How Much Do You Know About Diabetes?

Diabetes is a tricky disease.  It often goes undiagnosed until complications have already arisen.  In researching the prevalence of diabetes in Hopkins County and surrounding counties, statistics show that 10.1% of Hopkins County residents have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  Surrounding counties  had a slightly higher percentage with the exception of Hunt County (9.9%).  Here are the results: Franklin County (11%), Delta County (12.1%), Rains County (12.1%), Wood County (12.4%), and Lamar County (13.4%) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Each year, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Hopkins County Office, provides two educational series: “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” (DWBW), and “Cooking Well with Diabetes” (CWWD).  These two series are open to anyone who wants to learn more about diabetes management and healthy eating, whether they have diabetes or not.  Of course, individuals who have diabetes benefit greatly from the information, and time after time, I’ve heard comments that everyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes should be required to take these classes!  Participants have increased their understanding of the four keys to managing diabetes, determining foods that are high and low in carbohydrates (therefore understanding why certain foods make their blood sugar rise), importance of regular doctor check-ups, examining the feet, and many more topics.

At the end of each session, I conduct a survey to determine the effectiveness of the class by asking questions pertaining to the topics.  Below is a sampling of the questions.  See how much you know!

1)      Is 128 a healthy blood sugar number before a meal like breakfast?

2)      Is 195 a healthy  blood sugar number two hours after a meal like breakfast?

3)      What is the recommended blood sugar range from American Diabetes Association?

4)      Which food is most likely to raise your blood glucose – egg, peanuts, tortilla, or hamburger patty?

5)      If your blood glucose is 250 mg/dL two hours after breakfast, which of these foods could you reduce to try getting back to the recommended range tomorrow morning – 1 cup orange juice, 2 slices bacon, 2 eggs, 2 slices cheese?

6)      People with diabetes should only eat 1 carbohydrate choice per meal – true or false?

7)      As long as a food is “sugar-free”, a person with diabetes can eat all of that food he wants – true or false?

8)      If a person takes insulin and shows signs of low blood sugar, which of these should you give him or her – 1 can diet soda or ½ can regular soda?

9)      Losing weight, if needed, will make diabetes easier to manage – true or false?

10)   Fruits would be a good choice for a person with diabetes – true or false?

11)   Which food groups increase blood sugar – grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy?

12)   How many minutes of physical activity should a person achieve?

13)   A person with diabetes should cut out all carbohydrate foods to control diabetes – true or false?

14)   A person with diabetes can skip foods that raise blood glucose during the day so he/she can eat more of these foods at dinner – true or false?

How did you do on answering the questions?  Many of you are pros!  Some of you may have struggled with the answers.  That’s o.k.!  Many people  have misconceptions about diabetes, or simply don’t understand how to manage the disease.  Let’s see how you did on the quiz:

  • 128 is NOT a healthy blood sugar before breakfast.
  • 195 is NOT a healthy blood sugar two hours after breakfast.
  • Blood glucose level recommendations for individuals with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, are 70-130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after meals.  The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists are a little stricter – less than 110 mg/dL before meals, and less than 140 mg/dL after meals.  For most individuals, the American Diabetes Association recommendations are more doable!
  • The food that will raise your blood glucose is the tortilla due to the carbohydrate content.
  • In order to reduce blood glucose after breakfast, limit the amount of orange juice to ½ cup.
  • People with diabetes need more than one carbohydrate choice per meal.  Carbohydrate-containing foods provide energy and may provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals, depending on the type of food.  One carbohydrate choice equals 15 grams.  The recommendation is 3 to 4 carbohydrate choices per meal (45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates).
  • “Sugar-free” foods are not necessarily carbohydrate free!  As a matter of fact, many of these have the same number of carbohydrates.  Example: sugar-free candy canes have only one less gram of carbohydrate than the regular candy canes (12 grams for sugar-free, as opposed to 13 for the regular version), and there were fewer in the package in addition to costing more!  Additionally, eating too much sugar-free items can lead to bloating and stomach discomfort.
  • If a person is experiencing a low blood sugar spell, a fast-acting carbohydrate is best, therefore, ½ can of regular soda would bring the blood sugar back up.
  • Losing weight, if needed, WILL help make diabetes easier to manage.
  • Contrary to many beliefs, fruits contain carbohydrates which will increase blood glucose.  Therefore, a person with diabetes should count these as part of their carbohydrate intake for the meal or snack.  They are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, low in fat and sodium.
  • The food groups which contain carbohydrates are grains, fruits, dairy, and starchy vegetables, along with sweets.  However, these foods (with the exception of sweets) are needed for a healthy diet, so count them as part of the total carbohydrate choices for each meal.
  • The goal is to achieve 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week – 60 minutes are even better!  A person with physical limitations can still participate in some sort of physical activity.  Contact my office for recommendations!
  • A person with diabetes should NOT cut all carbohydrates!  As mentioned earlier, they provide energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Remember the recommendation of 3 to 4 carbohydrate choices per meal.  Check with your doctor and dietitian to find the right number for you!
  • DO NOT “save up” your carbohydrates for one particular meal.  A good balance is needed throughout the day.  If you want to splurge a little at dinner, you could cut back a little on portion sizes and consume a bigger variety of carbohydrate-containing foods.  If you skip a meal, you are more likely to overeat at the next meal, causing your blood sugar to go haywire!

There you have it!  How did you do?  If you want to participate in the next “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” series, it will take place August 17, 20, 24, 27, and 31 at 6:00 p.m. at the Extension Office.  The “Cooking Well with Diabetes” series will be August 17, 20, 24, and 27 at 1:30 p.m.  Seating is limited to 30 per series.  Call 903-885-3443 to sign up.


Closing Thought

Take the most difficult challenge you are now facing and turn it into the greatest opportunity to grow simply by changing how you see it.  Dead ends them become turning points – Bob Perks


Johanna Hicks

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Family & Consumer Sciences

1200-B W. Houston

P.O.Box 518

Sulphur springs, TX 75483

903-885-3443 – phone

903-439-4909 – Fax

[email protected]

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