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Updated: November 1, 2022 @ 9:55 pm
Matt Lee, pharmacist at Tahlequah Drug Co., checked out a sharps container ahead of proposed legislation in 2021 regarding the price of diabetes treatment.

Matt Lee, pharmacist at Tahlequah Drug Co., checked out a sharps container ahead of proposed legislation in 2021 regarding the price of diabetes treatment.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and educating area residents on this chronic condition is the goal of many local organizations.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational, all of which affect how the body turns food into energy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that type two diabetes accounts for 90%-95% of adult diagnosed cases.
In Oklahoma, CDC data states 11.4% of adults are diagnosed with diabetes, higher than the U.S. median of 9.8%. The rate of newly diagnosed adults in the state is 9.5%.
Many community and government programs are aimed at helping prevent diabetes and help those with the chronic disease manage it.
“Through the Caring for Tahlequah program, we are currently offering a Self-Management Education workshop for people living with chronic diseases,” Pamela Iron, executive director of Cherokee County Health Services Council, told the Daily Press last month. “These workshops are free and led by certified lay leaders designed to help people gain self-confidence in their ability to control their symptoms, better manage their health problems, and lead fuller lives.”
This program is offered to aging and disabled adults in Tahlequah with a diagnosis of chronic conditions like arthritis and diabetes.
Heather Winn, Cherokee County OSU Extension Office Family and Consumer Science Educator, teaches a diabetes program called “Live Well, Eat Well, Be Active with Diabetes,” designed for people with type two diabetes.
“The first step we focus on in the class is portion sizes: learning where we are and what to do to get to a healthy portion size,” said Winn.
For those managing their diabetes, Winn recommends working with a registered dietitian nutritionist, who teaches people how to improve their health and diabetes through healthy food choices, and a certified diabetes educator, who helps people create eating plans. This can be helpful, especially for individuals who have concerns in addition to diabetes that shape their food choices.
“The American Diabetes Association recommends people should eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods in the appropriate portion size. In general, spreading carbohydrate consumption out across the day is a good idea,” said Winn. “Consistency is important and do not skip meals.”
Winn said there is no “one-size-fits-all” eating pattern for people with diabetes.
“It is important for everyone to learn how to read a food label, not just people with diabetes. Learning how to read a food label will help you make better food choices,” she said. “Being aware of what you put on your plate can be a real eye opener. Most people eat much larger portion sizes that we should.”
Winn said people with type 2 diabetes should limit foods that are high in sodium/salt, solid fats, and added sugars.
“Eat more whole foods instead of processed foods,” she said. “Developing the eating plan that I mentioned will be a great way to get started eating healthier.”
Winn said using the plate method for meal planning is an easy way to plan meals and keep carbohydrate intake about the same at meals.
“It doesn’t require special tools or counting. The plate should be 9 inches across, a regular bowl should be one cup, a small bowl one-half cup, a milk glass should be one cup, and a juice glass one-half cup,” she said.
For lunch and dinner, Winn suggested a one-half plate of non-starchy vegetables, a one-fourth plate of starchy foods like vegetables or cooked beans, peas, or lentils, a one-fourth plate of lean protein, and additional piece of fruit and low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt.
For breakfast, Winn suggested only using half of the plate, with one-fourth starchy foots, one-fourth lean protein, and additional piece of fruit and low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt.
Winn’s class also goes over recipe modification.
“Many times people become frustrated because they feel like they can’t have the foods they’ve enjoyed in the past. In our class, we provide guidelines to change favorite recipes to lower fat, sugar and sodium content,” she said. “Learning to use herbs and spices is important for flavoring foods instead of using salt or added sugar.”
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