Recent statistics from the CDC state that 1 in 3 Americans have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is the precursor for diabetes- meaning, left untreated, you may eventually develop diabetes. Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, so it’s not to be ignored.
Having 2 parents with diabetes (my father is deceased), my risk for diabetes is much higher than most. A few years ago, I was experiencing a few symptoms (urinating at night, feeling fatigued after meals) that prompted me to see my doctor and ask for a few blood tests. To my surprise, my Hba1c (a measure of blood sugar over a 3-month time frame), was 6.3%. For those of you familiar with the diagnosis of diabetes, a Hba1c of 6.5% is diagnostic.
I asked my doctor what I should do. My diet wasn’t 100% perfect, but I’d like to think I take pretty good care of myself. I exercise 4 to 5 days/week (walking 45 or more minutes at a time and pickle ball whenever I can) and eat a high fiber diet. I can definitely work on reducing my sugar intake, but overall, my diet isn’t terrible. My weight is normal. Whatever you think diabetes looks like, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
She suggested I could tweak my diet and wait 6 months to recheck labs or that I take Metformin- a medication that’s a first line treatment of diabetes. I initially felt guilty for needing medicine. Did I do this to myself? Will I have to take meds for life? Given my family history, my history of rheumatoid arthritis and my elevated Hba1c, I decided to put my pride aside, work on my diet more and take the medication. My Hba1c is thankfully in the normal range now!
I recently wrote an article for Today’s Dietitian about pros and cons of medication for pre-diabetes. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them, but understanding the risks, pros and cons is helpful. Knowing my family history and elevated risk for heart disease (due to arthritis), medication was what felt right for me. I hope this article helps someone out there make the decision for their own health.
I received an interesting food sample in the mail the other day: a product called Crunchsters made out of sprouted mung beans. If you’re not familiar with mung beans, they are the tiniest member of the legume (AKA bean) family and can be eaten raw or cooked. Sprouted mung beans are similar in texture to dried soy nuts and equally nutritious. They don’t call them “mighty mung beans” for nothin’!
A little over a 1 oz. serving of sprouted mung beans provides 7 grams or plant-based protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 20% of the daily value for magnesium- an essential mineral needed for blood pressure and bone health. They are relatively low in sodium (7% of the daily value) and also provide potassium, iron and manganese. The sample pack I received included 4 different flavors: smokey balsamic, sea salt, beyond bacon and BBQ. The beans may be eaten solo as a snack or used as a topper for a recipe.The whole pack of Crunchsters provides 180 calories, which is totally reasonable for a mid-day snack.
Given the warm temps, I opted for a big salad as part of my lunch today. I had some cannellini beans on hand as well as kalamata olives and a few cherry tomatoes. I like to make my own dressing since I think salads taste fresher than with store bought dressing. If you see them in the store (available in Whole Foods or Amazon), give them a try! #freesample #smokey #balsamic #mungbeans #vegan #nonGMO #organic #crunchsters
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
5 kalamata olives, cut in half
5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbsp. cannellini or other white bean (navy, Great Nothern, etc.)
1 Tbsp. Crunchsters smokey balsamic mung beans
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- Place romaine in a bowl and top with tomatoes, olives, white beans and Crunchsters mung beans.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
Makes 1 salad
It’s been a tough spring. My oldest daughter was all set to go to Italy with her art class and the younger to DC with her social studies class. They’d both received these trips as gifts for Christmas since they weren’t exactly cheap. Our older daughter was working part time and paid for half of her trip. I was secretly jealous. I’d never traveled to either place!
Once the pandemic hit in January, we were pretty skeptical about the trip to Italy. By February, Europe was making headline news that the corona virus was getting worse. We weren’t surprised when the trip was cancelled by late February.
So, we did what we could. We stayed inside, We wore and continue to wear masks wherever we go. My girls got through online/virtual school and were on social media more than usual. They called, texted and zoomed friends. And somewhere in the midst of all of that, my older daughter discovered roller skates.
She told me she wanted skates for her birthday (in June) because, “people looked so happy roller skating”. She didn’t want them because they would help her get in shape or lose weight. She didn’t want them because friends had them (none of them do). She simply wanted them for fun. How cool is that?
If you’re looking for ways to exercise, consider what is FUN. I look at exercise like I do food. If it’s not enjoyable, why are you spending time on it? There are a million ways to get moving. What appeals to you? Below are tips to consider:
- Do you prefer to be inside or outside? If outside, do you like to bike, hike,swim, run or walk? Do you need any special equipment (a bike or hiking shoes) or can you just walk outside your door and go? Pools are opening slowly in Cincinnati, but there are some open and available to take a dip.
