Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

About Diabetes
Food & Diabetes
Medications & Diabetes
Current Issue
En Español
Recommended Websites
Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes
Recipes for Diabetes
Fiesta of Flavors: Traditional Hispanic Recipes for People with Diabetes


Want to know when a new issue comes out? Sign up for eNews

December 2002 /January 2003

In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Depression results from an abnormal functioning in the brain. Depression can occur once in awhile, or be a chronic condition. Stress can trigger depression or make it worse. This is why the holiday season often triggers depressive episodes for many people.

People with diabetes are more likely to suffer with depression than other people. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but some even suggest that depression may be a risk factor for developing diabetes. On the other hand, diabetes increases the risk of depression occurring.

Pay attention to the symptoms of depression:

  • persistent anxious or sad moods
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • loss of interest in activities
  • decreased energy
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • inability to sleep or sleeping much more than usual
  • appetite or weight changes
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • restlessness or irritability

If five or more of these symptoms are present every day for longer than two weeks, you should talk to your doctor about a depression evaluation. Research has found that both psychotherapy and medication can have a positive effect on mood and blood sugar control for those who have both diabetes and depression.

Don’t self-medicate with herbals. Herbal medications, such as St. John’s wort, may interact with other medications. Check with your doctor for information about prescription and non-prescription medications.

If you think you may be depressed, or know someone who is, don’t lose hope. Depression is treatable. You’ll feel better soon!

Diabetes and Food

With the holiday season upon us, we think about food, baking, and entertaining. And with thoughts of baking comes the question:

Is aspartame safe?

Aspartame is also known by brand names such as "Equal" or "Nutrasweet." The American Diabetes Association and the American Council on Science and Health, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have concluded that aspartame is safe for everyone except those who have phenylketonuria (PKU). They are supported in this claim by many professional organizations, including the American Medical Association.

Internet health scares have spread widely about aspartame, and many websites have been posted to continue the scare tactics. However, http://www.aspartame.org provides many links for a more balanced view of what aspartame is and how it works.

As with any food or ingredient- remember moderation and variety! And during this holiday season plan ahead to control portions. Be wary of "spur of the moment" snacks and nibbles. Enjoy the holidays with friends, family, and magic moments…and go easy on the sweets!

Exercise as a Part of Living

Exercise should be a part of our everyday lives. We all know this. But sticking to a program is hard, and starting a program is even harder. Sometimes we think that buying home exercise equipment will be the start of a great new "us." Before you put that treadmill on your holiday wish list (or buy one for someone else) consider these basic guidelines:

  • know your exercise level; even if the athlete on TV makes it look easy, be realistic about the kind of exercise you can do;
  • check out the best equipment first; it is usually the safest and has the most knowledgeable salespeople;
  • make sure the equipment fits your body; no strains on joints or the back;
  • measure, measure, measure – make sure the equipment will fit your space – and that you’ll always want it there;
  • talk to everyone you know – friends, neighbors, doctors – and read about the equipment before spending a lot of money.

Although exercise equipment may look fun, or even be fun, most exercise can be done with little or no equipment.

Recipes to Try

Pudding Bars

1 serving = 1/12 pan
12-24 bars

1 can (8 ounce) reduced fat crescent rolls
1 package (4 serving) sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix
1 package (4 serving) sugar-free lemon gelatin
1 cup skim milk
1 package fat free cream cheese
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup flaked coconut
nonstick cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 425. Spray 9x13" pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Pat crescent rolls in pan. Bake 8 minutes or until light brown. Cool.
  • In medium pan combine pudding mix, gelatin mix, and milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Add cream cheese, mixing well. Fold in raisins.
  • Spread evenly over cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut into 12-24 bars.

Per serving: 176 calories 6 grams protein
1/12 pan 4 mg cholesterol 27 grams carbohydrate
4 grams total fat 19% calories from fat

Quick Tomato Mushroom Pizza

5 slices

1 package refrigerated pizza crust
1 cup light shredded mozzarella cheese
4 plum or Italian tomatoes, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon vinegar
nonstick cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 450. Spray pizza pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place pizza crust on pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
  • Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Arrange tomato and mushroom slices to cover crust. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Sprinkle basil and vinegar over pizza.
  • Bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese melts and top is slightly brown. Cut into 5 slices.

Per serving: 106 calories 8 grams protein
1/5th of pizza, 1 mg cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fat, 26% calories from fat

Medication Update

Is once-a-day insulin the answer for everyone who needs insulin? It is more convenient than multiple injections, less painful, and uses fewer needles. However, once-a-day insulin should be evaluated the same as any other medication – for effectiveness.

Effective medication for treating diabetes should be monitored by

  • hemoglobin A1c levels measured by your doctor. These tests will measure how well your blood sugar has been controlled over the last 90 days or so;
  • self-monitoring of blood glucose levels with a meter by you at home;
  • self-monitoring of urine ketones as often as your doctor suggests;
  • fasting blood glucose levels taken by your doctor at your regularly scheduled visits;
  • a record kept by you of episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find the best insulin or medication regimen. This will also probably need to be changed even after you find the "best" therapy. As your body changes, so will its need for medication. Keeping your blood sugar in control will keep you healthier and happier no matter how much time it takes!

New Resources

The American Diabetes Association has a Gift of Hope program. Profits from the calendars, cards, and gifts in the Gift of Hope catalog supports diabetes research. Visit their website at http://store.diabetes.org/holidaycatalog/default.asp? WTLPromo=SHOP_giftofhope or call 1-800-608-4279 to have a gift catalog sent to you.

If you’re looking for new cookbooks, try Mr. Food’s Every Day’s a Holiday Diabetic Cookbook published by the American Diabetes Association, 2002, 182 pages with over 140 recipes, $16.95. To order visit http://store.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-343-2383). Hours are Monday-Friday 8:30AM – 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time; or write to the

American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311.

About Diabetes | Food & Diabetes | Medications & Diabetes | Current Issue | Archive | En Español

Want to know when a new issue comes out? Sign up for eNews