By: Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.
After hearing about Paula Deens diabetes diagnosis, I have to say I’m not shocked at all. I’m pretty sure she also has high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What makes me laugh out loud from watching her on the Today Show with Al Roker is that she claims she promotes “moderation” on her show. I mean, really? As she places 3 packs of cream cheese with 7 tablespoons of butter in her Ultimate Fantasy Deep-Fried Cheesecake recipe and adds 1 1/2 boxes of twinkies in her Twinkie Pie recipe. I think Al wanted to laugh a little bit too.
I’m not surprised she’s working with Novo Nordisk. Many people with diseases in the U.S. take the easy way out…yes, by taking medications. Got a headache? Pop an advil. Not eating enough fruits and veggies? Pop a multivitamin. Not enough fiber? Add a fiber powder to your drink. You get the point. Did you know you can control your diabetes by watching what you eat and exercising? NO MEDICATION REQUIRED. I didn’t get that message from Paula. All I heard was, work with your doctor for the best medication to manage your diabetes. Who do you think will be paying for these medications? You guessed it, YOU ARE (with taxes).
I’m sure in this age, we all know someone who’s a Type 2 diabetic. What’s common about them? Take a look, they’re all a little bit over weight right? The men have a pot belly and the women, curvy all around (some have pot bellies too). Yes, genetics and stress plays a role in diabetes risk but let’s be real here, the major risk factor is lifestyle. Same with hypertension. It’s that you’re consuming way more sodium than your body can handle. Same with high cholesterol. A little too much beer perhaps? One donut, cookie, cupcake, bacon, croissant, hot dog, sausage too many? Believe me, we all want to take the easy way out (myself included) by blaming genetics.
Just know that there are things you can do to lower your risk because you don’t want to wait until it’s too late. Diabetes is “not a death sentence” but it sure isn’t pleasant either. I’m gonna run through 7 reasons why you really don’t want diabetes (what Paula doesn’t want you know).
1) Fingersticks. For proper monitoring of your blood glucose levels, you’ll need to check the glucose levels in your blood at least 3 times a day (by pricking your finger) with a Glucose Monitor. Below 70mg/dL = too low (hypoglycemia). Above 200mg/dL = too high (hyperglycemia).
2) You really have to watch what you eat to keep your blood sugar levels in control (under 200 mg/dL). Many diabetics make the mistake of avoiding all carbohydrates. This is very very very wrong! And the blame can be pointed at doctors (sorry). Due to lack of time and knowledge, some doctors (usually the old school doctors) will very quickly tell their diabetic patients to NOT eat carbohydrates or “white carbs”, prescribe them a pill and give them a leaflet. Terrible practice I must say. It’s really telling the patient don’t eat any of your favorite foods and pop this pill to manage your diabetes; setting them up for failure. Doctors, if you don’t have the time, REFER your patients to a dietitian for counseling. If the patient is willing, a dietitian can customize a individualized plan based on their specific lifestyle and preferences. But I have to add that today’s society would much rather pop a pill than to change their lifestyle (even just a little bit). So I believe in the old Buddhist proverb, “The teacher will appear when the student is ready”. Teaching someone about diabetes takes a lot of time (and patience). Proper counseling takes many many sessions, but most patients if they’re lucky will only get one counseling session with a dietitian.
If a patient who is ready for change was properly referred to a dietitian (like me) for a one time counseling session, we would discuss a few things. 1) Lifestyle. Are you a nurse that works a late night shift? Then your meals and meal times would be different. Are you a cab driver who eats on the go? Then your meals and meal times would be different. Are you an athlete with a busy schedule? Then your meals and meal times would be different. You get the point. 2) I’d introduce you to the diabetic exchange list. Just so you know that there are options. Yes, you can have a piece of cake. Just work it into your meal plan. Actually following the list may seem overwhelming but it gets easier with practice. Here’s a sample of the lists. I warn you it might be confusing but that’s why you need a dietitian to go over it with you in detail. Lifestyle changes are NOT easy. I never said it was, that’s why the title of this post is 7 reasons why you don’t want diabetes. It’s probably one of the hardest diseases to have because it REQUIRES a lifestyle change (unless you’re just popping high doses of pills + injecting insulin and hoping it all works out fine-it won’t). 3) Teach you carbohydrate counting and customize a meal plan that’s just for you. No special foods. You really just have to watch the portion sizes of the foods you eat. 4) If you’re taking oral medication for diabetes or on insulin, I’d make sure they matched your meal plan and lifestyle. 5) Teach you how to monitor and record your glucose levels. 6) Discuss some situations which may cause a setback or difficulty in managing your diabetes. Ex: working overtime, company party with buffet, family not supportive, girls/boys night out (with alcohol), etc.
3) Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. BLINDNESS! Not being able to see your children and grandchildren. Terrible. Here’s a press release from the AOA.
4) Amputations. Due to poor blood circulation and nerve damage, your feet becomes very prone to ulcers that are very difficult to treat. If the ulcer does not heal, you may need an amputation.
5) Higher risk for strokes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, nerve damage, and more likely to die from heart disease.
6) Men with diabetes are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Learn more here.
7) More likely to lose teeth due to gum disease. Brush up on your knowledge here.
Please take good care of yourselves and your children. If you know that you and your family are at risk, take the time today to clean out less nutritious foods from your refrigerator and pantry. <3
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