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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February/March 2012

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Good dental health is important whether you have diabetes or not. However, if you have diabetes, good dental health may be more of a challenge. Having pre-diabetes or diabetes, and certain medications, may cause your mouth to be dry. Dry mouth can make it more difficult to clear bacteria after eating. Saliva is needed not only to moisten food but also because it can start the food breakdown. This happens with food that is swallowed and also with food that may be stuck in your teeth.

Dry mouth can also increase the risk for enamel demineralization.  This can increase the risk for tooth decay. It is important to brush often with a soft brush.  Toothpaste that has fluoride and plaque fighting properties is a good choice.

If your gums are red, sore, or swollen you may have a gum disease.  This can lead to infections of the gums and bone that holds your teeth in place. This condition is called periodontitis. Make an appointment to see your dentist if your gums hurt or bleed when you brush your teeth.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy:

  • Keep your blood glucose close to your goal value
  • Floss your teeth at least once per day
  • Brush your teeth after each meal and snack
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • If you wear dentures, keep them clean
  • Make sure your dentist knows you have diabetes
  • See your dentist at least twice per year.

Smoking can increase the risk of infection of the gums and bone and may lengthen the time for gum diseases to heal.\

Diabetes and Food

Why Whole Grains?
Whole grain starches, fruits and vegetables should be included for a healthy diet because they are good sources of fiber. Whole grains have the whole grain – nothing is removed. That means that the whole kernel must still be in the food - bran, germ, and endosperm- although it may be cracked or rolled. Whole grains that you may recognize include:

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
  • Oats, including oatmeal
  • Rice, both brown rice and colored rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum (also called milo)
  • Wheat
  • Wild rice

Others that you may not recognize include:

  • Amaranth, more common to Mexico and Peru
  • Millet, eaten in India but more often fed to birds in the US
  • Quinoa, more common in South America
  • Teff, more common in Ethiopia, India and Australia
  • Triticale, a hybrid of durum wheat and rye

Foods made with whole grains are usually wheat, such as 100% whole wheat bread, pasta, tortilla, and crackers.

While whole grains are part of the general recommendations for healthy eating, there is not a specific recommendation for those with diabetes. So, why bother? Well, whole grains are a good source of fiber. The current recommendation for healthy adults is to consume 14 grams fiber per 1000 calories eaten. So for 1500 calories eaten, that would be 21 grams of fiber. For 2000 calories eaten, it would be 28 grams of fiber. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage eating at least half the recommended servings of grains as whole grains.

If you are looking on the front of a food package, and a food is labeled as “high fiber” it must have 5 or more grams of fiber in a serving. A “good source of fiber” must have 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber.

Recipes To Try

Chicken Enchiladas
5 servings

  • 9 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
  • 5 8"-lower-fat flour tortillas
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, with green chilies, lightly drained
  • ½ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook chopped chicken in a non-stick skillet with onions. Cover to steam while cooking, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cook until chicken done, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, onions, cabbage to open tortilla, sprinkle with mozzarella. Roll, and place in 8 be 10 inch baking dish, seam side down. Repeat for remaining tortillas.
  4. Pour tomatoes oven tortillas. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes, covered.

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories 306
Protein 21 grams
Carbohydrate 32 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Fat 9 grams
Calories from fat 26%
Cholesterol 45 mg
Sodium 868 mg

Preparation time 20 minutes; baking time 30 minutes.

Filled Squares
30 cookies, 1 serving = 1 cookie

  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 jar sugar-free light preserves, any flavor
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese           
  1. Drain pineapple, reserving 2 tablespoons juice.
  2. Stir lemon juice into reserved pineapple juice. Add banana slices.
  3. In large salad bowl, combine cabbage, oranges, walnuts, raisins, salt, and juice mixture.
  4. Add yogurt. Toss to coat. Chill until serving.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories 114
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 10 grams
Fiber 1 grams
Fat 7 grams
Calories from fat 57%
Cholesterol 1 mg
Sodium 79 mg

Preparation time 20 minutes; total time 40 minutes.

Menu Suggestions



Veggie-cheese omelet with egg substitute


Apple juice, light

6 ounces

Multi-grain toast

2 slices

Margarine, whipped

2 teaspoons

Skim milk

8 ounces


627 Calories, 63 Carbohydrates, 4 Carbohydrate Choices



Chicken enchiladas†


Salsa, chunky

2 tablespoons

Tossed salad

1 cup

Fat-free Ranch dressing 1 tablespoon
Mixed fruit, tropical ½ cup


755 Calories, 70 Carbohydrates, 4.5 Carbohydrate Choices



Roast beef

3 ounces

Potato, baked

1 medium

Sour cream, fat-free

1 tablespoon

Broccoli, steamed 1 cup
Filled squares† 2

Skim milk

8 ounces


703 Calories, 74 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices




Total:  2085 Calories, 207 Carbohydrates, 14 Carbohydrate Choices


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

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

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