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The Role of Healthy Eating in Diabetic Self-Care

“The majority of patients with diabetes can significantly reduce the chances of developing long-term complications by improving self-care activities.”

This is a quote from the article The Role of Self-care in Management of Diabetes Mellitus published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders .

This statement should be taken seriously by every individual suffering from diabetes as it holds the key to making their illness manageable. This article focuses on the role of healthy eating as an aspect of diabetic self-care.

Grilled summer vegetables

When someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one of the first questions he/she may ask is “what can I eat?” Some well-meaning friend or relative may say, “cut out all carbs,” or, “don’t eat meat.” According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there is no “magic diet” for diabetes. However, the ADA does recommend that you eat more non-starchy vegetables than starchy ones.

Why are carbs so important?

Most of us eat meals that are loaded with starchy carbs. Think of your breakfast foods – toast, bagel, muffins, pancakes — and your lunch —burgers and fries, rice, potatoes, pasta — and you get the picture. Carbs are important because they provide your body with energy. There are three main types of carbs — starches, sugar, and fiber.

Foods containing non-starchy carbs

These are whole, unprocessed, non-starchy vegetables. Lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes and green beans have a lot of fiber and very little carbohydrate, which results in a smaller impact on your blood sugar. If you are using the plate method, this will form the largest division of your plate.

Foods containing starchy carbs

These are your starchy carbohydrates and include whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin and plantains; fruits such as apples, blueberries, strawberries, and cantaloupe; and beans and lentils such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils. If you are using the Plate method, these would occupy about a quarter of your plate.

Highly processed carbs

These are the ones the ADA recommends you use sparingly. They are refined, highly processed carbs such as white bread, white rice, cakes, candy, and cookies; sugary drinks, sugary cereal, candy, and chips.

What happens to carbs in your body

When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into sugar or glucose to be used by your cells for energy. Your pancreas then releases insulin to help your cells convert the sugar into energy, but if your body is not managing your insulin well, then the excess sugar ends up in your bloodstream. High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia; low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia.

How the Diabetes Plate Method helps you control carbs

A registered dietitian can help you plan your meals so that you get a healthy balance of carbs or starches, but if you are not working with a dietitian, you can use the Diabetes Plate Method to help you stick to a reasonable amount of starchy vegetables. The amount of carbs you need is determined by your size and activity level, which we will talk about in the next post.

Remember, there is no magic diet if you are suffering from diabetes. Many times your body will tell you if you have eaten something that was not right for you. By following the Plate Method of healthy eating you should be able to master this aspect of your self-care and be well on your way to controlling your diabetes.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Eating Avocados Can Benefit A Type 2 Diabetes Diet

One of the biggest challenges of coping with type 2 diabetes is eating the right foods. Studies have shown that eating avocados can benefit a type 2 diabetes diet by reducing insulin levels after a meal. Read on to see how you can include avocados in your diet and achieve healthy blood sugar levels.

The glycemic response of avocados

Avocados can be used to replace carbs in a diabetes diet to achieve healthy glucose levels.

Avocado is a fruit, but unlike most fruits, it is low in carbohydrates, and therefore does not affect the glycemic response. In other words, eating avocados will not affect your blood sugar levels. In fact, according to Love One Today, replacing carbohydrates with avocados as part of a meal can reduce the glycemic and insulin response. A 2013 study showed that when 26 healthy, overweight adults added one-half of an avocado to a meal, their insulin levels were reduced 30 minutes following the meal. In 2018, another trial of 31 adults showed similar results.

Avocados as a good source of fat

Another major concern for people with type 2 diabetes is the risk of heart disease. Excess body fat and lack of exercise can lead to insulin resistance (the body’s poor use of insulin), which can lead to other health conditions such as heart disease. While avocados contain fat, it is unsaturated fat that helps reduce LDLs (bad cholesterol), which can lead to cardiovascular disease. It also contains fiber, which helps you feel full longer and can therefore aid your weight loss efforts. For people with diabetes, losing weight always helps you achieve lower blood sugar levels.

How to include avocados in your diet

According to Love One Today, researchers found that replacing half a serving daily of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt or processed meat with the same amount of avocado resulted in a 16% – 22% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, swapping avocado for foods that also contain unsaturated fats did not produce additional benefits.

Your 5-day meal plan

Eating avocados on a regular basis can help you lower blood sugar levels, lose weight, and reduce your risk of heart disease. If you are unfamiliar with avocados, you may not know how to get started on this delicious fruit. This 5-day meal plan contains 3 meals— breakfast, lunch, and dinner —and a.m and p.m. snacks. This healthy eating plan helps you enjoy tasty and satisfying meals, while increasing your fruit and vegetable intake along with healthy fats and whole grains.

