Sunday, November 9, 2008


Happy D-Blog Day! Wait . . . what's that? You have no idea what D-Blog Day is? No worries -- it's another name for Diabetes Blog Day, in honor of Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes, especially childhood diabetes, is becoming more and more prevalent in our western culture of convenience. Too many trips through the McDonald's drive through lane plus too little physical activity makes for obesity and heightened blood sugar, which in turn can lead to the development of diabetes. It's true that heredity plays a role, as having diabetes is one's family makes a person 25% more likely to get diabetes, but diet is also a major factor. Too many empty carbs and bad fats make a person highly susceptible. It's important to eat a balanced diet!

I don't have diabetes. But it's a part of my family history, both in the family I was born in as well as the family that I married into. Growing up, my mother warned me (the possessor of a humongo sweet tooth) that one day I would develop diabetes if I wasn't careful with what kinds and proportions of sugary foods I was eating. Thankfully, I haven't proven her right -- yet. But she was correct about one thing. At the time of her admonitions, I was consuming a ton of refined sugars that I didn't need while living a fairly sedentary lifestyle. The result was that I put on weight. I was lucky that diabetes did not factor in.

Today, I am much more mindful of what I put in my mouth. (Overly mindful, I'm sure, but I'm making big strides toward less stringent nutrition habits.) I don't sit down with one of those jumbo boxes of Nerds candy or a gallon of ice cream and chug through the entire container. I haven't touched a soda in two years. Fruits and vegetables are among my favorite foods, and I cannot get enough salad in a day. Fast food is off my menu, and eating out is a treasured treat. I make sure that I eat complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread products, healthy fats such as those found in almonds, as little saturated fat as I can manage, and plenty of protein.

Take this morning's oatmeal breakfast, for example, based on this recipe (pictured below). This hot bowl of goodness contained old-fashioned oats (complex carb), skim milk (protein, calcium), pumpkin (fiber), dried cranberries (fruit, antioxidants), a sprinkling of sunflower seeds (protein, healthy fat), almond butter (protein, healthy fat), fat-free Greek yogurt (protein, calcium), and fat-free cottage cheese (protein, calcium), plus some vanilla extract, cinnamon, and sugar-free maple syrup for flavor. Plus, on top of minding my diet, I exercise for at least 30 minutes each day and try to vary my workouts to include both cardio and strength training.

Sound hard? Like a lot of work? Maybe, and if it's not something you're used to it could be quite a challenge. But -- it's worth it. Diabetes is not something you want to add to your life and to your family. If you want to start making better food and activity choices, begin with small changes. Try changing up your dairy foods from full fat to low fat or skim, for example. Exercise for 20 minutes a couple times a week. Take the stairs, or get outside for a walk. For more info on diabetes, visit sites like The Diabetes Talkfest and Children with Diabetes.

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