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October 1999 Issue
Diet and Diabetes
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Facts About Artificial Sweeteners

One of the principles of an Exchange System diet is that you can exchange equal amounts of sweet foods for starches -- gram of carbohydrate for gram of carbohydrate -- and still keep your blood sugar in control. But this does not mean that sugar and sweets should be a regular part of your diet. To enjoy a sweet taste without the excess sugar, you may want to try the wide range of "substitute sugars" available today.

Keep these facts about substitute sugars in mind:

  • There are two types of sweeteners, those with calories and those without. The ones that do have calories - fructose, sorbitol, and mannitol -- can cause cramping and diarrhea if used in large amounts.
  • Corn syrup, honey, molasses and sucrose are natural sweeteners which are similar in calories to sugar.
  • There are three major non-nutritive sweeteners on the market -- aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K.

How Exercise Affects Blood Sugar

When you exercise, your muscles use two fuels -- glucose and fatty acids -- to burn fuel; insulin is important in exercise because it enables your body to use blood sugar for energy.

Always keep these exercise tips in mind:

  • If your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dl and your urine has ketones, you should not exercise.

  • Choose the best time to exercise. Since exercise helps lower blood sugar, it is best to exercise when your blood sugar is at its highest, which is usually about an hour after a meal.

  • If your medication is at peak activity, it is better not to exercise, because this could lower blood sugar.

  • Blood sugar is usually lowest before a meal, so that is not the best time to exercise, either; however, it might be all right if you have a light snack before you exercise, to prevent low blood sugar.

  • Low blood sugar can occur 12-24 hours after vigorous exercise. This lag is due to the decreased reserves of glycogen being replenished by the sugar in your blood, resulting in a lower blood sugar level than you might otherwise expect.

Putting It All To Work

Having the right kind of diet can make living with diabetes easy. Of course, with all of the details to remember and the limitations to abide by, it might seem like having "real food" might be a thing of the past. But that’s just not true. To help give you an idea about what kinds of foods can be enjoyed by diabetics, check out these great-tasting recipes. You’ll be surprised by what diabetics can eat – why, it’s real food!!!

 

Rainbow Soup

The brightly colored veggies in this soup make it a pleasure to see as well as a pleasure to eat!
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into very thin slices
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 qts. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 c. packed fresh spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. dry angel hair pasta, broken in quarters
  • 6 T. grated Parmesan cheese
Combine first seven ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or just until vegetables are tender.

Add spinach, mushrooms and angel hair pasta. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente.

Ladle into serving bowls, and sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese. (Recipe can be halved – but I’d just freeze the leftovers!)

  • Yields: 16 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 

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