Eat your way to health

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Jenn Touesnard, left, Debbie Sutton, and Anna Bergen pack away some of the leftovers from the evening's events. The food served were all examples of how to eat satisfying things while staying healthy.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Jenn Touesnard, left, Debbie Sutton, and Anna Bergen pack away some of the leftovers from the evening’s events. The food served were all examples of how to eat satisfying things while staying healthy.

You can have diabetes and still eat what you want, according to the organizers of the healthy living event held last week, as long as it’s in moderation.

“We wanted to encourage people to look at food and their health in a positive way,” said Anna Bergen, nurse practitioner with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority. “You may have to change the amount or frequency but you can have anything you want.”

Eat Your Way to Healthy, held last Thursday at the Supportive Living Services facility, focused on just that. As part of Diabetes Awareness Month, participants were treated to an evening of good food, discussions about health, as well as films promoting healthy living, produced in partnership with the GNWT. A total of about 10 people came out for the event, some of whom walked away with hundreds of dollars worth of prizes.

“I’ve been wanting to cook more healthy food, and this has given me the push to do it,” said Debra Buggins, who won a box of ingredients and cooking implements. “You are what you eat, after all.”

Fellow-winner Yvonne Hopkins said she would be making use of her prize of snowshoes and poles, but that if anyone sees her falling down in the snow, she hopes they’ll stop to help her up.

“I’m not diabetic, but it’s important to do what you can to stay healthy,” she said. “And I’ve always been lucky at draws.”

While Debbie Sutton, diabetes program co-ordinator for the authority, deals with people suffering from the disease all year long, she said this month is a good opportunity to do some outreach in the community.

“Lots of people feel like they can’t eat a lot of things,” said Sutton. “It’s not about giving up certain foods entirely, it’s about making sure you eat a balanced diet and only indulge in some things some of the time.”

To help inspire attendees, authority staff cooked up soup, bread, cake, cookies plus macaroni and cheese. All had their recipes modified to increase the amount of protein and fibre without making them taste like what people typically think of as “health food.”

Bergen said the focus, in her own work as well as the territorial government’s efforts, is all about prevention.

“We asked the schools and other kids’ programs to participate by making posters and we want to recognize their participation as well,” she said. “Healthy eating and living has to start at a young age.”

–Sarah Ladik