Diabetes Agent > Common Concerns & Issues about Diabetes

Dealing with Diet - Diabetes Agent

Packing snacks, carrying glucose tabs, timing your meals and snacks right… there are so many ways to take great care of yourself with your diet.

Soon after a diagnosis, you might be scared to eat at all – you’re not sure what foods will affect your blood sugar negatively, you’re afraid of eating the wrong thing, you don’t want to have to pay such close attention to what you eat. With small, steady changes, you can make a big impact on your health. While you might be intimidated by your new focus on cooking and eating well, with time, you might find that it is relaxing and energizing.

If you’ve had diabetes for a while, you might find yourself in a rut with your diet – you have the old stand-by meals and snacks that work well for you, but you want to try something new.

Here are some tools to help you manage your diet with ease and pleasure.


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Videos

Carlos Dealing with Diet

Carlos talks about the major changes he has made in his diet.

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Zac Dealing with Diet

Zac talks about his strategies for snacks at school.

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Sarah Dealing with Diet

Sarah H. deals with her fear of food.

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Elizabeth Dealing with Diet

Elizabeth discusses replacing old favorite foods with healthier options.

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Orvie Dealing with Diet

Orvie discusses how modern eating habits and temptations have made it difficult for Native Americans to stay healthy.

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Cooking with Hannah

We asked a registered dietitian what her advice for clients living with Diabetes might be.

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Jessica Dealing with Diet

Jessica talks about having her own food instead of what her family was eating.

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Luke Dealing with Diet

Luke discusses using his diet to control lows and highs, as well as the importance of snacks.

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Dave Dealing with Diet

Dave talks about taking a new, more positive approach to eating.

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Priscilla Dealing with Diet

Pricilla talks about the challenges of going out to eat and enjoying food.

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Gene Dealing with Diet

Gene talks about his major weight loss and how he plans to lose the next 60 pounds.

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Tools & Resources

What happens if I don’t manage my diabetes?

So, diabetes causes high blood glucose. Why is that such a bad thing? Glucose is fuel for our bodies, so more fuel available in the blood seems like it would be a good thing, right? Well, no. When there’s too much glucose circulating in the blood, it attaches to and damages the walls of all […]

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What makes my blood sugar go up?

In order to understand what makes your blood sugar go up, let’s review what blood sugar is and does. Blood sugar is the fuel we all have and need to function. Blood sugar is simply the amount of sugar in your blood. It is also sometimes called glucose. Blood glucose is simply the level of […]

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My mom was diagnosed with diabetes. Does that mean I’ll get it too?

A family history of diabetes puts you at increased risk, but so does just being over age 45. The disease is also more common among Alaska natives, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans and African-Americans. Even if you’re in one of these high-risk groups, you can protect yourself by striving for a healthy lifestyle and […]

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I’ve seen sugar-free foods in the grocery store. Does that mean I can eat as much of those foods as I want?

There are many products that are sold as being “sugar-free,” “reduced sugar,” “light,” “no sugar added,” and so forth. These labels can be confusing and sometimes misleading. While the amount of sugar in a product might be lower, it’s important to remember that sugar is only one type of carbohydrate, and all carbohydrates affect your […]

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If it’s sugar-free, can I eat as much as I want?

Many products are now touting “sugar-free,” “low fat,” “low carbs,” and more. Does something being sugar-free or low in fat make it safe for a diabetic to eat? Actually, a simple carbohydrate is a simple carbohydrate, in terms of your disease, however sometimes the difference is in how the body processes the carb. In foods […]

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I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and I was too embarrassed to ask my doctor to really explain what this disease is. Can you tell me more about the disease?

If you have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes your pancreas is not able to produce the hormone, insulin, which is needed to control your blood sugar. You’ll need to take insulin every day. Currently, insulin is only given by injection. You’ll also need to follow a meal plan, exercise and test your blood sugar.

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I really hate to exercise. What are some ways to manage my diabetes without exercise?

