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Good nutrition is essential to a healthy lifestyle. For people with diabetes, nutrition has even more critical implications, so keeping track of what you eat to make sure you get a variety of the right foods in the right amounts is an important element of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, a serious disease in which blood sugar (glucose) levels are above normal. Most people with diabetes have Type 2, once known as adult-onset diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is not caused by obesity, and many people with this disease are of normal weight. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is strongly related to being overweight or obese, and losing even a moderate amount of weight can reduce the need for treating the diabetes with medication. In some cases, it can even eliminate the diabetes and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Anyone with diabetes needs to watch their carbohydrate consumption to avoid spikes in blood glucose levels.

“You are somewhat in the driver’s seat. Typically, diabetics require more medicine over the years to manage their disease. But, if you can lose weight and make dietary changes, you may be able to reduce the medicine you need.”
—Teresa Love, MS, RD, CDE

Myth: Diabetics can’t eat fruit, bread, potatoes, rice, carrots or anything white.
Truth: They can in moderation.
People with Type 2 diabetes need to be aware of the carbs in their diet, but reducing overall calories and exercising regularly are the biggest keys to weight loss success. It is important to eat three meals a day with a balance of complex carbohydrates (vegetables and whole grains), healthy fats (think nuts and olive oil) and lean proteins (fish, chicken and beans). It’s also a good idea to keep some healthy snacks on hand.

Strict limiting of one particular kind of food over a long period of time is difficult for many people to stick with, so eat a well-balanced diet and get more exercise! The goal is not to eliminate all carbohydrates and sugars, but to practice moderation.

Lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight
The Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has shown that you can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by losing weight through a reduced-calorie diet and by increasing physical activity. “Individuals should aim for a seven percent weight loss over three months and 150 minutes of physical activity weekly,” said Teresa Love, MS, RD, CDE, a nutritionist at Howard County General Hospital.

Diabetic diet DOs
Our nutritionist recommends that you:

  • Keep a log of all your food and beverages using a notebook or websites and apps to track calorie intake.
  • Incorporate lima, kidney and black beans into your diet. They are a good source of iron and fiber and a carbohydrate that doesn’t raise blood sugar significantly.
  • Try not to drink calories in the form of sugary beverages or alcohol.
  • Eat breakfast within an hour or two of getting up.
  • Eat consistently – a meal or a snack – every three to five hours.
  • Don’t consume all of your food at the end of the day.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Try to have a protein-based food with each meal: lean meat, eggs, cottage cheese, or yogurt to control hunger and blood sugar.
  • Practice strategies that help control portions like using choosemyplate.gov.
  • Do not buy all sugar-free and no-sugar-added products. Instead, eat whole foods that are natural and less processed. The fewer ingredients, the better the food is for you.
  • Eat half of your meal when you eat out at a restaurant and take the rest home or share with someone. Restaurant portions are typically too large.
  • Remember that exercise not only helps you lose weight but can help lower blood glucose levels.










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Many thanks to Kelly Mack for her contributions to Well & Wise.

In my farewell reflections, I want to share my thanks for allowing me to tell some of my health stories and lessons learned. I view health as a journey, trying to find a good balance in our daily life. With this approach, taking a look back at the path can be very helpful for planning next steps.

In my case, I made some great steps in physical therapy and gaining strength following knee replacement surgery. While I still have additional goals, I have found regular exercise to be very beneficial in my recovery and overall health. On the more challenging side, my chronic rheumatoid arthritis (RA) provides more adventure than I would like. This year I went on a new medication, but the side effects of weakening my immune system have led to bronchitis, pneumonia, and similar issues.

For me, health is a tricky balance. I don’t often feel I have a handle on it, but try to approach health as a daily practice. When I can string together some healthy days, I feel encouraged. A few weeks and I get ecstatic. I’m never 100 percent, but I’m always working on my health.

For the coming year I have a good foundation to build on. I’m happy with my exercise practice and feel I’ve made great improvements to my eating habits with the help of a nutritionist. I plan on incorporating meditation to help manage stress and pain from my RA. Continuing to gain strength will always be an important goal while also trying to maintain (or even improve) my quality of life with RA.

More elusively, I need to find a better balance with my RA treatment’s side effects and the attack of the disease. Unfortunately, I don’t have a plan for this piece, but need to consult with my doctor and work step-by-step to find a way.

