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Diabetes and the holidays, damage control

Diabetes and the holidays damage control

Diabetes and the holidays, damage control

By Dianne Anderson

Special to the NNPA from The Precinct Reporter

      From now until after New Year’s, everyone is breaking out the Christmas cakes and cookies, the breads, the cobblers, the sweet potato pies, and just another helping of that mac ‘n cheese, please. Yum.

     But before it’s all over, expect another 10 pounds and an inch to the waistline, or worse.

     With every bite, some of the best weight loss gurus say chew on this: Breads, potatoes, pastas

and even white rice turns to sugar and fat inside the body.

     Valerie Loduem, associate director of African American program for the American Diabetes Association, admits that getting through the holidays is always tough when it comes to exercising control, but it doesn’t have to be painful or tasteless.

     Still, people need to become mindful of what they’re eating, she said. In the age of health

consciousness, gorging is so passe.

     This time of the year, she is stressing that people look down at their plates before they dive in. Borderline diabetics and those with full blown Type 2 diabetes need to especially watch their complex carbohydrates with total moderation in mind.

     For Christmas, the best bet is always loading up on vegetables and greens, which are also high in vitamins A, C, and minerals. Another helping of turkey isn’t the culprit, but go very slow or not at all on the potatoes, candied yams, and cornbread dressing.

     “Portion control, it’s not like you can’t go through Thanksgiving without the turkey and dressing, but it doesn’t mean you have three or four or five plates of it,” Loduem said.

     In working with diabetics in the Black and minority communities, she said her biggest message is the importance of regular screenings and early diagnosis. She said the association provides any information anyone with the disease needs. Health teams are also available with resources to help clients whether they are insured, or not.

Currently, African Americans hold the lead for those impacted by the disease, and are six times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than whites, compared to Latinos at 1.5 times, and Asians at 1.2 times.

     As a diabetes educator and dietician, Ms. Loduem said that the American Diabetes Association has numerous resources and info on their website

     Also, at the local level, community outreach workers walk clients through meal plans, teach them how to modify recipes, and learn to test your blood sugar levels.

     Her other big concern is that too many African Americans are taking their diagnosis too lightly.  Many ignore the need to change their diets at all. “They take it as the norm. I have low sugar, okay, whatever,” she said.

     But not following a plan can have severe complications. ADA reports that in 2007, over 230,000 deaths were attributed to diabetes or related complications, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

     Those who have been diagnosed need to stay on top of their sugar levels, test two to three times a day, learn when they have spikes in their glucose level, or when they fall low.

     It is important for everyone to know their body, she said, and knows when something is internally wrong.

     “It’s really never too late,” she said. “Try to put together an individual plan. Try to make sure that you’re testing your blood sugar levels every day,” she said.

     Health experts say that at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week is enough to positively impact or ward off stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and early heart disease.

     The American Diabetes Association reports that roughly 13 percent of African-Americans have diabetes, compared to only 7 percent of whites. Other data from the Office of Minority Health shows that in 2009, African Americans were 2.2 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes

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