Anishnabeg Outreach - Health & Wellness - AO CAN

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Anishnabeg Outreach - Health & Wellness

A place where the Indigenous community can connect with others who can provide support & guidance to achieve better health & wellness.


Anishnabeg Outreach has is working to help our community live a healthier lifestyle. Our goal is to share and connect people with information that will allow people to live a better and healthier life.

We are here to provide health and wellness to those who live in The City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, City of Cambridge, City of Guelph and surrounding areas.  We are working to provide information in the following areas:

  • How to live a healthier life
  • How to eat better / better nutrition
  • How to meditate / how to self-heal
  • How to change the way you think
  • How to change the way you feel

We hope that the insights and information we share you can take back to your place of work and in home to life better for yourself and others.

What is Diabetes?
Eleven million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Chances are, diabetes affects you or someone you know.

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.

What is the pancreas and what does it do?
The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and releases hormones into the digestive system. In the healthy body, when blood sugar levels get too high, special cells in the pancreas (called beta cells) release insulin. Insulin is a hormone and it causes cells to take in sugar to use as energy or to store as fat. This causes blood sugar levels to go back down.

Types of Diabetes

What is prediabetes?
It is estimated that more than 6 million people have prediabetes.
Prediabetes refers to blood glucose (sugar) levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Although not everyone with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, many people will.
It is important to know if you have prediabetes, because research has shown that some long-term complications associated with diabetes—such as heart disease—may begin during prediabetes.

What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. No, or very little, insulin is released into the body. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in adulthood.
Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Meal planning also helps with keeping blood sugar at the right levels.

What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released (called insulin insensitivity) or does not make enough insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes more often develops in adults, but children can be affected.
Depending on the severity of type 2 diabetes, it may be managed through physical activity and meal planning, or may also require medications and/or insulin to control blood sugar more effectively.

What is gestational diabetes?
A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. Between three to 20 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors. Having gestational diabetes may increase the risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.


What are the complications of diabetes?0
Having high blood sugar can cause diabetes-related complications, like chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic lower limb (leg, foot, toe, etc.) amputation, eye disease (retinopathy) that can lead to blindness, heart attack, stroke, anxiety, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction (men). Diabetes-related complications can be very serious and even life-threatening. Properly managing blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing these complications.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
You are at higher risk for diabetes if you:
  • Are a member of a high risk ethnic group (including being Aboriginal)
  • Have family members with diabetes
  • Are 40 years of age or older
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have low physical activity
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes)
  • Are a smoker
Don't ignore these risk factors. If you think you might be at risk for developing diabetes, complete the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire (CANRISK).

Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms can include the following: unusual thirst,  frequent urination, weight change (gain or loss), extreme fatigue or lack of energy, blurred vision, frequent or recurring infections, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, or trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your health-care provider right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you are 40 or older, you should still get checked as those with type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms.

There are steps that Aboriginal people can take to prevent and manage diabetes. These 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.

See below a resource called Just the Basics in Ojibwe, Plains Cree, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun to help Aboriginal people make healthy choices.
  • Just the Basics for Aboriginals - English
  • Just the Basics for Aboriginals - Inuktitut
  • Just the Basics for Aboriginals - Ojibwe
  • Just the Basics for Aboriginals - Inuinnaqtun
  • Just the Basics for Aboriginals - Plains Cree

Aboriginal Video Resources
Many Aboriginal people can speak their native languages but are not as familiar with the written language. To help facilitate understanding, Diabetes Canada has created some oral videos of the printed Aboriginal languages of Just the Basics.

Healthy Eating for Diabetes Prevention and Management in Indigenous Populations

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.

Physical Activity for Diabetes Prevention and Management in Indigenous Populations

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!

