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We Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes: Tips for American Indians & Alaska Natives

We are American Indians and Alaska Natives, and we have the power to prevent type 2 diabetes. Science has proven that we can prevent diabetes if we lose as little as 10 pounds by walking 30 minutes 5 days a week and making healthy food choices

"I know everyone can do it once they make up their mind. A lot of people out there know it runs in their family and they think ‘Okay, I’m going to get it.’ No, it is not so. You can prevent it. If I can do it, so can you."

Glenda Thomas Fifer
Gila River Indian Community and Diabetes Prevention Program Participant

Here are 7 powerful steps you can take to get started today:

  1. Move More. Get up, get out, and get moving. Walk, dance, bike ride, swim, or play ball with your friends or family. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it. Try different things to keep it fun.

    "I found ways to work activity into my day. I walk for 10 minutes every morning. At night, my wife and I walk with our daughter."
    Tom John


  2. photo of family
    Make Healthy Food Choices. Focus on eating less. Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables each day. Choose whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and cereals. Cut down on fatty and fried foods. You still can have foods you enjoy, just eat smaller servings. Choose water to drink.

    “I used to always go back for second helpings. Now, I leave the leftovers for another day. I think it’s working.”
    Josephine Malemute, RN

  3. Take Off Some Weight. Once you start eating less and moving more, you will lose weight. By losing just 10 pounds, you can cut your chances of getting diabetes.

    “Since losing a few pounds, I feel better and have more energy to do the things I enjoy.”
    Loreli Decora
    Wimmebago Tribe of Nebraska

  4. Set Goals You Can Meet. Start by making small changes. Try being active for 15 minutes a day this week. Then each week add 5 minutes until you build up to at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Try to cut 150 calories out of your diet each day (that’s one can of soda!). Slowly reduce your calories over time. Talk to your health care team about your goals.

    “When I first started walking, I could only go for about 10 minutes. Now I feel stronger and am able to walk 45 minutes every day”
    Jonathan Feather
    Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

  5. Another set of photos of families
    Record Your Progress. Write down all the things you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active. Keeping a diary is one of the best ways to stay focused and reach your goals.

    Keeping track of my activity allows me to see how I’m doing. By walking for 10 minutes at least 3 times a day, I’m able to get my 30 minutes in.”
    Lorraine Valdez, RN
    Isleta/Laguna Pueblos

  6. Seek Help. You don’t have to prevent diabetes alone. Ask your family and friends to help you out. Involve them in your activities. You can help each other move more, eat less, and live a healthy life. Go for a walk together or play a pick-up game of basketball. Join a support group in your area to help you stay on track.

    “After dinner I often take a walk with my family instead of watching TV.”
    Kelly Moore, MD
    Creek Nation of Oklahoma

  7. Keep at It. Making even small changes is hard in the beginning. Try to add one new change a week. If you get off track, start again and keep at it.

    “When I don’t think I have time to exercise, I just remember how important it is to be around for my family.”
    Ralph Forquera
    Juaneño Band of California Indians

    photos of people
    We have the power to help our people and the generations to come. We have the Power to Prevent Diabetes." Yvette Roubideaux, MD
    Rosebud Sioux

Take your first step today. Talk to your healthcare team about your risk for type 2 diabetes and the small steps you can take to prevent it.

Last Reviewed July 2016

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.