November is Diabetes Month in Eeyou Istchee and around the world. This year, let’s discuss the important steps you can take to prevent or live well with diabetes – lowering your stress, staying active, making nutritious food choices, and using medication when needed.
Living well with diabetes means balancing your blood sugar (glucose).
There are four main ways to do this:
1. Lower your stress
When you try lowering your stress, you might have more time to focus on the other aspects of healthy lifestyles – like making nutritious food choices and being active.
Reducing stress allows your body to relax, to take care of itself, and to decrease your blood glucose.
The Crees have been building teepees on the land for centuries. The skill has been passed on from one generation to the next.
It is an art to have all the poles fit a certain way, in order to make a strong and durable teepee. You can live a long and healthy life when living with diabetes. To live well with diabetes, there are many things you can do.
To build a strong teepee, you need to find solid ground. To manage diabetes, it is also important to find a balance in life to find mental and spiritual health.
Active Living is one important way you can manage diabetes.
Healthy Eating is another key ingredient to diabetes management.
Our food is our medicine.
Finally, medication also plays an important role in controlling your blood sugar levels.
In Eeyou Istchee, we can enjoy the beauty of the land all year long.
2. Stay active
Physical activity helps you balance your blood glucose.
Lots of foods contain sugar – not just sweet-tasting food. Any activity that you do will use the sugars you eat to make your body move. The sugar from food enters our body and becomes glucose. When you are active, you use the glucose in your body as energy.
From sports to traditional activities – keep moving!
Children, adults and elders can all benefit from being physically active on a regular basis.
Active Living is good for the body, the mind and the soul. Active Living has many benefits.
It makes you feel better and more energetic. It makes you stronger and healthier. It helps you cope with the stress of daily life.
Being active can mean going on to the land -
- chopping wood
Being active could also mean being active in the community by:
- going to the gym
Active Living can be fun for the whole family. Play with your kids. Participate in community walks. Keep walking.
Walking is a Cree tradition.
Staying active and enjoying it can also help reduce your stress.
3. Eat nutritious food
When you make nutritious food choices, it helps maintain your blood glucose and can help you get closer to normal levels.
The land provides many nutritious foods.
The plate method is a useful tool for making healthy, balanced meals.
Using this plate can help you control your portion sizes. Eat a variety of foods.
Control your blood glucose levels.
A quarter of your plate of meat, fish or eggs. This food group is called protein. Protein will help bring your sugar down after meals. Protein will keep you fuller longer. Traditional food like Game and Fish will lower your blood sugar level.
Half of the plate can be filled with colourful vegetables, fresh or cooked.
1/4 of the plate of starchy foods, such as pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, cereal, and bannock contain natural sugar. These foods make blood sugar rise. Do not avoid starchy foods. The body needs them for energy. It is good for people with diabetes to control the portion of starchy foods at each meal.
As beverage prefer water or milk. At dessert fruits or yogurt.
Try not to skip meals. You will be hungrier for the next meal and you might eat more food.
Breakfast - this is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy for the morning and helped to control portion sizes at lunch.
Lunch - include protein, cheese, eggs, meat, etc. It does not take long to make a healthy lunch. Protein will help bring down your sugar after meals. Protein will keep you fuller for a longer time.
Include vegetables, vegetable soups, cooked or fresh vegetables. Vegetables will not bring your sugar up. Include foods made from whole wheat cereal, such as brown bread, bannock with oats to add more fiber. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar in the blood.
Supper - try to control the portion size at supper. Usually we are less active after supper. The starchy foods from supper will be used less as a source of energy compared to the breakfast.
Sometimes, your body needs help from medication to balance blood glucose.
Work together with your health care team to find the best way to manage your blood glucose.
The goal of diabetes management is to achieve normal blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes, know your blood glucose levels. If you want to make your blood sugar level go down, take ownership of your numbers.
There are two different tests to measure your blood glucose. The A1 C test reflects your average blood glucose level over the last three months. You can have this number after a blood test. Ask for your result at the clinic.
The blood glucose test you do yourself uses a drop of blood and a meter that measures the level of glucose in your blood at the time of the test. Self-monitoring of blood glucose with a meter helps you to see how food, physical activity and medication affect your blood glucose levels. The readings you get can help you manage your diabetes day by day, or even hour by hour.
Keep a record of your test results and review it at each visit with your health care team. A food and activity record can also help you keep track of how food and activity affects your blood glucose levels. This is a tool that can help you a lot.
For example, after a large meal, your blood glucose level tends to go up.
All these tools - glucometer, blood tests, food record - can help you take control of your blood sugar levels. Taking control of your diabetes can help you feel better and stay healthy.
Take control of your blood glucose levels.
If you are concerned about developing diabetes, or are having trouble managing your diabetes, contact your local CMC.