Mar 12, 2013

Take Precautions and Prevent Diabetes During National Heart Month and Beyond

No matter what time of year it is, it’s always important to practice healthy habits as an individual and as a family. I myself have always considered myself to be somewhat of a “health nut,” and most of my family too. Which is why I was completely shocked when one of my youngest cousins was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes only a few short months ago. I knew she had been struggling with her weight for some time, but didn’t realize how serious the issue really was.

heart health
After talking with her doctors and doing some research, we started to come together as a family to make some changes to lifestyle habits. The 2 best ways to both prevent or manage Type 2 is through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Syracuse’s St. Joseph’s Cardiac Hospital points to a clear connection between diabetes and heart disease – since February was National Heart Month, what better time is there to start practicing healthy habits with your family, too? 

Here are some tips to consider:

Nutrition Tips
1. Try Healthy Snacks Without Refined Sugar
Refined sugar has no nutritional value and does nothing to help you get healthy. It’s okay to eat some  “sweets” as long as it is in moderation. The best thing to do is to try and sweeten things with a healthier substitute, such as honey. Here is a great pumpkin-pie oatmeal recipe that we like to make for breakfast sometimes. The recipe calls for Splenda, but even that isn’t great for you, so we like to use honey instead.

2. Eat Lean Proteins
You need protein in your diet to stay healthy. The best type of proteins are lean, which include legumes, nut butter, and lean cuts of meat such as chicken, turkey, or salmon. Lean proteins should take up ¼ of your plate at each meal.

3. Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
vegetable stir fry with chicken
Aim for eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These should take up ½ of your plate at each meal. Sometimes it’s hard to get picky eaters to eat their fruits and/or veggies, so if that happens, try getting creative. Grill the veggies, or put them in a stir fry. Try to make creative snacks with them, or make delicious smoothies that hide the taste of veggies that are mixed in with fruit.

4. Eat a Healthier Version of Starches
Starches – which seem to make up 95% of comfort foods – should only make up ¼ of your plate at each meal. To cut down on calories, and increase nutritional value, try making healthier versions of starches with your meals. Make pureed cauliflower or mashed sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes, and use whole-grain pasta or stringed squash instead of white pasta. Each little change makes a difference.  

Exercise Tips
1. Exercise Daily
Exercising daily doesn’t mean you have to be running miles and working out for hours at the gym. It just means that you should push yourself to try and be active each day, in whatever way you can.  If you can get a great workout in at the gym or a fitness class, great! If that just isn’t feasible sometimes, do some at-home Yoga or Pilates, go for a walk around the neighborhood, etc. Whatever you can do to get active is a big help.

2. Go for a Bike Ride
family bike ride

Go biking with your family to the park or around the neighborhood. Get a group of your kids’ friends together and take them to a biking trail. Most kids love biking, and they forget they are exercising while doing it.

3. Go to the Park
Go to the park and play on the jungle gym with your kids. Fly a kite and run around to see it soaring through the sky. Kick a ball around together, or play some catch. Get an organized game going of soccer, kickball, or another sport. Just have fun!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at

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