NurseAsk Nurse Lisa

Food Groups

The first step to a healthy diet is knowing what you’re eating!

Proteins

Any type of meat like: moose, caribou, seal meat, whale meat, walrus meat, fish, beef, chicken. Traditional animals are a great source of protein. Some plants also have lots of protein, like nuts, beans, and some types of grains, such as quinoa, barley, and bulgar.

Fruits & Vegetables

The more colorful your selection of fruits and veggies is, the more nutrients you are getting! Picture all colors of the rainbow.

Some examples of fruits are blueberries, cranberries, salmonberries, bananas, apples, oranges, pineapple, grapes, kiwis, peaches, pears, and more! Examples of vegetables are lettuce, spinach, wild celery, beach greens, broccoli, seaweed, and more!

Overcooking your vegetables damages the vitamins that are held in the plant’s cells. There’s a common misconception that if you cook vegetables to make a broth, you’ve got all the nutrients in the broth; not true!

Tip: Sometimes we can get in the rut of eating a lot of soups or ramens. To cool down your soup, add some frozen green beans, peas, or broccoli after your soup’s done to boost your vitamin intake without overcooking the vegetables.

Getting fresh fruit all the time can be difficult; however, beware of fruits that come packaged in syrups. These products contain a lot of sugar, so it is much less healthy than fresh fruit! Instead, go for the fruit that is packaged in water.

Carbohydrates/grains

Bread made with white or wheat flour, cereals, sugar, and starches like corn, potatoes, and peas. French fries are a part of this group!

It is important to limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat. In your body, carbohydrates break down into sugar, which is used as energy – but if you eat too much, carbohydrates will be stored as fat! Because they break down into sugar after you eat them, carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels, which is really important to watch if you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic.

Did you know there are differences in the types of flours? Two of the more common flours are white wheat flour and whole wheat flour. White wheat flour is quickly turned into sugar in the body, while whole wheat flour takes longer to be broken down into sugar because it contains all-natural oils. Whole wheat flour is better choice for your body because it keeps your energy levels high for longer and can make you feel fuller. Some people’s bodies have more difficulty digesting wheat (whole or white), which can cause intestinal pain – this is more common in Native bodies. Alternatives to wheat flour are barely flour, rye flour, coconut flour, corn flours, tapioca flour, and more.

Don’t be fooled by the packaging! Some bread labels may say “whole wheat,” but if you check the ingredients list there is enriched wheat flour. Enriched wheat flour is similar to white flour because the natural oils have been removed to allow for a longer shelf life. Without the natural oils, enriched wheat flour is much less healthy.

When a wheat flour is enriched, this means that some nutrients were added back into the flour during or after processing. However, not all of the nutrients are put back, including fiber, another important nutrient.

Grain products are rich in fiber, which keeps you full and your digestive system healthy. Breads made with whole-wheat flour are higher in fiber because the parts full of nutrients – wheat bran and wheat germ – have not been removed. When bread is made with whole-wheat flour, by law, it must be labeled “100% Whole Wheat.” Some bread labels may try to trick to you by saying “Multigrain” or “Oat” – getting you to believe it is healthy, but that is not always the case. The healthiest breads have more than 3 grams of fiber per serving on the label.

Many foods besides bread have high fiber, like fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Eat up to keep your digestive system on track!

There are two types of fiber:

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, legumes (beans, peas, and soybeans), apples, bananas, berries, barely, some vegetables, and psylluim (chia seeds).
  • Insoluble fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increases your stool (poop) bulk. Sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat foods, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skin of some fruits and vegetables. Like fiddlehead ferns (cetuguar – Yu’pik), fireweed (Ciilqaaq – Yu’pik, Lóol – Tlingit, Cillqaqtaq – Alutiiq, Pamiqtaq – Iñupiaq), goosetongue (Nutaqitlila – Dena’ina, Sutéitl), seaweed (Elquaq – Yup’ik, Laak’ásk – Tlingit, Qahngux – Unangam Tunuu), and more!

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Help page.