OSWEGO – November is diabetes awareness month and this year as the American Diabetes Association celebrates its 75th anniversary, the theme is “Eat Well, America!”
For individuals with diabetes, taking care of your body is more important than ever.
To manage blood glucose levels, it’s important to balance the relationship between foods, medications and exercise.
Although the prospect of changing eating habits may seem challenging, community members with diabetes might find that adjustments are not all that difficult.
For example, there is no need to eat special foods or give up sweets entirely.
In fact, there are no foods that you can’t eat, said Sue McLaughlin, RD, Certified Diabetes Educator and a past president of healthcare and education for the American Diabetes Association.
However, people with diabetes do need to be aware of what they eat, how much they eat and how often, she said.
Since each person’s food needs may be slightly different, individuals should work with their health care team to create an individualized meal plan. In planning a new eating strategy, keep these general principles in mind, McLaughlin said.
Know your carbs.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. But, because carbs can quickly and dramatically raise blood sugar levels, it’s important to monitor their intake.
Carbohydrates are found in foods with natural sugars, such as fruits and juices, as well as in sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, ice cream and baked goods.
Carbohydrates are also found in foods that we traditionally define as starches: rice, corn, pasta, breads and potatoes.
Keep in mind that foods labeled sugar-free, no sugar added, reduced-sugar and dietetic still contain carbohydrates. Check nutrition labels for the total carbohydrate content in all packaged foods.
Ask your physician how many carbohydrates you should eat each day.
Choose nutrient-dense foods.
Select foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber that are low in fat and added sugars.
For example, choose an orange over orange juice, whole-wheat bread over white, low-fat dairy products over high-fat items, and a baked potato over fries.
Limit saturated and trans fats.
These fats are low in nutrients, high in calories and can increase your risk for heart disease. To check the fat content of a food item, read the nutrition fact label.
Choose fewer high fat foods and cook with less fat.
Too many calories can cause you to put on pounds, which can make diabetes more difficult to control.
Read food labels for information about calories.
Stay the course
It may take an individual a while to get used to a new way of thinking about food.
But don’t give up.
Eating healthy makes a huge difference in one’s health and diabetes management, McLaughlin said.
To learn more about diabetes, Oswego Health has several resources available on its website, oswegohealth.org, by clicking the resource tab and then the online health library tab.
Diabetes Support Groups
Oswego Health offers two monthly support groups where residents with diabetes can learn more about how to best treat their condition.
A group meets the first Thursday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. at Springside at Seneca Hill, located halfway between Fulton and Oswego on Route 45A.
The Oswego area group meets the third Wednesday of the month from noon to 1 p.m. in the lower level JPC conference room of the Oswego Health Services Center, which is adjacent to Oswego Hospital.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch.
Both groups are led by Oswego Health’s Certified Diabetes Educator Susan Callaway, RN.
For more information on the support groups, please call 349-5513.