I wish I could tell you otherwise, but exercise is vital to managing your diabetes and staying healthy. There’s no way around it – but it doesn’t have to be torture! One way to sustain momentum is to make sure there’s enough pleasure in your life while you take the time and effort to build […]

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What should my daily intake of cholesterol be and what are the ADA’s guidelines?

Cholesterol should be less than 200. LDL (bad cholesterol) below 100 mg/dL, HDL (good cholesterol) above 55 mg/dL and triglycerides below 150 mg/dL.

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How does my blood sugar affect my mood?

Studies have shown a relationship to chocolate and mood. There is a chemical in chocolate that stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain, creating feelings of well-being and calm. So, how does this relate to diabetes? Well, fluctuations in blood sugars or sugars that are out of range can contribute to unexplained mood swings, […]

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I’ve seen diabetic-friendly foods at the supermarket, but they’re pretty pricey. Are they really necessary?

“You don’t need to buy foods that are specially designed to be lower in sugar,” says Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook (American Diabetes Association). Many people incorrectly believe that sugar causes or worsens diabetes. It’s really the total number of carbs you eat—whether from a slice of chocolate cake or a […]

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Fast Food Diabetic

As a Type 2 diabetic, you’re going to struggle with food choices pretty much non-stop. When you are first diagnosed, it feels like you can’t eat anything! Unless you are taking insulin, you’re going to have to watch what you eat closely. “Eating by your meter” is what a lot of Type 2′s call it. […]

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It’s difficult to eat right when I travel. Do you have any suggestions?

If you take oral medications and/or insulin, you should always carry a simple form of carbohydrate such as juice, glucose tablets, candy or regular soda in case of hypoglycemia. Maintaining a diabetic diet can be challenging, especially at airports, highway rest stops or food courts in shopping malls. Look for regular- or junior-sized meals or […]

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Could I have pre-diabetes and not know it?

Yes, it’s possible. 79 million people in the United States (including 50% of all adults over 65 years of age) have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is when your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes as effectively. As a result, your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet […]

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Appointment Journal

People forget things after their appointments. This form helps you remember what you and your doctor discuss.

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What foods should a person with type 1 diabetes eat/avoid?

People with type 1 diabetes should discuss their individual dietary needs with their doctor. Individualized meal planning is an integral part of every diabetes care plan. The key to every plan is balancing diet, exercise, and insulin intake to achieve blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. It’s important that anyone new to […]

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Why are carbohydrates so important in diabetes care?

Carbohydrates are important because they’re your body’s main source of glucose. Overload on dietary carbohydrates and your blood glucose levels rise. That’s why knowing the quantity of carbohydrates you’re eating, and other related nutrient qualities of your food, is so important.

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Why do I go to bed with normal blood sugar levels and wake up with high levels when I haven’t eaten all night?

Morning highs are typically caused by one of two things: The Somogyi effect (also called rebound hyperglycemia) or Dawn Phenomenon. With the Somogyi effect, you may be experiencing hypoglycemia (or low blood glucose episodes) during the night. In reaction to these untreated lows, your body releases stress hormones and the subsequent high blood glucose levels […]

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Is there a particular kind of diet that can help fight diabetes?

Generally, you should avoid fad diets and steer yourself instead toward eating well-balanced meals, which include fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lower-fat meats and healthy fats.

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If I have diabetes, does that mean I’ll be on meds forever?

Not necessarily. Sometimes changing your diet, losing weight and increasing your activity level can control type 2. “Since overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of diabetes, interventions that reduce or improve these factors can almost always improve blood sugar levels,” says David M. Nathan, M.D., director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts […]

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What is the treatment for prediabetes?

Treatment consists of losing a modest amount of weight (5-10 percent of total body weight) through diet and moderate exercise, such as walking, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Don’t worry if you can’t get to your ideal body weight. A loss of just 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference. […]

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I have type 2 diabetes. What are my own numbers that I should be aware of?

