Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

About Diabetes
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Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes
Recipes for Diabetes
Fiesta of Flavors: Traditional Hispanic Recipes for People with Diabetes

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April/May 2010

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Springtime is a good time to enjoy the blooming flowers, long walks, and family picnics. For people with diabetes, Spring can mean getting outside for more physical activity which can help control your blood glucose.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans states that adding physical activity to your daily routine can lower your risk for many health problems. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. It can also help prevent falls, aid in weight loss, and reduce depression.

The guidelines suggest mixing moderate and vigorous activity when exercising. During a moderate activity, you can talk easily but not sing. Examples of moderate activity include walking briskly, general gardening (raking, trimming shrubs), dancing, water aerobics, or biking on flat ground. A vigorous activity is when you can say few words, but not hold conversations. Swimming, heavy gardening (digging, hoeing) or hiking are vigorous activities.

For better success on those Spring days, team up with a friend to do outside activities that you both enjoy. This can mean meeting 3 mornings a week to briskly walk around the neighborhood. This type of exercise system can be very supportive for those less motivated days. You and your walking buddy should continue to build on your activity level to get the best health benefits from exercise. Try mixing moderate and vigorous activity by adding sections of jogging into your walk.

Adults with diabetes should work with their health care team to see what kind and how much physical activity is right for them. It is important to monitor your blood glucose while exercising and check your feet daily for any changes.

Diabetes and Food

The American Diabetes Association has suggestions for people with diabetes in order to get the most out of being physically active. These include drinking water, checking your blood sugar before and after being physical active, and taking various safety measures.

It is important to drink water in order to stay hydrated. If you do not usually drink water during the day, start out by drinking 8 ounces before being active. Drinking water is needed to manage your diabetes.

One safety measure that should never be overlooked is checking your blood sugar before and after being physically active. If you check your blood sugar before and it is low (under 80 mg/dL), do not exercise without eating a snack. Try having a few crackers, a piece of fruit, or 8 ounces of low-fat milk. These are items that can be used to raise your blood sugar slightly before being physically active.

Unless you plan on being active for more than an hour, you should not have to eat any snacks during your exercise. However, if you think you might be active for longer periods, carry a snack with you. It is a good idea to keep hard candy, mints, or 1 serving (15 grams) of glucose gel or tablets with you when exercising.

Medication Update

For people with diabetes, physical activity can cause your blood glucose to respond in varying ways. It is important to wear an identification bracelet that states you have diabetes, your medicines, and an emergency phone number. This will help people know what to do if you are unable to tell them.

It is best to exercise after a meal so the medicine and food work together. Also, avoid being physically active when your medicine peaks (working the hardest). If you take pills or inject insulin, check your blood sugar before being physically active.

It is not good to exercise if your blood sugar is too low. If you have type 1, do not exercise if you test positive for ketones. This is because being physically active usually lowers your blood sugar, but if you have ketones your blood sugar levels could rise.

If you have type 2 and your blood sugar is too high (check with your doctor for your individual number), you might have to change the amount you exercise. For example, you may need to walk slower on that day.

If you take medicine to manage your diabetes and you notice that being active always lowers your blood sugar too much, try talking to your doctor about dosage options.

Recipes To Try

Banana Walnut Muffins
12 muffins

Preparation & cooking time 1 hour

  • 1-½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup toasted wheat germ
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
    ¼ cup brown sugar, not packed
  • ¾ cup milk, non-fat
  • ¼ cup Splenda®
  • 4 tablespoons margarine,
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder softened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 400º.Fit muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. Mix flour, walnuts, wheat germ, brown sugar, Splenda®, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix until just blended.
  3. Fill muffin liners about 2/3 full with batter.
  4. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 200
Fat 8 grams
Protein 6 grams
Calories from fat 42%
Carbohydrate 24 grams
Cholesterol 18 mg
Fiber 2 grams
Sodium 257 mg

Salmon and Asparagus Salad
6 servings

Preparation & cooking time 20minutes

  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 cup thawed frozen baby peas
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut in 1” pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Use 4 cups of water in a skillet to steam or poach salmon until salmon flakes with a fork. Remove salmon and discard water.
  2. Heat margarine in skillet and add asparagus, cooking until tender.
  3. Stir in rice, peas, salmon, salt, and pepper. Cook about 1 minute, just to heat, stirring to prevent sticking.

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 380
Fat 16 grams
Protein 29 grams
Calories from fat 38%
Carbohydrate 28 grams
Cholesterol 71 mg
Fiber 3 grams
Sodium 419 mg

Menu Suggestions



2 cooked eggs or egg substitutes

2 eggs

Whole wheat toast

1 slice

Peanut butter

1 teaspoon

Pineapple chunks

½ cup

Skim milk

8 ounces

473 Calories, 49 Carbohydrates, 3 Carbohydrate Choices



1 medium size

 72 Calories, 19 Carbohydrates, 1 Carbohydrate Choices


Lettuce salad (with shredded carrots, cheese, tomato slice)

2 cups

Reduced calorie French dressing

1 tablespoon

Vegetable soup

1 ½ cups

Unsalted-tops saltines

6 crackers

Skim milk

8 ounces

 640 Calories, 74 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices


Carrot sticks

8 baby carrots

Reduced calorie veggie dip

1-1/2 tablespoons

90 Calories, 16 Carbohydrates,  1 Carbohydrate Choices


Grilled chicken

1 breast skinless

Green beans

½ cup


1 baked

Lower fat margarine

1 tablespoon

Skim milk

8 ounces

725 Calories, 63 Carbohydrates, 4 Carbohydrate Choices


Total: 2000 Calories, 221 Carbohydrates, 14.7 Carbohydrate Choices

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

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