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November is National Diabetes Month

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November is National Diabetes Month
Explore culturally relevant materials for diabetes care and education. Now you have the options to view, share, print, or order materials on a wide variety of topics.


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    Diabetes Basics

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    How does diabetes happen?

    Diabetes happens when the body:

     

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    • Does not make enough insulin
    • Does not use insulin well
    • Stops making insulin

    Insulin is made by the body to help move sugar from the blood to the muscles and other parts of the body.

    About Type 2 Diabetes

    What is type 2 diabetes?

    Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not use insulin well and does not make enough insulin. This is the most common type of diabetes.

    The chances for type 2 diabetes are higher if you:

    • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
    • Have ever had diabetes during pregnancy
    • Are overweight
    • Are not physically active
    • Have prediabetes

    Prediabetes is having blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough for diabetes.

    Symptoms of Diabetes

    • Increased thirst
    • Increased hunger
    • Feeling very tired most of the time
    • Increased urination
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Blurred vision

    These symptoms can be severe or mild. Some people may not have any symptoms.

    How can you find out if you have diabetes?

    A blood test will show if you have diabetes. Ask your health care provider about getting tested and where you can get more information.

    Take Steps to Manage Diabetes

    Even though diabetes is long lasting, there are things you can do to stay healthy. Consider the following things and ask your health care provider if it is right for you.

    Healthy foodMake healthy food choices.

     

    No soda - Choose WaterChoose water instead of sugary drinks.

     

    A man with a child in his backpackStay active.

     

    Someone checking their blood sugarCheck your blood sugar.

     

    The palm of a hand holding a pillTake medicine.

     

    Find healthy ways to cope with stress.

    Everyone has a different experience with diabetes. Sometimes it can be tough. Having support from family, friends, and others with diabetes can be helpful. There may be a diabetes education program at your clinic or in your community.

    A man smiling

    Diabetes and Pregnancy

    Having a Healthy Baby

    You’re going to have a baby! In pregnancy, your body goes through many changes. These changes affect the way your body uses sugars and starches (carbohydrates) for energy. Sometimes, these changes cause extra sugar (glucose) to collect in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar, or diabetes.

     

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    People who are pregnant can have two types of diabetes:

    Gestational
    diabetes...

    develops during pregnancy.

    This type of diabetes is usually identified at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, but may be identified sooner. Having gestational diabetes can put you at greater risk of developing diabetes in the future.

    Pregestational
    diabetes...

    means that you had diabetes before you became pregnant.

    Sometimes, this diabetes is first identified during the pregnancy.

    Pregnant woman

    Managing Diabetes During Pregnancy

    If you have diabetes, you need extra care during and after pregnancy. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause problems for pregnant people and newborns. It can lead to:

    • Problems during labor and delivery
    • Delivery by C-section
    • A large baby, more than 9 pounds
    • Very low blood sugar in the baby after birth
    • Higher risk of obesity and diabetes later in life for the baby

    Controlling your blood sugar, eating healthy, and exercising will help reduce the risk of these problems. Your care team can help develop a plan that works best for you.

    The following guidance helps with controlling blood sugar for a healthy pregnancy.

    1 Eat healthy foods.

    Good nutrition is an important tool to help control blood sugar. A dietitian can work with you to create an individualized meal plan.

    Small plate of food

    Eat 3 small meals a day.

    Choose foods and drinks low in added sugar. Include vegetables, protein, and whole grains in each meal.

    A plate with whole grain toast and an egg

    Eat breakfast every day.

    Include a protein and a whole grain, such as an egg and a small bowl of oatmeal. Avoid having fruit with breakfast.

    A plate with snacks

    Eat 2 or 3 snacks a day.

    Combine a fruit, yogurt, or whole grain with a protein or a healthy fat, such as nuts or avocado.

    A glass of water

    Drink water, milk, and unsweetened beverages.

    Limit caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Avoid energy drinks, fruit juices, and sugary drinks.

