Tag Archives: diet

How to make it through Thanksgiving with diabetes

24 Nov

Oh it’s so tempting: the turkey, the gravy, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the carrots with brown sugar, and then of course,…. THE DREADED PUMPKIN PIE!

thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes

Careful on that gravy, sir!


The traditional Thanksgiving feast is basically a carb-fest, which is why we fall asleep on the couch and miss the last quarter of the Detroit game every year (it isn’t the tryptophan in the turkey that makes you sleepy, it’s all of the carbohydrates you eat). For a non-diabetic, it’s a fun day of gluttony. But for a diabetic, it can be downright dangerous.

Not to harsh your Thanksgiving buzz, but…

The turkey part of the Thanksgiving feast is just fine for those with diabetes, within reason, as long as you take it easy on the gravy. It’s everything else that will send your blood sugar into parts hitherto unknown. But if you learn what’s bad for your blood sugar and what’s not, you’ll make it through Thanksgiving and the holidays in general without a trip to the ER.

Make a Plan. Whether you’re doing the cooking or Aunt Bessie is doing the honors, know what’s on the menu and make a plan for what you’ll eat and what you definitely won’t. Anyone who’s spent a few holidays with family has a good idea of who’s bringing what to the feast, as we’re all creatures of habit. “Diabetes or not, excessive amounts of anything unhealthy should be avoided,” says Aaron Kowalski​ of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, an organization that supports Type 1 diabetes research. “The challenge for people with diabetes is that they need to match the insulin they give themselves to the food they eat. People with diabetes need to plan ahead with their insulin when eating high carbohydrate foods.”

Eat in moderation. Too much of a good thing can be troublesome for diabetics. Having small portions of gravy, mashed potatoes, and candied sweet potatoes shouldn’t be a problem. They key is to follow the My Plate recommendation from the USDA: Make half of your plate vegetables, one-quarter protein, and one-quarter carbohydrates. Opt for fresh vegetables without toppings whenever possible.

Learn to love vegetables – the right ones. You can have a free-for-all with carrots, green beans, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. But corn and anything in the squash family – squash, winter squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, or pumpkin is actually a carbohydrate and needs to be accounted for in your carb allowance. Starchy vegetables like these fill the same space on your plate as mashed potatoes and desserts, and while they don’t have to be completely avoided, they should only be eaten only in small amounts. Learn to count your carbohydrates with the American Diabetes Association.

Check your blood sugar more than once on Thanksgiving. Those with diabetes should normally check their blood sugar once or twice a day. On Thanksgiving Day, diabetics should check their blood sugar two hours after eating, and every hour after that. “This will give a picture of how you’re responding to the meal”, says Paula Jacobs​, a certified diabetes educator with Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Texas. “About two hours is required for the food to be digested and enter the blood stream, so this time frame gives a good picture of how the meal is being processed by the body,”

Eat dessert if you want to, just don’t overdo it. Until recently, the medical advice for diabetics was to avoid carbohydrate-heavy desserts at all costs. Now the recommendation is to be reasonable with portion size and account for those carbohydrates in your meal plan for the day. “If you had turkey and non-starchy vegetables like green beans or carrots, then there are no carbohydrates accounted for and you’d be able to have dessert,” says Amy Kimberlain​, a registered dietitian with Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. “What you wouldn’t want to do is have the stuffing, the corn casserole, the dinner roll and dessert, because you will have well exceeded your carbohydrates allotment.”

If you’re diabetic, it’s okay to enjoy yourself at Thanksgiving, but don’t overindulge. Eat in moderation and keep track of your carbohydrates, and you can enjoy the day like the rest of the family.

Diabetes Food Myths

12 Nov

diabetes food myths

There are a lot of myths about the foods that diabetics should or shouldn’t eat. If you’ve been newly diagnosed with diabetes, you may hear a lot of input from your friends and family about which of these foods are good or bad for your disease. Unfortunately, much of the advice you’ll hear is just plain wrong and potentially dangerous. There’s a lot of bad info online too, so it’s time to set the record straight.

I can eat all of the fruit I want, because it’s a healthy food.

