November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes holds a significant place with me because my mother was diagnosed at 45 (now 73) and I’ve seen first hand the deteriation of her health and the effects of the disease, even cancer. Black women are at the top in terms of risk factors for the disease, and I’ll not let you get off with addressing it. That’s where Susan Greenberg Weiner, certified diabetes educator and registered dietician comes in. I asked her a few questions and I’m itching to pass them on.
BB&W: If there could be one thing black women could do to prevent diabetes, what would that be?
Susan: If your parents and grandparents and other blood relatives have type 2 diabetes, there is a chance that you may develop the disease as well. But there are a number of things you can do to delay or prevent the disease! Don’t assume because your parents have diabetes that you will get the disease as well. If you are willing to do one thing to help prevent or delay diabetes, it would be to change your diet and maintain a healthy weight. Start by tossing out the junk food, avoid the fast food joints and make room in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry for some healthy food. You don’t have to continue the cycle of drinking sugared soft drinks and eating super-sized portions of fast food. In our book, we talk about systems to start organizing your kitchen so that you can start cooking and preparing healthy meals for yourself. Make this a priority and you’ll be glad you did!
BB&W: Is diabetes only about eating too much sugar?
Not at all. Eating sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, but if you eat too much sugar, fat and calories and gain a lot of weight, it will become a risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s very important to monitor your consumption of carbohydrates and sugar. Carbohydrates will cause your blood glucose levels to rise. It’s important to eat a meal plan that includes lean protein and fiber throughout the day, and monitor your intake of carbohydrates. If you have diabetes, stay organized and remember to test your blood sugars regularly to see how certain foods may affect your blood glucose levels. Also, if you exercise regularly, you might be able to improve your blood glucose levels as well. Keep a food and exercise journal, take your medications as prescribed and test your blood sugar!
BB&W: Thanksgiving is coming. What can we do to keep enjoying the holidays without feeling envious of others who can eat anything?
We all have our favorite dishes on Thanksgiving. Find out what’s on the menu before the festive meal begins. If you aren’t sure what’s being served, ask your host (in a nice way) what is being served. They won’t mind letting you in on the menu. Test your blood sugar before you go to the Thanksgiving meal. If possible, exercise in the morning. Play some football outside, or take a walk with some friends or relatives.
Plan on having a portion of a few of your favorite dishes on the holiday. Remember, Thanksgiving is just one day. So don’t continue to eat all of the high carb, high fat, salty dishes for the rest of the long weekend. If you stay within your portion guidelines, test your blood sugar and remain physically active you’ll remain in good control of your blood glucose levels. Happy Thanksgiving!
BB&W: My mother takes more insulin in anticipation of eating too much of the wrong things. Is this a feasible option?
It sounds like your mom might benefit from working with a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. Together they can work on a meal plan which will include several of her food preferences while helping to control her blood glucose levels, and delay or prevent diabetes complications such as kidney, heart, eye disease or stroke. If your mom plans and organizes her meals more often, chances are she won’t continue to use insulin to cover over indulging on carbs and calories. If there is an occasion where your mom knows that she will be eating additional carbohydrate or food that might increase her blood glucose levels, then she might need some additional insulin coverage. But, insulin must be used correctly and properly.
BB&W: What’s your opinion about the new diet crazes, like paleo or The Zone? Any credence to the book, “Wheat Belly?” is it really such a huge source of all our ailments?
If you go on a diet, chances are you will go off a diet. I use the word diet differently. To me, the word “diet” should describe a person’s food plan. There are always a bunch of new diets available, and some of them have some sound science behind them. But you need to look at the science behind each plan and how the plan would work for you with your lifestyle. Remember to always discuss starting a new meal plan with your doctor or health care provider. They will be able to advise you on whether or not you should begin a new meal plan.
BB&W: Why did you create the Diabetes Organizer?
I’ve been a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified diabetes educator for over 20 years. And my patients are always bombarded with information about how to manage his or her diabetes. You might be asked to change your meal plan, exercise schedule or medication schedule. They are also asked to incorporate all of these changes into their busy lives and schedules. But how can they get organized? We ask people with diabetes to get organized, but we don’t guide them through the steps. This is the first how to book on how to organize your diabetes life. My co-author and certified professional organizer Leslie Josel wrote this book to help people with diabetes organize their supplies, daily routines and even medical paperwork. Whether someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes or is feeling overwhelmed after having diabetes for many years, this book can help them get organized and improve their diabetes management.
Ready to do something? Take the Big Blue Test TODAY to help others less fortunate and at risk for the disease here.
About Susan Weiner:
Susan Weiner is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a private practice in Long Island New York. Susan was the contributing medical producer for dLife TV and is on dLifes medical advisory board. She regularly authors articles for Walgreens “Diabetes & You”, and is frequently quoted on articles pertaining to nutrition, diabetes and fitness. Susann was recently voted one of the top 10 diabetes education bloggers for iVillage.com and is an author and speaker for many professional organizations. She recently co-authored “The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life”, Spry publishing 2013.