Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice
By Dr. Janice Owen, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Huron County
As we all know, eating healthy requires more than someone telling you to eat fruit and vegetables. We also need healthy food available at different times and in different places. This is not always easy, however!
At the Health Unit we help create environments where healthy food is available and where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Why?
You have heard me talk about the Ontario Public Health Standards. Our public health dietitian plays a large role in helping us meet the chronic disease standards, intended to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, by promoting healthy eating and policy development in schools and workplaces.
Instead of working with residents one-on-one, our public health dietitian works with other Health Unit staff and community partners. Their goal is to make healthy eating possible in daycares, schools, recreation facilities and workplaces. As I mentioned, telling people about eating healthy is only part of the puzzle. It’s also important to make healthy food available by setting up policies and changing how an environment works. School cafeterias replacing unhealthy snacks with healthier choices is one example.
We also encourage healthy food policies and initiatives at the local and provincial levels.
Lack of time and money, and other stressors, can all affect our ability to get healthy meals on the table and enjoy them. Every year, we research how much it costs a Huron County family of four to buy food. We use this information to call for a living wage and basic income guarantee, because without adequate income Huron County residents cannot afford to eat well and thrive.
Working with our dietitian, our family health nurses and parent resource visitors help pregnant women and young families learn about nutritious food selection and preparation. They also connect families to nutrition and parenting services.
Our school health nurses work with teachers, parents, and students to make it easier for students to eat well and learn about health and nutrition. Also, our public health promoters, community developers, and dietitian work with other organizations in your community to make the healthy choice the easy choice and help our children grow up healthy and happy. By partnering with recreation settings and schools, we are working to create food environments where healthy eating is promoted through both words AND actions.
By doing this, we hope to instil a life-long approach to healthy eating that will make your life longer!
“Public Health Matters” is a regular column by Dr. Janice Owen, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Huron County. Media outlets are welcome to run these monthly columns.
Public Health Dietitian Amy MacDonald is our spokesperson on this column. To speak with Amy, please contact Rita Marshall, Communications Co-ordinator, Huron County Health Unit, 519.482.3416 (toll-free 1.877.837.6143) ext. 2023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.