Living With Diabetes in a Good, Balanced Way



A message from Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Acting Chief Medical Officer,

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to bring focus to a health issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex or ethnic background.

While diabetes is one of the most significant healthcare conditions of our time worldwide, it can also be viewed as a reminder for all of us to live our lives in a good, balanced way. It's an extra incentive for us to make improvements in all aspects of our health and wellness, and to inspire those around us to live well. I have diabetes myself, and work hard to live well with it.

Many of the mainstream messages we see and hear about diabetes focus only on the physical self. As Indigenous people, we know that our health and wellness goes well beyond this, and that we must also nurture our mental, emotional and spiritual health.

​​YOUR VOICE MATTERS! We want to hear from you in 2021: Do you feel like you have been involved in the decisions for your diabetes treatment plan? Do you feel like your culture, or other things that are important to you, have been considered as a part of this plan? If you answered “Yes" to these questions, that's great! However, if you answered “No," we want to support you to change that! We would like to hear your “life with diabetes” stories to better understand and plan for First Nations people and communities in BC. If you would like to share your story, please contact Kathy Riyazi at or call 778-879-2263. A little token of appreciation will be sent to you after the conversation.​

The First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness guides us to find balance in all four areas of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For people living with diabetes, identifying what helps keep us balanced as individuals, and developing our circle of support, are key pieces to consider in keeping well.

Diabetes, which disproportionately impacts Indigenous people in Canada, is a chronic (lifelong) condition. So, if you have diabetes, it's important to create a wellness plan that is personalized to you – in other words, one that aligns with your traditional values, enables self-management skills, and will effectively support you in the long term. Your wellness plan should also reflect the ongoing development of new strategies and innovations in the management of your diabetes.

If you or a loved one have diabetes, and/or if you want to learn more about how to manage or prevent it, there is no time like the present to do so. Check out this resource about diabetes management and the following tips to nurture balanced health and wellness:


  • Listen to your body's cues, e.g., eat when you feel hungry, rest when you're tired, etc.
  • Move in ways that feel good to you. Movement is good for body, mind and spirit, and can help to lower blood sugar. When you exercise, your body pumps the sugar in your blood to the cells in your muscles to fuel your body. This reduces your glucose (blood sugar) levels.
  • Eat nutritious foods that you enjoy, in reasonable portions.
  • Monitor your blood sugar before and after meals to help you to understand how certain foods affect your blood sugar.
  • Work with your care provider to make decisions about medications, if needed.


  • Learn about what diabetes is and get help on how to manage it. Empower yourself with tools, resources, and information! Get answers to any questions you have about diabetes on our website and on the Diabetes Canada Tools & resources page.
  • Determine what information you need to help you make decisions.


  • Understand and acknowledge your emotions; this is a key part of managing diabetes.
  • Work to overcome fear, grief a​nd frustration; see a counsellor or join a support group.
  • Establish healthy boundaries with the people in your life; this is very important for self-care. 
  • Find and cultivate acceptance and hope.
  • Journal, share with others; this can help you to process some of the challenging emotions.
  • Have fun and laugh!


  • Prayers, ceremonies, cultural activities and traditional medicines are important for nurturing your spirit.
  • Connect with Elders and/or healers.
  • Sing, dance, drum​, speak or learn your language, bead, create art, etc.
  • Practise lateral kindness, respect, gratitude and compassion to lift your spirit and others' spirits.  ​
  • ​Nurture your spiritual and emotional health by spending time with family, friends, and others – especially people who are living healthily – even if visits are virtual for now because of the pandemic.
  • Know that you can be a role model for good, balanced living in your family and community!​​
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