The Grapefruit & Granola Podcast – Episode #17 with Jess DeGore
Hey guys! Welcome to episode 17 of the podcast.
Today I’m chatting with my fellow RD, Jess, from the blog Dietitian Jess. We’re discussing the topic of prediabetes and diabetes, which was actually a listener request. Did you know 89 million Americans have prediabetes, and 90% don’t even know that they have it? Crazy.
Jess and I start out the episode by discussing that statistic and why so many cases go undiagnosed. Some people are afraid to find out that they have a chronic illness so they avoid going to the doctor. Avoidance is pretty common. People in their 20s don’t get their yearly physicals, and Jess really urges everyone to regularly follow up with their primary care physician.
PreDiabetes and Diabetes- What’s Happening in Your Body
In diabetes, your body prevents insulin from either being used properly or even being produced at all. So the carbs that you are eating are being broken down into sugar, and it’s sticking around in your blood stream. You’re not able to use that fuel for energy.
Risk Factors for PreDiabetes and Diabetes:
- Textbook definition of being overweight
- Family history of diabetes
- Gestational diabetes in pregnancy
- Ethnic groups: African Americans, American Indians, Native American
How do you find out if you have prediabetes or diabetes?
Typical symptoms can include not feeling well, excessive thirst or frequent urination if your blood sugars are very high. Someone may not have any symptoms yet if their blood sugars are not extremely high.
Pre-diabetes and diabetes are diagnosed by a blood test, either a fasting blood glucose test or a hemoglobin A1c test.
Both Jess and I’s preferred test is the hemoglobin A1c test. It’s a 2-3 month average of your blood sugars. While a fasting blood sugar is what you’re blood sugar is at one moment in time, the hemoglobin A1c test is a look at the big picture.
Jess recommends a consistent carb diet for those with predicates or diabetes, which is making sure you’re eating about the same amount of carbs at each meal. Carbs are the food group that most people overdo it on, so she recommends keeping portion sizes in check. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat carbs or that you should eat low carb. It just means finding balance.
Foods that are Type of Carbohydrates:
- fruits and fruit juice
- rice and grains
Misconceptions about Diabetes
The biggest misconception Jess sees when it comes to diabetes is that you’re not allowed to eat carbohydrates, or that you should consume very little carbohydrates. The keto diet is very popular right now for prediabetes and diabetes.
There are two problems with this.
- This isn’t very maintainable in the long run
- Carbs are your body’s most efficient source of energy
Intuitive Eating and Diabetes
Jess encourages people to listen to their bodies, pay attention to their hunger and full ness cues and more importantly rediscover foods that you might like to eat. It is definitely possible to incorporate foods that you like to eat while also keeping a balanced plate at the same time.
A great starting point is just incorporating more vegetables into your diet.
We also talk about how to incorporate vegetables into your diet in a way that aligns more with intuitive eating. Jess encourages people to try vegetables that you avoid because you disliked them as a child, because sometimes tastes change. She also points out that vegetables can taste differently when prepared different ways.
Non-Diet Ways to Lower Blood Sugars
Anytime we’re more active, our body is using that sugar in our blood. Exercise is anything you do to get your heart rate up. If you’re not used to moving your body in that way, you can start out slow increase exercise gradually.
Stress is so important to managing blood sugars, and most of us do not manage our stress well.
Managing stress looks different for everyone. What can help you relax? Is it reading a book, is it sitting outside, is it going for a walk?
Not managing blood sugars can cause health issues later on down the road. Problems with kidneys, vision, nerve pain and neuropathy are a few issues.
High blood sugars can cause issues in the bedroom, including erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness in women.
Heart disease such as heart attack and stroke are actually the #1 cause of death in those with diabetes, so discussing heart health is really important if someone has diabetes or prediabetes.
Great Starting Points if You’ve Been Diagnosed with PreDiabetes or Diabetes
It can be overwhelming to receive a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes, and this is compounded if someone has to also start pricking their finger or taking medication.
Jess has great advice. You’ve got to meet yourself where you’re at. Just focus on 1 small change at a time and move forward slowly. For example, if you don’t work out at all now then increase just try to exercise 1 day this week. Then increase it to 2 days next week.
An individualized approach to eating and exercise is key. Seek the help of a dietitian or a certified diabetes educator. You want to make sure the education you’re getting is coming from credible sources.
Jess DeGore is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health and Wellness Coach practicing in Pittsburgh, PA. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Penn State and completed her Dietetic Internship at University of Maryland. Jess works with all types of clients but specializes in diabetes, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. She practices and preaches an intuitive eating approach to help people improve their relationship with food and their bodies so they can show up for what matters most in their life.