THD Guided Care Dietitian Kati Burton to bring nutritional information to Char-Koosta News

Char-Koosta News 

ST. IGNATIUS — Readers can expect to see answers to popular nutrition questions, interviews with locals about food traditions, Indigenous recipes, and updates on nutrition events happening around the Flathead Reservation coming soon in Char-Koosta News. 

Kati Burton, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Health Guided Care Dietitian, says she loves her multi-dimensional role and will add a monthly nutrition column in the CKN.

“As a dietitian, I work as a food and nutrition specialist helping individuals and their families reconnect and enjoy healing foods together,” said Burton. The meetings with families range from an outdoor meeting to a grocery store or community kitchen to an individual home. 

“The conversation and actions are always centered around finding the healthiest foods and moving our bodies in ways that promote good health and longer life spans,” she said. 

Burton says she now wants to expand the healthy eating message through a written column that clients and readers can learn from and look back on. 

“What better way to spread the message about health through good food by publishing our food stories,” she said. Burton says everyone needs consistent positive messaging to make healthy behavior change, and a column to remind one another of healthy food and wellness can be one more tool to help guide health goals over time.

As a tribal health dietician Burton hopes to help people deeply enjoy the foods they eat while feeling the health of it in their body and minds and take in the outdoors and live a full life without the stress of disease. 

“When we reconnect with whole foods, learning how to acquire, cook, and eat them, the body, mind and spirit finds balance,” she said. 

Burton says diets high in refined carbohydrates and poor-quality fat and protein tend to promote poor sleep, digestion and blood flow, leaving one lethargic, which in turn makes a person less likely to enjoy themselves and one another. “Eating well does a world of good for us and our communities.” 

Burton has noticed a curiosity and interest from families she has worked with. “People of all ages want to reconnect with food ways, whether old school or new. I have had so much fun bringing all kinds of food into homes or community kitchens, to spark the taste buds and spend time with one another. Many have expressed to me joy in getting to taste or revisit a food or flavor, often giving or receiving a story or two from attendees,” she said. 

She said the word “diet” is really a confusing term for most people. 

“We all think it’s about a specific diet advertised to us on TV, in magazines, or on the Internet, in order to cure illness or lose weight,” Burton said. In real terms, diet is just the way a person eats.

She says rule of thumb: listen to your own body and do not subscribe to any particular diet.

Her best advice is to return to the basics. “If we can eat foods that come from the soil (root and leafy vegetables, berries and cultivated or native fruit trees or grains) as our base for energy, antioxidants and fiber; with animals that roam for lean protein and heart-healthy fat, we will ultimately find a diet that promotes good health. Don’t overthink it as much as possible.”

For some time, people sought information that a tribal health Guided Care nutritionist dietician could provide, even if they didn’t know what it called or that such a role was possible. “Many of the people living on the Flathead Reservation have expressed concern about obtaining or preparing quality food for themselves or their children, in addition to a sense of loss around finding and eating indigenous foods.”

The truth is, food is medicine.

Burton said she visits and learns as much as she can from tribal elders, and others on how dishes used to be. 

“My hope is that community members interested in bringing back food customs around harvesting, processing, preserving and preparing can help me and one another recover/decolonize the food landscape in this community,” she added. 

The Guided Care program is housed under the CSKT Tribal Health Community Health Department. Guided Care is program of nurses, community health representatives, social and community advocates, program management and administrative staff, and dietitian.

The next Healthy Eating cooking class will be on Wednesday, July 24 from 1-3 p.m. at the Elmo Health Center. The menu item will be summer salads with local greens and steak. 

For information on nutrition counseling or to discuss a local food project call Katie Burton at (406) 317-3751.

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