Information, recipes for diabetics

November 7, 2009 (CHICAGO) (PRESS RELEASE)

Melissa Joy Dobbins is a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, and a spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association. She visits ABC7 Chicago to share some important information about diabetes.

About 122 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes (elevated blood sugars that are not yet high enough to qualify as diabetes) and about 40 percent don't even know it. The prevalence of diabetes in Chicago is higher than the Illinois and national diabetes prevalence rates. More than half of the population of Chicago descends from ethnic groups at a high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, including people of African-American, Latino, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander descent. Risk factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles and a family history of diabetes also increase the predisposition to diabetes.

The most common form is type 2 diabetes, affecting about 95 percent of people with the disease. Type 2 diabetes begins as insulin resistance, where the body does not metabolize food properly, causing blood sugar levels to rise. Type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed in children and adolescents due to increasing rates of obesity. Many people with diabetes will go undiagnosed for five to ten years, allowing the disease to progress and cause long-term complications that directly affect quality of life. This pre-diabetes condition is something that can be detected and treated – and new research proves that a healthy lifestyle is very effective in the prevention of diabetes.

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) is a healthcare professional (usually a nurse, dietitian, pharmacist) who has extensive knowledge about diabetes management, including diet, exercise, medications and blood glucose monitoring. People with diabetes should meet with a CDE to learn how to manage their diabetes. There is so much you can do to prevent or control diabetes. Small changes and healthier lifestyle habits can make a big difference. Here are some basic tips:

1. Get physical activity every day. It can be as simple as a daily walk.
2. Eat more healthfully – more fiber, less fat, less salt, less sugar. Lose weight if needed or maintain a healthy weight. Even a small amount of weight loss can significantly improve blood sugar levels and some people can even decrease or go off their diabetes medications.
3. Stop smoking.
4. Take medications as directed. Diabetes pills and/or insulin are often necessary to control blood sugars and should not be viewed as a negative. Also, discuss aspirin therapy with your doctor to see if it is appropriate for you.
5. Remind yourself that diabetes is a progressive disease so it is normal to make changes in your diet, medication and exercise plan frequently to help control your diabetes.
6. You are the most important person on your healthcare team. Educate yourself about diabetes by reading books, magazines and websites from credible sources (such as registered dietitians, nurses, physicians and reputable diabetes organizations). Ask your healthcare provider questions about your treatment plan and be an active participant in the process.

The ABC's for Diabetes: If you have diabetes, you are at high risk for heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is more likely to strike you – and at an earlier age – than someone without diabetes. But you can fight back. Be smart about your heart. Take control of the ABC's of diabetes and live a long and healthy life.

A is for A1C
The A1C (A-one-C) test – short for hemoglobin A1C – measures your average blood glucose (sugar) over the last 3 months. Suggested target: below 7.

B is for blood pressure
High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. Suggested target: below 130/80.

C is for cholesterol
Bad cholesterol, or LDL, builds up and clogs your arteries. Suggested target: below 100. Good cholesterol, or HDL, helps keep your arteries unclogged. Suggested target: above 40.

Source: Be Smart About Your Heart. The National Diabetes Education Program.

True/False: People with diabetes can't eat sugar and should eat foods that are "sugar free" or "no sugar added".
Answer: False. "Sugar free" and "no sugar added" products may still contain carbohydrate which raises the blood sugar. Therefore, people with diabetes should read food labels for "total carbohydrate" and serving sizes, and learn how much carbohydrate they can have at meals and snacks.

True/False: High protein, low carbohydrate diets are best for people with diabetes.
Answer: False. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, therefore they should eat a balanced, heart healthy diet. Eating too much protein and fat, and too little carbohydrates, may increase a person's blood cholesterol levels and increase their risk for heart disease even further. In addition, excessive protein can be dangerous for people with diabetes and kidney disease.