With this in mind, how would you assess your year in health? Made some improvements? Noted some setbacks? Can you pick out one or two new practices you can embrace every day to support your health? It may sound crazy, but I’ve found making a change to daily habits can build gradually over time and give the confidence that long term health goals are possible to achieve.

Best of luck in your assessment and hope you can stake out some wins in the New Year!

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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In general, the components of a healthy diet don’t change terribly much over your lifespan. However, as people age, their vitamin needs change, which is a natural part of aging. Following are six vitamin checks for seniors to stay their nutritionally best from Alicia I. Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Medicine, and director of Transitional Care in the Research Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


  • man taking vitamins
    Multivitamin Check: Seniors should supplement for specific vitamin deficiencies rather than take a general overall supplement. Multivitamins are not “one size fits all.” Also, taking too much of some vitamins can be toxic. Multivitamins are synthetic and not as beneficial as eating the vitamin in its natural form...food! (Photo © Steveheap | Dreamstime.com)

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Women often think that when they become pregnant, they must eat for two, and end up consuming too many calories. Typically, a pregnancy weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds is recommended for a normal weight woman, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Women are encouraged to enter pregnancy at a healthy weight. Also, if you are significantly overweight, you should gain less during your pregnancy. Following are six keys toward making your pregnancy more healthful and nutritious.


  • nutrition and early pregnancy
    According to Teresa Love, a registered dietitian on staff at Howard County General Hospital, “To maintain a healthy pregnancy, expecting mothers should only be adding 150 calories a day and 2-3 oz. of additional protein (meat, cheese or eggs) in the first trimester. [© Michaeljung | Dreamstime.com]

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Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

The Howard County General Hospital Symphony of Lights, a spectacular display of 70 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations, has been a favorite community holiday tradition for 21 years and the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the hospital.

People have been running, walking, driving, pushing tots in strollers, walking pets on leashes and celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Symphony of Lights for many years, and now there is a new, healthier way to enjoy the holiday magic. You can “Bike the Lights” on Tuesday, Dec. 2. It’s a great family outing and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season for bikers of all ages and abilities. If you’re not keen on biking, you can walk…the course is 1.4 miles and mostly flat! It will help you be festive and fit.

In addition to having fun and helping your community hospital, biking is good for your heart and your health. Here are some great reasons to ride your bike through the holiday lights and to make biking a part of your regular exercise routines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that physical activity—anything that makes you move your body to burn calories—is very important to prevent heart disease and stroke and recommends at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, five times a week. Biking is an excellent aerobic activity.

According to the AHA, regular exercise:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout your body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases your enthusiasm and optimism
  • Increases your muscle strength

A daily exercise program can provide a way for you to share an activity with your family and friends, while helping you establish good heart-healthy habits. Daily exercise can help your child deter conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life. If you are an older adult, daily physical activity can help delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and help you maintain your quality of life and independence longer.

Do your hospital and your body a big favor: Come out and Bike the Lights!

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One of the ironic things about becoming sick and living with a chronic illness is that you increasingly appreciate good health and feeling well. Although I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis since I was a small child, I still admire wellness in others.

For example, I have difficulty walking and yet enjoy watching others—how easy it looks in comparison to the gait I practice with great effort and thoughtful concentration. It amazes me just not only how people can walk without thinking about it, but that they can run. To me, running is akin to flying—an amazing feat.

Maybe my favorite healthy person to watch is a toddler. They have such beautifully healthy and flexible joints! I love how they can tumble and play—moving without an ounce of effort and filled with energy. Living with a joint disease has led me to appreciate bones that are not painful, that are flexible and healthy.

When I had my knee removed, all I wanted was a good, functioning knee. When I had my new knee replacement, I wanted strength and to be able to lift my leg on my own power. Gradually I got there, but it was keeping that goal of better health in my mind that helped me to achieve it. Sometimes seeing good health and knowing what it is to you can be an inspiration for a goal. Other times it is something you can appreciate and admire.

I know that I will not be cured of my rheumatoid arthritis and return to perfect health. I live with an ongoing condition that can also cause other issues. However, I appreciate the relative health I do have. No matter how bad we’re feeling, I think it’s possible to find a bright side—like a steady heartbeat, breath of fresh air, or the feeling of sun on our skin.

Appreciating good health, means being glad of it for others and counting our blessings even during an illness.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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