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Can convenience foods be nutritious?

Can convenience foods be nutritious?
Picture of Phyllis Mair
Posted by: Phyllis Mair
Posted on: July 14, 2016

Information is power, especially when it comes to eating well. For people living with diabetes (and those who are not), nutrition information is an important tool that can help you make the best decision about what to eat for your health. This means choosing foods that are higher in fibre and other important nutrients, and lower in calories, saturated fat, or sodium.

According to one study from Drexel University School of Public Health, people who had nutrition information on restaurant menus consumed, on average, 151 fewer calories, 224 fewer milligrams of sodium, and 3.7 grams less saturated fat than those who did not have this information available. In other words, the information helped to change their behaviour in a good way.

So how do you sharpen those food detective skills? Read more from What to do when there’s no nutrition label at the deli? in the summer 2016 issue of Diabetes Dialogue now.

How do you make your nutrition decisions when you’re buying takeout? Visit our myCDA community forums and share now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myCDA community content.





Why we have to stop blaming people with type 2 diabetes

Why we have to stop blaming people with type 2 diabetes
Picture of Phyllis Mair
Posted by: Phyllis Mair
Posted on: June 20, 2016

Type 2 diabetes is preventable in some cases. However, we should stop blaming people for the entire burden of their disease.

First a bit about me: I was born to a poor family; my parents were alcoholics. I was taken from my parents at an early age and placed in foster care. I was always quite fit: I played basketball, hockey and soccer, and sang. I grew up from age 10 in what appeared to be a normal family. For the most part it was. We grew up on a farm. We worked hard and were provided with lots of food as a result of our high [level of] activity. Back in the ‘80s we did not understand nutrition very well and were taught to eat what was made and put in front of us. I was small and was underweight in grade 10 when I met my wife.

Due to some troubles at home, I moved out on my own in 1989 when I was in grade 12. I had to work and study, and provide for myself. I survived on cheap food and began to gain weight as I had little time to play sports and was no longer working on the farm. In 1997, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I believe that heredity, childhood, financial challenges and family makeup play just as large a role in creating the disease as personal decisions. That it is time for us as a society to realize mental health is not all controllable by the person living with mental illness. That disease is disease – how someone broke a leg is not an issue in the treatment of the leg. We don’t admonish them to maybe not fall into a hole and break a leg in order to try and save money in the health-care system in our country, so why do we say people can and should be held to a different standard when they face type 2 diabetes?

I support the need for nutrition education, so people can make great choices in their lives and become healthy. I hope you would agree that the children of the world need to be better cared for, which will go a long way in preventing type 2 diabetes. Why does a Big Mac meal cost way less than a salad and chicken breast? Why does healthy food at the store cost way more than processed and cheap alternatives? Please, next time you seek to ask someone what type of diabetes they have, remember: a person is important regardless of the cause of the disease. Let’s just support and treat it, and work hard to look at all the things we can do to make life better for all new generations and reduce the future numbers of those facing diabetes.

Tim Clark was born and grew up in Halifax and then on the South Shore region of Nova Scotia. He had six brothers and sisters, and now lives with his wife and three children. He worked in radio broadcasting and as a business owner. He performs and records music, and has worked most recently for a community radio station as a weekend anchor.

Have you experienced blame (or shame) as a person living with diabetes? Visit our myCDA community forums and share now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myCDA community content.





Diabetes hits close to home for this Clothesline donor

Diabetes hits close to home for this Clothesline donor
Picture of Phyllis Mair
Posted by: Phyllis Mair
Posted on: June 16, 2016

For Johanna Waller, a French immersion teacher and mother of two, from Georgetown, Ont., diabetes isn’t just another eight-letter word. When she was pregnant with her first child, she experienced gestational diabetes. Though temporary, the condition can reoccur during a future pregnancy and can also put the mother at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. For Johanna, who says, “Diabetes is a huge issue in the lives of all of my British grandmother’s family, her mother, brother, sister and their children,” this was a wake-up call. She changed her diet and physical activity plan in an effort to reduce her risk. As a teacher, she’s also had a few students with type 1 diabetes and knows how important it is to raise awareness about this disease and educate all children about healthy eating and being active given the rise in type 2 diabetes rates among kids.
 
Giving back has also been an important to Johanna, who has donated to Clothesline for almost 10 years, and recently won a $5,000 travel voucher as the grand prize winner of Clothesline’s “This is your year!” campaign. She regularly fills diaper boxes with reusable goods and waits for the call from Clothesline every other month or so. “It’s so convenient for us crazy, busy moms. If I can help those living with diabetes and tidy up my home, I cannot think of a better use of my time, energy and resources,” says Johanna. “It feels like a release and relief when I get the call for a pick up from Clothesline. I love putting the big D on boxes as I quietly say a few words for all those in need.”

