Wellness Blog & Clinic News

Wild berries in the Alaskan snow.

Rural Alaskan Nutrition: 9 Healthy Dietary Tips from Cama’i CHC

Our diets are the fundamental building blocks of health. Without a proper diet, our quality of life suffers, and even healing remedies and medicines often aren’t as effective. In fact, unhealthy eating habits are responsible for approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. This is why we can not stress enough the importance of improving your diet quality — and maintaining healthy eating habits.

At Cama’i, we offer a variety of services that can assist you with maintaining a balanced diet — even way out here in rural Alaska. From personalized meal plans to weight loss support, we’ve got you and your family covered.

In the following, we’ll dig into our list of healthy dietary tips that you can implement in your and your family’s life today, and improve your overall health and wellness.

Do you need dietary services in the Bristol Bay region? Contact Cama’i today and schedule an appointment.

Did You Know That Diet Affects Your Health and Behavior?

If you’ve ever been “hangry” you probably understand how diet can significantly affect your mood and other behavioral traits. But it’s not just the lack of food that can sometimes cause you to go through mood swings, it’s the type of food that you consume as well.

Check the following ways diet quality can affect health and behavior:

  • Boost Your Immune System: A healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants helps your body fight off illness and recover faster.
  • Increase Energy Levels: Proper nutrition provides sustained energy throughout the day, keeping you active and ready to tackle whatever Alaska throws your way.
  • Improve Mood and Focus: What you eat can directly impact your brain function. A balanced diet supports mental clarity, focus, and can even elevate your mood.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Choosing nutritious foods over processed options helps manage weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Promote Overall Well-Being: From strong bones and muscles to healthy skin and hair, a well-rounded diet contributes to overall well-being and a sense of vitality.

The Pitfalls of Poor Diet Quality

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat,” there is much more truth to this statement than many people realize. This is because while a healthy diet offers a multitude of benefits, a diet lacking in essential nutrients or loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars, and processed ingredients can have a significant negative impact on your health and well-being. And in rural areas where food security isn’t as prevalent, local food can play a huge role.

Here’s why:

  • Decreased Immunity: A lack of vitamins and minerals can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  • Low Energy Levels: Processed foods and sugary drinks provide a quick burst of energy followed by a crash, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish.
  • Mood Swings and Foggy Brain: Consuming excessive sugar and unhealthy fats can negatively impact brain function, leading to difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and even depression.
  • Weight Gain and Obesity: Diets high in calories and unhealthy fats can lead to weight gain and obesity, increasing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • Increased Risk of Chronic Disease: A diet deficient in essential nutrients can contribute to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Poor Gut Health: Processed foods and sugary drinks can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to digestive issues, bloating, and even impacting overall health.

9 Healthy Dietary Tips for Rural Alaskans

While we have the wilderness at our fingertips, we may not have all the resources that are found in stores across the lower 48. But this is actually a good thing because our food is largely procured from local sources. However, there are several tips you can follow to help maintain a healthy diet while living in rural Alaska.

1. Embrace Local & Seasonal

Take advantage of Alaska’s bounty! Wild-caught seafood is a fantastic source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins. Explore local farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs for fresh produce when available. Don’t forget berries! Alaska’s blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are packed with antioxidants.

2. Canned and Frozen Can Be Friends

Fresh isn’t always an option in Alaska. But, if you live in rural Alaska, canning may just be one of the best options. For example, canned fish like salmon and tuna are excellent sources of protein and omega-3s. Frozen fruits and vegetables also offer a convenient and affordable way to include essential vitamins and minerals in your diet year-round.

3. Get Creative with Grains

North America is a huge grain producer, and many of our diets include a large intake of grain-based foods. Whole grains provide fiber, complex carbohydrates, and essential nutrients — all part of the basic building blocks of health. You can stock up on brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat options — or explore ancient grains like barley and farro for a taste adventure.

4. Don’t Forget the Dairy (or Alternatives)

While too much dairy can have an adverse effect on your health, too little can also cause problems as well. A good rule of thumb if you’re trying to lose weight is to keep dairy intake regular but minimal. For example, calcium-rich dairy products like cheese and yogurt are crucial for bone health — and these can both be great snacks! If you’re lactose intolerant, consider fortified plant-based options like almond or soy milk.

5. Plan Your Meals and Snacks

Meal planning may seem like an added chore that you’d rather not write into your day. But, meal planning is a great way to prioritize dietary health — and to avoid unhealthy choices when hunger strikes. You don’t have to plan out a whole week, but keep in mind what you’ll be eating a few days at a time. You may even consider packing healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix for those long days on the go.

6. Make Water Your Best Friend

Water is what gives us life. Without water, we would not exist. But you’d be surprised just how many people don’t prioritize a daily recommended water intake. At the end of the day, staying hydrated is vital for overall health and can even improve your mood and energy levels. You may even carry a reusable water bottle and sip throughout the day.

7. Read Food Labels & Be Selective

The labels tell an important story! These days, you have to be careful of dyes, additives, saturated fats, and added sugars that can lurk in packaged foods. Take a moment to understand what you’re putting into your body by reading labels and choosing options lower in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats.

8. Embrace Traditional Practices

Many indigenous and remote Alaskan native communities have thrived for generations on traditional food consumption rich in fish, whale meat (where legal and sustainable), berries, and other wild foods. Explore these traditions with subsistence foods and incorporate elements that work for you.

9. Celebrate Your Successes

Diets should be standards you set out to meet, not lofty, unattainable goals. So, don’t beat yourself up if you have a cheat day on occasion, or if you’re having trouble staying on track. Keep in mind that at Cama’i CHC, we have dietary specialists ready to assist you with achieving a standard for dieting. The bottom line is; maintaining a healthy diet in rural Alaska takes dedication. This is why you should celebrate your successes, big or small, to stay motivated and continue thriving in rural Alaska.

Embrace Local, Prioritize Healthy Diets with Cama’i CHC

Alaska’s vast landscapes and unique communities offer an unparalleled lifestyle. But maintaining a healthy diet in remote locations can be a challenge. However, by embracing local offerings, eating traditional foods, planning your meals strategically, and making informed choices with Cama’i at your side, you can ensure your body has the fuel it needs to thrive in our precious Last Frontier.

Remember, a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated. With our tips and a dedication to your well-being, you can meet each day with energy, focus, and a sense of vitality!

Are you looking for dietary services in rural Alaska? Contact Cama’i today and schedule an appointment.