Get your 5-day meal plan by clicking this link.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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5 Ways To Embrace Change And Benefit From It

For the past five months, since my grandson began preparing for college, I began to feel stressed. Even though Jayden doesn’t live with me, he is my daughter’s first child and I’d helped raise him from a baby. I watched him grow into a tall, handsome young man, who had set certain goals as to what he wanted out of life. And now, I watched as he surmounted all the hurdles of graduating, meeting with coaches, pushing his body to the max, weeding through all the offers that came his way, and finally, selecting the college he felt best suited his aspirations.

And so, while he took all of this in stride, this grandmother was a bundle of nerves. Why was he going so far? Couldn’t he stay right here in Florida where he could come home more often or we could visit whenever we felt like it? Jayden is something of an introvert; how would he cope with living with strangers?

I was never one to be afraid of change. I had moved to a lot of different places in my lifetime and, as a therapist, I always encouraged my patients not to fear change. But as the time drew near for Jayden and his parents to leave for Iowa, I found myself praying more and more and looking to God to give us all the courage and strength to cope with this new reality. Along with prayer, I reminded myself of the following:

  1. Change is inevitable for all of us. We grow up, leave our childhood home, go away to college, or get married and begin a new life.
  2. Change is not always bad. Many times the change we dread is the very thing we sometimes need to propel us in the right direction. A new job, new neighborhood, and new friends can help us uncover certain traits and abilities we never knew we possessed.
  3. Change can be as stressful or as smooth as we make it. My perspective on Jayden moving to Iowa can determine my stress level or lack of it. And my stress level can also influence the way Jayden feels about what he was about to do, so if only for his sake, I had to look at this change in a positive light.
  4. Successful past changes. I had many successful changes in the past. Everything seemed overwhelming in the beginning, but once I got used to the change, I even enjoyed it.
  5. Change is a challenge, not a threat. It gives us the opportunity to get out of the same boring routine and grow and develop in ways we never imagined possible.

So far, this article has focused on change in general, but for someone with a chronic illness like type 2 diabetes, what does change mean to you? How do you cope with the new normal —taking medications, going to the doctor regularly, monitoring your glucose level, and just making lifestyle changes? One way you can cope with this type of change is to join my Type 2 Diabetes Network Group. There you will find the help and support you need through networking with other individuals like yourself.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Physical Self-Care Checklist Infographic

Self-care is very important to everyone whether you are diabetic or not, but if you are diabetic, paying close attention to self-care can help you manage your illness better. The infographic below is a basic self-care checklist you can download, print and keep as a quick reference whenever you need it.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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5 Best Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes For People With Diabetes

One of the hardest things that people with diabetes have to deal with is their diet, especially when it comes to eating sweet or sugary foods. Many people with diabetes turn to artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in the hope they will not negatively impact their blood glucose.

According to Medical News Today, some sweeteners, such as table sugar, are harmful to people with diabetes, while others are low calorie and do not raise sugar levels. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, even though these low-calorie sweeteners may not cause your blood sugar to spike immediately, they may not help to reduce your blood sugar long- term, therefore it’s best to use low-calorie sweeteners in moderation.

Let’s take a look at 5 best sweeteners and sugar substitutes for people with diabetes.

  1. Stevia. You may have seen this one in your grocery store. It’s a natural sweetener that comes from the leaves of a plant. It is highly processed and is 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is low-calorie and does not raise blood sugar levels, but it is more expensive than table sugar and it leaves a bitter aftertaste. For this reason, some manufacturers add other sugars and ingredients to improve the taste, thus making Stevia not really suitable for people with diabetes.
  2. Tagatose. This is not regularly seen in stores as it is more expensive than other low-calorie sweeteners. It is found in some fruits such as oranges, pineapples, and apples, however, manufacturers usually extract it from milk and use it in food production as an artificial sweetener. Some studies indicate that tagatose has a low glycemic index, making it beneficial for people with diabetes who are following a low-glycemic diet.
  3. Sucralose. This is commonly seen in stores under the brand name Splenda. It is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar but has few calories. Manufacturers add sucralose to a range of products, from chewing gum to baked goods. Sucralose is widely used for baking and sweetening hot drinks. The FDA has approved sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener, but a 2016 study found that sucralose caused mice to develop malignant tumors.
  4. Aspartame. Widely seen in grocery stores under the brand names Equal and Nutrasweet. It is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar and is used mainly as a tabletop sweetener and not for baking, as it does not hold up well in high temperatures.
  5. Saccharin. This sweetener is seen in your grocery stores under the brand names Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet. It is 200-700 times sweeter than table sugar and contains zero calories. This sweetener was found to cause bladder cancer in laboratory rats in the 70s, but after many studies, the National Institutes of Health ruled out the potential for causing cancer in humans.