*The aforementioned information was provided by Diabetes Canada. Please visit for additional resources and information*
Healthy Eating Tips for Children and the Whole Family
Healthy eating and physical activity help children grow, learn and build strong bones and muscles. As a parent or caregiver, you have a great opportunity to be a role model of positive behaviours and a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy food choices and regular physical activity may help children to maintain a healthy weight and prevent health problems including type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults, but increasing numbers of overweight children and teens are being diagnosed with this chronic disease.

There are several benefits to eating well including:
  • Good health
  • More energy
  • Healthy body weight
  • Lower risk of disease
  • Improved concentration
  • Strong heart, muscles and bones

Healthy eating

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide suggests that everyone eat a wide variety of foods, including vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lower fat dairy products, and lean meats, beans or lentils daily. Eat healthy meals and snacks with your children and participate in fun activities together. Use the following tips to encourage healthy habits.

Source: Diabetes Canda
Good nutrition habits

Helping children learn about healthy eating and healthy choices can lead to a lifetime of good nutrition habits.

  • Eat when you are physiologically hungry and stop when you are full.
  • Plan regular family meals – healthy eating habits begin at home.
  • Focus on small, gradual changes in eating to create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
  • Encourage healthy, balanced eating and avoid diets (they are not sustainable)
  • Enjoy a favourite high fat/sugar food occasionally, in limited portions.
  • Avoid using food as a reward or punishment.
  • Keep the TV off during meals and avoid snacking in front of the screen.
  • Talk to a Registered Dietitian if you are concerned about your eating habits or weight.

Healthy eating tips for the whole family

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast.
  • Cook as a family (usually like to eat what you make).
  • Have veggies, fruit or yogurt for snacks.
  • Choose water, lower fat milk (1 or 2%) instead of pop and other sugary drinks.
  • Choose whole fruit – it has more fibre. Limit 100% fruit juices to ½ cup (125 mL) per day.
  • Choose wisely when eating out – avoid meal deals and super-sizing.
  • Introduce one new food or a new vegetable each week.
  • Limit high-calorie snacks such as candy, chocolate and chips.
Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Intake

Diabetes Canada recommends Canadians limit intake of sugar sweetened beverages and drink water in its place. Another alternative to sugar sweetened beverages can be choosing products that use artificial sweeteners in place of sugars. These can also be used when wanting to substitute sugars in at home cooking and baking.  

Each artificial sweetener available in Canada has an ADI, or acceptable daily intake level. Artificial sweeteners are safe if you drink/eat less than this amount. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid certain artificial sweeteners. For more information on Health Canada approved sweeteners and the ADI amounts, visit Sugars & Sweeteners.

Limit the salt shaker

Healthy eating plays an important role in managing hypertension (high blood pressure). Choose a variety of foods and include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It is also important to watch the salt in foods which is mainly composed of sodium.

Foods naturally contain small amounts of sodium, but most of the sodium in our diet is added during food processing. Canned and packaged foods are high in sodium because it is added to maintain safety and freshness. People with diabetes are recommended to reduce sodium intake towards 2,000 mg per day. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2,300 mg of sodium.

Reading food labels is important! Ingredients are listed in order from most to least. This means the ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first. Therefore, if sodium or salt appears near the top of the ingredient list, avoid that product. For more information on how to limit your salt intake, please see:

Choose traditional foods
There has been a recent generational shift with indigenous individuals moving away from their own self-sustaining, local food systems into industrially derived food supplies. This change has drastically affected the dietary quality and health of these people. Please see the video series created by The Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE) based in McGill University, Canada, responding to requests from indigenous leaders from around the world to help stop loss of traditional food system knowledge with research and community-driven activities that bridge the generations.

Indigenous Food for Better Health Videos:

What is recommended to reduce our risk?
To reduce our risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, we all need to change what we put on the table.