Well, not exactly. Yes indeed, fruit is a healthy choice. But fruit is a carbohydrate. All carbs, regardless of their source, are broken down in the body and converted into blood sugar for energy. Therefore, all carbs – like fruit, starches, breads, and milk – raise blood sugar. Yes, healthy carbs should be a regular part of your diet, but not in “all you want” quantities. The amount of carbs you eat at any given time should be monitored to avoid a dangerous spike in blood sugar.

I can eat anything I want as long as I take additional medicine

No. More food leads to weight gain, and extra body weight creates more insulin resistance, which requires… more medicine. Extra body weight may also increase blood pressure and elevate cholesterol levels. Your metformin, insulin, or other blood glucose medicine is meant to control your blood sugar, not indulge your overeating.

All white foods are bad for diabetics

No. The initial advice from your dietician when one develops diabetes is to reduce your consumption of potatoes, white flour products, white sugar, white pasta and white rice, to lower your blood glucose levels. It’s a simple leap to include all foods that are white. Unfortunately, healthy choices get thrown in there too, like milk, cauliflower, yogurt, bananas, and bean sprouts. These last foods are actually very healthy choices, but (as above), diabetics must always count their carbohydrates.

Diabetics should definitely substitute white rice for brown rice, white bread for whole wheat or whole grain, and white pasta for whole grain or whole wheat. Whole grains cause blood sugar to rise more slowly than their white flour counterparts, and whole grain products are higher in fiber and B vitamins. But even whole grain products are carbohydrates, and must be counted accordingly.

When it comes to food and diabetes, all things in moderation, even the healthy things.

Add Green Tea To Your Diet To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

24 Oct

Tea, especially green tea, is the second-most popular beverage in  the world after water (take that, Coke and Pepsi!). You’ve probably heard that green tea has health benefits ranging from sharpening mental focus to helping to prevent cancer, but now it’s also been discovered to help prevent type 2 diabetes.

green tea for diabetes

“People with diabetes have problems metabolizing sugar,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a cardiologist and director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Through a complex biochemical reaction, tea — especially green tea — helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. Green tea is good for people with diabetes because it helps the metabolic system function better.”

Research published in Diabetes and Metabolism Journal reviewed a Japanese study which found that people who drank six or more cups of green tea each day were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were people who drank less than one cup of green tea a week. The study authors also highlighted research from Taiwan which found that people who drank green tea regularly for more than a decade had smaller waists and a lower body fat composition than those who did not drink green tea frequently.

How green tea helps prevent type 2 diabetes

Tea contains substances called polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in many plants, and a magic bullet for good health. Polyphenols help regulate glucose, which helps to prevent or control diabetes. But polyphenols also help reduce oxidative stress and cause arteries to widen, which decreases blood pressure, prevents clotting, and reduces cholesterol. These actions reduce the risk for heart disease, which is a serious concern for diabetics.

All teas, black and green, contain polyphenols. But in green tea, the level of poyphenols is substantially higher. Look for bright colors in fruits and vegetables, and you’ll find high levels of polyphenols. Foods which pack a lot of polyphenols include pomegranates, berries, apples, grapes, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, spinach, red beans, and rhubarb. And oh yea, red wine. And cocoa (dark chocolate only).

Add brightly colored fruits and vegetables to your diet, along with nuts, fish, and green tea, and your diabetes management (and possibly prevention) will be much more successful. A little dark chocolate and red wine won’t hurt either.

What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

9 Jul

Do you know the difference between the two forms of diabetes – commonly called Type 1 and Type 2?

type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes

First, let’s explain what diabetes is. Diabetes Mellitus is a disease which develops when your blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is consistently too high. Blood glucose is a necessary component of your blood, as it provides the main source of energy for your body’s cells. It’s derived from the food you eat, like bread, pasta, fruit, some vegetables, rice, potatoes, and cereal, and is also manufactured in your liver and in your muscles.

For blood glucose to be used properly by your cells, you need a hormone called insulin, which is manufactured in your pancreas (located between your stomach and your spine). Insulin acts as a kind of escort for the blood glucose, aiding its absorption by your muscle, liver, and fat cells. It’s absolutely necessary for the conversion of glucose into energy. When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream. The more sugar that enters your bloodstream, the more insulin your pancreas makes.

