Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

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October-November 2012

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In This Issue

Diabetes and Exercise- The Medical Perspective

Fall is here and many people are starting to plan trips to spend holidays with out-of-town friends and family. While travel requires planning for everyone, those with diabetes have extra measures to take. Here are some tips to help take the stress out of managing your diabetes on the road:

  1. Create a checklist of all of the diabetes-related supplies you will need to bring: glucose testing strips, extra batteries for your glucometer, syringes. Even the most routine supplies may get lost in the shuffle when time is short and you are rushing out the door.
  2. Pack a bag specifically for your diabetes management. It should include insulin and oral medications with the prescription labels attached, syringes, a disposal container for waste, blood and urine testing supplies, glucometer with extra batteries, diabetes identity card, your doctor’s emergency phone number, candy or glucose tablets in case of low blood sugar, and a shelf-stable snack and meal (that doesn’t require refrigeration) in case of unexpected delays.
  3. If you are traveling by plane, keep your supply bag in your carry-on so that you have easy access to your glucometer and medications in the event that your baggage is lost. When you go through security, tell the screener that you have diabetes and are traveling with your medical supplies. Make sure you have the labels indicating what type of medication you are carrying as well as the prescription bearing your name.
  4. Whether in flight or on the road, stay hydrated. This may mean packing water bottles on a road trip or making sure to get water at the airport once you are through security. It is especially important to drink water in-flight as cabin humidity is much lower than a typical indoor environment.
  5. Pay attention to good nutrition. When eating out, choose foods with whole grains and that emphasize fruits and vegetables. Splitting meals with a family member or friend is a good way to limit the amount of carbohydrate and fat you eat while also saving on your restaurant bill. Choose healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts.
  6. Pack walking shoes and comfortable clothes so you can stay active on your trip. If you are visiting friends or family with health goals, see if they would be interested in joining you on daily walks. Many hotels have fitness centers and staff can provide information about safe places to explore by foot in the area.
  7. Have a support system. Let the people you are traveling with know that you have diabetes and make them aware of your needs. If you are flying alone, tell a flight attendant that you have diabetes and that you may need help if your blood glucose becomes low.

Medication Update- Insulin and Needle Length

Many commonly prescribed me Maintaining a healthful weight is an important piece of the diabetes management puzzle. Even a modest reduction in bodyweight (5-10%) can have a positive effect on lowering blood glucose values and reducing hemoglobin A1C. However, some glucose-lowering medications can cause weight gain. This presents a problem for those with diabetes because excess body fat makes it harder to achieve target blood sugar levels.

Insulin helps glucose enter the cell for use and storage. For this reason, injectable insulin prescribed to patients with diabetes can promote weight gain because it helps sugar get into the cells that wouldn’t otherwise be absorbed.

Additionally, the oral medications meglitinides, sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones (TZDs) have been associated with increased body weight; however, weight gain is not universal among patients using these drugs. These oral medications can promote weight gain because they increase the amount of insulin in the body, which causes the body to retain calories.

Insulin, meglitinides, and sulfonylureas decrease the amount of glucose that is excreted in the urine, and excess glucose that is retained in the body is stored as fat. TZDs can also increase body weight because they cause fluid retention.

A balanced diet and exercise is important for everyone with diabetes, but is especially important for patients who are using one or more of these drugs associated with increased body weight. If you are currently on one of these medications, you can prevent weight gain by not taking in excess calories and striving to be physically active most days of the week.

Recipes To Try

Zesty Turkey Burgers with Mushrooms
4 servings

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 6 mushrooms, slices
  • ¼ cup chopped onions to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • Dijon mustard, optional
  1. Mix together turkey, onions, chutney and pepper. Form 4 patties.
  2. Cook in a non-stick skillet 4 to 5 minutes on 1 side. Add sliced mushrooms and cook 4 to 5 minutes on other side.
  3. Serve on bun spread lightly with Dijon mustard

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories 188
Protein 21 grams
Carbohydrate 3 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Fat 10 grams
Calories from fat 48%
Cholesterol 90 mg

Caribbean Seafood & Black Bean Salad
6 -1 cup servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup drained jarred tropical fruit in light syrup
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp, cut in chunks
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups green pepper, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over-medium high heat. Add the shrimp and garlic. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque in the center. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the beans, lime juice, green pepper, tabasco, fruit, cilantro, limeade concentration, hot sauce and salt to the bowl. Stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve on a bed of lettuce, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories 245
Protein 19 grams
Carbohydrate 24 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Fat 5 grams
Calories from fat 18%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 689 mg

Menu Suggestions



Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt

1 cup

Granola Cereal

1/2 cup


1 cup

554 Calories, 80 Carbohydrates, 5.5 Carbohydrate Choices


Whole Wheat Crackers

7 crackers

Cheddar Cheese

1 ounce

238 Calories, 20 Carbohydrates, 1.5 Carbohydrate Choices


Asparagus Frittata†

1 serving

Whipped Margarine

2 teaspoons

Garden Salad

1 cup

Fat-Free Salad Dressing

1 tablespoon

Pineapple Bars†

2 bars

Whole Wheat Bread, Toasted

2 slices

704 calories, 74 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices


Caribbean Seafood Black Bean Salad†

1 serving

Pita Bread

1/2 pita

Brown Rice, Cooked

1/2 cup

Skim Milk 8 ounces

527 Calories, 75 Carbohydrates, 5 Carbohydrate Choices

Total: 2023 Calories, 249 Carbohydrates, 16.5 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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