We can work towards:
  • Making Our Communities Healthier - Working to change the nutrition environment and promoting healthy eating is essential.
  • Increasing our use of traditional foods - Protecting, restoring and relying on our traditional foods more, can provide greater food security to our community and healthier food choices. We know that when traditional foods are eaten, we are more likely to get the nutrients our bodies needed then when traditional food is not eaten.
  • Decreasing our use of sugar-sweetened beverages - Reducing the use of sugar sweetened beverages will help protect our teeth and our children’s health. A recent study suggests that most of the sugar sweetened beverages are eaten at home while 15% seems to be occurring in schools.
  • Increasing our intake of vegetables and fruits - Our traditional plants and many of the fruits and vegetables from the farm and market (most of which were originally cultivated by Indigenous Peoples of North, Central and South America) have medicinal, nutrition and healing properties that can protect us from chronic disease if we eat a variety daily.
  • Serving healthier food choices in reasonable portions - By learning how to modify and choose recipes that have less fat, sugar, and salt and by following a balanced plate approach when serving foods at the table, we can collectively reduce our risk for obesity and diabetes.
  • Increasing the number of community gardens in our communities – Promoting the development of community gardens brings the community together to promote healthy eating and provides nutritious foods for community events.

Ways to help your body
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruit and berries (5-8 servings everyday by including vegetables and/or fruit at meals or snacks)
  • Become comfortable with reading labels to make healthier food choices
  • Choose wholesome fresh food over packaged and processed food
  • Know what is in your food and beverages
  • Make time for cooking and eating together at the table with family and friends

Source: Healthy Food Guidelines for First Nations Communities document found on the First Nations Health Council website.

Healthy Living Tips for Diabetes Prevention & management in Aboriginal People
Healthy Living Tips for Diabetes Prevention & management in Aboriginal People
Traditional Aboriginal foods can help form a balanced diet for you and your family. Eat together as a family, and make simple meals with:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Wild meat and fresh/canned fish
  • Whole grain bannock and noodles, brown and wild rice, oats, and other whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Skim milk powder and UHT milk

Limit fat intake
Steam, broil, barbeque, bake and roast foods rather than frying them. Use small amounts of vegetable oil instead of lard. Read more about reducing fat in the kitchen.

Eat smaller portions
Smaller portions can help manage your weight. Learn how to keep your portions under control.

Limit processed foods

Eat processed foods less often and in small amounts. They are higher in salt, sugar and fat compared to fresh foods. Processed foods include:
  • Fast food (like hamburgers, French fries and chicken nuggets)
  • Pop, fruit drinks and drink crystals
  • Chips and salty snacks
  • Frozen dinners
  • Pastries, cookies, baked goods, chocolate bars and candy
  • Canned or processed meat (deli meat, hot dogs)
  • Canned soups
  • Processed cheese

Be active

Try to be active for at least 150 minutes/week. That’s about 30 minutes/day on five days of the week. You can start with just 10 minute at a time. Choose activities that you enjoy and ones that you can do together as a family. If you are new to physical activity, speak to your health care provider before getting started. For more tips read Physical Activity and Diabetes.

For more information on the prevention and management of diabetes visit the website:

Source: website provided by Dietitians of Canada

What if I have questions about preventing or managing my diabetes?
There are many people & programs in the community that can help. These can include but are not limited to:

Waterloo Wellington Diabetes ~ Central Intake Program provides a streamlined process for referrals to diabetes education programs and specialist consults.
  • Call 519-653-1470 x 372 and speak to someone who can assist you in completing the form over the phone. Or visit to complete an on-line self-referral
  • Services offered to individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes are covered by Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

Diabetes Canada can provide free diabetes educational resources as well as information on local programs and services offered throughout Waterloo-Wellington and area. For more information, call 519-742-1481 or email