- Are you social or prefer solo exercise? While some gyms are opening up, you may not feel comfortable going just yet. You may be able to find classes online. http://glo.com offers a free trial of yoga or pilates classes. YMCA also offers free classes https://ymca360.org/
- Multi-task if the exercise seems boring. Read a book or listen to a podcast while you’re on the elliptical. Watch your favorite sit com while you’re on your bike.
- Use a few free weights or stretch bands at home. Strength training builds muscle, strength and reduces your fall risk. It also tones you up, helps manage blood sugar and increases metabolism.
- Start S L O W L Y. No need to run a marathon two weeks after you start running. Start with 5 minutes walking every other day. Increase to 10 minutes after a week or two and build from there. Be consistent.
- Try something new! While rollerskating may be a bit much (it isn’t for a teenager), try an online class, new racket sport or other activity. I’ve discovered pickle ball this spring and love it!
- Check out a used sports goods store. You may get some bargains on used equipment in addition to ideas of new activities you hadn’t considered.
- Don’t quit. Our bodies crave movement every day. Without it, we lose muscle mass and strength. Exercise feeds your brain oxygen and nutrients. Studies show that regular exercise reduces your chances of dementia and depression. Get off the couch. Skate if you like.
Father’s Day has been tough for me the past seventeen years. I lost my dad on January 6, 2003. I was pregnant with my first child after a long bout of infertility. My husband was becoming a new father while I was losing my own. I was so excited to be expecting, but so incredibly sad that my dad would never meet our baby. I was due in early August.
We decided not to find out the baby’s sex. With fertility treatment, you know exactly when your baby is conceived and there are few surprises. I was convinced we were going to have a boy and would name it after my dad (Frank). Ironically, our daughter Iris was born 6 weeks early, 5 days after Father’s Day that year. Her birthday often coincides with the holiday. It has always been a bitter sweet day.
One of my fondest memories of my dad was going out to breakfast. With a family of five kids, we didn’t go out often. Money wasn’t tight per se, but we certainly lived frugally. We typically went to family-style restaurants- Perkins, Denny’s or the local pancake house come to mind. My dad always told me my “eyes were bigger than my stomach”. I had a bad habit of ordering more food than I could possibly eat. Secretly, I think he didn’t mind. Dads are known to have to clean their kids’ plates.
Strawberry pancakes was one such item. They always looked so good on the menu! Who could resist a tower of fluffy pancakes with whipped cream nestled between them, topped with strawberry sauce and more whipped cream? Not me! I’ve always had a sweet tooth and it continues to this day.
We recently had some dying strawberries in the frig. Rather than making a smoothie, my mind traveled back to that stack of strawberry pancakes from the days of family breakfast. My husband and I tend to work as a team in the kitchen. He made mini pancakes and I made strawberry sauce. The whipped cream isn’t pictured here, but it always adds a special touch to the dish.
My girls love this special breakfast, too. Maria- adopted from Guatemala in 2006, has my dad’s name for her middle (Francis). Her maternal grandmother’s name was Francis. The world is small!
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 Tbsp. canola oil or melted butter
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and make a “well” in the center.
- Add the milk, egg and oil/butter and add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle and spray with non-stick spray. Pour 1/4 cup pancake mix on the pan/griddle and brown on both sides. Serve hot. * Recipe taken from Allrecipes.com https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21014/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
- Place berries, lemon juice and sugar in a small pot. Mash the berries with a wooden spoon while they cook over medium heat (roughly 5 to 7 minutes).
- Spoon strawberry mixture over pancakes and serve hot.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream (optional)
Makes 6 large pancakes or 10-12 mini cakes. Happy Father’s Day!
We’ve all been home a little more than we’d like these past few months. We’re not used to being sequestered for so long and it’s ramping up our anxiety. On top of that, several of us (self included) have children we need to teach, entertain and FEED. At our house, we no sooner finish lunch and the question of “what’s for dinner?” arises.
If you’ve got teenagers, they seem like bottomless pits. You can’t feed them enough. Meal times are completely skewed with schedules being tossed out the window as they navigate school from home. Snacks seem more frequent, too. This could be due to boredom, stress, anxiety or just hunger!
And now, summer break has just begun. Since we’re unclear about travel (can we go, where can we go, should we stay home?), we may as well use the ‘thyme’ for something productive.
Respecting the right to eat
I’ve dropped several hints to my girls that perhaps they should be fixing their own meals, or at minimum, learn something beyond pancakes! But, if you want to get them cooking, sometimes they need to start with what they enjoy eating. For my girls, it’s waffles, pancakes and sweets. Our mixer is getting quite the workout these days.
