Our ancestors had it right: food is medicine!


With two days left of the Food is Medicine Healthy Eating Challenge, let's reconnect with the sacred and healing power of food

A message from Dr. Evan Adams, FNHA Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Nutrition Month comes to an end this Sunday, and so too does our Food is Medicine Healthy Eating Challenge. We hope that this challenge helped many of you to reconnect with your bodies and wellness, your traditional foods, and to spend time eating and enjoying healthy meals with your loved ones.

While the official challenge was only for March, healthy eating and healing our relationships with food are areas that we can work on year round. We encourage you to continue your healthy habits onward, and to be a wellness champion for your families, friends and communities.

Food is Medicine challenge

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this challenge and taken steps toward better health. You can look through the hashtags online to see some of the beautiful meals prepared and the ways that Indigenous people across BC have prioritized their wellness through food.




At the FNHA, we have been especially inspired to see the communities who have come together to support each other's health and wellness and who are taking food harvesting, preparing and preserving seriously. This week we shared how Heiltsuk Nation is championing healthy eating initiatives like Healthy Lunch days and potluck gatherings. Way to go!

Ancestral Knowledge and food

Food is medicine, and that's the truth. Our ancestors knew this when they collected Devil's Club or when they preserved the eulachon grease, berries and other foods from the land and water that have kept our communities healthy and well. Today, these traditions are carried through the generations, from grandmother to grandchild, father to son, auntie to niece. Our traditional foods are some of the best foods and many have medicinal properties that have been known and used since time immemorial.

Our ancestors knew that the best foods for us were those that came from our territories, and were made up a rich diet of healthy wild proteins, roots, berries and other wild fruits and vegetables. Today, many of our communities inspire us by continuing to share in these traditions and to preserve these foods to ensure their supply and security throughout the year.

Of course, for some of us, wild foods are simply not an option, or if you live more remote, you may have trouble accessing fresh fruits and vegetables. Not to worry! We hope this challenge has reminded you that frozen vegetables and fruits, and preserved foods are also great options.

Healing and food

Despite its healing qualities, food carries spiritual and emotional baggage for many of us. Dr. Nel Wieman shared an article on emotional eating, and it's certainly true that trauma and intergenerational trauma can lead to unhealthy eating habits and even eating disorders for some people. Food can be especially challenging for residential school survivors, who may have grown up in scarcity, with not enough food to go around, or who never had access to healthy foods or traditional foods. Some of our children who went to residential schools were submitted to unthinkable nutritional experiments, and many were malnourished.

The legacy of these times stays with us and runs through our families. But healthy relationships with food can be re-built after trauma. The more we understand ourselves and the roots of our food-related challenges, the kinder we can be with ourselves, and healing can continue.

Food is medicine, and as medicine it heals. By reconnecting with the foods that make us healthy—and made our ancestors healthy too—there is no reason why we can't thrive, manage chronic illness and lead fulfilled lives.  

With that, we hope you will take the time to make some final posts this weekend, sharing how food is medicine for you. Use the hashtags above and/or tag fnha on your healthy eating journeys, stories, recipes, pictures, and healthy eating tipsThere are two days left in our challenge and we look forward to hearing from more of you.

In wellness,

Evan and Shannon


FNHA Healthy Eating Resources:

Canning Foods: Your Guide to Successful Canning - http://www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/new-canning-guide-offers-info-on-a-favourite-food-preservation-method

Traditional Food Fact Sheets - http://www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/the-fnha-launches-a-guide-to-your-babys-first-solid-foods-on-world-childrens-day

A Guide to Your Baby's First Solid Foods - http://www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/the-fnha-launches-a-guide-to-your-babys-first-solid-foods-on-world-childrens-day