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Nutrition 101: Diabetes is a Famiy Affair

November 7, 2017

By Nancy Schive, clinical dietitian, diabetes educator at UnityPoint Health - Marshalltown

MARSHALLTOWN - Diabetes is a challenging disease that affects the entire family in many ways.  If you are living with diabetes or have a loved one with the disease, family support is very important when it comes to managing diabetes and preventing serious health problems.  It’s also important to know that if you have a family history of diabetes – such as a mother, father, brother or sister – you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

You can take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes!     

Although you cannot change your family health history, knowing about it can give you the information you need to work with your health care team to take action on the things you can change.  If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can prevent or delay this disease by making important lifestyle changes.  If you’re overweight, losing 5-7% of your body weight (for example, 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) can help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.  Here are some tips to help you do this:

1.     Move more.

Plan to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days each week to help you lose weight.  You can get this amount in small ways throughout the day.  If you have not been active, talk to your doctor and start slowly to build up to your goal. Here are some ideas to fit more physical activity into your day:  park your car further away from stores, movie theaters or your place of work; use TV breaks to stretch, take a quick walk around your home, do some sit-ups or march in place; get your friends and family involved by setting a walking date, shooting hoops or taking a bike ride; walk during your lunch break; hand-deliver a message to a co-worker instead of by email; take the stairs to your office instead of the elevator.

2.     Make healthy food choices

Choose foods that are lower in fat, sugar and calories to help you lose weight.  Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables daily.  Choose whole grain foods: whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and whole grain cereals. Reduce fat intake by broiling, baking or grilling poultry, lean meats and fish instead of frying.  Lighten your recipes by using nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise.  Use cooking spray instead of oil.  Avoid getting too hungry between meals by eating healthy snack.  Try to not keep chips, cookies or candy in your home.  Better snack choices might include raw vegetables, fruit, low-fat or nonfat yogurt or a small handful of nuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.  Choose water to drink.

3.     Limit portion sizes.  Use this chart as a guide for portions:

·       ½ cup rice or pasta = a handful

·       1 cup cereal flakes or cooked vegetables = one fist

·       1 teaspoon butter or margarine = thumb tip

·       1 tablespoon salad dressing, peanut butter or hummus = thumb

·       3 ounce meat/chicken/fish portion = palm of hand or deck of cards

4.     Start NOW to prevent diabetes.

The key to losing weight and preventing diabetes is to make long-term changes that work for you every day.  Taking these steps is a great way to get started.  Want to know whether you are at risk for type 2 diabetes?  Take the Family Health History Quiz.

To find out more information on how small changes to your diet can help with your weight management goals, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or dietitians@unitypoint.org.

Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Medical Weight Loss Clinic.



Try this recipe!



Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Serves: 6



1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves, garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped



Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Reduce heat to low and add quinoa.  Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the quinoa doesn’t burn.  Add the chicken broth and juice of 1 lime and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until done.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the juice of 1 lime and chopped cilantro.






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