    2 Be active.

    Activity helps to lower blood sugar levels. Light exercise is best, such as walking, dancing, and yoga. Even a 15-minute walk helps lower blood sugar. Ask your provider about exercise during pregnancy.

    3 Test your blood sugars often.Glucose Meter

    Use a glucose meter to keep track of your blood sugar throughout the day. Your provider or team will help you learn how and when to do testing, and what your blood sugar targets should be.

    4 Take your medications.

    If you have gestational diabetes, you may need to use insulin or other medications to control blood sugar. If you have pregestational diabetes, changes to your medications will be needed during pregnancy.

    5 Avoid alcohol, tobacco, street drugs, and medications that your provider hasn’t prescribed.

    These substances can harm you and your baby. If you need help quitting, talk to your healthcare provider who can refer you to resources.

    After Your Baby is Born

    • Continue to eat healthy, be physically active, and keep your weight within a healthy range.
    • Breastfeed your baby to reduce your risk of diabetes. If you have diabetes, breastfeeding will help with blood sugar control. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes later in life.
    • Get tested for diabetes six weeks after your baby is born and then once a year if you had gestational diabetes.
    Mother breastfeeding her baby.

    Working With the Diabetes Health Care Team

    Medical Care

    A beaded stethoscopeGetting regular medical care is important to living well with diabetes. Below is a list and schedule of routine medical care recommended for managing diabetes.

     

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    Each Diabetes Medical Visit

    • Blood Pressure
    • Foot Check

    Every 3 to 6 Months

    • A1C Test

    Usually Once a Year

    • Exams
      • Eye
      • Dental
      • Foot
    • Lab Tests
      • Kidney (urine and blood)
      • Cholesterol
    • Flu Shot

    If your provider recommends home blood sugar testing, take your meter or readings with you to each diabetes visit.

    Diabetes Education and Support

    Learning about diabetes is an ongoing process. People with diabetes can work closely with a diabetes educator to help them learn about living well with diabetes. Diabetes educators may be nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, or others.

    Topics to learn about:

    • Healthy eating
    • Managing blood sugar and blood pressure
    • Taking care of feet, eyes, kidneys, and heart
    • Becoming or staying active
    • Taking medicine
    • Feelings and emotions
    • Coping with stress
    • Tobacco use
    Walking shoes, pill box, Rx medication bottle, glucose meter, vegetables.

    Diabetic Eye Disease

    What is diabetic eye disease?

    Diabetic eye disease can happen when a person has high blood sugar over a long period of time. This causes blood vessels in the back of the eye to leak or bleed. It can occur in one or both eyes. This is called retinopathy.

    How do you know if you have diabetic eye disease?

     

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    There are often no warning signs. The only way to know if you have diabetic eye disease is by getting your eyes checked. People with diabetes need to get their eyes checked at least once a year.

    There are two ways to check:

    1Get a dilated eye exam by an eye doctor.

    2Some clinics can screen for diabetic eye disease by taking pictures of the back of your eyes.

    You can help prevent or slow diabetic eye disease.

    A drop of blood.Manage your blood sugar and blood pressure.

    A Rx medicine container.Take your medicines as prescribed.

    An eye.Get an eye exam every year.

    How is diabetic eye disease treated?

    People who have diabetic eye disease are seen more often by an eye doctor. They may also need the following:

    • Eye medicines
    • Laser treatment
    • Surgery
    A woman getting an eye exam.
     
    A elderly woman weaving a basket.

    Diabetes increases the risk for common eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

    • Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye.
    • Glaucoma happens when there is increased pressure in the eye.
    • Your eye doctor can check for these eye problems during an eye exam.

    Alert - Exclamation mark!If you notice sudden changes in your vision, such as dark spots or vision loss, get checked by a health care provider right away.

     

    Alert - Pregnant woman.Women with diabetes need to get an eye exam if they are planning to become pregnant and while they are pregnant.

