…And a Healthy New Year

December 29, 2017

The new year comes with excitement, anticipation, and promise. For many, it provides an opportunity for positive changes and self-improvement, but setting expectations too high can often lead to frustration rather than success.

Don’t let lofty ambitions overshadow reality and crush your chances of hitting target. This year, resolve to avoid setting your standards too high. Take on the new year with enthusiasm, but be SMART about it.

SMART is an acronym used to set small, achievable goals which will gradually aid in progress toward larger aspirations. Instead of setting general, overstated goals, think about the actions you can take to help yourself get there. Use the parameters below to organize those actions into a more manageable objective.

T is for TIMELY

Let’s use exercise as an example.
1. Be SPECIFIC. Define what you are trying to accomplish. How will you exercise? Where will you do it?
2. Make it MEASURABLE. Set a framework so you will know whether or not you accomplish the goal. How much exercise will you do and how often?
3. Evaluate if this is ATTAINABLE. Remember, setting a goal too high may hinder your success. Can you actually exercise this much?
4. Determine if your idea is REALISTIC. Will you honestly exercise this many days per week with your busy schedule? If not, you may need to start a little smaller.
5. Make it TIMELY. You have now chosen the type of exercise, how much you can do, and how often you will do it. Now, schedule it into your life when it will make the most sense and create a time frame to reevaluate how you are doing.

Goal: I will walk around my neighborhood for at least 30 minutes 3 days per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings for 2 weeks starting next Monday.

TIP: It is a good idea to write down your goal and post it somewhere you will see it every day as a reminder of what you are trying to do.

At the end of your timeline, analyze your results. If you accomplished your goal, set a new one. Maybe you can increase the amount of time or days per week that you are exercising. If you were unsuccessful, determine the cause and address it. Perhaps you couldn’t walk because of a knee injury. Instead, choose a different activity that will not hurt your knee such as seated aerobics and try again.

TIP: Plan for roadblocks. Winter weather may prevent you from going outside to walk. Have a back-up plan. You can pick somewhere indoors to walk such as a local gym or community center or even the mall. Sometimes, the weather can keep you from driving to these places, so you should have a plan for activities you can do at home as well to avoid potential excuses.

Start out 2018 right and resolve to exercise your SMARTs for a healthy new year!


Can You Hear Me Now?

January 17, 2017

According to the American Diabetes Association, it appears there is an overlap between diabetes and hearing loss. A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease.

Hmmmm. Why could this be?  We know that high blood glucose levels cause damage to small blood vessels (for example, in the kidneys and eyes).  It is possible then that the same damage may be occurring in the ears.  Over time, when hearingexposed to high levels of blood glucose, the very tiny vessels in the inner ear may break.  The vessels of the cochlear (the spiral tube, shaped like a snail’s shell, that forms part of the internal ear, where sound vibrations are converted into nerve impulses) thicken, making blood flow to that part of the ear very difficult.   Other research has shown that when exposed to high blood glucose over a long period of time nerve damage can occur leading to hearing loss.

Symptoms of hearing loss can be hard to notice because hearing loss happens slowly. Many times, family or friends notice it before the person experiencing it.  Some signs of hearing loss include:  frequently asking others to repeat themselves; trouble following conversations that involve more than two people; thinking that others are mumbling; problems hearing in noisy places such as busy restaurants; trouble hearing the voices of women and small children; turning up the television or radio too loud for others who are nearby.

Do you think you may be experiencing hearing loss? If so, talk to your primary care doctor, or seek help from a specialist such as an audiologist.  A full hearing exam will not only teach you about your hearing loss, but you will be told what can be done to treat it.



American Diabetes Association
AADE In Practice Sept 2014

Carbohydrate Counting Tips for the New Year

January 3, 2017

By Alison Brinker, RD, LD, CDE

Research shows that counting carbohydrates is important for good glucose control.   However, it can get a little tricky at times………pizza, salads, casseroles.  All those combination foods can be difficult.  Following are some tips that may help make counting your carbs a bit easier.

