You Got Questions?

Diabetes Health’s Nutrition Coach Has Answers

| Nov 1, 2004

Q: I am a 54-year-old woman with diabetes, trying to lose a substantial amount of weight. I want to be healthier and want nutrition that will help my goal. I seem to be at a standstill. Can you give me some easy nutrition ideas?

Becky Hollingsworth
Hewitt, Texas

A: Losing weight can be difficult. It sounds like you’ve taken a great first step by committing to making a lifestyle change. Here are some ideas you might want to consider.

Keep a record of food, activity, blood glucose and your feelings for one or two weeks. Write down everything you eat and the amount; the types and amounts of exercise you do; your blood glucose levels; and notes about your moods or feelings. Don’t judge these things or make any changes; just record what you are currently doing.

After a week or two, carefully review your log. Look for any eating or activity patterns that you might want to change. For instance, maybe your log shows that you often eat at 9 o’clock every night, and your log shows that you’re often bored at that time. You might decide to find a way to deal with the boredom instead of eating.

Whatever you discover from your foodactivity- feelings record, remember to work on only one or two changes at a time; your chances for success will be greater.

Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you identify current eating patterns and work with you to make changes. Your dietitian can also provide you with a nutrient analysis of your current food intake, which you can compare with your daily energy and nutrient needs. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, contact your local hospital or physician clinic or check the Yellow Pages. Look for someone who specializes in diabetes care. You can also log on to the American Dietetic Association Web site at and search their directory for a dietitian in your area.

Ask a friend to help. Some people find it is easier to make behavioral changes if they have a support buddy. If you do best with this type of support, ask a friend to support you as you work toward your goals.

Give yourself permission to include all kinds of foods in your new eating plan. Completely eliminating a food from your diet can sometimes make you crave that food more. All kinds of foods can fit into a healthy diet; for those foods that are higher in calories, fat or sugar, try to just savor the taste and opt for a smaller portion.

Make a goal of increasing your physical activity. Physical activity is a key component of diabetes management and a healthy lifestyle. Whether you like to walk at the mall or run marathons, physical activity builds muscle and burns calories. Look for ways you can be more active each day. Wearing a pedometer can be helpful.

Remember: Take small steps toward success. Incorporate changes one at a time. It takes at least six weeks to form a new habit. So, if you change your mid-morning snack or evening activity routine, give yourself some time to adjust before trying to form another new habit.

Q: I noticed that some snack foods claim to have no trans fats. The labels, however, list partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil as an ingredient. Please explain how this is possible, as I always believed these items were trans fats.

Lawrence Fiffer
Howard Beach, New York

A: You are correct that trans fats can be found in foods such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided that starting January 1, 2006, listing all trans fats will be required on the Nutrition Facts panel. Dietary supplements will also be required to list trans fats on the label if they contain reportable amounts (0.5 gram or more) of trans fat. An example of a dietary supplement with trans fats are many energy and nutrition bars.

Trans fat intake has been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease. To avoid trans fats, replace saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. This could mean eating more olive, canola, soybean, corn and sunflower oils, nuts and fish. Avoid coconut oil and solid margarines and shortenings, which have higher amounts of trans fats.

Q: What foods do you recommend for treating a hypoglycemic episode if I don't have glucose tabs at the ready?

(Name withheld)
Anaheim, California

A: Most diabetes experts recommend following the rule of 15/15 for treating hypoglycemia. If possible, check your blood glucose first to see if it is 70 mg/dl or less (hypoglycemia). If it isn’t possible to check your blood glucose, and if symptoms of low blood glucose are present, such as feeling shaky, sweaty, irritable or lightheaded, treat this as you would hypoglycemia. Start with 15 grams of carbohydrate and wait 15 minutes. If your blood glucose is less than 50 mg/dl, start with 20 grams of carbohydrate. Check your blood glucose. If it is still less the 70 mg/dl, then repeat the 15/15 plan.

The chart below lists some foods that contain 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

15-Gram Carbohydrate Choices

Food Serving Size
Fruit juice 4 ounces
Regular (non-diet) soda 4 ounces
Glucose tablets 3 to 4 (check the label)
Jelly or honey 1 tablespoon
Life Savers or hard candy 3 to 6 pieces
Glucose gel 1 tube (check the label)
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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Losing weight, Low Blood Sugar, Nutrition Advice

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Nov 1, 2004

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