Tag Archives: Diabetes

The Delicious & Nutritious Superpowers of Diabetes-Friendly Foods

For people with diabetes, making the right food choices can sometimes feel complicated or confusing. And while individual dietary needs should always be carefully discussed with your doctor or nutritionist, there are a few go-to diabetes-friendly foods – sometimes called “diabetes superfoods” – that will not only come to the nutritional rescue but may also help make meal planning and snacking a little easier.

A great place to start is with fruits and vegetables. Dried, canned, frozen, or fresh all contain the same overall nutritional benefits and will hit the spot when you need a quick snack, or can even fill you up when you’re ready for a meal. Here are just a few reasons to put fruit and veggies at the top of your list:

  • Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients that can boost your energy levels.
  • They provide a solid dose of fiber which helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy!
  • Low calories and lots of color and texture to add to your plate.
  • Eating more fruits and veggies may lower your risk for many diseases including some types of cancer, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.
  • Fruits and veggies have low glycemic indexes which help keep blood sugar levels steady.

There are, of course, a few standout fruit and veggie superstars that you’ll want to have on-hand whenever possible:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are bursting with so much good stuff, you simply can’t eat too much!
  • Citrus fruit like lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges will give you your daily supply of vitamin C and soluble fiber.
  • Berries of all types are delicious little powerhouses packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber making them a sweet treat anytime.

In addition to fruit and vegetables, there are some other nutrient-rich-good-for-your-health-diabetes-friendly and delicious foods to keep in mind when you are planning your menu:

  • Beans are a great source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and protein. In fact, just a 1/2 cup of beans gives you as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat.
  • Sweet potatoes can be baked, mashed, roasted, or chunked and added to all kinds of dishes. Versatile and packed with fiber and Vitamin A they are a yummy addition to your plate.
  • Tomatoes are another standout food that can be enjoyed raw, cooked, pureed, as a sauce or soup, and are bursting with vital nutrients like Vitamins C and E.
  • Fish – any fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon) is an excellent addition to your menu. Try it baked, grilled, or broiled twice a week and you’ll be well on your way to meeting the US Dietary Guidelines recommendation of 8 ounces of seafood per week.
  • Whole grains are loaded with magnesium, B vitamins, chromium, iron, and folate. Check the label to make sure the first ingredient listed uses the word “whole” (like “whole wheat” for example). Brown rice, wheatberries, oats, and oatmeal are also “whole” grains.
  • Nuts and seeds can be a hunger-buster when the munchies come calling. Just an ounce will go a long way toward controlling your appetite and as an added bonus will give you a nice dose of magnesium and fiber.
  • Milk and yogurt (fat-free or low-fat varieties) contain calcium and many fortified products are a good source of vitamin D as well. Combine with your favorite fruits and veggies for a perfect filling snack.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be a chore when you start with a list of diabetes-friendly foods. And don’t forget: 1/2 of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein (beans or lean meat), and 1/4 should be whole grains.

Check out the American Diabetes Association for fantastic healthy recipes and for even more ways to incorporate diabetes-friendly foods into your regular meal planning routine.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, NIH

Good Choices Can Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

It’s true! There are things you can do right now to help prevent Type 2 Diabetes and the best part is that making these choices can also lower your risk for other diseases and health-related problems.

Let’s start with the basics:

Always talk to your doctor or health care professional first. There are certain risk factors that can increase your chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a relative with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
  • Being diagnosed with prediabetes

The good news however, is that making a few lifestyle changes can help lower that risk which could delay or even prevent it entirely.

Nothing to lose, everything to gain… worth a shot right?