True/False: Many people go undiagnosed for five to ten years.
Answer: True. Many people have elevated blood sugars and don't even know it. They may go undiagnosed for years, allowing the disease to progress and cause long-term complications that directly affect quality of life. This "pre-diabetes" condition is something that can be detected and treated – and new research proves that a healthy lifestyle is very effective in the prevention of diabetes.

True/False: It is possible to have "borderline" diabetes.
Answer: False. There is a condition called "pre-diabetes" where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes but may still be causing long-term damage to the heart and circulation. This condition usually progresses to full-blown diabetes, so it is important to start making changes in diet and exercise right away.

True/False: Food is not the only thing that affects your blood sugar.
Answer: True. Many factors can affect your blood sugar level including stress, irregular meal patterns and not taking diabetes medications as directed. However, food has a major impact on blood sugar levels and can help a person have better control over their diabetes if they learn how to eat a better diet.

True/False: Blindness, kidney disease and amputations are the most common problems with diabetes.
Answer: False. People with diabetes have a much higher risk for stroke and higher death rates due to heart disease. Other complications are serious, but not nearly as common as heart disease and stroke. A person with diabetes has about the same risk of heart attack as a person who has already had a heart attack.

True/False: If I just get a sample menu from my doctor that's all I need to know about what to eat.
Answer: False. People with diabetes should see a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) for individualized guidance on how to manage diabetes through diet, medication, exercise and stress management. CDEs can help people with diabetes make small changes in their current habits that will produce big results. Diabetes is a progressive disease so it is important to learn as much as you can and change your management plan as the disease progresses.

For more information on diabetes care, management and treatment go to:

Black Bean Salsa recipe
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Serving Size 2 Tbsp
Number of Servings: 28
Serve this fresh and spicy salsa with fat-free tortilla chips.

1 large tomato, chopped
one-quarter cup thinly sliced green onion tops
one-half sweet red or green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium jalapeno chili pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
one-quarter tsp dried oregano leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
one-quarter tsp salt, or to taste (optional)
one and three-fourths cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomato, green onions, sweet pepper, hot pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, and salt (if desired). Stir to mix well.
2. Carefully stir in the black beans. Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving.
3. The salsa will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Serve with low-fat or fat-free tortilla chips. Calories 20, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Calories from Fat 4, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 1 mg, Carbohydrate 3 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 1 g.

Source: The American Diabetes Association Snack Munch Nibble Nosh Book by Ruth Glick.

Skillet Lasagna with Vegetables
This recipe is a family favorite. The family loves it because it tastes great and I love it because it's not only healthy, it's all in one pan which makes for easy clean up and it takes a lot less time to make than regular lasagna! I have found ground turkey that is "Italian seasoned" which works great in place of the Italian turkey sausage that you would remove from the casing.

one-half pound hot Italian turkey sausage
one-half pound 93 percent lean ground turkey
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups bottled marinara sauce
1 1/3 cups water
4 ounces uncooked bowtie pasta
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
three-quarter cup chopped green or yellow bell pepper
one-half cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
one-half cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Remove sausage from casing. Cook and stir sausage, turkey, celery and onion in large skillet over medium-high heat until turkey is no longer pink. Drain and discard fat. Stir in marinara sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 12 minutes.
2. Stir in zucchini and bell pepper. Cover; simmer 2 minutes. Uncover; simmer 2 to 6 minutes more or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
3. Meanwhile, combine ricotta and Parmesan cheese in small bowl. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on top of mixture in skillet. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly on top. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

Makes 6 servings (1 and one-half cups per serving)
Dietary Exchanges: 1 Starch, 2.5 Meat, one-half Fat, Calories 300, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 2g, Protein 25g, Carbohydrate 24g, Cholesterol 45 mg, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sodium 750 mg.

Source: Diabetic Cooking Magazine

For more information:
For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association Website at

For information on finding a diabetes educator near you visit

If you are a diabetes educator, visit for information about the Chicago chapter of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

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