Let dietitians help you make the right choices to prevent chronic disease

EDITOR’S NOTE: In honour of Nutrition Month, Manitoulin’s Family Health Team dietitians will be penning a series of columns highlighting the work they do to keep us healthy.

by Nola Thompson, Registered Dietitian

Here we are already in the second week of Nutrition Month 2019! This week I plan to explore food’s potential to prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Our lifestyle factors–including what and how we eat–can affect our health. Did you know that there are healthy diet patterns that can prevent certain diseases? A few diet patterns that have been well researched for their health benefits include the DASH, Mediterranean, and MIND diets. These dietary patterns are associated with preventing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and some types of cancer. What do these dietary patterns have in common? Each one includes the following foods: vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes (e.g. beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, dairy, fish, seafood, poultry, healthy fats (e.g. canola and olive oils). These patterns limit processed foods like potato chips, candies, pop and baked goods. Those foods and drinks are high in added sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats – ingredients best limited. This isn’t to say these patterns forbid ever enjoying a slice of birthday cake or a few potato chips again, but they do encourage those sorts of foods as an occasional treat and not as a part of the daily diet pattern. 

These patterns also focus on the importance of enjoying meals mindfully and with good company. Aim to enjoy at least one healthy meal together with family or friends each day – and don’t forget to turn off the TV and cell phones! We all have individual challenges, health goals and food preferences and there are various healthy diet patterns to choose from. You may ask, ‘what pattern is best for me?’ I would say the best one is one you can stick with and enjoy. If you would like to learn more about developing a healthy diet pattern that you can both enjoy and stick with long-term, consider working with a registered dietitian. Dietitians are passionate about the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. We work with you to embrace food, understand it, and to enjoy it while considering your own goals and priorities. Everyone’s journey toward wellness is unique and a dietitian could help you discover the role of food in your own wellness. As a first step in embracing the food’s potential to prevent chronic diseases, you could try this, or another, tasty Nutrition Month feature recipe (available at www.cookspiration.com ) .

Bruschetta Fish 


2 Tbsp canola oil (30 mL)

4 firm whitefish fillets 4 oz (125 g) each

1/4 tsp pepper (1 mL)

2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (500ml)

1/2 cup crumbled feta (125 mL)

1/2 cup minced red onion (125 mL)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (15 mL)

1 Tbsp canola oil (15 mL)

1/4 tsp salt (1 mL)

1/4 tsp pepper (1 mL)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves chopped (125mL)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour 1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish and place fish fillets on top. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of canola oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, feta, red onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar, canola oil, salt and pepper. Mix to evenly combine. Top fillets evenly with tomato mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle basil evenly over top before serving.

Serves four.