So, where to start? First things first…

  • If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor and work out a plan to lose weight and keep it off. For many people, this can be quite a challenge so be sure to enlist the support of family and friends. You may need to develop a new routine or try things you haven’t in the past.
  • Set a goal to move more. Just 20 minutes a day can make a BIG difference. For some fun ideas on where to start and how to stay motivated check out this article.
  • Make healthy foods part of your daily routine. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods to your menu isn’t as hard as you think. Really. But, if you need some inspiration, read The Delicious & Nutritious Superpowers of Diabetes-Friendly Foods
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. Yes – they do matter. Very often our cravings or hunger can be satisfied with a smaller portion, a tall glass of water, or even a 5-minute walk. You can also use a smaller plate at mealtime. And then, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that 1/2 of your plate is filled with fruits and veggies, 1/4 with protein (beans or lean meat), and 1/4 should be whole grains.
  • Put together a team. Lifestyle changes usually involve people in your life. Tell them about your goals and ask for their support. Having a support system in place will help you stay on track and keep you motivated. You may even be surprised at how much your friends, family, or co-workers want to help you succeed. There are also built-in support systems in more places than you think. Ask around at your gym, local community center, church, schools in your area, your hospital, or community health center. There may be support groups or services just waiting for you to join. There are even diabetes prevention programs in some areas where you can meet people taking similar steps to improve their health.

There are plenty of strategies out there to make these lifestyle changes easier and you can customize all of them based on your specific needs. For example: find a walking partner, a gym buddy, or download an app to help you move more. Or take a cooking class, research your own healthy recipes, or call a friend when you feel yourself being tempted by pudding or potato chips.

And don’t worry if you have to keep changing your routine. Finding the right combination of tools, support, and motivation can take some time. The important thing is that you keep trying and remember that the good choices you make now will not only help you feel better but can also delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes.

Sources: NIH; American Diabetes Organization

Do you have Diabetes or Prediabetes?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and more than one out of three people have prediabetes, but nine out of ten don’t know they have it. Could you be one of them? Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Your risk of having prediabetes increases if you’re over 45 years old, overweight or obese, or physically active less than 3 times weekly. Having prediabetes is serious. If left untreated, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years.

There are different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Prediabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children or young adults who have a hard time producing insulin. Type 1 is much less common as it only affects 5% of people with diabetes. With insulin treatments, these patients can learn to manage their symptoms and enjoy their lives.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common diagnosis and affects both children and adults whose bodies do not use insulin correctly. It is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (sugar) for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
  • Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • increased urination
  • extreme thirst
  • extreme hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal
  • unusual weight loss
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • A person can have prediabetes and have no symptoms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. Early detection of diabetes can help reduce future health complications.

Get Tested!
Complete a prediabetes screening test and talk with your doctor. If you find you do have prediabetes, the National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to delay or prevent developing diabetes. Currently, there are Diabetes Prevention Programs offered in the following communities: Belle Fourche, Deadwood, Custer, Platte, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish, Sturgis and Yankton. A list of online options are also available. Click here for more information, resources and videos.

Diabetes affects every part of your body. Diabetes increases a person’s risk of going blind, developing high blood pressure, decreasing kidney function and more. The best way to combat diabetes is to prevent it. To decrease your risk maintain a healthy weight, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid large portion sizes and exercise regularly. Try some of these healthy recipes!

Diabetes Self-Management Education
Living with diabetes can make a person feel scared and powerless. Do you want to take control of your condition and feel more confident in managing your diabetes? If you do, Diabetes Self-Management Education is for you. Commonly referred to as DSME, this program is for anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes, those with a change in their diabetic treatment regimen, individuals using insulin pumps, or persons interested in annual diabetes education. Many healthcare facilities offer this program, and some insurance plans, in addition to Medicaid and Medicare, have DSME as a covered benefit. To find a program near you, contact your doctor.

Sources:  South Dakota Diabetes Program, Avera McKennan Weekly Health Tip, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Diabetes, & American Diabetes Association

These resources are not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease.


Smartphone Apps for Diabetes: Do They Really Work?

You can use them to count carbs, log blood sugar, but users say they’re no substitute for patient knowledge and a doctor’s care.
Managing diabetes requires a great deal of time, memory and math skills. There are carbohydrates to count, medication doses to calculate and blood sugar levels to track.