Hot dishes made with pasta or grains such as tuna noodle casserole or lasagna have about 30 grams of carbohydrate per cup. Using a measuring cup is most accurate, but if you can’t measure a cup is about the size of a woman’s fist.  Stews or Asian-style meals that are a mix of meat and vegetables in a savory sauce are about 15 grams of carb per cup.  Keep in mind that measuring foods at home will help you better estimate portion sizes when eating out.

Broth-based soups and cream soups made with water are about 15 grams of carb per cup. If it is a hearty soup you could eat with a fork or if it is loaded with noodles or beans estimate about 30 grams of carb for one cup.

If you are at a potluck think about the size of the serving spoon. Four level tablespoons is about ¼ cup.  This amount of baked beans, for example is about 15 grams of carbohydrate.  Baked beans are a starchy vegetable and most likely have molasses or brown sugar as an ingredient.  A larger serving spoon is about ¼ cup per scoop.  Two of these larger spoonfuls of corn or another starchy vegetable will be about a ½ cup or 15 grams of carb.

Not all salads are created equal when it comes to carbs. One cup of a leafy green salad has only 2-5 grams of carb compared to creamy coleslaw that has 15 grams carb for a ½ cup portion.  Potato salads and pasta salads often have sugar in the dressing so count those as 30 grams of carb for a ½ cup portion.

Think of pizza in terms of the crust. Thin crust is going to have much lower carb content than hand tossed or pan pizza.  1/8 of a 12 inch thin crust pizza has about 15 grams of carb.  You should add about 5-10 grams of carb per slice if you have a hand tossed crust or pan pizza.

Be careful with the items offered free to the table at some restaurants. Most rolls, bread slices and bread sticks are 15 grams of carb per serving.  Twelve tortilla chips are also about 15 grams of carb.  Even though the salsa is a free item and is very low in carbs, the chips can add up quickly.

Fruit smoothies, although they sound healthy, can have just as much carbohydrate as a can of regular soda. Some smoothies average 45 grams of carb in a 12 oz. portion which is just as much as a regular soda.  If you choose a smoothie as a quick breakfast option measure your ingredients separately as you add to the blender to ensure your carb count is accurate.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Below is a chicken chili recipe for the crockpot.  It is easy to prepare, great for a cold winter night and about 30 grams of carb for a 1 cup portion.  Carbohydrate is found in the white beans which are also a wonderful source of fiber.  Top your chili with diced avocado to add some healthy monounsaturated fat.  Enjoy!


Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ pound dried Great Northern Beans

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup chopped onion

2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles, undrained

Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, chopped tomato (optional for serving)

The evening before you plan to make the chili soak beans in a large container covered with water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Place beans along with chicken, onion, broth, chopped chiles and seasonings into the crockpot.  Stir to mix the ingredients.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low 8-10 hours.  Remove chicken from the crockpot and using 2 forks shred the chicken, return chicken to the crockpot and mix well.   Serve chili topped with cilantro, avocado and tomato if desired.

30 grams carbohydrate per 1 cup portion


Source: Diabeticlivingonline.com.  The recipe was modified using the White Chicken Chili on the Everyday Essential Great Northern Bean package and Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken on allrecipes.com


December Recipe of the Month – Calling All Deer Hunters

December 6, 2016

Marinated Venison Steak with Mushrooms


  • 1 ½ pounds venison steak, trimmed of fat
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing
  • Black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Nonstick cooking spray


The night before cooking, place steak in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add crushed garlic clove, oregano, and salad dressing.  Shake well and refrigerate overnight.

Remove steak from bag and discard the marinade. Grill the steak indoors or outdoors, seasoning with black pepper to taste and turning once.  (For medium steak, internal temperature should be about 165 degrees  F. )

Top venison with mushrooms and serve.