When your body can’t make enough insulin, or if your cells become resistant to the insulin, the blood glucose can’t find its way into your cells. As a result, the glucose in your blood isn’t turned into energy, and remains in your bloodstream. This is what causes diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes, typically develops in young people as early as 3 years old, but it can also appear in adults. Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, most commonly develops in those over 35. However, in the last twenty years, an alarming spike has been seen in children developing the disease.

The differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and is not caused by diet or lifestyle.  It appears in roughly 10% of all of the people with diabetes. In Type 1, your body makes no insulin or has trouble making insulin, because your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas which manufacture it. If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you’ll have to take insulin for the rest of your life, either through injections or an insulin pump.

Meet Carly Lenett: Type 1 diabetes can’t stop this pre-teen

Type 2 diabetes usually begins with “insulin resistance”, which occurs when your cells have difficulty using insulin to convert glucose into energy. The pancreas is asked to produce more insulin, which at first it does – there is sufficient insulin in the blood. But over time, as the cells become even more resistant to insulin, the pancreas can’t make enough, especially right after meals when blood sugar spikes. Then it becomes impossible to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can be caused by eating too many foods high in sugar, but also has a strong genetic link. Eighty percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Symptoms [of Type 1 or Type 2] include increased urination, thirst or dry mouth, hunger, weight loss despite normal or increased eating, blurred vision, frequent or continuous infections and tingling or pain in the hands, feet or both.”

With either form of diabetes, you’ll need to balance nutrition with exercise and if necessary, weight management (but plenty of slim people develop either form of diabetes). It’s also essential that you regularly check your blood sugar multiple times each day. With Type 2, it may not be possible to reduce your blood sugar sufficiently with diet and exercise, and oral medicine, including insulin, may be required.

If you’re diagnosed with either form of diabetes, it’s essential that you regularly see your family physician, an endocrinologist, and a podiatrist. Many symptoms of diabetic injury are seen first in the feet and toes, and if identified early, can be treated and resolved. If undiscovered, diabetic injury can include Charcot Foot, Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy, and other conditions, which may result in partial or complete amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.

To learn more about controlling your diabetes, see all of our posts, or these:

Add yogurt to your diet to fight diabetes

Fried foods may increase your risk of diabetes

Free smartphone apps for diabetics

How to prevent diabetes

Hidden sugars in your food

Drink More coffee if you have diabetes

Walk off your diabetes

Holiday meal plans for diabetics

Eat a hearty breakfast to help control your diabetes

The symptoms of prediabetes

Cakes and cookies actually make you hungrier

Can too much red meat cause diabetes?


Yogurt: A Superfood To Fight Type 2 Diabetes?

1 Jul

Good news for dairy lovers.

yogurt type 2 diabetes

A recent study found that those who ate low-fat, fermented dairy products like yogurt, were 24 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who ate little or none.

There’s new evidence which shows that eating fermented dairy products like low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese may help to prevent Type 2 diabetes. The new findings are from the conclusions of an 11 year study of 3,500 men and women in Britain, whose eating and drinking habits were studied in detail.

Even when adjusted for obesity and genetic links for Type 2 diabetes, it was found that those who ate low-fat, fermented dairy products including yogurt and certain cheeses, were 24 percent less likely to develop the disease than the study participants who ate very little or none of the products. Curiously, only low-fat fermented dairy products had any affect – milk and full-fat fermented versions had no impact.

When isolated in the study, low-fat yogurt accounted for a 28 percent reduced risk in developing Type 2 diabetes. If study participants ate low-fat yogurt as a snack instead of salty chips or sugary snacks, their likelihood of developing the disease dropped by a whopping 47 percent.

Why does low-fat yogurt help to prevent Type 2 diabetes?

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) , didn’t probe why yogurt and other dairy products had this affect, as it only tracked eating  habits and disease. But the paper’s authors suggest that probiotic bacteria and Vitamin K in yogurt and other fermented dairy products might be at the heart of the matter.

In previous studies, probiotic bacteria have been found to improve lipid profiles and antioxidant levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Low-fat fermented dairy products are also low energy-dense foods, due to their low fat and high water content. According to the authors, “Studies have shown an independent association of low energy-dense foods with lower fasting insulin levels and the metabolic syndrome and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”  Dairy products are also rich in Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and beneficial fatty acids.