     

    Keeping Your Feet Healthy

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    Healthy feet help us to take care of ourselves and our families. We depend on them daily. Many people also use them to walk familiar trails and to take part in traditions, such as dances and ceremonies. For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugars is important to keep feet healthy.

    Here are three things you can do to take care of your feet:

     

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    A woman checking her feet for cuts, sores, red or swollen areas, and blisters.

    Check your feet every day.

    Donna Cardoza,
    Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM

    1. Check your feet every day.

    • Look at your feet for cuts, sores, red or swollen areas, and blisters.
    • Check for infected or ingrown toenails.
    • If you need help checking your feet, use a mirror or ask a family member to help you.

    2. Get help if you find a foot problem.

    • If you find any problems during your daily foot checks, contact your health care team right away.
    • Getting help early can keep small problems from becoming bigger problems.

    3. Quit using commercial tobacco or never start.

    • Tobacco use reduces blood flow to your feet.
    • Ask your health care team about things you can do to quit using commercial tobacco.
    • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free help.
    • Avoid being around others who are smoking, including in the car.

    At each clinic visit, take off your shoes and socks.

    A provider clipping a patients toe nails.

    Partner with your health care team.

    Mary Schwiderson, RN
    Walter LeBlanc,
    Bay Mills Tribe, MI

    Ask a member of your health care team to:

    • Check your feet.
    • Show you how to care for your feet.
    • Trim your toenails or take care of corns and calluses, if needed.
    • Suggest special shoes or inserts to help protect your feet.

    What are other ways you can keep your feet healthy?

    Wear shoes indoors and outdoors. Do not go barefoot.

    • Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
    • Shoes should have round toes and low heels.
    • Avoid shoes that are open at either the toe or the heel.
    • Before putting your shoes on, check inside each shoe to make sure there are no objects, such as a small rock.
    • Wear socks to help prevent getting blisters and sores.

    Protect your feet from hot and cold.

    • Keep your feet away from heaters, open fires, and heating pads. You may burn your feet and not know it.
    • Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.

    Wash your feet often.

    • Avoid using water that is too hot.
    • Dry your feet well, including between your toes.

    Put lotion on your feet daily.

    • Apply lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
    • Moisture between the toes can make the skin soften and break down, which can lead to infection.

    Trim your toenails or ask for help.

    • Trim your toenails straight across using toenail clippers.
    • Do not use knives or sharp tools to cut the skin close to your toenails, or anywhere else on your feet.
    • Ask for help trimming your toenails from a family member or health care team if you:
      • Cannot see well.
      • Have poor feeling in your feet.
      • Cannot reach your feet.
      • Have thick toenails.

    Report foot problems early.

    It is important to get foot problems checked and treated right away. Ask your health care provider about treatment options. They may refer you to a foot or wound care specialist, if needed.

    Low Blood Sugar

    Know the Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar.

    Low blood sugar can be a problem. You may feel one or more of the symptoms below when your blood sugar is getting low. Some people may not feel any symptoms.

     

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    A low blood sugar is 70 or less. You may feel symptoms at, or near, 70.
    Confused, Dizzy, Anxious, Sweaty, Shaky, Headache, Blurry Vision, Grumpy, Fast Heartbeat, Hungry

    What To Do If You Have Low Blood Sugar Symptoms.

    If you have your meter nearby, check your blood sugar. It is okay if you cannot check. It is more important to treat your symptoms right away.

    Step 1: Treat low blood sugar. Choose one sugary food or drink, such as: half a glass of real fruit juice (not sugar free), half a can of soda pop (not sugar free), 4 to 5 pieces of hard candy (not chocolate), 3 teaspoons or packets of real sugar, jelly or honey.
    Step 2: Wait 15 minutes. If you are able, check your blood sugar to see if it is above 70. Step 3: If you continue to have symptoms, or if your blood sugar is less than 70, repeat step 1. Step 4: When the symptoms are gone, eat a meal or snack to keep your symptoms from returning.

