Three ways to manage your diabetes

By Sheah Rarback,

So celebrity chef Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. I am concerned for everyone with this diagnosis since I have a first cousin who died from diabetes and I work with teenagers who are struggling with the required lifestyle changes.

I empathize with Paula as she deals with this complex disease. I question why she waited until she had a contract with a drug company before she made the announcement. The drug the company promotes, according to its website, “is not recommended as the first medication to treat diabetes.”

The first recommendation for Type 2 diabetes is nutrient-rich foods, more activity, and weight loss if overweight. Unfortunately, these recommendations do not pay for television commercials. Everyone with diabetes needs to be in consultation with his or her health care provider to discuss when medication is necessary. Luckily, no prescription is needed for food.

Following are my three top recommendations for both prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes.

  • Go green: The benefits of leafy green vegetables cannot be overstated. In addition to fiber, they are a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly magnesium. Research has shown that higher magnesium intakes are associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Other good sources of magnesium are whole grains and nuts.
  • Fill up on fiber: Fiber from whole grains such as oatmeal, barley and brown rice are high quality carbohydrates that do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as white bread and rice. Avoid the single serve oatmeal packages that are high in added sugar. Cook the oatmeal a little crunchy and top it with almonds and cinnamon for a mega-prevention breakfast. Beans also must be included in all fiber recommendations.
  • Good fats are fine: Since diabetes increases risk for heart attack and stroke, increasing omega 3 fatty acids is an important for prevention. Sardines and salmon are the best animal sources and walnuts and flax are great for vegetarians.

Put this food prescription on your plate and enjoy.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

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