Navajo Special Diabetes Project puts on successful nutrition conference

Franklin Tohannie talks about the history of the Navajo diet and how it has changed through the years during a nutrition conference at Tuba City Chapter House March 22. Submitted photo

Franklin Tohannie talks about the history of the Navajo diet and how it has changed through the years during a nutrition conference at Tuba City Chapter House March 22. Submitted photo

Speakers, presenters, nutritionists and other health officials discussed the effect of better nutrition and healthy lifestyles on community health during a two-day nutrition conference at the Tuba City Chapter House March 21-22.

The theme of the conference was "Chiyaan Alaan Aboo Dzil - Power/Energy from a Varity of Foods." The Tuba City Service Area of the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project (NNSDP) coordinated the conference.

"The conference was very successful with well-rounded presentations, good attendance from community people, and assistance from NNSDP staff from Window Rock, Kayenta, Dilkon, and Fort Defiance," said Edbert Little, program supervisor I, Tuba City Service Area of NNSDP. "It started out slow in the mornings but picked up as the day wore on. We understand people have things to do at home and we're glad we had people from all demographics in our community represented at the conference."

Little welcomed attendees. Ruby Whitethorne, BSN, RN, CDE, Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC), followed with a presentation called "Change on Diets and Lifestyle Throughout History and it's Risks to Diabetes."

Selena Holgate, nutritionist, NNSDP with Dilkon Service Area, talked about the health benefits of calcium. She emphasized the importance of getting calcium from green vegetables instead of dairy products.

Franklin Tohannie, Community Involvement Specialist, Navajo Nation Division of Social Services, did a presentation on "Healthy Living the Traditional Perspective-Our People Have Shifted from Ways of Diet due to Convenience, and Advancement in Food Markets." His presentation included the history of how Navajos survived before the Long Walk and what their diet consisted of and the shift to modern times as the economy has changed through the years.

Brooke Holiday, health promotion specialist, Tuba City Health Promotion Program, TCRHCC, talked about making changes to improve student health and academic success. She presented the TCRHCC's six-year trends of obesity rates in Tuba City Schools. The study shows that 52 percent of students are considered healthy because of proper weight range while 21 percent are overweight and the other 27 percent are obese. She said that students who are obese have problems in school academically, socially and athletically and suffer adverse health issues. Holiday also said schools that provide physical activities for students during the day perform better and students get better grades.

Other presenters included Valora Tom, dietician, Healthy Living Program, TCRHCC, and Lena Guerito, nutrition, NNSDP, Shiprock Service Area.

NNSDP Nutritionist Victoria James, Kayenta Service Area; Selena Holgate, Dilkon Service Area and Lena Guerito, Shiprock Service Area gave food demonstrations on making smoothies from vegetable products.

To close out the day, Darwin Mitchell, recreation specialist, and Queterah Andersen, health education technician, Fort Defiance Service Area, put on a 5K Fun Walk and Run at the old airport road on the west side of Tuba City.

On the second day, Samantha J. Interpreter, RD, Inscription House Health Clinic, talked about "Da'a'da Nutrition." She covered the different aspects of healthy eating and proper portion size to stay healthy. Lorraine Tsosie, health educator, Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program from Window Rock, discussed breast cancer awareness."

Gary Davis, certified prevention specialist, Department of Behavioral Health Program, talked about substance abuse prevention. Franklin Tohannie repeated his presentation from the day before to close out the conference.

Mitchell and Anderson provided physical activity during breaks throughout the day. Ray Baldwin Louis, public information officer for NNSDP provided the closing remarks.

Deanna Keetso, office assistant, NNSDP Tuba City Service Area said 114 people participated on the first day and 159 people attended the second day. A total of 160 runners and walkers attended the fun walk and run.

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