Everywhere you turn is seems that we see and hear news stories about America being the fattest nation on earth along with its explosion in the cases of diabetes. And you know what, it’s true.
The U.S. Surgeon General has said the number of overweight adults and children is 50% higher than it was only 10 years ago. It’s truly becoming an epidemic.
Diabetes and Obesity
It should come as no surprise to anyone that obesity also leads to other serious health problems. And one of the worst being diabetes. Due to the growing obesity problem in America, Type 2 Diabetes has simply exploded.
While this use to be an adult onset issue it has now spread to our children. Sadly, over one third of all children born today will develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime.
Why is this happening? What is going on here? Unfortunately, the answer is quite simple, it’s our eating and exercise habits.
Think about how many times you eat fast food every week? For some it’s every day. If you’re like the average person, you eat fast food 2-3 times a week at a minimum. Fast food is literally killing us.
It’s loaded with fats, calories, sodium, and sky high amounts of carbohydrates. This is exactly what diabetes thrives on. It’s like fertilizer.
If you have doubts, take a look at the content labels on fast food, if you can find them. You will be shocked! Or go on diabetes groups.msn.com site and do a search.
Another problem that is creating more diabetics is the intake of soda. Everywhere you go, be it the gas station, store, fast food restaurant, etc., the sizes of sodas being sold are enormous.
10-20 years ago a large soda was considered to be 12-16oz. These days, that’s a small drink at best. You’re now seeing 48-64oz super big gulps, or hugos.
The sugars and carbs that these sodas contain are off the charts, yet our children are drinking them up on a daily basis. The result? A dramatic increase in the number of children under 12 with diabetes.
Thankfully, some of the school systems around the country are getting the message and banning soda and snack machines from schools.
Lack of Exercise
The other big reason for the massive increase in Type 2 Diabetes is from our total lack of any form of exercise. Few people follow any kind of fitness routine, and it seems you hardly see people even go for walks in their own neighborhood.
The remote control doesn’t qualify as getting physical exercise. Get off the couch and at least begin walking. Exercise is proven to reduce diabetes, as well as so many other health issues.
Even if you can only exercise 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes, do it. You will reap the benefits from it quickly.
Controlling Diabetes with Diet
If you are diabetic, in theory there is nothing that stops you from doing everything you used to do before you had diabetes.
But in practice, you will have to make some lifestyle adjustments to manage your disease well such as controlling diabetes with a good diet.
In controlling diabetes with diet, one should keep in mind that there is more to treatment success than whipping the pantry into shape.
The first is keeping a consistent watch on where your glucose levels are. Next is to find some ways to come up with a good diet and eventually help you control your diabetes.
Start at Home
Even though you are the one with the diabetes diagnosis, your whole family needs to make some adjustments to living with the disease.
A healthful lifestyle matched with a good diet that promotes good blood glucose control is the best defense against diabetic complications. And the good news is that it is a great prescription for everyone around you as well.
Do not try to go it alone. The changes that diabetes brings to the dinner table can be positive ones for the entire family, particularly if your diet before now has been less than stellar.
Exercise is also a healthy choice for the whole family, both physically and on a psychological level – the family that plays together stays together.
Also, while kids should be able to enjoy the occasional treat that is not regularly on your meal plan, such as cookies or jellybeans, stocking up on junk food is not healthy for you or them.
You do not need the temptation and they will be better off with more balanced fare. Limit treats to special occasions like birthdays or Halloween.
Start out Slowly
Try limiting restaurant food to once a week and encouraging healthier menu choices. Instead of mandating “no junk food” off the bat, allow one selection of their choosing to be kept in a cabinet you do not frequent.
Above all, work to provide lots of healthy, fresh, and good-tasting alternatives so the change is perceived as a positive one.
If your family members have a favorite food that is a no-no for you, only keep it on hand if you are sure it would not be calling you from the cupboard. Remember, you are not an ogre for requesting that Lucky Charms, Moon Pies, and potato chips be kept out of the pantry.
No matter what degree of pouting and resistance you face from your spouse or children, stand firm. Bypassing these treats would not harm their health; having them could very well hurt yours.
A meeting with a registered dietitian is an absolute must for anyone with diabetes. A good health expert will explain the mysteries of exchanges and carbohydrate counting to you and will work with you to create a meal plan that works with your lifestyle.
Parents cooking for a child with type 1 diabetes will have a whole different set of concerns and dietary issues than, for example, an adult with type 2 who wants to learn how to eat for better control when he is out on the road.
Whether you are using carbohydrate counting or exchanges, your doctor will try to spread out your carbohydrate intake more or less evenly throughout the day to promote blood glucose balance.
Again, your dietitian will work with you to come up with an appropriate amount of exchanges or carbohydrate grams, protein, and fat intake. He may also suggest other dietary guidelines based on your health history, such as low sodium if you have hypertension.
Diabetes Food Pyramid
Controlling diabetes will be a lot easier if you have a good diet to follow. And the most important guide you need to facilitate this is to know the diabetes food pyramid.
It is important to include a variety of vegetables, grains, fruits, and other nutrient-dense foods in your diet. Health experts suggest a slightly modified version of the recommended food pyramid as guideline for daily servings.
The only difference is that starchy vegetables are moved out of the vegetable portion and down into the breads at the base of the pyramid with the rest of the starchy-heavy foods.
The general guideline should be:
- Breads, legumes, grains, and starchy foods intake should be 6 to 11 servings
- Nonstarchy vegetables: 3 to 5 servings
- Fruits: 2 to 4 servings
- Milk and yogurt: 2 to 3 servings
- Meat and meat substitutes (proteins): 2 to 3 servings
- Fats and sweets: Use sparingly
So the next time you plan your diet, keep in mind that your goal is not to eliminate the disease. As you go along, you will learn how to control diabetes with a good diet. It is more of keeping the culprits away from your kitchen so you can stay healthy and live longer.
Diabetes is a serious issue. Left alone it can cause blindness, stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, and death. We can’t continue to eat triple whoppers, a pound of greasy fries, and wash it all down with a gallon size Coke.
If you will educate yourself on diabetes, not only will you help improve your own health, but you may be able to help those closest to you as well. Together we can reduce the diabetes epidemic.
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