The Nutrition component of the Diabetes Program aims to help Native Americans prevent, treat, and control diabetes and its complications through diet.
Food habits of our Ancestors
Our ancestors were active people, hunting and gathering to feed themselves. The traditional foods that were eaten included lean meats, fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables. The foods were low in fat and sugar, and were not processed as foods are today.
Our ancestors were strong and healthy people. Their food and exercise habits prevented the onset of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity for many generations.
Our food and exercise habits are not the same. Most of our food comes from the store or as commodities. We prepare food in different ways. Our family’s food choices may be high in fat and sugar, and it may be processed. The way food is prepared today is much less healthy than it was for our ancestors.
What is a Healthy Diet in the Culture of Today?
In today’s culture, it is important to maintain balance and practice moderation with our food choices. A major risk factor for diabetes is obesity. And, obesity is closely linked with excessive food intake, as well as the types of food chosen for consumption (high fat, minimal nutrition).
A healthy diet is one of the most important lifestyle changes that you can make to control your blood sugars. Some diabetics can manage their blood sugars with a healthy diet and physical activity, without any need of medication.
When people think of diabetes, they usually think of the old rule against eating sweets. There are no foods that a diabetic cannot eat. All foods can be eaten, BUT in moderation.
Dietary changes can seem overwhelming to a person with diabetes. SMALL CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE!
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Eat three meals a day.
2. Eat smaller portions of food.
3. Eat about the same amount of carbohydrate each meal.
4. Eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables because these are very high in nutrients and low in calories.
5. It is important to eat protein at every meal (stabilizes blood sugars).
6. Increase the intake of fiber.
7. Decrease the amount of fat eaten.
8. Limit foods that are high in added sugars.
9. Drink plenty of water.
Many times in our busy day, a meal may be forgotten. It is a good idea to have a snack or meal with you to eat if you think that you may miss a meal. Items that might be considered are low-fat granola bars, packages of almonds or other nuts, turkey jerky, fruit, and other portable food items. Make sure that there is protein as well as carbohydrate in each meal or snack.
The Education Classes will help you learn how to balance your food, exercise and medication (if you take any). We will teach you more about balanced meals. You will also learn about carbohydrates, protein, and fat and how to choose these wisely.
Individual nutrition counseling is available also. If you have any nutrition related questions, please contact the Diabetes Program Dietitian, Marcia Ruhl, at (877) 769-8406, extension 127.