November is Thanksgiving, Diabetes Awareness Month

Published Oct 28, 2018 at 9:00am

Do they belong together?

Definitely.

Thank God for your good health, for your family and friends, and food we eat. 

Millions of people around the world live with diabetes or know someone living with diabetes. Regardless of the type of diabetes, diabetes isn’t yet a curable disease. However, it’s very treatable. People with diabetes can live long, healthy, and happy lives.

Familiarize yourself with the risks, causes, symptoms, and treatments for this increasingly common disease.

The numbers associated with diabetes make a strong case for devoting more resources to finding a cure. 

When an adult is diagnosed with diabetes, they are often mistakenly told that they have Type 2 diabetes. Have you already been diagnosed? Are you concerned with the symptoms that may be the result of complications related to diabetes? 

Common symptoms of diabetes include: 

• Urinating often 

• Feeling very thirsty

• Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating 

• Extreme fatigue 

• Blurry vision 

• Cuts/Bruises that are slow to heal 

• Weight loss – even though you are eating more (Type 1) 

• Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2) 

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. 

How much carbohydrate is in the foods you eat? Reading food labels will show you how much carbohydrate is in a food. For foods that do not have a label, you can learn to estimate how much carbohydrate is in it. There are many online tools available to help you estimate portions, including the USDA tool, Super tracker, where you can look up the nutrition facts for foods that do not contain a label such as fruits and vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower have very little carbohydrate and minimal impact on your blood glucose. 

With carbohydrate counting, protein and fat in meals are also a factor but have less impact on your blood glucose than carbohydrates.

Protein foods often contain fat, and both protein and fat can affect your blood glucose. While there is currently no clear method of counting grams with protein and fat to predict impact on your blood glucose, if you suspect that it is affecting your blood glucose management, talk with your diabetes care team. 

Carbohydrate counting is easier when food labels are available. You can look at how much carbohydrate is in the portion of food you plan to eat.

The two items on the label that are most useful are the serving size and the total carbohydrate amount. 

• Look at the serving size. All the information on the label is about this serving of food. If you will be eating 2 or 3 servings, then you will need to double or triple the information on the label. 

• Look at the grams total carbohydrate. 

• Total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, starch, and fiber. 

• Finding the right balance of carbohydrates, calories and portions that will satisfy you can take time and may also change as other factors in your life change. 

With the right balance of physical activity and carb counting can help you manage your blood glucose. It sounds complex, but with time and the help of your diabetes care team you can figure out the right balance. 

Foods that contain carbohydrate or “carbs” are: 

Grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley 

Grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta and crackers

Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn

Fruit and juice 

Milk and yogurt 

Dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers 

Sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips

Holidays are an opportunity to catch up with friends and family. But the focus on food and eating during this season can be very tough, especially for families dealing with diabetes. Remember that holiday meals and traditions don’t have to disrupt your diabetes control. With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to face any holiday head-on and still enjoy it. 

We eat out because it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s fun. But is it healthy? Dining on time. It pays to think about when you are going to eat especially if you take diabetes pills or insulin. 

Planning meals is important for managing diabetes, but what about snacks?

Snacks can help curb hunger while adding a nutritious energy boost to your day. But that means choosing foods wisely. It’s a great opportunity to fit in another serving of fruits. These foods are healthier than salty snacks and sweets. 

Eating out tips to remember: 

• Know your portion sizes beforehand, and if you aren’t sure, use measuring cups and spoons.

• Avoid mindless snacking in front of the TV or computer or while reading or driving. 

Extra calories from cheap, convenient, ultra-processed foods have increasingly flooded the food supply. Kevin Hall is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. He believes that many things have pushed calories into the food system and changed how much and what we eat.

Calories in the food supply have consistently risen since the onset of the obesity epidemic in the 1980s. The calories in our foods have increased by about 500 to 800 per person a day. But we’re wasting more food. The average adult in recent years is eating about 250 to 300 more calories a day than in the 1970s. People who have obesity are likely eating more additional calories. 

With that in mind, count your calories and carbs, eat the right snacks, and plan ahead to keep on track this holiday season. Think BLT – bites, licks, and tastes all of the Thanksgiving goodies and have a Happy Thanksgiving!