July 25, 2008

Diabetes Doesn’t Have to Be Scary


A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn't end with just a prescription.

A prescription or two may be part of that plan. But for many, treatment is far more than drugs, blood sugar checks and follow-up visits. It's a life-changing course of diet and exercise that for some is a complete overhaul of their current lifestyles.

For newly diagnosed diabetes patients, some of whom have gone their entire lives not thinking about the foods they're putting into their bodies, a healthy meal plan seems impossible.

"There are a lot of myths out there: You can't eat any starchy foods. You can't eat fruit. You can't eat sweets. One patient told me he heard, 'If it tastes good, don't eat it,' " said Anna Reinwand, registered dietitian and diabetes educator for the Center for Diabetes Education at the Oklahoma State University Medical Center.

Faced with myths like those, it's understandable that patients would fear meeting a dietitian.

"But what they find out is it's not that bad. Changes will be needed in most diets, but they find out that a lot of foods taste good and are good for them," Reinwand said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million Americans have diabetes, an additional 57.6 million have prediabetes, and a quarter of Americans age 60 and older have the disease.

"It's very scary for a lot of folks because they know someone who has been affected," Reinwand said. "The possible complications are scary -- blindness, amputation. But managing diabetes has changed a lot over the last 10 years."

Easy-to-use blood sugar meters have been a life-changer, she said. Patients can check their sugars before and after meals for instant reads on their levels.

When it comes to nutrition, Reinwand takes the approach of one step at a time, easing patients into the change. Telling a diabetic he or she can never eat pasta again is not the answer.

"Instead, use a whole-wheat pasta and scale down the portion," she said.

Natalie Mikles 581-8486

[email protected]

Cooking for diabetics

What: Diabetic cooking class

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Central Park Hall at Expo Square

Cost: Free

What to expect: Diabetes educator Anna Reinwand will demonstrate how to make diabetic-friendly foods and will answer questions about nutrition and cooking for a diabetic. The class will be held in conjunction with the Tulsa County Free Fair.

Diabetes: 8 ways to adjust your plate

Here are some practical suggestions, good for any diet, that Anna Reinwand gives her Type 2 diabetes patients.

Try red potatoes with their skins on over regular russet potatoes.

- Make meat 1/4 of your plate, using the remainder for whole grains and vegetables.

Choose brown rice over white rice. Take advantage of fresh, seasonal vegetables, like inexpensive zucchini.

Don't rule out fruit just because it's sweet. In small portions, fruit is an important part of the diet.

Cut back on solid fats, such as butter.

Swap canola oil or olive oil for oils with saturated fats.

Incorporate whole grains, including wholewheat pasta, into dinner time.

Originally published by NATALIE MIKLES World Scene Writer.

(c) 2008 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.