Primary care patient Cheryl Aitkens (left) worked with dietitian Carmen Prion-Frank (right) at
an Ask a Dietitian workshop to better understand Canada’s Food Guide and how to make more
healthy food choices.
A change in eating habits
can benefit many people,
especially if they have a
In fact, family doctors spend a lot
of time talking with their patients
“I’d say at least 50 per cent of our
patients have some chronic disease
or illness that could either be
caused by or benefit from a change
in eating habits,” says Dr. Linda
Slocombe, the medical director at
Calgary Foothills PCN. “Lifestyle
counselling is a big part of family
practice; it is something that is
talked about a lot.”
But often people need more than
a conversation with their doctor.
“They need a class or course or
group support to change their
lifestyle habits,” says Slocombe.
And that’s why doctors refer their
patients to programs such as Ask
a Dietitian. Whether you have
cardiovascular disease and need to
cut back on saturated fat or have
prediabetes and are reducing sugar,
programs can help you learn how to
change your eating habits.
“I have a family history of heart
disease and diabetes and I have
struggled with weight my entire life,”
says Aitkens, 60. “I have changed
the way I buy and the way I cook.
I am not perfect—but I am more
aware and I pay closer attention.”
At work, she packs hummus with
her vegetables for lunch rather
than a high-fat dip. At home she
cooks from scratch more often
and poaches food in chicken broth
instead of frying it in butter. And she
leaves high-sugar yogurt at the store
and brings home plain yogurt to eat
with fresh fruit instead.
“I am going to continue to be good
to myself,” says Aitkens.
“I feel better about my food choices
and it makes you feel better when
you know you’re doing something
good for yourself.”
ASK YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR OR HEALTH
TEAM MEMBER ABOUT HEALTHY EATING
PROGRAMS OFFERED AT YOUR PCN.