News release: MDH encourages these 5 Tips for an enjoyable and diabetes healthy Thanksgiving

News Release
November 25, 2013

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MDH encourages these 5 Tips for an enjoyable and diabetes-healthy Thanksgiving

In Minnesota, nearly 300,000 adults have type 2 diabetes, and as many as 1.4 million Minnesotans have prediabetes. Most do not know it. Of those estimated to have prediabetes, only about 1 in 6 people even know they have the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines prediabetes as a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The focus on food during the holidays can often be an anxious time for those with diabetes. Here are five Thanksgiving tips endorsed by the American Diabetes Association.

    • Think about the timing of your meal. If you take insulin injections or a pill that lowers blood glucose, you may need to have a snack at your normal meal time to prevent a low blood glucose reaction. Check with your health care team about this.
    • Be physically active! Start a new tradition that involves physical activity. Ideas include taking a walk with the whole family or playing Frisbee, soccer, or touch football with your children, grandchildren, or the neighborhood kids.
    • Have foods to nibble on while you are cooking or waiting to eat. Make sure the foods you choose won't sabotage blood glucose levels before the meal. Bring a platter of raw or blanched veggies with your favorite low-calorie dip or have a few small pieces of low-fat cheese.
    • Make selective food choices. Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in carbohydrates: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and other desserts. Don't feel like you have to sample everything on the table. Have a reasonable portion of your favorites and pass on the rest. For example, if stuffing is your favorite, pass on rolls. Choose either sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes. If you really want to try everything, make your portions smaller. Overall, try to keep your total carbohydrate intake like a regular day.
    • Eat your vegetables. Offer to bring a green salad or a side of steamed veggies that have been seasoned. Non-starchy veggies are low in carbs and calories.

During National Diabetes Month, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is calling attention to the small, but important steps families can take together to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes - not only during the holidays but throughout the year.

MDH works with local partners to offer a community-based, lifestyle change program for people with prediabetes. I CAN Prevent Diabetes is one of the names used in Minnesota for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) - a curriculum constructed on research that found that people who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity reduced their chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent over a three year period.

Jill Petty entered Minnesota’s I CAN Prevent Diabetes, through the Stairstep Foundation, which facilitates an ecumenical collaboration of African-American churches to work on key community issues. This is one of such programs in more than 30 communities across the state.

Mrs. Petty’s risks were high. Along with a family history of diabetes and being overweight, she is also African-American. African-Americans are at an even higher risk for this serious chronic condition. “I never put my health first, or even second.” Petty says. “It always came behind work, kids, church and other activities.”

Petty and her husband Rev. William Petty are two of 207 participants who have completed the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program through the Stairstep Foundation. They have both lost over 20 pounds, substantially reducing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “While we definitely enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner, we will start our day with exercise, which we’ve found is a good way to limit calorie intake, since you don’t want to spoil a good workout with bad food choices."

The couple attributes their success to being in the program together, weekly meetings with support from other participants, learning about healthier food choices and portion control, and convenient ways to increase physical activity.

The NDPP is being implemented through partnerships across community organizations, private insurers, employers, health care organizations, and government agencies. These partners are working to establish local evidence-based lifestyle change programs for people at high risk for type 2 diabetes.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications