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Karen Chapman Novakofski

Professor of Nutrition

Marilyn Csernus

Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness


April/May 2016

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Summer Travel Tips for Diabetes

As summer nears, thoughts may be drifting towards spending time outside enjoying the warmth of the sun or taking a much anticipated vacation. Having diabetes requires a little more thought and preparation when planning an outing or vacation than might be necessary for others. Unexpected delays or a change of plans can prove to be a challenge for keeping blood glucose stable.

Planning ahead for all the "what if's" can prepare you for the unexpected! Nobody expects to have car trouble, a flat tire, a delayed flight, lost luggage, or any number of inconveniences. Unfortunately, for someone dependent on diabetes medication and monitoring, these inconveniences can quickly turn into a potentially dangerous situation. Being prepared for the unexpected can be the difference in managing your blood glucose or spending time in the emergency room.

To assure your next adventure is a safe one, follow these tips from the American Association of Diabetes Educators:

  1. Pack extra medication and supplies. Don't forget extra test strips, syringes, glucagon, glucose tablets, and batteries for your insulin pump. It's wise to pack twice as much as needed. Ask your doctor for a prescription for your insulin or oral medications to take along in case of an emergency. If you use an insulin pump, ask your pump company if they will provide a backup.
  2. Keep medications close at hand. Avoid placing medications in the trunk or in checked baggage. Extreme temperatures can be harmful to medication. Keep medications in the original containers and in a separate bag from toiletries as requested by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Diabetes medication and supplies are allowed to go over the 3.4-liquid ounce limit for carry-ons.
  3. Take extra care. If you need to inject insulin while in the air be aware that the air pressure can make using a vial and syringe to draw up insulin more difficult. Care must be taken not to inject air into the bottle.
  4. Medical bracelet or necklace. It is wise to wear a medical bracelet or necklace identifying that you have diabetes. Carry a health card that includes your current medications, emergency contacts, and doctor's contact information. If traveling in non-English speaking countries, learn how to say a few diabetes-related words in the language of the country you are visiting. Being able to say "I have diabetes" or ask for orange juice could come in handy.
  5. Pack snacks and/or glucose tablets for low blood sugar. Access to food can be untimely when traveling, so always pack a juice box, banana, crackers, peanut butter crackers, granola bar or glucose tablets.
  6. Test your glucose often. Many factors can throw off your blood glucose when traveling. Unfamiliar foods, different activity levels, and changing time zones are factors that may affect your blood glucose levels. Plan time for injecting insulin, taking medications, and checking glucose levels.
  7. Pamper your feet. Vacations, or even day trips usually involve a lot of walking. First and foremost, wear comfortable shoes. This isn't the time to break-in a new pair of shoes! Don't go barefoot either. Check your feet on a regular basis for blisters or broken skin. To keep blood flowing well on long flights, or anytime you have been sitting for long periods of time, point and flex your ankle regularly and get up and move around when possible.
  8. Plan ahead for a health emergency. If medical care is needed seek a recommendation for a doctor from your hotel. If traveling out of the U.S. a list of English speaking doctors is available from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at www.iamat.org.

Diabetes and Food

Planning ahead is just as important when it comes to eating, whether traveling or just enjoying the days of summer with friends and family at the beach or a back yard barbeque. Keeping up with your healthy lifestyle habits like regular physical activity, meal planning, glucose monitoring, and taking medication will help keep you on track. When invited to a summer picnic or barbeque consider offering to bring a dish to share. This will assure a healthy option. Don't skip meals and snacks. Depending on your meal plan and medication needs, it may be possible to eat a smaller meal earlier in the day to leave a little more room for the party. Care should be taken to plan wisely for carb and insulin needs and maintain a balance throughout the day. Spacing carbohydrate intake evenly though out the day helps keep blood glucose stable. Consider the following to enjoy the flavors of the season and keep glucose controlled:

  1. Don't forget hidden ingredients. Brown sugar added to barbeque sauce or baked beans are sometimes overlooked when counting carbs. Although mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese don't add carbs, they add lots of calories. Think about taking a smaller serving of baked beans or potato salad and an extra serving of grilled veggies to keep carb intake balanced.
  2. Make substitutions. Instead of adding a lot of mayo to that grilled chicken sandwich, experiment with different mustards and load it up with lettuce, tomato, avocado, spinach, or even grilled onions and peppers.
  3. Stick with lean, grilled meat, poultry, or fish. There are many delicious grilled options from chicken kabobs, grilled salmon to turkey burgers.
  4. Load up on veggies! Cut up your favorite raw veggies and enjoy with hummus, or a dip made from non-fat Greek yogurt. A green salad, vegetable kabobs, or a variety of grilled vegetables are great ways to round out a meal.
  5. Alcohol in moderation. It's easy to lose track of what you are eating after a few drinks. Not to mention, there is carbohydrate in beer, dessert wines, and regular soda if used in cocktails. Moderation is considered one alcoholic beverage per day for women and two for men.
  6. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water! Add a slice of lemon or lime or try out sparkling or mineral water for a change. Sugar-free lemonade or unsweetened iced tea are also great thirst quenchers on a hot summer day.
  7. Enjoy fresh fruit. Nothing says summer like sliced watermelon or strawberries. Sometimes these sweet treats are enough to satisfy that yearning to reach for a brownie.

Recipies to try

Zesty Turkey Burgers with Mushrooms

4 servings


  • 1-pound lean ground turkey
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 6 mushrooms, slices
  • Pepper to taste
  • 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
Fat 10 grams
Protein 21 grams
Calories from fat 48
Carbohydrate 3 grams
Cholesterol 90 mg
Fiber 0 grams
Sodium 135 mg

Dill Carrots

6 servings

  • 1 package (10 oz.) shredded carrots
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ medium onion, sliced, shredded
  • Dried dill
  1. In a medium saucepan add carrots and onion. Add water.
  2. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with dill before serving
Nutrition facts per serving
Calories 21
Fat 0 grams
Protein 1 gram
Calories from fat 0
Carbohydrate 5 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Fiber 1 gram
Sodium 38 mg

Sample Menu


Diced Cantaloupe1 cup
Poached Egg1
Oatmeal½ cup
Whole Wheat Toast 1
Toasted Walnuts7 halves
Soft Tub Margarine2 teaspoons
Skim Milk1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 578
Carbohydrates 60 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 4


Zesty Turkey Burger with Mushrooms*1
Whole Wheat Bun1 small
Dill Carrots*1 serving
Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt6 ounces
Fresh Blueberries¾ cup
Sugar-free Lemonade1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 532
Carbohydrates 64 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 4 Choices


Grilled Orange Chicken*1 serving
Baked Steak Fries*1 serving
Ketchup 1 tablespoon
Zucchini Salad* 1 serving
Skim milk1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 768
Carbohydrates 74 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 5 Choices


Calories 1878
Carbohydrates 198 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 13 Choices

*Recipies from Recipes for Diabetes at extension.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/ or this newsletter

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