    Talk to Your Health Care Provider.

    A Native woman smiling.

    Let your health care provider know if you are having symptoms of low blood sugar. You may need a change in your medicine.

    A beaded stethoscope.

    Tips for Managing Blood Sugar

    Did you know?

    Living well with diabetes is possible!

    There are things you can do to help you stay healthy.

     

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    1

    Choose water instead of sugary drinks.

     
    2

    Make healthy food choices.

    Use your plate as a guide

    • Fill half of your plate with vegetables.
    • Fill the other half of your plate with a grain/starch and a protein.
    • Add a side of fruit.
    3

    Do something active every day.

    • Choose an activity that you enjoy.
    • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
    • Ask a friend or family member to join you.
    4

    Find healthy ways to reduce stress.

    Stress can raise your blood sugar. Below are some ideas that may help you feel less stressed.

    • Talk with others.
    • Go for a walk in nature.
    • Spend time on a hobby such as beading or gardening.
    My Native Plate - Fruit, Vegetables, Protein, Grain/Starch, and Water
     
    A man hiking with a child in his backpack.

    Ask your medical provider if the following is right for you:

    Blood glucose meter.

    Checking blood sugar

    Rx Medication containers and pills.

    Taking medicines

     

    Keeping Your Heart Healthy

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    Keeping your heart healthy and strong is important, especially if you have diabetes. By taking care of your heart, you can lower your chances of having heart disease.

    Below are some things you can do to keep your heart healthy.

     

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    Heart

    Talk with your health care team about how to take care of your heart.

    Blood pressure

    • Ask what your goal should be for blood pressure.
    • Many people with diabetes will need medicine to help them control their blood pressure.

    Commercial tobacco

    • If you smoke, chew, or dip commercial tobacco, ask for information on how to quit.
    • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free help.
    • Avoid being around smoke from others using commercial tobacco.

    Cholesterol

    • Most people with diabetes will need to be on a type of medicine called a statin to lower their cholesterol.
    • Ask if a statin is right for you.
    Carrot

    Make healthy food and drink choices.

    • Eat healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, fish, wild game, and other lean meats.
    • Select foods that have less salt, fat, and sugar.
    • Grill or bake instead of frying.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    Walking shoe

    Stay active.

    • Any amount of physical activity is good.
    • Try walking at least 3-4 times a week. Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes or more.
    • Choose an activity you enjoy. Take a walk with family or friends. Go for a bike ride. Dance. Play ball. Work in the garden.
    Flower

    Find healthy ways to reduce stress.

    • Take time to relax. Do something you enjoy, such as drawing, reading, crafts, or walking in nature.
    • Talk with others about what may be causing stress for you.
    • Find a support group at your Tribe, clinic, or community center.
    A group

    Follow up with your health care team regularly.

     

    Protecting Your Kidneys

    When You Have Diabetes

    In most cases, there are no symptoms of kidney problems. That is why it is important for people with diabetes to get their kidneys checked.

    Take steps to protect your kidneys:

     

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    Kidneys iconGet your kidneys checked every year.

    Blood and urine tests are the only way to know how well your kidneys are working.

    Heart/Blood Drop iconTake care of your blood pressure and blood sugar.

     

    Did you know?

    Pill bottle

    Frequent use of common over-the-counter medicines can harm your kidneys.

    These include the following:

    Pills iconIbuprofen (Examples: Advil, Motrin, Midol)

    Pills iconNaproxen (Examples: Aleve, Naprosyn)

    Talk with your doctor about over-the-counter medicines you may be using.

    Photo collage of two smiling people.

    Taking Diabetes Medicines

    People with diabetes often need to take medicines to help keep blood sugar at a healthy level.

     

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    Check mark

    Take your medicines as it says on the labels. Ask your medical provider about any concerns, such as:

    • When to take medicine
    • How much medicine to take
    • What to do when your blood sugar is low
    • What to do if you miss a meal
    • What to do when you are sick
    • What are common side effects
    Check mark

    Refill your medicines before they run out.

