November is National Diabetes Month
November is National Diabetes Month, a time to educate communities across the country about a disease that is widely misunderstood.
There are many myths about diabetes, including that persons with this illness cannot eat fruit or other carbohydrates, that carbohydrates or sugar are “bad” and cause diabetes, and that a severely restricted diet is required to control the disease. Here are the facts:
The cause of diabetes is not known, although it does tend to run in families. Persons with Type 1 diabetes produce no insulin at all and tend to be at a normal weight or even underweight. Type 2 diabetes often affects overweight people and is a condition where the body still produces some insulin, but not enough to effectively break down carbohydrates.
For persons with either Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes or Type 2, which is treated with oral medications, carbohydrates are not “bad”; managing the illness is just a matter of matching the amount of carbohydrates consumed with the amount of insulin or other medication taken. In fact, persons with diabetes benefit from the same diet that others do: a healthy balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat, fresh fruits and veggies, and less processed food.
Some choices are better than others, however. For lunch, a hearty sandwich is better than a couple pieces of pizza, because pizza combines a high level of fat with carbohydrates. This high fat content interferes with the body’s ability to absorb the carbohydrates and can make blood sugar difficult to control.
You may not find it surprising that sandwiches are a healthier choice than pizza, but this just might surprise you: Smoothies are a healthy food! Made with yogurt (a good source of protein) and fresh fruit with options for supplements like soy protein and vitamins, a smoothie is a balanced, nourishing menu item beneficial to persons with diabetes. (Tropical Smoothie Café publishes nutrition information, including carbohydrate count, so you’ll know how much insulin or other medication you’ll need to cover your carbs).
Why not live like a person with diabetes for National Diabetes Month? Cut down on the fat and eat fresh foods, whole grains, a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, and…celebrate with a smoothie!