Managing diabetes

Managing Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness

Many consider diabetes to be like a roller coaster with significant ups and downs, but you have the choice to be fearful or to enjoy the ride. When it comes to diabetes management, living a productive happy life is possible, but it requires a consistent effort to keep your blood sugar levels in check by making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Getting Screened for Diabetes

The first step is diagnosis. Nearly one-third of those with diabetes don’t know they have the condition (source: CDC). Because there are often few or no symptoms of type 2 diabetes, early screening is essential to avoid developing complications of the disease which include damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) need to be screened every three years. All adults need to be screened at 40. For those who have diabetes risk factors, screening should start at an earlier age and happen more frequently (USPTF). Risk factors include:

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings with the condition)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race/ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander)
  • High blood pressure (equal to or greater than 140/90)
  • History of impaired fasting glucose or gestational diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million have prediabetes with blood sugar levels that are higher than normal (source: CDC).

Healthy Eating for Life

Well-balanced meals are fundamental in keeping your blood sugar levels within the range recommended by your doctor and for living a long, healthy life – whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes. This requires knowing how food impacts your blood sugar levels. This includes the type, quantity and combinations of foods that you eat.

“If you are at risk of diabetes or have already received a diagnosis, having a consultation with a registered dietitian can be very beneficial in helping you on the right path,” says Marissa Licata, Registered Dietitian at Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “Diabetes isn’t just about avoiding sugar. It’s about being able to plan healthy meals, coordinating meals and medications and learning how to count carbohydrates and measure portion sizes.”

The Daily Routine

Along with eating healthy, there are other healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt which can help you manage your blood sugar levels. These include:

Exercising Regularly – When you stay active, your muscles use sugar for energy, and your body uses insulin more efficiently.

Following Medication Guidelines – Insulin and other medications may be prescribed if diet and exercise alone are not enough to manage your diabetes. Their effectiveness depends on the timing and size of their dose.

Managing Stress – Hormones produced in response to stress can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. It’s important to learn strategies for coping with stress in your everyday life.

Staying Informed – The more you know about your condition and what can affect your blood sugar levels, the better you can anticipate and manage fluctuations.

“When it comes to managing diabetes, the key is not to let it have you,” says Alyson Myers, MD, Medical Director, Inpatient Diabetes, North Shore University Hospital. “It’s vital to stay focused on day-to-day factors that affect your blood sugar levels. This means healthy eating, getting physical activity, taking prescribed medications, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and seeing your doctor on a regular basis.”

Join Us on the evening of November 16th for an important Katz Institute for Women’s Health (KIWH) Women’s Wellness event: Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about diabetes. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Healthy Eating Tips to Remember During National Diabetes Month

By Marie Frazzitta, DNP

About 12.6 million, or 10.8 percent of all American women 20 years of age and older, have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has identified eating well to maintain a healthy weight as one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Sticking to healthy eating habits can be difficult on a normal day, let alone during the upcoming holiday season when unhealthy food options surround us.

November is National Diabetes Month and with the holidays only a few weeks away, there’s no better time than now to remind ourselves of some of the simple, healthy habits that we can add into our daily routines.

When eating at a restaurant:

  • Try to view the menu online beforehand and decide what you want to order. By selecting a healthy option before arriving at the restaurant, you can avoid making less healthy decisions when you walk in hungry.
  • When you arrive, request that the waiter not bring bread to your table. If it’s not within reach, it becomes less of a temptation. Instead, start your meal with a salad.
  • When ordering, stick to sugar-free drinks. This is a quick way to save calories. Also try to choose food that is broiled and baked instead of items like casseroles or meals that come with sauces. If a dish comes with a sauce, ask for it on the side so you can monitor how much you use.
  • Concerned about carbohydrate intake? A good rule is to keep portions about the size of your fist.

When eating at home:

  • Plan meals in advance. Choose a day of the week to do the prep work for your meals, like cutting and cleaning vegetables. A lot of people go off of their meal plans when they are hungry and have nothing planned out. By doing this work ahead of time, it will be easy to cook a healthy meal.
  • Use smaller plates. Did you know that the average dinner plate in the 1950s was about nine inches in diameter? Our plates are now about 12 inches in diameter. Using smaller plates will make portion sizes appear larger.
  • Want a second serving? Give yourself a few minutes to digest. Often it takes time for digestion to catch up with the feeling of hunger, so you may realize after waiting a few minutes that you are not really hungry anymore and do not need a second helping.

While adopting some of these habits into your lifestyle can help your health and lower your risk for diabetes, it’s also important to be physically active. Anyone who watches TV already has activity time built into their schedule. It’s as simple as getting up and marching in place during commercial breaks. Or, when you get home at the end of the day, walk once around the block before going into the house. Adding these brief activities into your day can make a difference in your health.

Want to learn more about diabetes and how to help yourself or a loved one cope with the disease? The North Shore-LIJ Health System diabetes education program will be hosting an educational session on Friday, November 22 at North Shore University Hospital. The program will cover healthy eating, physical activity, medications, monitoring glucose levels and managing the disease. For more information, call 855-36-GOALS or email

Concerned about your risk for developing diabetes? Bring these healthy tips to your next doctor’s visit to discuss which ones you should incorporate into your lifestyle or call 855-850-5494 to reach a women’s health specialist at the Katz Institute.