North Nutrition
25 NWT and Alberta community health programs represented

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 21/97) - Imagine the Canada food guide, which says we are supposed to eat servings of meat, fruit, vegetables and breads and dairy products.

Now imagine you live in a remote community where fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products are not always available.

Over 45 participants from the NWT and northern Alberta converged in Yellowknife this week to discuss ways to assist prenatal and pregnant women in making healthy food choices.

Event organizer Susan Ashton, who is a program consultant with Health Canada in Yellowknife, said the workshop is all about "sharing ideas and letting others know they're not isolated."

One of the main lessons was on proper nutrition using traditional foods.

Through the use of the NWT food guide, suggestions were made on how to incorporate traditional foods into a healthy diet.

For example, foods such as such as liver and animal fat can be substituted for fruit and vegetables. Also, bones and cartilage can be used in place of dairy products.

Smoking, breastfeeding, creating opportunities for teaching nutrition and keeping nutrition programs alive in the communities were also discussed.

Ashton also said the workshop is an opportunity for participants to use each other as resources.

Bessie Sitatak, a facilitator with the Kugluktuk prenatal nutrition program said the workshop proved helpful.

"Our program just started in January, so we need new ideas to bring back."

Fort Simpson's Tammy Irving shared the feeling. "It's excellent to hear about other projects and common frustrations."

This is the second year the workshop has run. Last year seven northern community programs were represented.

At this seminar, over 25 community health organizations sent representatives.