Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sweet potatoes and Prediabetes

Question:   I was recently diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes and I’m trying to follow a low fat diet.  I have a question I hope that you can answer.  Are sweet potatoes considered a vegetable and are they ok to eat in my diet?   Answer:  Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable which means that they do not fall into the "free" category of other non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, cauliflower, and tomatoes;  however, this vegetable can still be included in a healthy diet for anyone with or without diabetes.  A 6 oz. sweet potato (approximately 4" in length) is low in fat, high in fiber, full of the antioxidant beta-carotene which gives the potato it's beautiful orange color, and contains about 30-40g carbohydrate.  A 6 oz. sweet potato along with ~3-4 oz. lean meat and a healthy portion of non-starchy veggies and/or salad would make a very healthy and tasty low-fat meal.    Sweet potatoes also tend to have a lower glycemic index that white baking potatoes which means they may not affect your blood sugars as much after a meal as a white potato.  So...enjoy!      

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Years Eve Celebrating and Diabetes

Question:  I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and my wife has pre-diabetes.  New Year's Eve we always have a large celebration with cocktails and lots of food.  We are growing weary of the party this year given my new diagnosis.  Any tips on how we can still enjoy the party?

Answer:  As with any other "consuming" holiday, make sure you eat all your other meals and snacks that day.  This will hopefully help to prevent cravings and unintentional splurging.  Try to eat a healthy snack or some vegetables before you go to the party - veggies or a nice salad are a low calorie way to fill yourself up.  When you get to the party, survey the goods.  Steer yourself towards more of the non-carb snacks (meats, veggies, etc.) and limit the starchy and sweet carb items.  Try to stick with one plateful of food - don't hang out around the food table!

Be cautious with alcohol intake.  If you take insulin or glyburide/glimipiride, be aware that alcohol can lead to risk of hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar) up to 12 hours after ingestion.  Excessive drinking with metformin is also discouraged due to risk for lactic acidosis.  Alcohol also has a lot of empty calories and can impair your judgement about what you eat as well as your overall safety.  If you are going to consume alcohol, make sure you do it safely.  Unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor, pharmacist, or another healthcare professional, one or two servings of alcohol will probably not have a negative effect.  Wine, light beer, and hard liquor/spirits tend to have the least amount of carbohydrate and remember that 1 serving of alcohol is equal to 12 oz. beer, 4-5 oz. wine, or 1 1/2 oz. liquor.

Don't forget to have fun.  Mingle, dance, and keep yourself active.  Activity and exercise will keep your blood sugars in better control as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Surviving the holidays with Diabetes

The holidays are a tough time of year for everyone.  It is ok to indulge as long as you are mindful of what you are doing.  Here are some tips for keeping better control of your blood sugars and sweet tooth during the holidays.

1.  Exercise more often to help keep blood sugars in good control, even if you do splurge.
2.  Check your blood sugars frequently as a reminder of good control.
3.  Keep sweets and baked goods out of the house and save them for treats at parties and gatherings.  If you like to bake, show your goodwill and give your baked goods out to others.
4.  Bring healthy dishes to parties - fruits, veggies, etc.
5.  Plan holiday gatherings around activities instead of meals.
6.  When you do decide to indulge, remember that portion size is key.
7.  Eat small frequent meals to stay satiated and keep blood sugars levels stable; this will probably help to control cravings and splurges.
8.  Use caution with alcohol; not only is it full of calories, but it may also cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.  Too much alcohol may also impair your ability to make the healthy choices.
9.  Take time to relax during the holidays and enjoy yourself; don't let yourself get too stressed out.
10.  Check in with your diabetes educator if you are having a hard time keeping your blood sugars in good control.