KC Adams reclaims pre-contact diet to fight diabetes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat the way our ancestors did? Winnipeg artist KC Adams took up the challenge in a month-long diet of traditional foods.

Reclamation of well-being diet serves up wild meat and rice instead of sugar and burgers

KC Adams enjoys the bison stew she made with onions, bison, carrots, potatoes, corn, and butternut squash. (Supplied by KC Adams)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat the way our ancestors did? Could you give up things like sugar, bread and coffee in favour of wild meat and locally grown fruits and vegetables?

Did I mention the no coffee part?

A Winnipeg visual artist took on that challenge in a month-long diet similar to that of her Cree and Ojibway ancestors, pre-contact with Europeans. Along with a group  of friends, KC Adams cut out sugars, processed food and starch in favour of wild meat, berries, squash, wild rice and fish.

"We've tried to be very Manitoba-specific, but we realized it was too difficult so we had to broaden our choices to North America," says Adams, admitting that they each have a few cheats on what is considered local food.

Diabetes epidemic in First Nations 

Calling it the Reclamation of Well-being Diet, Adams did it as a way to stave off diabetes. Her mother has the disease and it's considered an epidemic among First Nations communities. Health Canada has reported that First Nations people living on reserves have a rate of diabetes that is three to five times higher than that of other Canadians.

When I started this, I could feel those pre-diabetic stages … tired after eating, feeling lethargic all the time, my stomach was very large.- KC Adams

Adams says after starting the diet she noticed several changes in her body; she had more energy and her clothes fit better.

Since completing the month-long challenge she has integrated some of the foods into her family's menu; wild rice has become a staple and she now grows her own squash.

"This is actually going to be a lifestyle change for me. I may not be able to do it all the time because it's actually really expensive," said Adams.  

"I want to spend the rest of my life without diabetes and not have to be on medications."