How to attack diabetes at the kitchen table – chicago tribune


“If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s ‘in the family’ now, so make healthy eating a family affair,” said Lori Zanini, El Segundo, Calif.-based registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy for Nutrition & Dietetics. “The right diet helps you control the disease and avoid diabetes complications like heart disease. If diabetes is not yet in the family, eating well can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes Type


At first, you’ll spend your time weighing food, timing your meals and reading labels. After you settle into a routine, Zanini said, it becomes second nature.

His diabetes diagnosis in 1990 was a slap in the face for Robb Ensign, 47, who recalled that “it came out of nowhere; no one in my family had it.” From Day 1, though, he decided “to control it instead of letting it control me.”

Ensign, of St. Joseph, Mo., began by educating himself about diabetes,… (Leslie Mann)

Home-cooked meals tend to be healthier than restaurant meals and need not take more of your time. “In the time it takes to get a carryout and bring it home, you can cook dinner,” Powers said.

Keep the fridge stocked with snacks and drinks that won’t blow your carb count.

Eat lots of fiber, which comes from plants, like vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

Eat fewer starchy vegetables, such as potatoes. Avoid processed foods, which load your diet with salt and sugar.

Drink lots of water, which dilutes your blood, so it lowers your glucose level. “If plain water gets boring, buy sparkling water,” Zanini suggested. “Choose brands with natural fruit flavors, not sugar.”

For recipes, go to www. eatright. org (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), www. heart. org (American Heart Association) and www. diabetes. org (American Diabetes Association).

Learn to flavor food with spices instead of butter and fats.

“Use non-junk-food incentives for the kids, like a new toy or trip to the water park,” Zanini said. Many school districts do not allow teachers to use candy as rewards and disallow cupcakes on birthdays. If your children’s school is not yet on board, speak up.

“Instead of isolating the family member with diabetes while the others have a holiday dinner, introduce heart-healthy foods to your traditional meal,” Zanini said.

If your child balks at vegetables during meals, offer them right after school, when he’s most likely to be “starving.”

Timing is everything. Eat within an hour of waking and at least every four hours. Don’t go more than 10 hours overnight without eating.

Coffee is not breakfast; add some healthy food.

You will not go hungry. You can eat three balanced meals plus snacks, but go easy on the junk food.

When you eat out, ask what is in the entree you’re eyeing. “Nowadays, waitstaff is used to questions and trained to know answers,” Powers said. “And you won’t be the only person there who asks.”

Many chain restaurants list ingredients on their websites, so you can read them before you leave home.

Don’t misinterpret hunger as thirst. If you drink a glass of water before you attack a bag of chips, your hungry meter will register “full” before the whole package vanishes.

The order in which you eat food matters, according to a recent study by the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. When participants ate vegetables and protein before other carbs such as bread, their post-meal glucose levels were lower than when they ate carbs first.

Leslie Mann is a freelance reporter.