November: Native American Heritage Month and Diabetes Awareness

Did you realize November is Native American Heritage Month? For me, this hits close to home as I am part Blackfoot. Being part Native American can increase your risk for developing Diabetes; as can having both parents diagnosed with Diabetes. Although I am a dietitian, and I try to eat balanced meals, I am considered “high risk” and try to each “consistent carbohydrates” throughout the day, meaning I try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal as well as trying to eat 6 small meals throughout the day.

1 in 2 Native American Adults has Diabetes- that means 50%, whether they have been diagnosed or not.

The prevalence of having or developing Type 2 diabetes is higher for Native Americans than anyone else in the United States.

The American Diabetes Association has a special program for Native Americans called Awakening the Spirit.

Counting Carbohydrates: How-to:

Only a health care professional can tell you exactly how many carbohydrates you should be consuming. However, the general number of grams of carbohydrates is 45 – 60g per meal.

The brain needs a certain amount of glucose per day to function properly- usually recommended between 120 – 150g. Carbohydrates, throughout the day, can help provide this glucose so your brain and body functions properly.

What foods contain carbohydrates? Bread, grain, rice, cereal, fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, beans, soy products, ‘starchy’ vegetables, and sweets generally all contain carbohydrates. As to whether they are complex or simple carbohydrates is a different story.

How many carbohydrates are in your meal or snack?

  •  Read the label- carbohydrates are listed along with other helpful nutritional facts. Don’t forget to take the number of carbohydrates and multiply or divide by the number of servings you are consuming.
  • No label? Consider using this chart based on portion sizes:

Current Food Exchange Categories and   Values

Type   of Food Serving   Size* Calories Carbohydrates Fat
Vegetables 1/2   cup – 1 cup 25 5   grams 0
Fat-Free   or Very Lowfat Milk 3/4-1   cup 90 12 0
Very   Lean Protein 1   oz. (varies) 35 0 1
Lean   Protein 1   oz. (varies) 55 0 2-3
Medium   Fat Protein 1   oz. (varies) 75 0 5
Fruits 1   piece, 1/2-1 cup 60 15 0
Starches varies 80 15 0
Fats 1   tsp, 1-2 tbls. 45 0 5

Here are some recipes to consider for your Thanksgiving Meal. Why? Check out these holiday meal shockers:

Fitness Corner: Exercise Precautions with Diabetes

Exercise has so many health benefits but everybody is different and some should take precautions when exercising- especially if you have diabetes or a blood glucose-related condition such as reactive hypoglycemia. Why are there special precautions for diabetes? Exercise, depending on the type and intensity, can either increase or decrease blood glucose levels. What are some helpful precautions to take?

  • If you have an identification tag, wear it to the gym and everywhere else. This way, if something happens and you cannot communicate your medical condition, medical specialists will be able to take your condition into consideration when assisting you.
  • Establish a consistent eating, medication, and exercise routine, with pre- and post-workout meals as needed.
  • Ask your health professional about medication doses related to the intensity, duration, and time of exercise. The dosage and timing of a medication can impact your glucose levels during exercise.
  • Workout with a buddy! Aside from the extra motivation, a workout buddy who knows what to do if your blood glucose is out of control, can save your life.
  • Follow the American Diabetes Association Guidelines:

Once you have taken the proper precautions, be ready to see how exercise can benefit your diabetes and it’s related complications:

  • Can improve the body’s use of insulin
  • Burns calories which can burn excess fat which can aid in weight loss which can positively affect insulin sensitivity