Know your ABCs. Focus on the numbers that can affect your health. To reduce diabetes complications, such as heart attacks and strokes, the American Diabetes Association recommends the following: A1C: A three-month blood glucose average test that can monitor development and progression of eye, kidney and nerve damage. Target: less than 7 percent. Blood pressure: […]

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5 Things I Wish I Had Known When Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

My diagnosis as a Type 2 diabetic caught me completely by surprise. I knew almost nothing about it and had to get up to speed on the disease, fast. Here’s a quick list of a few things I wish I had known immediately after getting off the phone with my doctor: Am I going to […]

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Chicken or Egg?

Which came first, the extra weight or the Type 2 Diabetes? There is a prevailing opinion that fat people get Type 2 Diabetes *because* they are fat. At the same time, there’s plenty of evidence that Type 2 Diabetes is an inherited genetic disorder of the metabolic system that is progressive. Why is it so […]

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What are the causes of high blood sugars (hyperglycemia)?

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugars, can be a serious complication of diabetes. It can have many causes, including, but not limited to: eating too much or too many simple carbohydrates, i.e. doughnuts, candy lack of exercise illness stress not taking medication properly medication side effect, such as prednisone or antibiotics expired medication – efficacy tends […]

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What Can I Eat?

If you’re like me, when you first got your diagnosis of diabetes, you were terrified to eat.

Suddenly, food was the enemy. Everything that went in your mouth had the potential to cause you to have your feet amputated and go blind. Sounds a bit extreme now, but at the time, that’s what went through my mind every time I picked up a fork.

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What should my blood glucose levels test at?

Everyone has individual goals for diabetes management. You should work with your doctor to set your target goals for self-monitored blood glucose levels. However, the American Diabetes Association suggests the following general guidelines for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes*: Fasting or before meals (preprandial) – 90 to 130 mg/dl (5.0 to 7.2 […]

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Can diabetes cause erectile dysfunction?

Up to 75% of men with diabetes experience some type of difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Erection is a cooperative effort between nerves and blood vessels. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to nerves (peripheral neuropathy) and blood vessels, impairing their ability to work together. The key to managing erectile dysfunction related to diabetes is […]

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Diet & Nutrition Handout

A healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes includes creating a healthy eating plan. Here are some frequently asked questions about diet and nutrition.

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How is diabetes managed?

1) Healthy eating: Why Eat Right? If you have diabetes, you will quickly learn that how you eat can have a significant impact on your ability to control your glucose. Certain foods will really elevate your glucose and make it hard to control your diabetes. Naturally, you want to avoid large amounts of concentrated sugars, […]

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What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes (T1D)?

The symptoms may occur suddenly, and include one or more of the following: Extreme thirst Frequent urination Drowsiness, lethargy Sugar in urine Sudden vision changes Increased appetite Sudden weight loss Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath Heavy, labored breathing Stupor, unconsciousness If you think you or your child has diabetes, call a doctor immediately, […]

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Can I do anything to prevent diabetes?

Yes, try to achieve a healthful weight, stay physically active and eat a nutritious diet.

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Now that I have diabetes, do I cut all sugar out of my diet?

Eating right with diabetes is more about moderation and healthy food choices then severe dietary restriction. While you do need to manage your intake of all carbohydrates (i.e., starchy vegetables and grains and cereals as well as sugar), people with diabetes can occasionally enjoy foods containing sugar as part of their overall daily meal plan. […]

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Is a cure for diabetes on the horizon?

Though there is currently no cure for diabetes, a great deal of research is being performed all over the world. For now, the medical community is emphasizing the need to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes in people by emphasizing good nutrition, physical activity and healthy weight.

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What role does water play in my diabetic care plan?

Most of us carry a water bottle with us when we exercise, whether it is going for a walk or working out in the gym. Water is important for a variety of reasons, and not just for exercise, especially for those with diabetes. Proper hydration promotes: 1) Kidney function – assists in flushing out toxins […]

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My doctor is starting me on medication. Is that all I have to do to control my diabetes?

