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

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December 2009/January 2010

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Everyone’s skin can become dry in the winter.  However,those with diabetes are more likely to have skin problems. 

Diabetic dermopathy and digital sclerosis are two skin problems that mostly occur only in people with diabetes. Diabetic dermopathy is the red or brown scaly patches you might have on the front of your lower legs. They don’t itch or hurt. Diabetic dermopathy is caused by changes due to diabetes in the tiny blood vessels in this part of the leg.  They are harmless and require no treatment.

Digital sclerosis occurs in your fingers or toes. It may also occur on the back of your hands or on your forehead. The skin becomes thick and may look tight and waxy or shiny.  It may make your fingers or toes ache or feel stiff. While a painkiller or anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication may help relieve the aching, the only real treatment is to keep your blood glucose in the target range. If you choose to use a painkiller, check with your health care provider first.

Keeping your blood glucose within your target range is the first way to help your skin stay healthy. Keeping your skin clean by taking warm but not hot baths or showers will also help. While most of your skin needs moisturizers, areas where skin touches should be kept dry, such as between your toes and under your arms.

Be sure to check your skin for tears, cuts or bruises. Care for these areas gently but monitor healing. Contact your health care provider if open sores are not healing, if a rash occurs, or if areas become painful.

Diabetes and Food

As the holidays approach, many of us begin our travel planning to visit friends and family.  If you have diabetes or are traveling with someone with diabetes, a long distance car trip takes extra planning. 

Try to keep to your normal waking and bedtime routines as much as possible. Plan to check your blood glucose more often if you are leaving earlier and staying up later than you usually do.  Every 2 to 4 hours is a reasonable plan for checking your blood glucose while on a long trip.

Take 15 gram carbohydrate snacks to use if your blood glucose is too low.  This might be 1 serving of a glucose gel, 4 ounces of regular soda (not diet), or 5 to 6 pieces of hard candy.  These are quick-fix snacks for when your blood glucose is below 70 mg/dl. If you experience low blood glucose, and use a quick fix, check your blood glucose in 15 minutes to see if it worked.  If it didn’t raise your blood glucose to at least 70 mg/dl, try another quick fix.  If it did raise your blood glucose to at least  70 mg/dl, plan to have a meal or snack within the next hour or so.

It’s a good idea to travel with someone, and to take breaks to stretch and walk. If you are normally active, sitting for long periods may be less energetic for you than you usually are.  Talk to your health care provider about whether you should change your daily insulin or meal plan.

Planning ahead will help you feel like celebrating once you arrive!

Medication Update

A new drug called Onglyza (saxagliptin) was approved this summer by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Onglyza is in a class of medications called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 or DPP-4. These drugs help to stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin after eating.  These medications may be prescribed with other oral medications to be used with diet and exercise to achieve target blood glucose goals. 

The most common side effects are infections of the upper respiratory tract and urinary tract and headaches.  Onglyza is made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

Recipes To Try

Peach Raisin Tart
8 servings

  • 1 cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup Splenda®
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag (16-ounce) frozen unsweetened peaches, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine raisins, Spenda®, flour, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Combine peaches and lemon juice. Toss peaches with raisins/flour mixture.
  4. Put peach mixture in middle of pie shell. Fold edges toward center of pie and crimp together.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake 20-25 minutes more until crust is golden brown.

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 167
Fat 5 gram
Protein 2 grams    
Calories from fat 29
Carbohydrate 30 grams     
Cholesterol 0 mg
Fiber 2 grams
Sodium 178 mg

Chicken Stew
8 servings

  • 8 chicken pieces (4 pounds, boneless) 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1½ teaspoons salt 
  • ½ teaspoon pepper 
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Remove the skin from the chicken and any extra fat.  In a large skillet, combine chicken, water, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and parsley.  Tightly cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  2. Add celery, potatoes, carrots, and bay leaves. Continue to cook for 15 more minutes or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 315
Fat 3 g
Protein 55 gram
Calories from fat 29
Carbohydrate 13 grams
Cholesterol 137 mg
Fiber 2 grams      
Sodium 605 mg

Menu Suggestions



Asparagus frittata

1 serving


1 slice

Lower fat margarine 1 teaspoon
Pineapple chunks ½ cup
Skim milk 8 ounces
547 calories, 57 g carbohydrates, 4 carbohydrate choices



Thin crust vegetable pizza

1 slice

Lettuce salad

1½ cups

Fat free French dressing 1 tablespoon

Filled squares


628 calories, 79 g carbohydrates, 5 carbohydrate choices



Chicken stew

1 serving

Whole wheat bread

2  slices

Lower fat margarine 2 teaspoons
Frozen peach melba 1 serving
Skim milk 1 cup
750 calories, 82 g carbohydrates, 5.5 carbohydrate choices
Total: 1925 calories, 218 g carbohydrates, 14.5 carbohydrate choices,
Meals may also include a calorie-free beverage (diet soda, tea, coffee, etc.)

†Recipes found in this newsletter or on the website http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetes2/intro.cfm


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

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