Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting diabetes
If you are very overweight, don’t get much exercise and you have generally a diet high in fats and sugars then you are probably probably on your way to being diabetic. If you are a First Native person with all of the same realities you are more susceptible to diabetes.
Thanks to Peggy Claveau of Misiway Milopemahtesewin, an Aboriginal health care organization and her fellow team members of diabetes professionals fighting this terrible disease, I am more aware of the symptoms and causes of this malady. This of course has also led me to understanding many ways I can prevent diabetes and for those with the disease to manage it.
Every year the Timmins Diabetes Expo team stages events geared to schoolchildren, professional health care personnel and the public at large. They do their research and manage to find motivational speakers that are very often humorous in getting their message across.
Recently, I attended several of the events held this year in Timmins and I was once again motivated to make sure that I don’t get this terrible disease that has very much become an epidemic with Aboriginal people in this country.
Dr. Michael Vallis of Halifax, a clinical psychologist who specializes in diabetes, brought a new and refreshing look at how to fight this disease. As a professional with a background in the behavioural sciences, his informative workshops dealt mainly with the realization that personal self-care and change in behaviour is very effective in preventing and managing diabetes. He really took a lot of the blame out of the scenario and suggested that people take an honest look at themselves and face all of the habits and situations that get us in trouble concerning diet and exercise. He recalled a study done with rodents who were fed cocaine and sugar. These animals in time became addicted to these substances but the surprise was that sugar turned out to be the choice over the drug. That gives you an idea what we are all up against when trying to turn away from sugar desserts and treats. He also pointed out that every time we sit down with a bag of potato chips we are in fact eating a big bowl of pure fat and salt. However, in crunchy chip form we don’t think this treat is all that bad.
Dr. Vallis did not ask any of us present at his workshops to make huge changes quickly as it has been proven that this does not work. Instead he encourages people to make little changes that they can hold on to like taking coffee with no sugar and perhaps no cream, dropping soda pop out of the diet completely and making treats like chips a big challenge to get by keeping them out of the house. He pointed out that when a person makes the commitment to refusing to bring treats like chocolates, chips and sweets into the house then it is easier to find a more healthy way to answer the junk food craving. If there are fruits and vegetables around and no treats then a person is more likely to choose wisely.
Diabetes is such an ugly disease that robs people of their eyesight, causes heart disease and circulation problems and as well plays havoc with kidneys. One good way to realize that you might be on your way to becoming diabetic is if you have developed what is referred to as a spare tire around your stomach. This type of fat is a sure sign that you are not eating well and probably not exercising much. If you fall into this category I suggest you get tested for diabetes so that you can find out early on how to manage this disease before bad things start to happen and they happen quickly.
These days the average North American is in terrible physical shape and has a really bad diet high in fats and sugar. Children are becoming diabetic at an alarming rate because they are addicted to fast food and they spend too much time in front of the television or on the Internet. Big companies that profit from our food addictions don’t help because they keep pushing their products and in particular to young people through all media. The only thing we can do to protect ourselves from these addictions that lead to diabetes is to become educated. Thanks to the efforts of people putting together events that assist us with education so that we can prevent or manage diabetes we all have a fighting chance.
So, if you are one of those people who is overweight, is not exercising much and has a not so great diet perhaps it is time to visit your health care professional to find out if you are diabetic so that you can deal with this disease. It is in your hands.
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