Shaunna Cullen – Staff Writer –
The Wellness Center’s Wellness Wednesday hosted an event about diabetes awareness.
According to the American Diabetes Association’s website, “25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.”
Beth Johnson, a staff member at Southern who works in the President’s office, said she developed type two diabetes around the age of 49. She said her doctors told her that because she had gestational diabetes, she might develop type two diabetes later on in life.
“I completely cut out alcohol. I haven’t had a drink in two years. I try to watch what I eat, but pretty much everything turns into sugar, “ said Johnson, “I can’t really get my head around it. What’s a good thing to eat? Are there things better than others?”
After speaking with Doreen Kordorsky, Southern’s registered dietitian, who has special credentials in diabetes nutritional management, Johnson now knows it’s not just about eating healthy foods; it’s the combination of healthy foods that a person eats.
Kordorsky explained the idea of a balanced plate for snacking when a person had diabetes.
“Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate metabolisms. So If you just eat carbohydrates for a snack your blood sugar will go higher than if you had a mixed themed snack.”
Kordorsky acknowledges that fruit is a healthy snack. But for a person with diabetes, they have to also include some protein in order to balance out that snack. Kordorsky recommends pairing fruit with peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers, or a yogurt with almonds and fruit.
“You have to think of more than one food source. You don’t want to have just a piece of a fruit or just some crackers, you want it to be balanced,” said Kordorsky.
Along with eating well, exercise is also important when a person has diabetes or is pre-diabetic.
Allison Blacker, a first year graduate intern and second year graduate student who is working towards her master’s in exercise science human performance, had her own section at the Diabetes Awareness event about exercise and diabetes.
“While an individual exercises they will increase their insulin sensitivity which will enhance their glucose uptake. This is good for long-term improvement and helping for better management of blood sugar levels,” said Blacker about people with type one and type two diabetes.
Blacker talked about some extra things diabetics need to do before, during and after exercise.
“If an individual is diabetic they have to make sure they take special precautions while exercising. They want to make sure that they check their blood sugar prior to exercise and after exercise, make sure that they’re drinking plenty of fluids during and after, as well as before, and that they have a snack handy in case their sugar drops low,” said Blacker.
Blacker said research shows that if a pre-diabetic can loose a small amount of weight, they can delay or even prevent type two diabetes.
“Physical activity will help with the insulin sensitivity. So now your body will know how to respond better to the changes in your blood sugar level,” said Blacker.
Cyrena Duncan, the graduate intern at the Health and Wellness Center, organized the Diabetes Awareness event. Duncan said the purpose of the event was to prevent more cases of diabetes and also to educate those who already have diabetes about the best management for the disease.
“It’s such a a huge issue within the United States. It’s something that not very many people focus on, on campus. So to create some sort of awareness on campus about this issue is beneficial,” said Duncan. “There are students that have it; there are students who may develop it while in school. Hopefully with this program they can learn something.”