Sometimes, the universe is telling you something. Yesterday was one of those days. I’d asked Fox 19 if I could do a segment on minority health in April. They replied, “how about something on diabetes prevention”? Sure, I said. Having 2 parents with diabetes and clients struggling with the disease, I know diabetes prevention pretty well. What Fox 19 didn’t know, was that I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes 2 weeks earlier. It was time to come out.
The crazy thing is that I’ve devoted my life to health promotion and disease prevention. I keep my weight in check, eat green leafy veggies daily and walk 4 days a week. But, to be honest, my diet wasn’t perfect. I’d grab a cookie now and then between or after meals or take my girls out to ice cream once or twice a month and not think twice about it. I enjoy wine, beer and chocolate like everyone else. To me, this is living!
I suppose my genes just caught up to me. Since my diagnosis, I’ve reduced my sugar and alcohol intake and upped my exercise to 30-40 minutes daily. I opted to start medication because I don’t want to end up with the complications my dad suffered- heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and amputation. Diabetes really took a toll on his health. My mother also has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and dementia. Many people don’t know that diabetes can also affect your brain.
Below are some tips of what to eat and what to avoid to prevent diabetes. #moreplantslesscow
Whole grains (especially those with gluten). Cereal fiber (bran flakes, shredded wheat) has been found to be protective in preventing diabetes. Following gluten-free (without needing it) raises risk for diabetes.
Full fat dairy– studies show that people that consume full fat dairy products (yogurt in particular) have lower rates of diabetes. Researchers believe in part that full fat dairy helps to control weight and low fat dairy products tend to be higher in sugar.
Beans- beans and legumes have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t raise blood sugar as quickly as other starchy foods. Beans are high in soluble fiber, which also helps to lower cholesterol. Aim for 3 servings a week.
Veggies- more and more research points to a plant-based diet in preventing diabetes. Green leafy vegetable intake in particular (spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale) has been found to reduce risk. Most vegetables are also naturally low in carbohydrates.
Calorie free drinks (seltzer)– these are all the rage as people are looking for “more natural” beverages. They are a good substitute for soda as they’re fizzy, but do not contain artificial color or flavor.
Red meat- increasing red meat intake by just ½ serving (1-2 oz) per day raises risk of diabetes by 48%. Reducing intake of red meat lowers risk of diabetes by 14%. Red meat includes beef, pork, goat, lamb.
Processed meat- research shows a 19% increased risk of diabetes with processed meat intake (sausage, ham, bacon, hot dogs, etc).
Gluten-free products- gluten free products tend to be lower in fiber, which may increase risk of diabetes. If you don’t need a gluten-free diet, don’t follow one! Only 1% of the US population has celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Soda and other sweetened drinks- the soda industry downplays the risks of regular soda consumption, but the reality is that soda and diabetes (as well as obesity) are very strongly linked. Drinking 1-2 cans of regular soda/day raises risk for diabetes by 26%.
Heavy desserts- doughnuts- high calorie/processed desserts high in sugar and fat raise the risk of weight gain, obesity and insulin resistance. Doughnuts = crispy crime. Eat now and then, but not daily.