Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

About Diabetes
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Medications & 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 2011

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Stress is so many things it is sometimes hard to define exactly. Stress can be physical, like an injury or illness. Stress can also be mental or emotional, like problems in relationships, problems with your job or money, or feelings of frustration or anxiety.

When you are stressed, your body gears up to take action. Levels of many hormones increase to make stored energy - glucose and fat - available to cells. However, the cells still need insulin for the glucose to get in.  For those with diabetes, this may mean that blood glucose levels increase when they are stressed, either physically or emotionally.

In addition, people who are stressed often do not take good care of themselves. They might exercise less than they normally would, or miss meals.  They might drink more alcohol, or forget to check their blood glucose levels.

Just having diabetes and working on changing a lifetime of behaviors may be stressful!  Instead of eating what you want, when you want it, you have to plan your meals.  You may have to count the carbohydrates you are eating, or decrease how often you can eat favorite foods. 

It is clear that some stress will always be in your life.  Some stress will not always make your blood sugar too high.  However, many stressful things can be “too much”. 

If you feel that way, the stress level might be affecting your blood glucose.  Talk to your health care provider so that he/she knows your blood glucose might be too high because of too much stress.  Ask about support groups. Even if you do not like sharing your problems, knowing other people in your same situation can help. You might also learn some tips that work for other people!

Diabetes and Food

Many people eat too much when they feel stressed.  For people who feel stressed often, or all the time, this overeating will result in weight gain.  The weight gain itself can make you feel stressed.   And then it becomes a spiral effect. 

Some people quit eating when they are stressed. They have more nervous energy, and may feel nauseous or just not hungry.  Taking medication to lower blood glucose in these situations may be risky. Talk to your health care provider if this sounds like you. If you are taking insulin, be sure to match your insulin dose with the carbohydrates you are going to eat. If you are not sure how to do this, talk to your dietitian or nurse.

Better choices for eating when stressed include fresh fruit and vegetables or unbuttered popcorn. If portion control is a problem for you when you are stressed, choose single serve containers. For instance, if ice cream is a stress-relieving food, do not keep half gallon or gallon containers. Choose ice cream bars or single serve containers instead.

Remember that exercise often helps to reduce stress. Talk to your doctor about how to check your blood glucose when exercising, and make plans to have a 15-gram carbohydrate snack at hand in case your blood glucose goes low.

Medication Update

Abbott Diabetes Care recalled 359 lots of glucose test strips. You can check the lot numbers by visiting Abbott’s website:

The lot numbers are on the bottom of the test strip box and on each foil-wrapped test strip packet.

These test strips may give falsely low readings. The strip is not absorbing enough blood to give you a true reading.  So you may think your blood glucose is fine when it is really too high. Or you may think your blood glucose is too low when it is really fine.

Abbott Diabetes Care will replace the strips at no charge. Call Abbott Diabetes Customer Care Service at 1-800-448-5234 to find out how to exchange the strips.

There is no problem with the meters. If you have questions or concerns you can contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at 1-800-332-1088 or call Abbott Diabetes Care at the number above.

Recipes To Try

Red Apple Spinach Salad
6 servings
Preparation 15 minutes

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, trimmed and cleaned
  • 1 un-peeled red apple
  • 3 slices bacon, fried crisp, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. frozen unsweetened orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  1. Dice apple.
  2. Mix orange juice and mayonnaise
  3. Mix apple and spinach
  4. Pour dressing over salad and top with crumbled bacon

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories 98
Protein 3 grams
Carbohydrate 10 grams
Fiber 7 grams
Fat 5 grams
Calories from fat 46%
Cholesterol 7 mg
Sodium 212 mg

Southwest Chicken
4 servings

Preparation & cooking time 30 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2- 6 oz. chicken breasts, halved & skinned
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • dash of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  1. Melt margarine in skillet. Place chicken in skillet. Season with pepper & tarragon.
  2. Brown chicken over medium heat- about 10 minutes. Turn, season, & brown other side.
  3. Mix lime juice, water, & pepper sauce; pour on chicken. Cover & simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Suggested to be served with rice.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories 195
Protein 27 grams
Carbohydrate 1 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Fat 9 grams
Calories from fat 42%
Cholesterol 72 mg
Sodium 134 mg

Menu Suggestions



Eggs, poached


Whole wheat toast

2 slices

Margarine, whipped

1 tablespoon


1 medium

Skim milk

8 ounces


664 Calories, 88 Carbohydrates, 6 Carbohydrate Choices



Red Apple Spinach Salad†

1 serving

6-inch ham and Swiss cheese sub sandwich


Skim milk

8 ounces

Ginger snaps



698 Calories, 90 Carbohydrates, 6 Carbohydrate Choices



Southwest Chicken†

1 serving


1 cup

Steamed broccoli

1 cup

Skim milk

8 ounces

Banana Pineapple Pie†

1 serving


628 Calories, 112 Carbohydrates, 7.5 Carbohydrate Choices



Total: 1990 Calories, 290 Carbohydrates, 19 Carbohydrate Choices


† recipes from Diabetes Lifelines or Recipes for Diabetes at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

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

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