets for years doesn’t mean we can’t learn healthy lifestyles. Is it better to stick with lousy diets, to feel bad, to be overweight, to have terrible health problems because of what we eat, or to educate ourselves and tackle better health?
I care about my people, family and friends and encourage everyone to read this book and check out this website because it could really improve your health. Truly, you are what you eat.

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