Class offers tips for diabetes control

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In a world that has what seems like millions of fad diets andhealth plans, some people just give up hope because it’s hard tofind a direction.

But a class at King’s Daughters Medical Center aims at helpingthose who have no choice but to alter their eating habits becauseof diabetes. Registered Nurse Amy Case said the key to keepinghealthy, with or without diabetes, is just to eat smart.

“There are a lot of different plans, but you just have to findwhich one works best for you,” she said.

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The diabetes class, which meets every Tuesday at the EducationAnnex at KDMC, focuses each week on a different eating plan orhealth issue that faces diabetics. The class has no registration,so coming on an irregular basis won’t hurt, Case said.

On Tuesday the class discussed the link between heart diseaseand diabetes, as most people with diabetes have high blood pressureas well. Case stressed the importance of exercise and a healthyeating plan to keep blood sugar and blood pressure at healthylevels.

“You’ve got to eat right, exercise and take your medicine asprescribed,” she said, adding that it’s best for a diabetic tocheck his or her blood sugar twice a day, varying the times, and tokeep up with the average.

“Keep that number down,” she said. “You’ve got to keep yourblood sugar under control.”

The group talked about complications from high blood pressure,which include strokes and kidney disease among other problems.

“If your blood sugar and your blood pressure are high, you’relooking for trouble,” Case said. “You need to keep it less than 130over 80, and to get that number down you have to reduce your salt,lose weight, and cut out your alcohol and smoking.”

It helps blood pressure and blood sugar to eat foods high infiber, as well as eliminating excess fats from meats. Just cuttingthe fat off the meat before cooking it can make a difference.

In addition, Case said, portion control is key, which drewgood-natured groans from the class.

“If I’m gonna have beans, that’s what I want to have – beans!”said class attendee Ron Norris. “Plenty of them!”

Case said even just cutting servings of favorite foods in half,or switching from a standard 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate togive the subconscious the idea that it has received as much food asbefore.

“It takes 20 minutes to an hour for your stomach to tell yourbrain it’s full,” Case said. “If you eat until you’re full, you’veovereaten, so eat slow and enjoy your food.”

Little things like switching from whole milk to skim milk canmake a difference, too, Case said. She said a good plan is toswitch gradually, going from whole to 2 percent, down to 1 percent,and then making the final switch to skim.

“If you’re used to drinking whole milk and just buy the skim, Ican tell you you’re not going to like it,” she said.

Case encouraged the attendees of the class to keep up the goodwork, and to use the class as a support group.

“Some of this takes practice, but if you keep coming and keeplistening, you’ll get the hang of it,” she said.