“At a time when we have a lot of other evidence that consuming high amounts of certain foods, such as added sugars and sugary drinks, is bad for our health, it is very reassuring to have messages about other foods like yogurt and low-fat fermented dairy products that could be good for our health,” said lead author Nita Forouhi, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge.

“In public-health terms this equates to 4.5 standard-size portions per week of low-fat fermented dairy products, largely composed of yogurt… and including low-fat unripened cheese such as low-fat cottage cheese,” Forouhi said.

But we should include a note of caution when buying yogurt in American supermarkets: Avoid flavored, pre-packaged yogurts and buy plain, unflavored low-fat yogurt instead. Flavored yogurts frequently contain extraordinary amounts of sugars and fillers, and may have very little actual yogurt. Instead, buy plain yogurt, and add your favorite fruit or seasonings like cinnamon for flavor. We also suggest that you include it in your breakfast, as the high protein in plain yogurt will keep the mid-morning hungries away.

Fried Foods Tied To Increased Risk Of Diabetes

23 Jun

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released new research this week, demonstrating a link between eating fried foods and developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

fried foods heart disease diabetes

But the study also suggested that not all frying oils are equally dangerous, or pose the same health risks.

The research team, led by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology, analyzed diet and disease data from a group of more than 100,000 women and men. They concluded that those who ate fried foods four to six times a week, saw their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes spike 39%, compared to those who ate fried foods less than once a week. Coronary disease jumped by 23% in the same group.

That level of consumption of fried foods equates to almost one meal of fried food every day. But the real culprit in the study is the widespread use of the kind of oil used to fry foods – partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, the king of trans-fat. Margarine and shortening are hydrogenated vegetable oils as well.

“Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why, but the addition of hydrogen to oil increases your cholesterol more than do other types of fats. It’s thought that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and your body recognizes trans fats as saturated fats.”  – Mayo Clinic.

Oils with trans-fats are the worst for you

All cooking oils break down when they’re heated to the temperatures required to fry foods. Most importantly, the structure of the fatty acids change. Oils with trans-fats create a high level of oxidative stress in our bodies, which means that we can’t neutralize all of the antioxidants these fats create. As a result, the substances thrown off by the heated oils are stored in our fat tissues and lead to a host of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as high cholesterol, obesity, and hypertension.

Especially troublesome is the fact that restaurants re-use these oils to fry and fry again, which makes them even more dangerous. It’s one of the reasons New York City cracked down on the use of trans-fats in restaurants. The benefit to restaurants is that they last longer and can be reused, but unfortunately, that also makes them toxic for humans.

To be fair, many restaurants have reduced their use of trans-fats in cooking oils, but they’re still prevalent in some chains, and ubiquitous in prepared foods.

A co-author of the study, Leah Cahill, research fellow in nutritional sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health, says that past research hints that cooking oils which are free of trans-fats may pose fewer health risks. But as far as which fried foods you should eat, and which ones you shouldn’t, that’s too complex a question.

If you’re really craving fried chicken tonight, cook it at home in peanut oil (as in this recipe from Bon Appetit), olive oil, or even lard. Any of these cooking oil choices is safer than buying it from a fast food restaurant which uses the same oils over and over again.

But of course, fried chicken is a heavyweight when it comes to calories, regardless of trans-fats or good fats. So if you’re on a weight management program, it’s probably a road you shouldn’t go down at all.

A Sampling Of Free Apps To Manage Your Diabetes

16 May

When you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, a radical change in your diet is nearly always required – and that can be a steep educational curve. You have to learn to monitor blood glucose levels, the difference between good carbs and bad carbs, what proper portion sizes are, take your blood glucose control medicine as prescribed, and begin an exercise program.

wavesense app

For those who embrace technology, smartphone and tablet apps can be very helpful in managing all of these tasks. The only problem is that a quick google search will show that there are more than 1,000 diabetes management apps available.

We combed through a number of sources to find a general consensus on what are considered the best FREE smartphone apps to manage your diabetes, and here are the results, in no particular order.

Please note that the free versions of some of these apps are “lite” versions. Full access with all of the bells and whistles may require a paid subscription.