    Medicines can usually be refilled one week before they run out. Look at the labels on the medicines to check for refills. If there are no refills, contact your medical provider.

    Check mark

    Let your medical providers know about all the medicines you take, as well as how much and how often you take them.

    Below are some ways you can help keep your medical providers up to date:

    Take all your medicines with you to each medical visit.

    Keep a list of all your medicines. Get a list from your pharmacy or make your own.

    Use your cell phone to snap a picture of each medicine label to show your medical providers.

    Remember to include other things you take, such as over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

    Tips to Help You Remember to Take Medicines

    Ask family members and friends to remind you.
    Use a calendar to mark when you take medicines.
    Set an alarm as a reminder.
    Use a pill box.
    Put a note on your refrigerator or mirror.
    Consider taking medicines at the same time you do daily activities.

    Be Safe with Medicines

    • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
    • Sharing medicines can be harmful. Only take medicines prescribed for you.
    • Talk to your medical provider before you stop taking any of your medicines.
    • Ask your health care team how to safely:
      • Store medicines
      • Get rid of unused medicines
      • Dispose of used needles and syringes

    Healthy Eating on a Budget

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    Did you know?
    Healthy eating is an important part of managing diabetes. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to buy costly foods. Many of the foods you already prepare for yourself and your family are healthy.

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    What are healthy foods?

    check mark Foods in a more natural state

    check mark Fresh, grown, and gathered foods

    check mark Foods low in sodium and added sugars

    check mark Fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, or canned

    A woman drinking soup

    Examples include:

    Fresh vegetables - squash, carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, and zucchini

    Vegetables:

    Carrots, leafy greens, peppers, squash, onions

    Protein - eggs, beans, chicken, and can of chick peas

    Proteins:

    Beans, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts

    Whole grains - corn meal, wheat, pasta, wild and brown rice

    Whole Grains:

    Whole grain corn meal, bread and pasta, wild and brown rice, oats

    Fresh fruit - berries, bananas, apples, oranges, and bananas

    Fruits:

    Apples, bananas, oranges, berries

    Ways you can eat healthy and save money

    1 Plan your meals

    2 Make a grocery list

    • Keep an ongoing list of foods you need.
    • Check to see which foods you have on hand.
    • Limit adding costly processed foods such as chips, cookies, donuts, soda pop, and packaged meals.

    3 Plan your shopping trip

    • Take a freezer bag or cooler if you are far from home.
    • Check the store ads for sales. Join the store’s loyalty program for offers and discounts.
    • Eat before you shop. It helps you stick to your list.

    4 Save money while you shop

    5 Cook at home

    • Eat healthier and save money by cooking at home.
    • Cook traditional foods with family to celebrate culture.

    Helpful Tips

    • Buy healthy foods in bulk. Divide into servings and store.
    • Rinse canned vegetables to remove added salt.
    • Frozen and canned vegetables are easy to add to meals.

    Getting enough healthy foods

    Sometimes it may be hard to get enough healthy food. Consider a family garden, joining a community garden, hunting, or gathering what you can from the land and water.

    Learn about nutrition assistance programs. Your healthcare team may know about food support options such as:

    Healthy Recipes

    Get Fresh! Cooking Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  – Recipes from the Chickasaw Nation and USDA.

    MyPlate Kitchen Recipes Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  – Videos, seasonal recipes, food safety and more. Diabetes Food Hub Diabetes– Friendly recipes from the American Diabetes Association.

    Spend Smart-Eat Smart Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov  – Ways to cut food costs. Iowa State University Extension & USDA.

    A shopping list of itemsSample Grocery List

    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Wild or brown rice
    • Whole grain cereals and breads
    • Eggs
    • Beans
    • Chicken or turkey
    • Fish
    • Beef or Pork – leaner cuts: round and loin

    My Native Plate

    Use your plate as a guide to help you eat in a healthy way!

