Fort Berthold Diabetes Program

Our Hearts Movement  

By Celeste Hart RD, CDE


February is American Heart Month, the theme this year is to get support from family and friends to make our hearts healthier.  People who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer.  We are more successful at meeting our health goals when we work on them with others, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Here are some facts and resources to inspire you to join with others, even if you can’t be physically together, to improve your heart health. 

Aim for a healthy weight

Studies show that a partner’s participation in a lifestyle change program can be a key to success, especially for weight loss. Encouraging participants to bring a spouse or best friend to a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), resulted in a 56% drop in medications needed.  A family-focused intervention developed at North Carolina Central University, required the enrollee to bring the person in the household in charge of preparing the food to the education sessions.

What should you look for in a support person? (Thin for life, Ann Fletcher, M.S., R.D)

  • Someone with whom you feel comfortable talking about your weight and problems having to do with your weight.
  • Someone who compliments you, for instance, when you do something well or look nice.
  • Someone who reassures you when things are not going your way.
  • Someone who is honest with you in a nice way and will give you feedback.
  • Someone who shared feelings and problems.
  • Someone who supports your taking responsibility for your weight problem.

Being overweight is hard on your heart.  It increases your risk of having heart disease, a stroke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  Choosing heart healthy foods and getting regular exercise will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Eat healthy foods

  • Eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Eating fish, poultry, beans, nuts, vegetables oils, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium
  • Limiting sugar and other sweeteners.

Find dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) recipes at: 

Be more active

Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week, that is just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition do muscle strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week.  If you don’t have 30 minutes, try breaking it up into 3 -10 minutes chunks.  Walking for 10 minutes after each meal will bring your- after meal blood sugar down, studies have shown it decreases your blood sugar by 12%.

All adults should avoid inactivity!  Most of us have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”, referring to the growing epidemic of sedentary lifestyle in the United States (The Heart Foundation).  A 2011 study documented 800,000 people and their sitting habits.  The study found that people who sit the most, compared to people who sit the least, have a greater risk of disease and death:

  • 112% increased risk of diabetes.
  • 147% increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
  • 90% increased risk of death from cardiovascular events.
  • 49% increased risk of death from any cause.

Why is it so bad? Blood flow slows down.  This can allow fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels, leading to heart disease.  Sitting for extended periods of time regularly, may lead to insulin resistance which can cause type 2 diabetes and obesity.

What can you do to prevent too much sitting?  Get up every hour and move, stand and stretch, you can even download apps on your phone to remind you.  You can get a standing desk at work, and take a walk for your breaks and lunch.

The Ft. Berthold Diabetes Program offers exercise and nutrition help.  We have a staff of 4 fitness techs that provide exercise classes.  We have 2 Registered Dietitians that provide nutrition consults, we also have our Registered Nurse case manager.  Please give us a call at (701)627-7931 if you would like to make an appointment. Check out our website at or our Facebook site for upcoming events.

We are starting our Diabetes Prevention Program, which will meet weekly and be online.  This is a great way to prevent getting diabetes and have strong supportive and informative leaders and peers, with great incentives! The first class is February 9th.