The Diet of Québec First Nations and Inuit Peoples

  • The diet of Québec’s First Nations and Inuit has changed significantly in a few decades. It passed from a diet based on local natural resources to a mixed diet or one relying exclusively on commercial food.
  • When adding a sedentary lifestyle and the social conditions of many families and communities, the commercially-based diet, which is high in refined sugars, trans fat, and sodium and low in essential nutrients, contributes to chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • The traditional diet is healthy and high in a variety of essential nutrients (iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C and D). The foods in this regimen generally contain abundant animal proteins as well as essential fatty acids. Eating these foods is advocated for their positive effects on individual global health.
  • A healthy and varied diet includes products obtained from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering, but also through access to a variety of quality and reasonably-priced store-bought foods.
  • Remoteness and geographic isolation, as well as access to resources, may be major obstacles for First Nations and Inuit to securing a healthy nutrition.
  • Access to healthy and varied food in Aboriginal communities is already being supported and sustained efforts must continue. A variety of strategies already at work in communities illustrate community vitality and empowerment that come when sufficient resources are made available to them.
  • Early childhood must be the target for healthy lifestyle promotion efforts, with the goal of reaching the family and community environments. Children must be taught very early the importance of good eating habits, and their elders must also have the opportunity to teach them cultural habits through nutrition.
  • Numerous families experience food insecurity on a regular basis due to a particularly unfavourable socio-economic context. Still today many Aboriginal families and communities in Quebec are forced to deal with poverty, along with its harmful effects.
  • Unless concrete action is taken to end these iniquities, promoting healthy eating habits will be a futile exercise.
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