    1 Fill half your plate with vegetables

    2 Fill the other half of your plate with a grain/starch and a protein.

    3 Add a side of fruit

     
     

    Picture here:

    • Mixed berries
    • Cooked spinach
    • Baked squash with peppers and herbs
    • Steamed wild rice
    • Baked deer meat with sage
    • Water
    My Native Plate - Fruit, Vegetables, Protein, Grain/Starch, and Water

    Remember:

    Walking shoe

    Stay Active

    Glass of water

    Drink Water

    Plate with utensils

    Use a 9-inch plate

    More Ideas for My Native Plate

    My Native Plate - Yogurt with strawberries, salsa, scrambled eggs with zucchini, tortilla, coffee

    Pictured here: Yogurt with strawberries, salsa, scrambled eggs with zucchini, tortilla, coffee

    My Native Plate - Apple, carrots, celery, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, beef patty, bun, unsweetened tea

    Pictured here: Apple, carrots, celery, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, beef patty, bun, unsweetened tea

    My Native Plate - Peaches, salad, beef and vegetable stew, cornbread, water

    Pictured here: Peaches, salad, beef and vegetable stew, cornbread, water

    Ways to Add Variety to Meals and Snacks

    Vegetables and Fruits

    Tips

    • Stock up on fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables and fruits.
    • Keep fruits and vegetables on hand for snacking.
    • Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a stir fry, stew, or soup.
    • Enjoy fruit as a dessert.

    Examples

    Vegetables: Wild greens, tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens, zucchini, avocados, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers, onions, peppers, okra

    Fruits: Berries, melons, apricots, peaches, citrus fruits, bananas, apples, pears,

    Proteins

    Tips

    • Choose fish, beans, lentils, eggs, and nuts more often to cut down on meat.
    • Instead of a beef patty for your burger, try a veggie, black bean, turkey, soy, or bison patty.
    • Grill, stew, or bake meat instead of deep frying.
    • If milk upsets your stomach, try yogurt, lactose free milk, or soy milk.

    Examples

    Animal proteins: Fish, wild game, bison, poultry, mutton, beef, pork, eggs,

    Plant proteins: Beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, seeds, tofu, soy products, Dairy proteins: Milk, lactose free milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese,

    Grains and Starches

    Tips

    • Choose whole grain foods, such as whole wheat breads, corn tortillas, oatmeal, and wild or brown rice.
    • Try whole wheat flour instead of white flour.
    • Add wild or brown rice to main dishes, such as a stir fry, stew, or soup.
    • Bake or roast potatoes instead of deep frying.

    Examples

    Grains: Pastas, breads, crackers, rice, oats, quinoa, barley, cereals, tortillas, flour, cornmeal,

    Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, winter squash,

     

    Keeping Your Teeth and Gums Healthy When You Have Diabetes

    People with diabetes have a higher chance of having teeth and gum problems. This is why it is important to manage your blood sugar and take care of your teeth and gums.

     

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    Ways to take care of your teeth and gums:

    Toothbrush with toothpaste

    Brush your teeth twice a day.

    Tooth floss container

    Floss your teeth each day.

    A smile with teeth

    Get a dental exam at least once a year.

    No sugar drinks

    Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar.

    No tobacco

    Do not use commercial tobacco, including smokeless and chewing tobacco.

    Three women smiling and holding signs that say Brush, Floss and Rinse.

    Let your health care team know if you have any of these problems:

    • Red or swollen gums
    • Pain when chewing
    • Loose and shifting teeth
    • Bad breath that does not go away
    • Sore or bleeding gums when brushing or flossing

    How To Get Started Walking

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    Why walk?

    Our bodies are meant to get up and walk—to the mailbox, down the road, around the neighborhood.

     

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    A woman walking on a trail next to a creek.

    “I started walking so I will be healthier and less stressed. I want to be there for my family for a long time.”

