Health Canada released the new 2019 Canada’s Food Guide. It’s taken decades but I feel we finally have a winner. Here is an emergency management perspective. We have the opportunity to decrease the epidemic rates of obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. We could avoid financial ruin. Will we act? If we choose to. (Many of these principals of good diet and lifestyle care relate to higher used car resale prices. Let me explain.)
Canada’s Food Guide https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/ Further links at the bottom of this article.
The Emergency Management Perspective
When I work with clients, we identify the client’s risks and hazards, and help find solutions. If you identify a number of highly likely and highly impacting risks, you need to address those risks, and avoid, stop or minimize those risks.
If the statistics in our demographic, age group, gender, lifestyle, etc… point to alarming rates of obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes, shouldn’t we address those risks? Assuming people haven’t sought to develop those conditions and illnesses, if large percentages of the population keep developing those conditions and illnesses, maybe we can assume we’ve been doing something wrong with our lifestyle and diet.
In a workplace with frequent on-the-job accidents, perhaps small changes in approaches, procedures and equipment can lead to a decrease in the number and severity of accidents. Regardless, there is a duty for that employer to address repeated annual on-the-job accidents.
In the home, falls can have major consequences, so you do something to prevent them once you’ve identified where the dangers are high! Having a solid 1st aid kit and a plan on what to do will help, as well.
If your outdoor activities face high chances of serious weather changes, risks of accidents, or gear problems, you should do something about it. Maybe you can practice that activity while equipped with clothing for those likely weather changes, find a safer location, and invest in better choice of gear and gear maintenance. Would you turn that down? No.
So why do we continue to turn down the opportunity for better health through an improved diet and lifestyle? I feel this new Canada Food Guide can take us down the right path if we choose to take that path.
Globally increasing preventable health issues and diseases
The thing is, just about every country is facing increasing rates of what are often termed preventable health issues, such as obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. These, for me, are risks we keep identifying over and over again, and likely to impact large and sometimes massive percentages of our populations. They’re also the result of long-term dietary and lifestyle deficiencies.
We, as individuals and global citizens, have to decide if we want to implement these dietary and lifestyle changes. Why wouldn’t we?
It’s hard and costly to keep a neglected car on the road
I like the new Food Guide because it is finally trying to prevent what for so many Canadians should be preventable or delayable.
If you own and drive a car for 8-15 years but take poor care of it, that vehicle will likely be dead, falling apart or close to the end of its lifespan. If, after 10 years of wear and tear on the roads, you finally decide that you want to start taking care of a neglected vehicle, you’re likely facing weakened, worn and broken bits all over the vehicle. The whole vehicle might be unsafe and ready for the scrap yard.
Conversely, if you take good care of the vehicle from new, follow the maintenance schedule, take proper care of the body, look after your tires, do alignment jobs, etc… essentially you are proactive, your vehicle will have a far greater chance of lasting for years and years.
At a cost(!), you can replace worn or broken bits on a car, you can respray the paint, you can replace body panels, you can swap in a new engine or axel, you can weld in certain new metal parts, and so on, but you cannot really do that with your body. Okay, you can undergo certain drastic medical procedures but can be risky, they may ruin you financially, and they’re not fun!
Think about it. When you read used car buying recommendations, you will always read: “Ask to see the documented service history.” A used vehicle with a well documented service history will be worth more than a used vehicle with no service history or with insufficient proof that the vehicle was well looked after. Buyers know that a well serviced vehicle should be more reliable, less costly to operate, and have more usable years left.
It’s a pity that we humans aren’t given incentives to be well maintained. Perhaps we are in terms of likely living a longer, healthier and more active life.
The same goes for the maintenance on your home and apartment. A neglected property will be worth far less years down the road.
Involve your family
To have an effective home escape plan in the event of a fire, you involve your family in the planning and rehearsing. Everyone in the family might have an important and valid opinion. You need to agree ahead of time how you escape your home and where you’ll meet outside.
It’s the same for this food guide. Look through the guide with your family and discuss with your partner and children how you think you can do better.
In terms of your diet, look at packaging with your children and get them familiar with high vs low sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat levels. Explain to them why one product is healthier than another one.
Go shopping together and take food buying decisions together. As the guide highlights, spend a lot of your grocery time in the vegetable and fruit sections.
Cook together and prepare meals together to get your young ones and teenagers used to using and eating healthy ingredients.
As with Emergency Management Principals, International Dietary Principals are finally coming of age
In Emergency Management, it took years to realise there are common principals that apply regardless of the country or language. Today, those are recorded in global standards such as NFPA 1600 and ISO 22301, and are respected and implemented by the private and public sectors.
I feel there are finally global standards developing when it comes to food and lifestyle but there is still a ways to go for these to be adopted globally and for country processes to be free of influence from industry and lobby groups. Canada’s new Food Guide shares a number of principals with the 2014 Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population such as eating more fresh ingredients; preparing your own food; reduced consumption of processed foods; and highly limiting oils, salt and sugar. I like that the new Canada Food Guide goes beyond that and adopted innovative food recommendations.
Your wallet later in life
If you neglect your body’s health eating needs, you will likely start to face increasing health impacts and medical interventions, the quality of life in your later years will decrease, and you may be financially ruined by high cost ongoing medical treatments.
For me, the new Canada Food Guide represents not only healthier living through your youth and adult years, but also healthier and happier times in your senior years. If you reach your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond but are plagued by many preventable ongoing health epidemics such as obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes, you may not enjoy a high quality of life.
Conclusion: Health Canada, I salute you. Well done.
Unless we change course, large percentages of us all over the world are headed towards destinations of obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. I believe in the new Canada Food Guide because I finally believe it is pointing us in the right direction towards a healthier, happier and longer lifetime, starting with our youth years.
The ball is in our court. If you’d like further reading, please see the related links below.
What is your take? Share in the Comments below.
- Canadian Govt: “Canada’s Food Guide: Healthy Eating Resources” https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-resources/
- United Nations “Healthy Diet” https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet
- US Govt: “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans” https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/introduction/nutrition-and-health-are-closely-related/
- Canadian Govt: “Healthy Living Can Prevent Disease” https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/healthy-living-prevent-disease.html
- American Cancer Society “Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection?” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/diet-and-physical-activity.html
- Harvard University “Disease Prevention” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/
- Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation: “Heart / Risk& Prevention” https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention
- UK NHS “The top 5 causes of premature death” https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/top-5-causes-of-premature-death/
- BBC News “The Human Cost of Insulin in America” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47491964
- New York Times “Diabetes Patients at Risk From Rising Insulin Prices” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/well/diabetes-patients-at-risk-from-rising-insulin-prices.html
- Financial Times “‘Lifestyle’ diseases saddle poor countries” https://www.ft.com/content/7d6b6ec6-dd1b-11dd-a2a9-000077b07658
- Australian Broadcasting Corp “‘Lifestyle illnesses’ costing governments hundreds of millions of dollars annually: study” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-06/financial-burden-of-lifestyle-illnesses/7818572
- Good gosh, this list could get long! You get the point, though.