Meet two of your Manitoulin Island dietitians this Dietitians Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: In honour of Nutrition Month, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre dietitians have penned a series of columns highlighting the work they do to keep us healthy.

Happy Dietitians Day! March 20 is the day to celebrate how dietitians help you unlock the potential of food. We hope you’ve had a wonderful nutrition month, we’ve certainly enjoyed teaching cooking classes and group sessions and sharing some delicious recipes and practical nutrition tips with you this month. We would like to take some time today to share a bit about how dietitians impact our communities right here on Manitoulin!

Joby: Aanii Kina Weya. Hello, my name is Joby Quiambao and I am a registered dietitian (RD) with Noojmowin Teg Health Centre working in the First Nations communities of Aundek Omni Kaning, Sheguiandah, Wikwemikong and Sheshegwaning, within the District of Manitoulin Island. As an RD, I support and promote the nutrition well-being of Anishnabek and aboriginal individuals, families and community members through nutrition counselling and education. I enjoy empowering clients to explore their nutritional needs, build skills to create and reach their goals and nourish their connections to food. Likewise, I strive to integrate, through Degohnegaadeh (Anishnaabemowin word which means to blend), and honour the Seven Grandfather Teachings—respect, humility, bravery, truth, honesty, love and wisdom—in my dietetics practice. I am grateful to work alongside amazing colleagues and communities, unlocking the potential of food to heal and support overall holistic health and well-being.

Natalie: My name is Natalie Hastings, I have worked as a dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Noojmowin Teg for six years. I found my way to Manitoulin after my dietetic internship in Sudbury. I didn’t anticipate staying this long or loving the Island as much as I do, but I am grateful to feel at home here and for everything I have learned. I am a member of the Nogdawen Dissun Diabetes Program which works on seven First Nation Communities on Manitoulin and surrounding area. I am also involved in community nutrition and health promotion. 

With the release of Canada’s updated food guide and with March being Nutrition Month it is a great time to reflect on how you fuel your body and what healthy eating can do for you, your family and community. The new guide concentrates on what we should eat and how we should eat. It highlights mindful eating, cooking meals more often, enjoying food and eating meals with others. 

Being involved in your own food system and having connection to your food through fishing, hunting, gardening or foraging is such an important component to health. “Food is truly our medicine and medicine is our food,” is a quote from Rich Francis that was recently presented by Neil Debassige at a local Food Forum. His talk on Indigenous food sovereignty was put on by Manitoulin Community Fresh Food Initiative and Turtle Island Roots Program which are two local programs to check out.  

It is hard to look at social media or the TV without seeing fad diets, extreme eating regimens or unrealistic nutrition claims. Dietitians promote balanced healthy eating, practice evidence-based nutrition and encourage individuals to make nutrition goals, big or small, that they can stick with.

Dietetics does come with stereotypes but I promise not to suggest you “eat like a rabbit,” judge what is in your grocery cart or make unrealistic goals. Instead, dietitians help clients understand, embrace and enjoy food while considering their needs and challenges. Happy nutrition month everyone!

This week we have highlighted how two registered dietitians help our communities embrace the potential of food. Dietitians also work in family health teams, public health units, long term care facilities and hospitals to help Canadians unlock the potential of food. It is our pleasure to serve the Manitoulin Island community and to celebrate Nutrition Month 2019 with you.