People with diabetes need to be careful about their sugar intake. Low-calorie sweeteners and sugar substitutes can allow you to occasionally enjoy sweet foods, however, the key is moderation. You shouldn’t think that because something is low-calorie you can consume as much as you like. It is always best to consult your doctor or dietitian when making choices about your diet.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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The Ameo Life Promise: Product Review

Do you often wish your supplements were made from natural ingredients, free of chemicals and other harmful substances and that they produce the results they claim to give? If you want products that are gluten friendly, vegan friendly, GMO free, GMP certified and live up to their promise then look to the Ameo Life Promise, a company whose products are independently tested and manufactured in the USA to the highest possible standards.

Ameo Life offers a wide range of products from vitamins and supplements, probiotics, pH balanced gels, soaps, lozenges, and more. I received some of these products in exchange for a review and while I haven’t had them long enough to give a positive review of the multivitamins, I can tell you that they are chelated, meaning they combine 18 vitamins and minerals and are easily absorbed into the body and contain methylated folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Alpha Lipoic acid.

Some of the benefits of these multivitamins are:

  • Increase energy and stamina
  • Easy to swallow vegetarian capsule
  • Iron-free for gentle digestion
  • Boost nutrient levels

One product that I tried and absolutely love is the Silver Infused Gel with Aloe. This gel contains antioxidants, enzymes, Vitamins A and C and is infused with Aloe. You don’t need a lot of this gel to get that smooth, clean feel when you use it. This Silver Infused gel is designed to rejuvenate and nourish your skin.

Another product I was very pleased with is Ameo’s Charcoal Tea Tree Soap. This soap, which contains essential oil of bergmot and orange, is formulated for all skin types and naturally cleanses the skin. It is also toxin and paraben free. Since I have oily skin, I found this soap left my skin feeling clean and smooth without that harsh, dry feeling other soaps leave. I also love the charcoal smell.

The pH Balanced Alkaline Structured Silver Solution supplement is another product that has garnered a lot of positive reviews . I haven’t used it long enough to form an opinion, however the fact that it’s light, colorless and has no taste encouraged me to try it in the hope that it will help with my digestive problems. This product is designed to cleanse the gut naturally, get rid of bad bacteria, yeast and mold, and support your immune system.

Ameo Life products are all third-party independently tested for quality and efficacy. They are made from natural, organic ingredients and are safe and effective. From my experience with using these products and the rave reviews posted by other customers, I am pleased to recommend them to you.

And now you can win 4 full-sized Ameo Life products when you enter this giveaway:  https://www.blessedfreebies.com/ameo-life-giveaway.html

To purchase go to https://bit.ly/3zWgn8Z

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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3 Heart-healthy Breakfasts That Save You Time

If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you know how important it is to have a healthy breakfast every day, one that gives you the right kind of nourishment without putting a strain on your heart. But with the kids heading back to school, you are probably wondering how to make the time to give them and yourself a healthy breakfast with the limited time at your disposal.

The US News Health team suggests some heart-healthy breakfasts that are quick and easy to prepare and will leave everyone feeling satisfied. Below are 3 examples:

Breakfast tacos.

Love tacos but you’ve only had them for lunch? Get some corn tortillas, fill them with black beans, leafy greens, tomatoes, and salsa and you have a delicious and satisfying breakfast.

Blueberry smoothie.

Blueberries can improve your risk of cardiovascular disease by 12% to 15%. To get a jump on your morning preparation, do this:

  • freeze 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries,
  • 1/2 of a peeled banana,
  • and a handful of spinach in a sealed bag overnight.
  • In the morning, blend the ingredients with 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt,
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter and
  • 1/2 cup of milk of your choice. Enjoy!
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Blueberry lemon oatmeal cups

To make blueberry lemon oatmeal cups, whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl:

Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay
  • 1 cup Blueberries
  • 1 large egg
  • Lemon juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk – plant-based or dairy
  • 1 tsp Flax seed

Bake the mixture in a muffin tin with walnuts and extra blueberries on top. This recipe has been modified to show proportions.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Carcinogen Found In Popular Diabetes Drug

A report published in Bloomberg US states that Januvia, a popular diabetes drug, was found to contain nitrosamine, a potential carcinogen. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was allowing Merck to continue to sell the drug which contains higher-than-allowed levels of nitrosamine “in order to avoid shortages.”

Nitrosamine in Januvia and blood pressure meds

Merck, the drug manufacturer, has also confirmed the presence of nitrosamine in Januvia, which is used to control high blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. The drug has been found to be contaminated with nitrosamine since 2018. Metformin, another popular diabetes medication, was among those affected, along with certain blood pressure medications.