    Gloria Anico,
    Kickapoo / Seminole Tribes, Oklahoma

    Walking can help you stay healthy and live longer so you can:

    • Be there for your children, grandchildren, and other family members.
    • Be an active and helpful member of your community.
    • Serve as an Elder and share your wisdom.

    All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes, a few minutes, and a safe place to walk. Give walking a try!

    How does walking help?

    Walking helps your mind, body, spirit, and emotions. It can help you:

    • Have more energy by keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight in good ranges.
    • Stay active and prevent injuries by keeping your muscles and bones strong.
    • Feel calmer and less stressed by lifting your spirits.

    Is walking right for you?

    Walking is right for most people. If you are not sure that walking is right for you, ask your health care provider:

    • Is walking right for me?
    • How much walking is right for me?
    • Do I need to check my blood sugar before and/or after I walk?

    How can you get started?

    Start slowly. You may be able to walk only a few minutes at first. That’s okay. Try these tips for getting started:

    • Walk at your own pace.
    • Walk up and down your driveway or around your home.
    • Walk around while you watch TV or talk on the phone.
    • Park a little farther from the store.

    Try to build up to walking 3 to 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. With time, you may be able to walk farther and go faster. Keep track of the minutes you walk. You may even find that you feel better and stronger.

    What may keep you from walking?

    There are many reasons people do not walk:

    • They feel they are too busy.
    • They feel tired, sad, or sluggish.
    • They feel out of shape or have aches and pains.
    • They feel shy about walking. They may worry that people will think they are showing off.
    • All of these feelings are common. With a little time, and by walking a few minutes each day, these feelings often pass.
    • Remember: You are walking not just for yourself, but to be there for the people you love.

    Imagine looking forward to your walks.

    • Picture walking as an inspirational part of your day – a special time either alone or with others.
    • Be thankful while walking. Give thanks to the people who have gone before you. Be grateful for your body, your family, and friends.
    • Enjoy the outdoors. Walk in the woods, along a dirt path, in a park, or by the ocean.
    • Make it family time with your children or grandchildren.
    • Walk with friends. Find a walking partner or two. Laugh and have fun.

    Today is a good day for a walk!

    By starting to walk, you are taking care of your diabetes so you can be there for your family and your community.

    How To Walk Farther and Faster

    Diabetes Information for You and Your Family

    Why walk more?

    You are already walking and that’s great! By walking more, you are taking steps to stay healthy and live longer so you can:

    • Be there for your children, grandchildren, and other family members.
    • Be an active and helpful member of your community.
    • Serve as an Elder and share your wisdom.
     

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    A group of women walking on a trail.

    “Walking with a group of friends or family is a great way to stay on track.”

    Katie Wilson (right)
    Choctaw / Creek Tribes, Oklahoma

    How much do you need to walk?

    To take care of your diabetes, build up to walking at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Keep track of the number of minutes you walk each day.

    • If you cannot walk 30 minutes all at once, try walking 3 times a day for 10 minutes.
    • Listen to your body. Some days you may feel like you can walk longer. Other days you may need to take it easier.
    • Keep up a good pace. A good pace is when you can talk while you walk without running out of breath. If you can sing while you walk, you may want to walk faster.
    • Try to walk a little farther and faster each week

    How do you keep going?

    • Choose the days and times that you are most likely to walk. Some people set aside the same time every day for their walks.
    • Walk when you have the most energy or when the weather is the nicest.
    • Make it family time with your children or grandchildren.
    • Walk with friends. Find a walking partner or two. Laugh and have fun.

    What if you have health concerns?

    • Check with your health care provider about your plan to walk more. Talk about any pain you have when you walk.
    • If you have chest pain, nausea, or shortness of breath, these may be signs of a serious health problem. Call a health care provider right away.

    What if you miss a few days?

    If you miss a few days of walking, don’t be hard on yourself or give up. Things happen in life.

