Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

About Diabetes
Food & Diabetes
Medications & Diabetes
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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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April/May 2012

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

While the goal in diabetes is to achieve the individual’s target blood glucose range, high blood glucose readings happen. But not all high readings are the same. In general, there are 3 types of high blood glucose readings:

  • Spikes that occur just once in a while;
  • High values all the time;
  • Blood glucose readings that drift higher and higher over time.

These 3 types of high blood glucose readings can happen regardless of type of management the person is using (diet alone; diet with oral medications; diet with insulin).

Insulin is the only medication that can bring down an acute high spike in blood glucose. If you aren’t using insulin, and have a spike, you may want to check with your health care provider, depending on how high the spike is, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can occur as the high blood glucose spills over into the urine, drawing body water with it.

High values all the time often means the amount of food eaten, exercise, and medication are not well-aligned. With high values all the time, it is time to enroll in a diabetes education program and see your health care provider.

When blood glucose values begin drifting higher and higher over time, it usually means that the current therapy or management strategy needs to change. This may mean beginning an oral medication or insulin if diet alone was the management strategy; increasing the dose of the medication; reassessing the calories and carbohydrates eaten; and/or adding another medication to the management routine. Keep track of your blood glucose readings and take those with you to your next health care appointment.

Diabetes and Food

For people with diabetes, it is important to understand what foods are made of so that blood glucose levels can be more easily controlled. Memorizing the exact amount of carbohydrate in all the foods that we eat would be almost impossible and impractical. Fortunately there are six main food groups:

  • The Starch and Starchy Vegetables Group
  • The Fruit Group
  • The Vegetable Group
  • The Meat, Meat Substitutes, Eggs, and Cheese Group
  • The Milk and Yogurt Group
  • The Fats and Oils Group

It is important to eat foods from each group every day. The type and the amount of food that you chose to eat can have either positive or negative effects on your health.

These food groups are included in MyPlate, except for Fats and Oils.

Description: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hot/images/myplate.jpg




The same foods will be important whether you have diabetes or not. However, the amounts may be different from MyPlate to whatever food tracking system you are using. One of the most popular is the carbohydrate counting system (carb counting). In the carb counting system, for instance, raw vegetables are not counted as long as the total number of carbs eaten is less than 20 from this food. In 1 cup of raw vegetables there is 5 grams of carbohydrate. If you ate this 5 times in 1 day, or ate 2 cups of raw vegetables 3 times a day, that would add up to more than 20 grams, and would have to be counted as part of your carbohydrate allowance. In MyPlate, the recommendation is to eat 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. This may not be what your meal plan tells you to eat. So, while MyPlate can be used by those who have diabetes, the diet plan discussed with you by your dietitian should guide your food choices. If you haven’t talked to a dietitian, ask your doctor at your next visit, or go to http://www.eatright.org/Public/. At the far right of the green top bar, click on “Find a Dietitian”.

Recipes To Try

Zucchini Salad with Cilantro
6 1-cup servings

  • 2 small zucchini
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 can (15 ounces) lite apricots halves, drained
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons low fat balsamic vinegar dressing
  1. Peel zucchini. Cut into slices, and then quarter the slices.
  2. Cut each apricot half into quarters.
  3. Combine all ingredients.

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories 84
Protein 1 grams
Carbohydrate 21 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Fat 0 grams
Calories from fat 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 85 mg

Preparation time 20 minutes.

Parmesan Rice with Cilantro
6 ½-cup servings

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon Parmesan, Asiago, Romano shredded cheese
  1. Cook rice with water according to directions on rice package.
  2. Stir in cilantro and cheese.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories 165
Protein 3 grams
Carbohydrate 23 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Fat 6 grams
Calories from fat 33%
Cholesterol 4 mg
Sodium 294 mg

Preparation time 25 minutes.

Menu Suggestions



Instant cinnamon spice oatmeal

1 packet



Whole wheat toast

2 slices

Margarine, whipped

2 teaspoons

Skim milk

8 ounces


569 Calories, 77 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices



Roast beef sub sandwich with 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 Tablespoon lite mayonnaise


Zucchini Salad with Cilantro†

1 serving

Skim milk

8 ounces


577 Calories, 80 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices



Grilled chicken breast

3 ounces

Parmesan Rice with Cilantro†

1 serving

Peas and carrots

1 cup

Skim milk 8 ounces
Slices peaches, own juice ½ cup

Skim milk

8 ounces


576 Calories, 75 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices




Total:  1722 Calories, 207 Carbohydrates, 15 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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