Little cancer risk according to the FDA

The FDA allows 37 nanograms per day of nitrosamine in a drug, however, it is allowing up to 246.7 nanograms in Januvia in order to avoid shortages. According to Bloomberg, the agency states “its calculations show the difference in cancer risk is minimal.” 

As always, I advise that you should address any concerns you may have after reading this with your doctor. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes or any illness for which medications are prescribed, it is important for you to take them. Do not stop any meds before consulting with your doctor.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Orzo Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Capers

This quick and easy chilled pasta salad is a great way to keep cool on a hot day. This delicious side dish tastes even better after the flavors have a chance to mingle, so make it a day or two in advance to take to your next backyard party or casual gathering.

orzo pasta salad

Orzo is high in carbohydrates but loaded with other nutrients that promote heart health and support digestion. It is usually made from white flour but can be made from whole-grain flour as well.

Tip: The capers and liquid add saltiness to this dish. Taste before adding additional salt.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes (includes time to cook orzo)
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1½ c. orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 T. capers
  • 1 T. caper liquid
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves
    1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

    Directions:
  1. Add olive oil and minced garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic starts to develop some color.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or just until tomatoes become soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked orzo, capers and liquid, lemon juice, thyme, and parsley with the warm tomato and garlic mixture. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Stir and serve chilled with grilled chicken breasts or your favorite entrée of choice. Enjoy!

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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How To Know If Your Sunscreen Is Safe

Summer is here and for most of you the outdoors holds a lot of attractions —beaches, parks, pools etc., — but if you are health-conscious you do the smart thing and reach for your sunscreen before going out. After all, you want to protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer. But before you lather that stuff on your face, you should check to see if your sunscreen is safe.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Sun damage and skin cancer are not the usual content of this blog, but this morning I received an email saying that certain brands of sunscreen have been recalled. Maybe you already got the news but if you haven’t here’s the gist of what caused the recall.

Why my sunscreen may have been recalled

According to CNN Health, popular sunscreen brands Neutrogena and Aveeno recently pulled their products off the shelves after independent testing found that they were contaminated with benzene and benzophenone, two cancer-causing agents. Since they are cancer-causing, they are definitely unsafe, yet according to Consumer Lab, they don’t appear on labels. So it’s not certain how they get there, but Consumer Lab believes they may be introduced during the manufacture of the product or through chemical reactions with the product itself.

What is benzene?

CNN Health gives this description of benzene from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Benzene is a natural component of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke and ranks in the top 20 chemicals used for production of “lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides,” as well as “plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states, “If you spill benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores. Benzene in your eyes may cause general irritation and damage to your cornea.” Benzene, which is linked to blood cancers was not only discovered in sunscreens, but independent testing found it in sprays, gels, lotions, and creams. You can be exposed to benzene through inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion and skin and/or eye contact.

What is benzophenone?

It will amaze you to know that benzophenone is banned in the United States, yet it is found in some sunscreens. According to Consumer Lab, benzophenone is a carcinogen and may be formed by the degradation of octocrylene, a common sunscreen ingredient. In addition, benzophenone was originally patented as a herbicide. Some people may have a photoallergic reaction to sunscreens containing octocrylene.

Which sunscreens were recalled?

CNN Health lists the following:

  • Neutrogena® Beach Defense® aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Cool Dry Sport aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® aerosol
  • Aveeno® Protect + Refresh aerosol

CVS also stopped selling CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera and CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera Spray a day after the Johnson & Johnson recall was announced. If you have questions or to request a refund you can call 1-800-458-1673.

How safe is my sunscreen?

Because of the information above, you may be wondering whether you should stop using sunscreen altogether. Fortunately, the FDA has recognized two mineral compounds as being safe when used in sunscreens — they are titanium oxide and zinc oxide. They work by blocking ultraviolet radiation, while the chemical compounds named above absorb radiation. Consumer Lab warns that you should avoid sunscreens that mix mineral-based agents (titanium oxide or zinc oxide) with organic chemical ingredients, particularly avobenzone.

How can I protect myself?

Do not stop using sunscreen. Check your sunscreen label (I checked mine and it contains 10% octocrylene, so I’m throwing it out) and if it contains the carcinogens named above, then you know what to do. Also, exercise common sense by avoiding being in the sun during the hours when the sun’s rays are the most intense, i.e. between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00p.m. Wear a hat, sunglasses, shirt, and pants if you must be outdoors during those times. And apply safe sunscreen.

As always, the information given in this post is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Use due diligence or consult your medical practitioner before adopting any of the measures stated here.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.