    • Are you stressed or too busy?
      Set aside time to take a few short walks.
    • Do you feel sore?
      Stretching can help you move and feel better.
    • Is the weather bad?
      Walk indoors—in your home, at a store, or at a wellness center.

    Start back up when you can. Build slowly toward your goal.

     
    A woman walking on a path.

    “I walk during the middle of my day. Walking gives me energy. It helps get rid of stress so I feel better.”

    Carmela Ramirez,
    Kickapoo Tribe, Oklahoma

    How can you protect your feet?

    • Wear shoes that fit well and that cushion and support your feet.
    • Avoid wearing shoes that rub your feet, toes, or heels.
    • Wear a clean pair of socks that are not too tight and that keep your feet dry.
    • Check your feet every day for blisters, sores, redness, or swelling. If you find any of these, call your health care provider right away.

    What are some safety tips?

    • Choose a safe place to walk.
    • Take a cell phone with you.
    • Take water with you.
    • Take glucose tablets or a few pieces of sugar-sweetened hard candy in case your blood sugar gets low.

    Walk your way to a healthy future!

    By walking, you are taking care of your diabetes so you can be there for your family and your community.

    Being Active is Traditional

    For generations, Native people have lived active lives: growing crops, hunting, fishing, and gathering berries, herbs, and traditional medicines. Cultural ways are active, such as dancing, running, drumming, carving, and playing games. Being active improves mental and spiritual well-being—it is good medicine.

    Movement helps muscles use sugar for energy, which may improve blood sugars. Any increase in movement is good for you.

     

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    A group of women walking on a trail.

    Melva, doing a chest press at the gym.

    I learned that exercise could mend this old body. I found out that exercise is the key. I found out I can control diabetes. I am the person who has to take care of my body. It is up to me to stay well. It’s so simple.

    Why be active?

    • Feel less stress and have a happier mood.
    • Increase strength, balance, and flexibility.
    • Improve blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
    • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
    A woman walking on a path.

    How to get started

    • Talk with your health care team about what is safe and best for you.
    • Set a day and time for your activity, and write it on your calendar.
    • Ask a friend to join you.
    • Plan indoor and outdoor activities.

    Fun ways to get moving

    • Gardening, gathering berries and greens, and doing yardwork.
    • Yoga and tai chi for balance and flexibility.
    • Brisk walking, hiking, jogging, swimming and bike riding.
    • Fitness classes and strength training.
    • Chair exercises and arm movements.
    • Do what you enjoy!
     
    A woman walking on a path.

    How much activity to do

    If you miss a few days of walking, don’t be hard on yourself or give up. Things happen in life.

    • Start slowly, even if it is 5 or 10 minutes a day, and build up from there.
    • If sitting a lot, try to get up and move every 30 minutes.
    • Try to increase your activity to 150 minutes a week, over three or more days.

    Be safe when being active

    • Choose a safe place. If you have a cell phone, take it with you.
    • Check blood sugar before and after exercise. If less than 100, eat a food or drink with sugar, such as, a half cup of juice, or small fruit, or a few pieces of hard candy. For more information see, Low Blood Sugar.
    • Bring water and stay hydrated.
    • Bring hard candy (not sugar-free) or glucose tablets in case your blood sugar drops too low while being active.
    • Warm-up and cool down. Go at a slower pace at the start and end of your activity.
    • Wear comfortable shoes. Check your feet for sores, cuts, blisters, corns, or redness before and after exercise, as well as daily. Let your provider know if you find any of these.
     
    A woman walking on a path.

    Take care of yourself and your spirit

    Any increase in movement is good for you. Even adding chair exercises or arm movements helps you to be more active.

    You may start with a slow walk at first. The more you do it, the farther you can walk and the stronger you will get. For more information see, How to Get Started Walking.

    Being active often brings peace and a feeling of pride. Your family will see how hard you have been working and how it is helping to manage your diabetes. They will be proud of you too!

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