Donate your gently used clothing for a chance to win a $5,000 dream vacation or one of 10 $500 VISA gift cards as part of the “Where will your donation take you?” campaign, running from May 9 to July 31, 2016. One hundred per cent of net proceeds raised by Clothesline directly support the Canadian Diabetes Association and world-leading diabetes research, education and advocacy.

Have you donated to Clothesline before? Tell us your story. Visit our myCDA community forums and share now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myCDA community content.





Calling all men – time to get your health game on!

Calling all men – time to get your health game on!
Picture of Phyllis Mair
Posted by: Phyllis Mair
Posted on: June 16, 2016

If you haven’t heard the news, well, it’s Men’s Health Week in Canada (June 13 – 19). And if you haven’t thought about your health in awhile, now might just be the perfect time. Why? Because as someone once wrote: “No man is an island.” That means your health doesn’t just affect you, it affects your buddies, kids, spouse or partner, parents, nieces and nephews, and the list goes on. So, what’s a guy to do? Earn bragging rights by getting your health game on, of course!

Where to start? Have an annual check-up.

Diabetes run in the family? Get the scoop about your risk and then get tested.

Got diabetes? It’s never too late to take charge of your health.

Get physical & have fun. Did you know physical activity can be as powerful as glucose-lowering medication…with fewer side effects?

Don’t let that three-letter word get you down. There are solutions for erectile dysfunction and other sexual challenges, which are more common than you might think.

For more information, check out diabetes.ca now. And catch Rick Blickstead, the CDA’s president and CEO, in action as he walks the walk in this video and invites Canadians to take up the challenge of better health and a brighter future.

So, how are you going to get your game on when it comes to your health? Visit our myCDA community forums and share now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myCDA community content.





Having trouble quitting?

Having trouble quitting?
Picture of Phyllis Mair
Posted by: Phyllis Mair
Posted on: May 27, 2016

If you’ve tried, you know it’s not easy to quit. In honour of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, here are the stories of two people who kicked the habit.

Eight years ago, Terry Biggart was admitted to the emergency room after feeling dizzy, confused, and weak. He could not see or walk properly and did not know what was wrong with him. He did not know his blood glucose (sugar) was dangerously high and that he was experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes that can lead to a coma or even death. “It felt like I was dying,” he recalls. Up until that point, Terry did not know that he had type 1 diabetes. But not even this dramatic health scare was enough to make him stop smoking. 

Although Terry was given insulin, he says he was not told that he would have to take it for the rest of his life. “I thought I was free. When my blood sugar went down, I stopped taking the insulin,” he says, admitting he felt lost and confused about his treatment. Over the next few months, the now-50-year-old father of three from Toronto began to feel ill again, and had to drop out of a university program for which he had signed up. That left him feeling depressed and anxious about his future. When he went to a walk-in clinic, his blood sugar was high, and the doctor explained why he needed to take insulin. This time, he understood the urgent need to go back on it—and stay on it for good.

Terry also understood the need to do more: “It was then that I changed my entire life around,” he says. “The first change I made was to quit smoking. I had wanted to quit for the longest time because I knew it was bad for me. I also wanted to start eating better and exercising more, and I knew smoking didn’t fit with that.” 

For Irene Altman, it was a heart attack at the age of 38. The mother of two, who works at an Aboriginal financial institution on Birch Island in northern Ontario, weighed more than 200 pounds, was a smoker, and had been on blood pressure medication for four years. Her doctor had warned her that she was at high risk of type 2 diabetes  due to her family history (her parents had type 2 diabetes, as well as two brothers and one sister) and her lifestyle habits. She had an angioplasty—an operation to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart—and was given prescriptions for seven medications before leaving the hospital.

Irene quit smoking (as did her husband, Delano), and went on a vegan diet—no meat and no animal products, including eggs, cheese, and dairy. The results were dramatic: Within six months she had lost 50 pounds and was able to stop taking three of her prescription medications, including her blood pressure drugs. Her next step was to create a home gym in order to get fit. 

Today, Irene no longer takes any medications, except for one Aspirin a day for heart health, and she has never felt better. “I want to live a long and healthy life,” she says. Now that she has a 17-month-old grandson, Grayson, she says she is more motivated than ever to stay healthy. “He’s another reason I want to stick around as long as possible.”

Want more information? Check out Smoking & Diabetes now.

Parts of this post were originally published in the article, “Butting Out Brings Big Benefits” by Anne Bokma, which appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Diabetes Dialogue. To read more, including “8 quit tips,” click here

What are your quit tips? Visit our myCDA community forums and share now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myCDA community content.