There is an epidemic happening in First Nation communities.
I know first hand that this epidemic is a killer and it is debilitating for many of my people. The epidemic is diabetes.
When I was a child growing up in Attawapiskat, I knew nothing about good nutrition or healthy eating.
My mom and dad made sure that we always had food on the table and at the best of times, it was nourishment from the land. At the worst of times, it was a sugary cereal, processed meats, canned foods and way too many chocolate bars, cookies, pastries and chips.
In the old days, in the times of my mother and father and my grandparents, most of our diet had to do with geese, caribou, moose, rabbit and lots of fish.
These people were relatively healthy and because they lived a challenging and physical life on the land, they were in good shape.
When my people were forced onto reservations to live in permanent settlements, we lost our nomadic lifestyle. With modern times, most people began to find jobs in the community working for the band office, government offices or the school but many ended up on welfare.
There were not many opportunities back in those days for employment and if you wanted to go to school, you had to leave the community. However, even if life took a turn for the worse when we were thrown into the reserve system, most of our people managed to venture out on the land.
We still managed to fish and hunt at times on our traditional lands.
The more we drifted away from living our traditional lifestyle with the diet that we had followed for thousands of years, the more problems we started to develop with our health.
Most of the time, none of us had a lot of money but we did have access to the local store.
The problem is that the items people could afford were mostly products like canned soup, processed meats, canned stew, bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers, frozen meats and plain white bread.
Over the years, these types of items became the staple for most of our people.
I noticed when I was young that more and more there was a problem with obesity. A lot of the people around me were very over weight.
One of the biggest problems in terms of diet was the amount of sugar people were consuming.
Of course back in those days, no one realized that there was a lot of sugar and salt in many processed foods.
First Nation people really got addicted to sugar. I have always had a sweet tooth and just about everyone I know up the James Bay coast loves their sugar.
Before sugar became so popular, Native and non-Native people were much more healthy.
With the onset of a huge consumption of modern refined sugar combined with a less active lifestyle, diabetes started to invade First Nation communities.
Many people don’t realize how powerful the sugar lobby has become.
They lobby governments to allow them to promote their product far and wide. In fact the average person has so much sugar in their diet that it is completely ridiculous.
People who drink soda pop are actually consuming many tablespoons of sugar per drink. Sugar is also hidden in many food products including cereals, breads and a lot of processed foods.
I have read where research has said that sugar has as much addictive power compared to many illegal drugs. So the next time you are having a craving for a nice big jelly donut or a dish of ice cream or a soda pop, realize that you are feeling withdrawal from a very powerful drug.
Anything you can do to lower your consumption of sugar will help you to live a longer and more healthy life. Just stop drinking soda pop and don’t put sugar in your hot drinks to make a move away from this white poison. Diabetes is prevalent in our society and it has ruined and is threatening the good health of way too many of my people.
It’s time to cut back on the sugar.www.underthenorthernsky.com
I am so tired of losing people I am only in my late 40s but it seems as though most of the people I grew up with my age and even younger are passing away...