Yield: 16 ounces cooked meat.  Serving size:  4 ounces or ¼ recipe.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories:  141, Carbohydrates:  5g, protein:  26g, Fat:  3 g, Saturated Fat:  1g, Cholesterol:  96 mg, Sodium 250 mg, Fiber:  2g




Source: Diabetes Self Management 2016

Diabetes Etiquette for Family and Friends

November 17, 2016

Last week our blog was about dealing with “Food Police”. This week we are focusing on diabetes etiquette for people who DON’T have diabetes –  well-meaning family members and friends of those with diabetes!

DON’T offer unsolicited advice about eating or other aspects of diabetes. You may mean well, but giving advice about someone’s personal habits, especially when it is not requested, isn’t very nice.  Besides, many of the popularly held beliefs about diabetes (“you should just stop eating sugar”) are out of date or just plain wrong.

DO realize and appreciate that diabetes is hard work. Diabetes management is a full-time job that wasn’t applied for, didn’t want, and can’t quit. It involves thinking about what, when, and how much is eaten, while factoring in exercise, medication, stress, blood sugar monitoring, and so much more – each and every day.

DON’T tell horror stories about your grandmother or other people with diabetes you have heard about. Diabetes is scary enough and stories like these are not reassuring! Besides, we now know that with good management, odds are good you can live a long, healthy, and happy life with diabetes.

DO offer to join your friend/loved on in making healthy lifestyle changes. Not having to be alone with efforts to change, like starting an exercise program, is one of the most powerful ways that you can be helpful. After all, healthy lifestyle changes can benefit everyone!

DON’T look so horrified when you see someone check their blood sugars or give themselves an injection. It is not fun for them. Checking blood sugar and taking medications are things they must do to manage diabetes well. If they have to hide while they do so, it makes it harder!

DO ask how you might be helpful. If you want to be supportive, there may be lots of little things that would be appreciated. However, what is needed most may be very different than what you think is needed, so please ask first.

DON’T offer thoughtless reassurances. When you first learn someone has diabetes, you may want to reassure them by saying things like, “Hey, it could be worse; you could have cancer!” This won’t make anyone feel better. And the implicit message seems to be that diabetes is no big deal. However, diabetes (like cancer) IS a big deal.

DO be supportive of self-care efforts. Help the person with diabetes set up an environment for success by supporting healthy food choices. Honor their decision to decline a particular food, even when you really want them to try it. You are most helpful when you are not being a source of unnecessary temptation.

DON’T peek or comment on glucose numbers without asking first! These numbers are private unless shared! It is normal to have numbers that are sometimes too low or too high. Your unsolicited comments about these numbers can add to the disappointment, frustration and anger being felt!

DO offer your love and encouragement. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares can be very helpful and motivating.




Resource: Behavioral Diabetes Institute

Blood Sugar Swings

August 9, 2016

Do you ever experience blood sugar swings? A recent article in Diabetic Living discussed 10 reasons for blood sugar swings.

  1. Improper Control: Routinely checking your blood sugar levels, taking medications correctly, and meeting healthy lifestyle recommendations all play a role in helping to control your blood sugars.
  2. Sugary Drinks: Sugars hidden in specialty drinks, like special coffee drinks or mixed drinks can pack in carbs and cause blood sugar spikes. Know the ingredients and limit added sugars.
  3. Medication Mistakes: Taking the wrong dose of medication can cause a swing in blood sugar. Prevent incorrect dosing by using a pill box and by asking questions at your doctor’s office and at the pharmacy.
  4. Illness: Coming down with a bug can mean spikes in sugar levels. When you are sick – anything from the flu to food poisoning, your liver releases extra sugar. Stay hydrated. Check blood glucose more often.
  5. Inaccurate Counting: Letting those portion sizes get away from you can lead to miscalculating the number of carbohydrates you are actually eating. Use measuring cups and spoons.
  6. Stress! Stress comes in all forms – physical, mental, and emotional. Sudden bouts of stress can cause blood sugar to spike or drop! Practice relaxation exercises.rollecoaster
  7. Irregular Carbohydrate Intake: Consistent carbohydrate intake is the key. Spread your in-take out throughout the day to help ensure sugar levels remain steady.
  8. Your Period: Your blood sugar readings may swing around your period. Changing hormones in your body around that time of the month can raise your blood sugar.
  9. Pushing too Hard too Fast: High intensity workouts that push the body out of its comfort level can cause low and high blood sugars. Increase the length and intensity of your exercise in increments!
  10. Dehydration! If you don’t have enough water in your system, sugar concentrates in your bloodstream. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Your urine should be close to clear if you are drinking enough.


