What Does Diabetes Look Like?

Do you know someone who has diabetes? Most of us do, even if we aren’t aware of it. It may be your coworker, your cousin or your neighbor. The obesity epidemic has recently pointed a spotlight at type 2 diabetes which can be delayed or even prevented by diet and activity changes or losing weight. But type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, strikes those who haven’t had a chance to make poor food choices, like very young children, or those who are physically active and at normal weight. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, ultimately disabling it. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, these people have no alternative but to test their blood with finger pricks several times a day and inject insulin to control their blood glucose level. Diabetes Awareness Month aims to educate us about those who live with this disease every day, 24 hours a day. There is no vacation from diabetes. Since the discovery and the medical availability of insulin in 1921 lives have been prolonged and diabetics are able to lead more normal lives, but there is still no cure. The treatments have progressed to include continuous glucose monitors that alleviate finger pricks and allow diabetics to more closely monitor glucose levels. Insulin pumps are becoming more mainstream and more common so that diabetics can program the amount of insulin delivered at any given point in time and make adjustments more quickly. But, the ability for these two devices to communicate doesn’t exist yet so diabetics must still track information and program insulin...

Spring: The Perfect Season for a Nutritional Fresh Start!

Relax! Winter is almost over! For most Americans, winter is a dreaded, gloomy time of the year when food becomes a great comfort. Due to the colder temperatures and snow/ice/wintry mixed- covered roads we stay inside and inactive. Fortunately, spring is only a few weeks away and as we step into March and rising temperatures, it’s the perfect time to reassess what we put in our bodies on a daily basis. For some, controlling snacking throughout the day is a huge struggle. With vending machines and fast food joints too accessible and convenient during the workweek, it’s definitely worth looking at healthy snacking alternatives to keep your metabolism rolling at high fat-burning levels! In recent years, our nation has seen a spike in obesity rates. Snacking is a dietary habit that has greatly contributed to the rising obesity rates due to the “empty-calorie” nature of most prepared snack foods. Empty calories provide very little nutritional value, and instead are packed with added sugar and solid fat. According to the USDA, men consume two to three times their limit of sugar and fats and women two to four times their limit! So what are some snacks that steer clear of empty calories? High-protein snacks are the way to go! Protein allows our bodies to feel full over a longer period of time. If you are filling up with protein during snacking periods, chances are you’re more likely to skip seconds and wait until lunch or dinner to eat again. Here are some protein-filled snacks that are also easy to carry around throughout the day: Nuts! Especially almonds and pistachios, as they...

A Step-by-Step Guide to Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Do you know your risk of developing type 2 diabetes?  If you are obese your risk is 20 times higher than that of someone of more moderate weight.  Not only will your weight increase your chances of developing diabetes, but if you have diabetes and are overweight, you increase your odds of heart disease and stroke.  Most people (90%) who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.  Diabetes is not only a hassle to manage but can lead to serious long term health problems including blindness, kidney failure and foot or leg amputations. You can prevent, and possibly reverse, the illness just by losing weight. November is Diabetes Awareness Month and a great time to take better care of yourself by following some of these tips to prevent type 2 diabetes.  Losing just 10% of your body weight dramatically improves your health and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.  Here’s how to get started: Walking – Start out slowly by taking walks after dinner.  Begin with 5 minutes a day and slowly increase the amount you walk. Eat more vegetables – Increase your intake of vegetables to 5 servings per day.  Add one additional serving per week to reach your goal. Pick an activity – Choose something you love to do so you’ll stick with it, like dancing, hiking or goofing around in the yard with your kids. Read food labels – Many packaged foods contain high levels of sugar and sodium so choose prepared foods with care. Get more physical activity – Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from the store. Eat smaller...

Can We Stop Obesity From Starting So Early?

When did you first become addicted to french fries? To chips and ice cream? For many American children it was probably before they can remember. Food addictions, while prevalent now, are not part of our genetic makeup.  They are learned behaviors that can be reversed. This month  is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the focus is on preventing and correcting the obesity epidemic that is now a problem not just for adults, but for our children. Nearly one in three children in the United States is overweight and obese, leaving them at risk for adult health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. The increase in childhood obesity appears to be slowing, but how do we help those children who are already obese and overweight? Recent research conducted by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital shows that food addiction can be reversed. You, and your child, can learn to crave salads instead of french fries.  Ideally, children would never learn to crave junk food, but if they do and it’s more than likely that they will, we can help them to undo that habit.  Obesity can be prevented and you can help. Provide smaller portions at mealtimes with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Encourage daily activity at home and at school. Support your school’s efforts to provide healthier menu options. A lifetime of eating habits begins with what you put on the table and how you act every day. Set a good example and help your child live a long, healthy life. Reach for the...

Wellness Begins at Home

It’s that time of year: New Year’s Resolutions!!  Did you make {any,many}?  Many of us make an effort to eat better or exercise or quit smoking after all the holiday excess.  Even though I didn’t make a resolution, I’m sick of all the sweets, fatty foods and late nights.  There is something to be said for the comfort of a regular routine and a healthier lifestyle.  I’ve already had some of my annual medical lab tests, have eliminated the pecan pie and eggnog from my diet and have laid out some workout goals.  Hopefully this launches me into a Happy 2014.  Even if I don’t do it all, it’s a start.  But I am running into some difficulty with my efforts: my teenagers.  They aren’t interested in eating less sweets and cutting down on calories, much less getting off the couch for a hike.  One of them said to me, “But I don’t need to lose weight so what difference does it make?”  On the one hand, she has a point, but my job is to guide her toward the right foods  and lifestyle for her long-term health.  One day, the junk food will catch up with her. Studies have shown that efforts to exercise, quit smoking or eat healthier are easily undermined by our family and friends if they aren’t on board.  A recent independent evaluation has shown that the largest food and beverage companies are trying to help us.  They have volunarily reduced the calories sold by selling smaller 100 calorie packages of snacks and drinks and reducing the calories in some products.  But it’s not all on them.  It’s...