Group learns tips on healthy eating habits

Sarah Pruys

Almost 50 people left the Sunset Country Métis Hall here last Wednesday evening with a better idea of how to live healthier following a presentation on healthy eating, food preparation, and resistance training.
The free workshop filled up quickly, with attendees enjoying samples of gluten-free banana bread, spinach salad, and other appetizers offered by chef Ryan Parisien’s crew.
They also listened to presentations by Cindy Gauthier and Trisha Wood of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., followed by resistance training led by the Sunset Country Métis.
Gauthier, a registered nurse, spoke on the process of how food is turned into energy.
Basically, food turns into glucose, with the sugar then leaving the stomach and entering the bloodstream. Insulin allows it to leave the blood and go into the cells, giving the body energy.
“Sugar in the blood does not give us any energy,” Gauthier explained. “Energy comes from the sugar ending up in the cells.
“Eighty-five percent of people that get Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, this is where the problem begins,” she added.
“It’s like the cell does not allow the insulin to push the glucose in—it’s called insulin resistance.”
This simply means a person’s insulin does not work well, and it occurs long before diabetes is fully formed and before blood sugar starts to rise.
“Insulin resistance is often seen in association with high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” noted Gauthier.
“It can be a big contributor to weight issues,” she added.
If insulin does not work well, then it will cause the pancreas to work harder to produce extra insulin. Over time, the pancreas will become tired.
“Many of the cells that make insulin will not work anymore,” said Gauthier. “This is what happens when people get Type 2 diabetes.”
“What you eat impacts how much sugar is in the blood, and how much insulin the pancreas has to squirt out,” she noted.
Ways in which to combat insulin resistance include ongoing and regular exercise, healthy eating, and weight loss.
Wood, a registered dietitian, then focused on healthy eating.
“A lot of people when they start eating healthy, they don’t realize how bad they felt before,” Wood said after first reading a quote stating that food either can be medicinal or poisonous over time depending on what is consumed.
“Eighty percent of the reason we are the weight that we are is because of what we eat,” she remarked.
“[But] one of the hardest things to do is to change the way you eat.”
Wood noted that clients have said it was easier to quit smoking than to start eating healthy because once cigarettes are gone, they are gone.
Food, on the other hand, still is needed for survival.
“One of the biggest, most easiest tips for weight loss is to get those trigger foods out of your house,” Wood stressed.
She noted 62 percent of the Canadian population is overweight.
“Obesity causes a wide variety of problems: heart disease, acid reflux, high blood pressure, cancer, sleep apnea, liver disease, PCOS,” Wood cited.
She explained how people need to watch the quality of the food they eat, such as by using a tool like the glycemic index.
“[The glycemic index] is a measurement of how fast certain foods affect your blood sugar,” said Wood.
“When you eat, what happens is our blood sugar comes up,” she noted. “But when you eat foods that are high on the glycemic index, your blood sugar spikes way up.”
These high-glycemic foods also make people feel hungry again sooner—meaning they eat more throughout the day to feel full.
“It’s not that we can’t have sugar, it’s the amount that you’re having that’s the important thing,” Wood stressed.
Low-glycemic foods include whole grain breads, fruits, and vegetables while those that are high-glycemic are things like white breads and highly-processed foods.
Wood suggested watching what you eat, planning meals to avoid impulse decisions, healthy substitutions when baking and cooking, and reducing salt, alcohol, and red meat as steps to becoming healthier.
“If you eat a lot of salt in your diet, you expect a lot of salt,” she remarked. “It’s a learned taste and you can unlearn it.”
Wood also talked about exercise, which was followed by a presentation on resistance training given by representatives of the Sunset Country Métis.
“When people start exercising, they start eating better,” Wood reasoned.
“It was very nice. I highly recommend it,” participant Priscilla Gerber said after the workshop.
She said she learned the most about food preparation and eating healthy snacks.
“I liked the food and stuff,” noted Eva Angus, who said she also learned a lot about the glycemic index.