Sunday, May 30, 2010

Here is a question I recently received from

I have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and a friend told me I should eat low carb and no sugar. What is considered to be low carb and low sugar in specific numbers?

With the diabetic diet, it is important to focus on a consistent amount of carbohydrate. These food groups are your starches, dairy, and fruit. By watching portion sizes and carbohydrate intake per meal, blood sugar control can be better acheived.

15 grams of carbohydrate is equal to one carbohydrate serving. Because we are talking about consistency, it is important that you don't skip meals or save carbohydrates for later. Generally, a diabetic should eat 3 meals per day and 2-3 snacks per day. If you are female, a good goal is 3-4 carb servings per meal and 1-2 carb servings for snacks. If you are male, a good goal is 4-5 carb servings per meal and 1-2 carb servings per snack.

From a numbers stand point, a good goal for carbohydrate intake for a female would between 11-18 carb servings (165-270 grams of carbs) daily; 14-21 carb servings (210-315 grams of carbs) daily.

However, please note that these numbers and ranges vary from person to person, due to gender, age, height, and weight. For a more individualized plan to fit your needs, contact a registered dietitian (RD).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here is a question I recently received from

I am very new to the diabetes lifestyle. I have started working out and so far have dropped 8 pounds (I have about 100 pounds still to lose). I am excited about the weight loss so far, but I am scared that I won’t drop the weight and that I will slip somehow. Can you offer any advice in regards to cravings (I have a big sweet tooth and enjoy greasy foods such as burgers and fries)?

Congratulations on the weight loss and starting an exercise progrram! The most important thing is to stick with your program and not get discouraged when you start to plateau. By making these lifestyle change and having a positive attitude, you are sure to reach your goals in a moderate fashion.

Cravings are really hard to cut, but the key is moderation and substitution. You don't want to deprive yourself. The worst thing you can do is say to yourself, "I'm going to cut (insert favorite food item here) completely out of my diet". When this happens, you'll only crave the food more. So have a small piece instead of large piece and cut down on your intake of said food gradually.

For those who make a sweet tooth, the same principles apply; eat a smaller portion. For example, instead of eating the whole candy bar, eat one block of eat on of the miniatures. There are also a lot of sugar-free and/or fat free sweets available (but be mindful of portion size). Another suggestion would be to substitute fruit for other sweet foods.

Hamburgers themselves are not a bad choice. It comes down to preparation and portion size. Unfortunately, we live in a society with the motto "Bigger is better", which has lead to out of control portion sizes. A value meal at your local fast food place can easily be the equivalent to your total estimated caloric intake for the entire day. So, order the single patty hamburger without the mayo and special sauce. As far as french fries go, order the small child size fries, or better yet, substitute with a side salad and use 1/2 a pack of dressing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Here is a question I recently received at

I have pre-diabetes and am trying to learn about carbohydrate and sugar. Does the sugar in fruit count as sugar?

Sugar is carbohydrate. When someone has diabetes, they must carefully monitor their carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate is found in the foods we eat and high amounts are found in the starch, dairy, and fruit food groups. When carbohydrate is digested in our body, it is broken down in our body as glucose (aka blood sugar); this is what our body uses as fuel. Due to insulin resitance, those with diabetes most monitor their carbohydrate intake carefully for optimal control of their glucose levels.

As mentioned above, fruit is a carbohydrate. Fruit contains natural sugars and while it is good to eat, diabetics still need to monitor their fruit intake.

Too much of anything is never a good thing. It is important to eat a balanced diet with foods from all the food groups as well as make smart choices. While carbohydrate intake needs to be monitored, there are better choices than others; fruit is loaded with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, where as a candy bar is not nearly as nutritionally dense- even though both foods are considered high carbohydrate foods. Choosing nutritionally dense foods such as whole grain breads and pastas, whole fruits, and low fat dairy products should be moderately incorporated into a balanced diet to acheive optimal nutritional benefits and good glucose control.

So, in summary, yes- fruit is considered carbohydrate, but should still be included in your diet. Variety is key- eat the rainbow!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Diabetic Bars and Shakes

Here is a question I recently received from

I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago. I’m wondering about those bars and shakes I see advertised for people with diabetes. Are they good to use? Sometimes I’m out and need a snack or quick lunch.

Kudos you for being mindful of not skipping meals and snacks to help control your diabetes! These bars and shakes can be helpful to help keep you on track. By being designed for folks eith diabetes, they often contain less carbohydrate than the "original". However, it is still important to read the labels to ensure that you are consuming the proper amount of carbohydrate for a meal or snack. These are often intended to be used as a meal replacer- so be sure to count your carbs and calories before purchasing and consuming.

Another con is that these specialty items tend to be on the pricy side. With a little planning, there are more cost-effective solutions for a quick meal or snack- perhaps a piece of fruit, a sandwich, or peanut butter and crackers. With a little researc, planning, and thought, a wide variety of easy to prepare foods can help you balance your diet when you're on the run.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gluten Intolerance

Here is a question I recently received from

I have type 2 diabetes and just found out I have gluten intolerance. I haven’t been able to figure out what I can eat. I have been leaving grains out of my diet. What should I do?

With gluten intolerance, gluten products should be eliminated from the diet. This condition, also known as Celiac disease, requires avoidance of foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats, as the consumption of these foods cause damage to the small intestine, leading to GI symptoms and malabsorption. Keep in mind that the treatment for this condition is solely to follow a gluten-free diet.

While wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oat products and derivatives must be eliminated from the diet, grains and plant foods that do not contain gluten include rice, corn, beans, soy, and potatoes. Note that these foods still contain carbohydrate, so be aware of your portion sizes and intake. Also be sure to read food labels for ingredients and processing information to make careful purchases.