Today, there are numerous applications for smartphones and other devices that can help you keep your diabetes in check, although some people with the disease will tell you the technology still has a ways to go. Applications — or “apps” — can help you with nutrition advice, carb counting, tracking blood sugar levels, medication alerts and managing kids with diabetes. Many apps are free, and some offer both paid and free versions. Paid options may offer more bells and whistles, but you might find what you need in a free app.

The big question is: Can these apps help make diabetes management easier?
That depends largely on whom you ask. Some people are thrilled to have the assistance of these programs, while others feel that the currently available apps don’t do enough to make them worthwhile.

“It’s never been easier to manage diabetes with all the technological stuff we have at our fingertips,” said Steve Lisowski, who lives in Chicago. Lisowski has had type 2 diabetes for 15 years, and currently uses an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor to help manage his diabetes. He has used nutrition apps and an overall diabetes-management app. Lisowski said he isn’t currently using the diabetes app much because his insulin pump does a lot of the same calculations and tracking. One thing Lisowski said he would like to see is more compatibility between devices so they could all share information. For example, he said, it would be helpful if the information from his pump could be wirelessly transmitted to an app on his phone.

Lynn Marie O’Flaherty, whose 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last June, said there’s definitely room for improvement in diabetes apps. “The diabetes apps I have found to date are very disappointing,” said O’Flaherty, who is from Yonkers, N.Y. “There are so many things they could be helping type 1 diabetics manage better in their day-in-and-day-out lives.”

No matter what apps you use, they’re no substitute for regular visits to your doctor and education by a dietitian, an expert said.
“Apps don’t replace your doctor,” said Shelley Wishnick, a diabetes educator and registered dietitian with the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City. “You still have to understand the disease process. You have to understand your diabetes. An app can’t replace your education.” Wishnick said she doesn’t have a lot of patients who rely on diabetes apps yet — or those who do don’t bring it to her attention. There are a number of apps, such as iBGStar, OneTouch Reveal, OnTrack Diabetes, Glucool, Glooko and Glucose Buddy, that can help you track your blood sugar levels, she said.

But, Wishnick said, nothing beats writing down the numbers. “If you don’t write it, you’re not feeling it,” she said. But apps that record your blood sugar numbers could be helpful for identifying trends, such as high blood sugar levels after eating certain foods or at particular times during the day, she said. One area in which many people with diabetes need help is carbohydrate counting. People with type 2 diabetes who aren’t using insulin often need to limit the number of carbs they consume in a meal. Moreover, people with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 who need insulin must always know how many carbs are in foods so they can give themselves the right amount of insulin, a hormone that helps process carbs.

With her daughter, O’Flaherty said, “Even before she was released from her hospital stay when she was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, I had Calorie King and Diabetes 360 installed on my smartphone.” Other nutrition apps include Fooducate, Restaurant Nutrition and GoMeals.

With everything people with diabetes have to keep track of, it can be easy to forget a blood sugar check or miss a dose of medication. Apps such as Glucose Buddy and Dbees can help remind you to take care of these tasks. You set the alerts and reminders you want to receive, and your phone will let you know when it’s time for a certain task. Apps can also help parents manage diabetes in their children. ShugaTrak, for example, sends a text to a parent or caregiver when a child’s blood sugar is checked during the school day. Apps can also help parents keep track of injection or pump sites, which need to be rotated regularly.

O’Flaherty said she uses a to-do app to keep track of sites, because she hasn’t yet found a diabetes-specific app for this purpose. “As a population that is increasingly tied to our smartphones, there are many ways a good app could be helpful in managing the overall health of diabetics better,” she said. “Diabetics have enough to handle every day and to think about day in and day out. It would be nice to have a comprehensive app to help make this burden a little lighter.”

Source: Health Day News; Smartphone Apps for Diabetes: Do They Really Work? by Serena Grodon