In 2016 I was invited to speak to a group of Navajo Diabetes Educators in Arizona on Motivational Interviewing, so when I received a call from the director of the Navajo Area Indian Service in New Mexico to do a 3-day workshop I was all in. Since Motivational Interviewing is now an evidence-based practice to assisting with behavior change, the diabetes clinicians who work with the Navajos in New Mexico were open and eager to learn how to use it. There is an 80% incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Navajo population.
Jeffrey and I decided to fly in a day early to acclimate to the elevation as our sensitive sea level systems are not accustomed to 6500 elevation levels. We stayed in Durango one night at a 100- year-old hotel that is known to have a ghost before making our way to Farmington. The day we landed was right in the middle of a fire in Durango in which rain was a welcome need.
We visited the 4 Corners on the way (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona) which was both a hot (temperature) and cool (experience). I thought a plank on each of the states was apropos. Jeffrey tried the Navajo Fry Bread which was akin to a donut and churro together but of course my gluten sensitivity would not allow for that. This bread seems to be a daily staple for most Navajos.
As we drove through Farmington I noticed at least 12 fast food restaurants within 2 blocks and realized how difficult it is there to obtain healthy food. The whole time we were (7 days) I only ate out 3 times: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 dinner. How did I stay on track with my eating?
My environment changed but my life style solutions stayed the same.
As I do when I am at home I went to 2 grocery stores – one Safeway and one Natural grocers and was able to purchase what we needed and our hotel room had a small refrigerator and a microwave. I bought yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, fruit, nuts/seeds, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers and natural almond butter. It was not the most interesting eating week I’ve ever had but I stayed on track with my food which was necessary to training and energy for the long days.
After the training we stayed at a cool B & B in Durango before flying home. The much-needed rain came the day before we left but we were able to sneak away and grab a quick-lunch at Cyprus Cafe which had some great clean-eating gluten-free options. We got some rest and it was a nice change of pace from the concrete jungle of LA. This trip does give food for thought on how we can bring awareness to helping the Navajos with the diabetes epidemic, and find the internal motivation to help maintain your own Life Style Solutions.