This is brilliant – a smartphone app that syncs with your blood glucose meter to keep track of your readings. Glooko also includes nutrition data from hundreds of grocery stores and restaurants so you make the right choices at the point of purchase. Glooko, like many other apps, allows you to share your data with your healthcare provider so they can analyze it and suggest changes.

dLife Diabetes Companion

The dLife Diabetes Companion claims to be “Your Ultimate Diabetes Lifestyle Manager and Tracker”. It enables you to “Track blood glucose levels, find diabetes friendly recipes, watch videos from dLifeTV, and get expert answers to your diabetes questions.”

WaveSense Diabetes Manager

Customers in the iTunes store give WaveSense 3.5 out of 4 stars. A review on EatRight.org states:, “The WaveSense Diabetes Manager app is one of the most useful free diabetes resources I’ve found in the App Store. This app would be a useful addition for anyone hoping to track his or her progress and make healthier decisions throughout the day.”

WaveSense Diabetes Manager offers a library of videos that can help you learn more about diabetes-friendly diets, how to make healthy lifestyle choices. It aso allows you to share your info with your medical provider.

Glucose Buddy

Glucose Buddy is a data storage utility.  Users manually enter glucose numbers, carbohydrate consumption, insulin dosages, and activities via smartphone, and then can view their data on a free GlucoseBuddy.com account.

Diabetic Audio Recipes Lite

The developers of Diabetic Audio Recipes Lite tells us, “Our delicious diabetes cookbook offers a selection of popular recipes for your daily menu or any dinner party. It includes a selection of simple, healthy, low sugar/ sugar free, low fat recipes for appetizers, breads, muffins, scones, desserts, condiments, side dishes and main dishes.” You can play the audio recipes with speed control, and listen to the audio while reading the recipes.

carb counter for diabetic kids

Lenny The Lion helps kids manage their diabetes.

dbees.com app

Not every diabetic is alike, so dbees gives each user the “freedom of personalization. It helps you manage your insulin, insulin pump, medications, and diet. It also allows you to set reminders, access your data online and send reports directly to your physician.

For Kids: Carb Counting With Lenny

Counting Carbs is an essential skill for managing diabetes, and Lenny The Lion makes it easy and fun for kids. Lenny increases their confidence in managing their diabetes and helps them maintain their blood glucose levels.

Scientists One Step Closer To Type 1 Diabetes Cure

29 Apr

According to a recent article published in The Guardian, scientists may have just moved closer to a cure for Type 1 diabetes, the form of the disease which destroys insulin cells in the pancreas. Formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes, Type 1 develops in childhood and leads to a lifetime dependency on insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes is responsible for roughly five percent of all diabetes cases in the U.S.

type 1 diabetes cure

Without insulin, your body’s cells have a difficult time absorbing and utilizing blood sugars, the primary fuel for energy. Type 1 diabetes used to be fatal, but can now be controlled and monitored with regular insulin injections.

Researchers have for a long time targeted the damaged pancreas cells that normally produce insulin, but recently tried a new approach. They collected a specific type of skin cells from laboratory mice and treated and reprogrammed them so they became a type of stem cell. These cells are found in the early embryo and eventually mature into major organs, including the pancreas.  The scientists then injected these stem cells into mice which had been genetically modified to have high glucose levels, mimicking the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in humans.

“Just one week post-transplant, the animals’ glucose levels started to decrease, gradually approaching normal levels,” said Gladstone postdoctoral scholar Ke Li, the paper’s lead author. “And when we removed the transplanted cells, we saw an immediate glucose spike, revealing a direct link between the transplantation… and reduced hyperglycemia [high glucose level].” Eight weeks later, the scientists discovered that the stem cells had transformed into actual pancreas cells – fully functioning, and secreting insulin in the mice.type 1 diabetes explanation

This research is what’s called a “proof of principle” and will be built upon to see if one day this technique might lead to a cure or treatment for type 1 diabetes.  “I am particularly excited about the prospect of translating these findings to the human system,” said Matthias Hebrok, director of the UC San Francisco Diabetes Center. “Most immediately, this [research] could significantly advance our understanding of how inherent defects in cells result in diabetes, bringing us notably closer to a much-needed cure.”

PA Foot and Ankle Associates is proud to sponsor Carly Lenett, the Juvenile Ambassador for the ADA, in her fight against Type 1 Diabetes.

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