No. Medication helps, but if you have diabetes you still need to manage your food intake to create a balance between medication, food, and activity. You also need to test your blood sugar level one or more times a day to ensure your treatment plan is working. Diabetes is a self-managed disease. In other words, […]

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News

Nerve damage, vision loss, kidney disease: Diabetes complications can start sooner than you think

Loss of vision, nerve damage in the feet and hands, eye disease, kidney disease? Not me. These are complications that can happen to people who have had diabetes a long time, not newbies, right?! A new study suggests this common belief may be dead wrong and that even patients with newly diagnosed diabetes may experience […]

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New study offers insight into one of the most painful side effects of diabetes

The impact of painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) on the lives of those affected by it is well understood. Recent estimates suggest that up to 50% of those with diabetes suffer from the distressing condition, and the persistent abnormal pain impairs patients’ quality of life and affects sleep, mood, mobility, ability to work, relationships, self-esteem and […]

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Better lifestyle habits are saving lives!

A recent release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that patients with type 2 diabetes are taking better care of themselves and receiving better care than ever before. According to the study, the death rate for diabetes from either stroke or heart disease was 40% lower in 2006 than in 1997. […]

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New research suggests possible treatments for diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy can cause a wide range of painful, troubling side effects – loss of sensation in hands or feet, trouble with digestion, trouble with regulating blood pressure, difficulties with sexual function, and even loss of bladder control. Close to half of all diabetics deal with one or more symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, which makes […]

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Insulin and CVD Risk – Myth Busted!

Any time you are prescribed a new medicine, it is normal and healthy to be concerned about potential side effects – especially if it is something you are likely to be taking long-term. If you’ve been prescribed insulin, or have looked into the possibility, you may have heard that one of the potential side effects […]

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Traveling by air? Here’s what you need to know.

Traveling by air can be a hassle for anyone these days, and if you are living with diabetes, there are additional challenges – making sure you have enough of your medications, figuring out where to eat, keeping to your monitoring routine (help with those below the jump) – all on top of sometimes frustrating screening […]

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Diabetes in the bedroom

Sex and sexual difficulties are tough to approach. Bringing intimate matters out for frank, clinical discussion can make a lot of people uncomfortable, whether the discussion is with a partner or a member of their health care team. But when these discussions are avoided, there’s no way to learn about treatments that can help. It’s […]

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Don’t lose your mind! Poor glucose management can lead to brain volume loss late in life.

Here’s yet another reason to stick to your blood glucose self-management regimen: poor control over your blood glucose can result in brain atrophy – basically, your brain shrinking in volume. Brain atrophy happens as a result of the loss of cells, and its exact effects vary depending on where the cells are lost. Regardless of […]

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Beyond Blood Sugar: Is it time to expand the focus of diabetes care?

What would you say is your health care provider’s main focus in treating you for diabetes? If you are like most diabetics in the United States, you probably answered something fairly close to “preventing complications by managing your blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and/or your blood pressure.”

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Diabetes and Cancer Risk

By now, you are well aware of the fact that diabetes affects more than just your sugar levels. As research efforts unravel more of the mysteries of the effects diabetes has on the body, it is increasingly clear that these effects are far-reaching. We know that having diabetes can increase your risk of some other […]

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When was your last eye exam?

The diabetes epidemic is concerning in and of itself, but it also may be driving large spikes in related health problems as well. A group of researchers sponsored jointly by the National Eye Institute and Prevent Blindness America just released their analysis of the rates health conditions that threaten vision in the United States. They […]

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Good news for Type 1 Diabetics: Life expectancy has improved dramatically

According to the results of a study recently published in the journal Diabetes, the life expectancy for those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes has saw a huge jump over the last half of the 20th century. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh compared data on two groups of participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before […]

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Beyond Blood Sugar: Is it time to expand the focus of diabetes care?

What would you say is your health care provider’s main focus in treating you for diabetes? If you are like most diabetics in the United States, you probably answered something fairly close to “preventing complications by managing your blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and/or your blood pressure.”

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Portion control a problem? Try switching plates!

Plate color, that is. No jokes here. A recently published research study looked at the way plate color impacted the choices participants made regarding food. Participants were given a plate that either closely matched the color of the food served, or contrasted with the food. They were then invited to serve themselves however much they […]

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Sneaky Bad Habits – Have any of these crept into your self-management?