Source: Diabetic Living; Precision Nutrition

The “No White Food Diet”

June 21, 2016

brought to you by:  Alison Brinker, RD, LD

Has anyone ever told you to avoid white food? Have you ever thought about all the good foods that are white?  I know as a dietitian I tell people to eat foods that are every color of the rainbow to get the best variety and nutrient content.  However, avoiding everything white is too general of a statement.  I know most of us can benefit from choosing brown rice instead of white rice, or whole wheat bread over white bread.  Salt and cream are white too, other examples of foods that are best eaten in smaller amounts.  But, as you will see from the list below, following the guideline of “no white food” will cause you to miss out on a lot of nutritious and delicious foods.

Bananas:  A small banana is 15 grams of carbohydrate and about 60 calories.  It is a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin B6.  Potassium helps control blood pressure and is important for muscle movement.  Vitamin B6 is important for the nervous system to function properly.

Cauliflower:  One cup of raw cauliflower has only 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate.  It is also a good source of vitamin C which is important for tissue and bone growth and repair.

Cheese:  One ounce of part-skim mozzarella cheese (such as a cheese stick) is only 70 calories.  It provides calcium for strong bones and is a great low fat protein source with very little carbohydrate.

Chicken:  Three ounces of white meat chicken (about the size of a deck of playing cards) without the skin has only about 135 calories.  It provides 21 grams of lean protein and no carbohydrate.  It is also a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorous and selenium.  Niacin is important for a healthy nervous system and healthy skin.  Phosphorus is needed for healthy bones and selenium is important for your metabolism.

Egg Whites:  Two egg whites have about 45 calories and the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat.  Egg whites have no fat, cholesterol or carbohydrate.

Fish:  A three ounce portion of cod has only 90 calories and 21 grams of protein.  It is also a good source of vitamin B6, B12, phosphorous, potassium and selenium.  Vitamin B12 helps to keep nerve cells and red blood cells healthy.

Milk:  One cup of skim milk has only 90 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrate.  It is a good source of protein, calcium for healthy bones, phosphorous, vitamin B12, and riboflavin.  Riboflavin is important in keeping red blood cells healthy.

Mushrooms:  One cup of sliced mushrooms has only 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate.  Mushrooms also provide niacin.

Onions:  One cup of chopped onion is only 64 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate.  Onions are a good source of vitamin C.

Turnips:  These are low in calories too just like all the non-starchy vegetables.  Turnips also provide a good source of vitamin C.

White Beans:  A half cup of beans is about 150 calories, 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.  Portion size is important because a half cup also has 15 grams of carbohydrate.  But when you consider that beans are also a source of folate, thiamin, and iron necessary for healthy red blood cells, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus for healthy bones, zinc and copper for a healthy immune system and manganese which is important for metabolism of the foods we eat beans are a great high carb food choice.

White Potatoes:  Like beans, white potatoes have higher carbohydrate content than non-starchy vegetables.  One half cup of mashed or roasted potatoes has 15 grams of carbohydrate and, but white potatoes provide fiber, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron and potassium.

Yogurt:  One cup of plain nonfat yogurt is 137 calories, 14 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrate.  It provides calcium, potassium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.  It is a great base for a fruit smoothie and depending on the fruit you decide to mix it with, it won’t be white anymore.

I hope this list will make you think twice about white food choices. All of us should be working towards eating less processed and refined foods, but to base our choices on color alone is not the best strategy.  Enjoy these white foods


Source: Nutrition411.com

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