Having dealt with an eating disorder myself at 16, the last thing I want is my girls to feel uncomfortable about food and their bodies. While 80% of what we eat is nutritious, I do allow treats regularly. They may not be eating sugar coated cereal or Poptarts for breakfast, but there is always at least one treat per day (typically after dinner) like ice cream or a brownie. Being militant does no one any good and shaming kids for enjoying food can wreck their relationship with food. Food is for eating!
Teaching kids to cook
If you want your kids to learn to cook, they have to get their hands dirty. Shows like Chopped, Top Chef and America’s Test Kitchen may increase their interest in food and cooking, but actually prepping the food requires them to be in the kitchen, not on a couch.
Below are some tips to get kids started in the kitchen:
- Ask them to make a list of what they’d like to learn to make from each meal. From here, you may start with a basic omelet, French toast or pancakes then move on to salad, soup or other dish.
- Involve them in shopping. Once we’re able to shop as families again, bring your kids to the store and have them pick out the fruits or vegetables they like or side items they’d like to have for their meal.
- Let them collect ingredients for you. This teaches them what goes into a recipe and how you can make substitutes if needed. No oregano? Try Italian seasoning instead.
- Utilize math skills. Ask your kids if they can scale a recipe up or down. This is a great way to teach or reinforce fractions. Have them weigh or measure ingredients. Teach them the difference between “wet and dry ingredients”.
- Talk them through it. Explain what baking soda or baking powder does in recipes or why using whole wheat flour changes the texture, color and taste of things. Ask questions and see what they already know.
- Let them plan a meal. Have them choose a protein, vegetable and starch of choice. Start with having them make the side dish.
- Encourage sanitation. Now more than ever, hand washing is super important. Remind them that raw eggs and raw flour contain bacteria and cookies should be COOKED before being eaten. Use separate cutting boards when cutting meat or vegetables.
- Teach them how to reduce food waste. Show them how leftover chicken can be made into soup, tacos or other dishes. Discuss food insecurity with them. They may never have heard of the term before.
- Experiment with spices. Make a batch of plain rice then try different dried herbs or spices in it. They might find that they like curry, cumin, paprika or oregano. It’s also fine to keep it plain!
- Be patient. Your kids are going to make a mess. They aren’t going to like everything they prepare. The key is to let them try and fail. It’s the only way we really learn.
If you’re tired of seeing the same 3 or 4 people (or for some, no people) because you’ve been sequestered from society for 8 weeks, you’re not alone. Having to work from home, file for unemployment (for some), home school your kids and find a mask to wear every time you leave the house can be draining.
I get it. We all want to resume our “normal” lives of going to work, the mall, the grocery store, and our friend’s and family’s homes. It would be nice to not have to think about getting sick every time we left the house.Being isolated is difficult.
So- how are people coping? For some, getting outside to walk or ride a bike has been exactly what they needed. Many of us don’t take the time to get outside and enjoy the weather because we’re too busy running around with work, kid’s sports, meetings and other events. You can physical distance with a walking partner and still be social, which is great for your mental health.
Others have taken to cooking. For someone who embraces food, it’s refreshing to see people baking bread. CARBS are cool again! Don’t beat yourself up for craving carbs right now. They are comfort food to many. We’re all in survival mode. Have some grace about your food choices.
Maybe you’re learning a new skill? Just about every day, I receive an email or invitation to participate in a free webinar. You can learn about free lance writing, podcasting, how to make your favorite curry or just about any other topic right now. Take advantage of it!
Are you a person of faith? Reach out to members of your faith congregation or take time to pray or meditate daily. It may help to reduce anxiety and stay connected.
Social media use is at its peak. It’s natural to want to connect with people. I’ve been enjoying meeting other dietitians across the country via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I avoid political chatter as it can be draining and divisive. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind and there’s no point fighting online with strangers.
Take care of your pets and your skin. Psychologists note we may all be suffering from “skin hunger” from the lack of personal touches we’re normally accustomed to. Pet your dog or cat often, hug the people in your immediate circle daily. If you live alone, treat yourself to long bath or hot shower or use a favorite lotion on your legs and arms. We all need human touch.
We will get through this. I fully recognize my own anxiety over the future. I’m opting for virtual visits only and giving up my office space. I have no control over the virus. As things open back up here, I’ll have more control over where I can go. But, I’m not too eager to host a party, go to a crowded shopping mall or eat out.
Do what feels right for you.
This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
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