There’s no way around the fact that no matter your prescribed treatment, managing a chronic illness such as diabetes is a lot of work. It’s a 24 hours a day, 365 (or 366) days per year occupation. Sometimes, the with the amount of attention diabetes requires, bad habits and shortcuts might start drifting in to […]

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If you miss eating rice, here’s some good news!

If you are trying to choose foods with a low glycemic index (GI) to help you control your blood sugar, you may have been advised to avoid white rice. White rice is often mentioned in lists of high GI foods, along with white potatoes, pasta, and white breads.

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Veggies looking unappetizing? Try changing beverages!

“Finish your vegetables!” Those three words are enough to make a lot of people wince. Some people just don’t like vegetables at all, right? If you don’t like the taste of vegetables, what are you supposed to do to eat healthy? A recent study published in the journal Appetite suggests that the first thing you […]

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Low HDL may raise diabetic nephropathy risk

HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, are a form of cholesterol. HDL is often referred to as the “good cholesterol,” since many studies have suggested that higher levels of HDL may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Low-density lipoproteins, LDL, are the form of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries, raising the risk of […]

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How Dense is Your Diet?

Most of us have heard that we should eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, while limiting our intake of fats and and added sugar. In 2010, the USDA released a set of dietary recommendations for all Americans that included this advice, adding that we should all try to eat […]

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Watching your sugar intake isn’t enough: How high fat consumption can raise blood sugar

Obesity is well known for increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as is the fact that a high fat diet can contribute to obesity. But a new study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System has revealed that the link between consuming foods high in fat and diabetes goes even deeper.

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Why we can always make room for dessert

Has this ever happened to you? You ate a good, sensible, balanced breakfast. You feel satisfied. Then you get to work, and the first thing you see is that your coworker brought in a box of fresh doughnuts. Suddenly, you don’t feel full anymore. In fact, you feel like you’ve got plenty of room for […]

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Healthy Eating is Cheaper than You Think!

Thinking about changing what you eat can be intimidating. After all, few of us have the luxury of planning meals based solely on what we want to eat. There are other people’s tastes to consider, what’s available at the store when we go… and of course, the price. Food costs have been going up, and […]

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Low HDL may raise diabetic nephropathy risk

HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, are a form of cholesterol. HDL is often referred to as the “good cholesterol,” since many studies have suggested that higher levels of HDL may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Low-density lipoproteins, LDL, are the form of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries, raising the risk of […]

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Can’t Make Time to Exercise Every Day? Don’t let that stop you from reaping the same benefits!

Most of us have heard that daily exercise is a healthy way can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar. The ADA recommends that people with diabetes get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five or more days per week. Easy, right? Well, it sounds like it should be, but as […]

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Why your wallet will love your exercise routine

If you need extra motivation to start the exercise regimen your doctor has been recommending, keep in mind that some sweating now can really pay off later in life – financially as well as physically. Researchers at University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute, both in Dallas, decided to look at the impact […]

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Don’t resist resistance training

If you’re currently doing regular aerobic exercise, but are skipping the gym’s weight room, you may be missing out on some important benefits that can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Researchers at the University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology in Hall in Tirol, Austria recently published the results of their […]

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Love your heart – aerobic exercise comes with added benefits for those with diabetes

Most of us have heard that exercise is good for the heart; regular aerobic exercise like swimming, jogging, and biking can strengthen the heart and improve cardiac function. Now it appears that the same aerobic exercise that is good for everyone’s heart gives an added benefit to people with diabetes.

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Taking your medication pays off

If you are taking multiple medications every day, keeping to your regimen can be a big challenge. But taking all of your medications as your doctor instructed is one of the biggest factors in staying in control of your diabetes and reducing your risk of complications. The payoff for medication adherence can be huge; an […]

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What are you taking?

Due to the rapid increase in the rate of diabetes in the United States, there has been a lot of healthcare research focused on finding the best way to provide quality care in the most cost-efficient manner possible. One recent study looked at the prescriptions type 2 diabetes patients are receiving when they first start […]

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