YMCAs of Cambridge & Kitchener-Waterloo provide a number of fitness programs for people of all fitness levels and ages. One of these is the Diabetes Fit program for people at risk or living with diabetes. To learn more about this program and others offered, call 519-743-5201 ext 233 or visit
Eating well does not need to cost a lot of money. Here are some ways to choose healthy foods and save along the way during your next grocery trip. Most grocery stores have the same layout. Packaged foods are found in the middle aisles. Whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, milk and meat are found around the outer areas of the store. To fill a healthy shopping cart, shop along the outer areas and buy more whole foods. In the frozen section, read labels and choose items that contain more whole foods and less salt, sugar and fat. Be sure to keep a shopping list handy and only buy what you need.
  1. Plan your meals weekly, make a grocery list, and avoid going to the grocery store hungry to avoid any unintended purchases
  2. Cook large portions to meal prep for the week and bring a lunch! This can save you both time and money
  3. Buy whole foods (i.e. a block of cheese is cheaper than shredded cheese)
  4. Buy generic brands. Just be sure to compare nutrition facts tables
  5. Limit treat foods, they are expensive and offer no nutritional value
  6. Stock up on the sales, just check the expiry date
  7. Buy cheaper cuts of meat (can be used in casseroles, soups, stews, etc.)
  8. Incorporate more plant proteins sources such as lentils, chickpeas, tofu once or twice a week (very inexpensive and easy to prepare)
  9. Shop for produce that is in season. Produce that is in season is typically cheaper and more nutritious. If you buy too much, freeze the rest or incorporate it into future meal plans. (Refer to the Foodland Seasonal Ontario Guide)
  10. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables (just as nutritious as fresh)
  11. Grow your own produce such as tomatoes, onions, herbs, etc.
  12. Use coupons or apps such as Flipp to price match items

Get into the kitchen and start cooking

Healthy Eating For Indigenous Populations –

Canada's Food Guide Adapted for Indigenous Populations

Explore the Canada's Food Guide in various languages including English, Inuktitut, Ojibwe, Plains Cree, & Woods Cree.  

Indigenous Cooking and other resources

Cook with David Wolfman- Indigenous Fusion. At the bottom of the website you will find some culturally appropriate recipes including wildberry scones, smoked elk, salmon chowder, and more!

Read more about the traditional aboriginal diet and the associated health benefits!

Additional On-line Resources related to Diabetes Management & Prevention
Eating Away from Home Tips to Maintain Overall Health

Are you struggling to consume enough fruits and vegetables because they are too expensive? The following are a list of resources and tools that might be helpful to eat healthfully on a budget as well as when fruits and vegetables are in season.

Trying to get more physical active? Take a look at what you can do to get moving daily.

Healthy Eating Resources and Information for Aboriginal/Indigenous Health

Diabetes Canada has a number of webinars on various topics related related to diabetes prevention and management. To check out both live and archived presentation offerings please visit: . The following are just two examples of webinars that may be of interest to you.

If you are interested in taking part in a program for healthy eating and weight management visit . Free offerings of this program, as well as others, are offered locally by the
Waterloo Wellington Self-Management Program. For more information on the various programs offered and when they are available, please visit:  or call 1-866-337-3318.

The Waterloo-Wellington Diabetes Directory of Community Resources has information on a variety of diabetes related programs & services including but not limited to…

Special Populations - Diabetes and Aboriginals

Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle  
Visit or call 1-888-514-1370 for more information on diabetes management and services available.

Community based Registered Dietitian Services
Did you know that a number of Zehrs and Sobeys stores offer dietetic counselling through an in-store Registered Dietitian? Some of their services such as nutrition focused workshops and group grocery store tours are offered at no cost while other personalized nutritional counselling have fees associated. Many private insurance plans cover the cost of Registered Dietitian services. Please contact your insurance provider to see if you are covered.
For more information on nutrition services offered, pricing, and a calendar listing of upcoming free events, contact your local store and speak with the in-store dietitian.

Financial Assistance Programs
In Ontario, there are a number of financial assistance programs to help offset some of the costs associated with diabetes care. These include but are not limited to:

For a full listing of diabetes related financial assistance programs available in Ontario please refer to pdf available in our Health Resources Section - Click Here to Visit.

Source: Waterloo-Wellington Diabetes Directory of Community Resources developed by Waterloo Wellington Diabetes and Diabetes Canada -

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