People with diabetes must eat healthy, which includes balancing fats, fiber, protein and calcium while planning meals.
The highlight of Saturday's all-day diabetes seminar at the Georgia Mountains Center was a cooking demonstration led by Mary Ann Clever of Longstreet Clinic and three Georgia State University dietetics master's students.
They talked about the importance of healthy snacking, eating breakfast and including calcium in meals.
"Snacking has had a bad reputation, but in reality it serves a purpose," said Ashley DePriest, one of the master's students. "You get hunger, your blood sugar drops and it helps your metabolism. The key is nutrition and finding something that offers more than just reducing your hunger."
Healthy snacks include unsalted nuts, fruits and vegetables and not sugary snacks and drinks or "bagged things" such as potato chips.
"Measure your portions, and that's the best way to control things. That doesn't necessarily mean cutting back or limiting yourself, but you'll be surprised when you measure," she said. "That also means avoiding mindless snacking. Who eats in front of the TV? I do. Don't eat while you're multitasking. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth."
The event, which was put on by the American Diabetes Association, provided information about circulation, bone health, sleep disorders, weight loss and meal planning connected to pre-diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
"I really liked the session called ‘Toe and Flow,' which was about your vascular system, vein diseases and circulation," said Barbara Hoyes, a Gainesville resident who is worried about her vascular condition as she takes on knee replacement surgery soon. "I also liked the carb counting session, which I'm trying to do now for my diet. All of the sessions have been excellent."
The students created fruit and yogurt parfaits with high calcium and low fat ingredients and handed out servings of an almond and chicken stir fry dish high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
"Now I get on my soap box about breakfast," Clever said with a laugh. "People want to skip breakfast all the time and tell me they're not hungry, they're too tired or they think it'll cut down on their calories for the day. You've got to break your fast from sleeping."
People trying to lose weight or reach their healthy weight size must eat breakfast to keep their metabolism steady, she explained.
"The more frequently you eat, the higher your metabolism is," she said. "Other people tell me if they eat breakfast, an hour later they're hungry again. Add protein and fiber to your diet. You can't just eat a piece of toast."
Clever pointed out ways to combine whole grains, dairy and fruit in the morning to get a filling breakfast with protein, fiber and healthy carbohydrates. To save time and grocery shopping, she gave examples to prepare fruit smoothies at night and freeze muffins until ready to eat.
"It's the most important meal of the day, as mom would say," Clever said. "Make it that way. A little bit of planning goes a long way."