Dear Barb – Type II Diabetes

Dear Barb;

I don’t know if you can answer my questions. My husband has just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He is working hard at trying to eat right and exercise to keep his diabetes under control. My problem is that I don’t know how to cook for him. Do you know where I can obtain some tasty recipes that people with diabetes can enjoy, or could you recommend a good cookbook?

Also, I have heard that diabetes is on the increase. I would like to find ways to change my diet or do what I can to prevent myself from contracting this condition. I realize you are not a doctor, but do you know of anything I can do to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes? I have a strong family history of diabetes, so maybe there is really nothing I can do to prevent myself from getting it.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Susan – Ontario

Hi Susan, thanks for writing. As you say I am not a doctor, but I did some research and found some information that I believe will be helpful for you and your husband.

You are right, Type 2 diabetes is on the rise with over two million Canadians having this condition and another million expected to develop diabetes by 2010. However, there are things both you and your husband can do to live with diabetes.

A good place to start is the Canadian Diabetes Association website ( This web site offers an abundance of information, plus a recipe book that you can download and print out entitled “Living Well: Healthy Recipes and Activity Tips.” Below are some of the risk factors for developing diabetes.

“¢ over 40 years of age;
“¢ overweight and carrying most of your weight around your middle;
“¢ member of a high risk group (i.e., Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian or African descent);
“¢ having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes;
“¢ giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds or having diabetes during pregnancy;
“¢ having high cholesterol or high levels of other fats in the blood;
“¢ having higher than normal blood glucose levels; and
“¢ having high blood pressure or heart disease.

After being diagnosed with diabetes, it is important that you make changes to your lifestyle as soon a possible. Some important changes include eating well and watching your carbohydrates. This does not mean a low carbohydrate diet, but rather getting enough of the right kind of carbohydrates. Also, monitor your portions — it is better to eat several small meals than one large meal. As well, spend at least 30 minutes a day involved in physical activity. Additional information on how to make these lifestyle changes is available on the Canadian Diabetes Association website.

There are things you can start doing now to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of diabetes, so start walking, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park you car at the far end of the parking lot and walk to the mall. If you have high blood pressure, take your medication or do what you can to reduce it. If you are overweight, you need to lose weight and begin to make healthy food choices. Similarly, reduce the fat in your diet and try to keep your blood cholesterol at a normal level.

Even if you do all these things, you may not be able to avoid developing diabetes. However, you may be able to delay its onset, which would lower your risk of developing the serious complications that may arise.

In addition to the above information, I found some excellent books that I thought would be helpful for both you and your husband:

“¢ Diabetes for Canadians For Dummies by author Ian Blumer, M.D. and Alan L. Rubin, M.D. (published in 2004 by John Wiley and Sons).
“¢ 101 Tips For Coping with Diabetes by author Richard Rubin et al (published in 2003 by American Diabetes Association).
“¢ Type 2 Diabetes: The First Year — An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by author Gretchen Becker (published in 2004 by Constable & Robinson Ltd).

Thanks again, Susan, for bringing up a very important topic. I hope this information will be helpful.

Don’t forget to read the newly expanded edition of “Women You Should Know” included in this week’s issue.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.