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Keep diabetic dining simple during the holidays

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Pam Evans, registered dietitian at Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren, left, and Linda Tominey, diabetes coordinator and nurse educator, talk about controlling diabetes with a proper diet of everyday food. Tominey will discuss the latest techniques and technology in diabetic care during a Living Well with Diabetes seminar and health fair, which will be held Thursday at the Avalon Inn and Resort in Howland.

Will diabetes ruin the holidays? If you have the disease, does that put you on the sidelines while the rest of the family chows down on mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie?

Absolutely not, said Linda Tominey, Trumbull Regional Medical Center diabetes coordinator and nurse educator.

“You don’t need to eat lettuce for the rest of your life,” Tominey said. “You don’t need to go out and buy diet food.”

The medical center is hosting its second “Living Well with Diabetes” seminar and health fair 5 p.m. Thursday at the Avalon Inn and Resort ballroom in Howland. The first seminar in the spring drew about 200 people. Registrants signed up so far for this session are coming from both Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“We’re going to focus more on the positives (this time) — you can live with diabetes,” Tominey said. “It does not have to be as complicated as people think.

“Our goal is prevention, early detection and education. You can be in control of this disease.”

DIABETES AND INNER PLATES

The group of physicians and health professionals fielded at lot of questions about food last time around. A key this time will be how to eat during the holidays, complete with demonstrations.

The key, said Pam Evans, a Trumbull Regional registered dietitian, is to plan ahead and pick your celebratory days. “Every day can’t be a holiday for the month of December,” she said.

She plans to demonstrate what she calls the Plate Method. That starts by using a 9-inch dinner plate, not the 11- to 12-inch size plate that’s grown to be standard in American homes, she said.

“Then fill half the plate with low-calorie vegetables like carrots, broccoli and salad fixings. That will fill you up and help you eat less of the high-carb foods,” Evans said.

“In the world of diabetes, we focus mostly on carbohydrates, the grains and the starchy vegetables like corn, peas and potatoes,” she said.

A single serving of carbohydrates is considered a third to a half a cup. Men can average four to five servings a meal and women about three servings a meal. Mix your carb sources between the three main groups — fruit, milk and starches and grains.

Pay attention to drinks as well. Punch and alcohol can impact blood sugar levels as well, she said.

The seminar will give more details on how to apply the rules and measures and swap-outs to stay healthy.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

The Mahoning Valley has a diabetes problem, Tominey said.

Nationally, 8.5 percent of the adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes. That’s nearly 2 percent higher in Mahoning County and 3 percent higher in Trumbull County.

Diabetes is a disease in which levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar — which comes from foods — are too high. Too much sugar in the blood for long periods can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs.

The body produces natural insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin helps turn blood sugar into energy, and helps store glucose in muscles, fat cells and the liver to be used later when needed. When the body does not make enough insulin, the balance is thrown off and the circulatory system and organs it feeds are put at risk.

Blood vessels, particularly small blood vessels, are damaged over time. Eyes and kidneys are two of the most-affected organs. Diabetes is a major cause of heart attack, stroke and blindness.

The common types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. Type 2, once known as adult diabetes, is the most common. Type 1, which used to be known as juvenile diabetes, is better known now as rapid-onset diabetes. More and more adults are getting it, and more kids have Type 2, the slow-onset kind, primarily because of obesity, Tominey said.

Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores and frequent infections.

In 1948, 4 million people nationally were diagnosed with diabetes. In 2014, it was more than 30 million people, Tominey said. The number goes up by 1 million to 3 million people a year, she said. Close to a million people a year are diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

“We see 300-plus diabetes cases at Trumbull Regional a month,” she said. “We have a lot of Americans living with this disease. We need to do a better job. We don’t have a cure for it, but there are better therapies.”

LIVING WELL WITH DIABETES

The Living Well with Diabetes seminar begins at 5 p.m. with plenty of stations for people to visit for free screenings, information and strategies.

Screenings will include A1C blood sugar, body mass index, eye examinations and stroke assessments. Health professionals will include endocrinologists, dietitians, orthopedic doctors, cardiologists and sleep laboratory technicians. There will be a checklist of things to look out for.

“We’re trying to cover everything from head to toe that a person with diabetes might experience.” And since diabetes affects the blood vessels, the effects are felt from the top of the head to the feet.

There also will be demonstrations for the latest tools. Among them are sensors that can measure blood sugar levels without finger pricks.

At 6 p.m., the talk and demonstrations will begin, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The session is part of Trumbull Regional’s national recognition in diabetes care. Trumbull Regional is one of 85 hospitals in the nation, one of five in Ohio and the only hospital in the Mahoning Valley to earn The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certificate of Distinction for Inpatient Diabetes Care.

“It forces hospitals to do best practices,” Tominey said. Diabetes care and education becomes part of any admission process.

“Diabetes management is critical for those that have diabetes or pre-diabetes,” she said. “Diabetes affects a person’s overall health, so it’s very important to understand how to best control it in order to prevent other health issues, and this event will focus on empowering and educating those living with diabetes.”

For more information or to register for the free event, call 800-974-1489 or visit trumbullregional.org /events.