There are steps that Aboriginal people can take to prevent and manage diabetes. These steps begin with making smart lifestyle choices.

The traditional lifestyle of Aboriginal peoples was active and included eating healthy foods. Today, lifestyles have changed and people are not as active and eat less healthy food. This is one reason why Aboriginal people have a much higher risk of diabetes than other Canadians.

Diabetes is very serious to your health and lasts your whole life. Seeing your health-care provider regularly and getting tested are important first steps to finding out more about the disease and whether you have it.

To assist health-care professionals in working with this population, an Aboriginal working group has developed variations of the Just the Basics resource in Ojibwe, Plains Cree, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun to help Aboriginal people make healthy choices.

Healthy eating for diabetes prevention and management

One of the best things that Aboriginal people can do to prevent and manage diabetes is to eat well. Healthy eating means choosing the following:

  • Country foods such as moose, caribou, deer, and fish;
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables;
  • Whole-grain varieties of bannock, bread, cereal and pasta; and
  • Portion sizes that will help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight.

Healthy eating also means limiting fatty foods and those high in salt and sugar. These include many “convenience” and snack foods such as potato chips, cookies, candy and “fast food.”

Other healthy choices include baking, boiling, broiling or barbequing your food, rather than frying it, and drinking more water. By making a few positive changes in your diet, you will be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Active living for diabetes prevention and management

Another important choice to make in preventing and managing diabetes is to keep active. Today, many Aboriginal people do not have the same healthy lifestyle as their ancestors did. Some smart choices that can lead to an active lifestyle are:

  • Finding ways of keeping active with your family – walking, gathering berries, fishing and hunting;
  • Leaving the car at home more often and walking or biking to the store or to school; and
  • Trying new activities – dancing, riding a bike, jogging or hiking.

Your goal should be to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week (e.g. 30 minutes, five days a week).

You may have to start slowly, with as little as five to 10 minutes of exercise per day, gradually building up to your goal.

If you are able and when you are ready, try adding resistance exercises like lifting weights three times a week.

Eating right and keeping active are smart choices that will get you well on your way to preventing and managing diabetes!

For more information, contact your local health-care provider or contact the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Aboriginal video resources

Many Aboriginal people can speak their native languages but are not as familiar with the written language.

To help facilitate understanding, we have created some oral videos of the printed Aboriginal languages of Just the Basics. These videos are available online and can also be ordered in DVD format from Shop CDA.

Just the Basics in Ojibwe

Just the Basics in Plains Cree

Just the Basics in Inuinnaqtun