GPPC Blog

A New Year often means new opportunities to live healthier. As a result, we eagerly resolve to kickstart new habits or give up old ones as we enter the New Year. But, as we try to keep our resolutions – with good intentions – we give up before the first month of the new year is over. Frustrating, right? The key is to make a plan and set goals. Then, with a strong foundation, sound support systems, and effort, our healthy resolutions become lasting, new healthy habits for 2022. 

 

Regular Wellness Checkups

First, make an appointment to see your health care provider and ensure you’re in good health. Whether it's a yearly physical, bi-annual dental checkup, or managing any chronic conditions, start the year off right and check in on your body. These visits will help provide you with a baseline health measurement. Next, work together with your provider to create a wellness plan. Your plan may include diet, regular office visits, an exercise regimen, a review of medications, or more. Finally, you and your provider working together will solidify those wellness resolutions.

 

Mental Health

Mental and emotional well-being is fundamental to pursuing your resolution goals, but what does that look like? According to the WHO, good mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to his or her community”. Much like physical health, good mental health is dependent on proper diet, exercise, and sleep. In fact, according to a study done at the University of Otago, sleep is the strongest predictor of mental health over diet and exercise. In addition, lowering screen time and meditation can help boost cognitive function and mood. Good mental health may also begin as a discussion with your doctor at your annual physical. Your primary care physician can share trustworthy resources if needed. 

 

Sleep

A good night's sleep can boost your immune system, prevent weight gain, strengthen your heart and increase your productivity – all good if you are looking to make changes for 2022. According to the CDC, adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but only one-third get the recommended amount of sleep. 

Lack of proper sleep can reduce memory, decision-making capabilities, and concentration. And, according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, you’re twice as likely to get in a car accident when you’re cruising on six to seven hours of sleep. 

The bottom line – sleep is good for you. So create nighttime routines to get your mind and body relaxed, try meditating or praying, avoid eating right before bed, and stop looking at your phone or tablet.

 

Healthy Eating

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. The right foods can fuel the body, boost brainpower and make falling asleep easier. The USDA recommends eating a balanced diet with protein, vegetables, grains, fruits, and healthy oils to maximize your health. 

Kelly Cardamone, MS, RDN, CDCES, Nutrition & Diabetes Program Manager at General Physician, PC recommends the following: "Aim to eat healthy 80-90% of the time and make protein the garnish at a meal and not the centerpiece. Eat three balanced meals a day to prevent unnecessary and unhealthy snacking, and include a fistful (that equals a cup) of vegetables at most meals. Try to eat more vegetables than fruits every day as a daily goal. 

In addition, a healthy diet can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke and has the power to reduce your chances of chronic diseases over your lifetime. However, if you are dealing with multiple health conditions (diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, high cholesterol), it can feel overwhelming to find a diet that works to support you. Kelly suggests seeking out the help of a Registered Dietitian. "That is why we are here! We help you find a healthy eating plan that addresses multiple conditions."

 

Exercise

According to a survey done by Marist Poll and NPR, one of the most popular New Year's resolutions is exercise. Much like sleep and nutrition, exercise has far-reaching health benefits. The Mayo Clinic explains that "exercise boosts cognitive function and mood, helps control weight, and aids in restful sleep." 

You don't have to shell out dollars for a gym membership either. There are plenty of ways to get your body moving - no matter your physical condition. Take a walk, ride your bike, or swim, snowshoe, cross country ski, sled or hike, take a dance class, swim, or YouTube home exercise videos. Again, there are plenty of ways to get active and fit. The key is to find what is suitable for you and stick with it. And, as recommended, check with your doctor before starting any new routines.

 

Set Goals and Follow Up

All of the above are great New Year's Resolution suggestions. But there’s one more thing you need to be successful – goals. Setting goals help turn your resolutions into bite-sized and specific chunks. Keep your goals SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. And be sure to track your resolution journey. Journaling offers you a way to review and evaluate your progress and challenges. Keeping a journal forces you to commit your goals in writing and will help you be successful.

 

No Time Like the Present

The New Year is an exciting opportunity to start fresh. If a healthier lifestyle is your goal, a good foundation will help you actualize your resolutions and form lifelong habits. Use 2022 as an opportunity to start your journey to living a healthier life. Include your physician, set goals, and commit to making a change.

 
Lunch Box
 
Lunch is a welcome respite in the middle of the day, providing a break from work and a chance to sit down and refuel the body until dinnertime.

Feelings of fatigue after eating a “hearty” lunch are not uncommon. Kelly Cardamone, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, of General Physician, P.C. says it’s natural to get a little tired in the afternoon, often due to choosing the wrong foods at lunchtime that can exacerbate afternoon fatigue. For example, foods that contain tryptophan, such as turkey, convert to serotonin and then to melatonin to cause sleepiness. 

According to Kelly, certain food combinations at lunch can satisfy cravings and keep anyone energized through the commute home.

  • Grain bowls: Complex carbohydrates tend to be high in energizing B vitamins and whole grains will keep you feeling fuller longer due to their high fiber content. Look for complex, protein-rich grains, such as quinoa, farro or brown rice. Balance the grain with plenty of vegetables.
  • Salads with nuts: Salads are a go-to healthy lunch provided they’re not covered with fatty dressings or cheeses. Add chopped nuts to salads for added texture, protein, and nutrition to fill you up and provide energy.
  • Smoothies: Smoothies aren’t just breakfast fare. They’re delicious and nutritious any time of the day. You can add high-protein items, including plant-based protein powders or ground chickpeas and kale, to smoothies for an additional energy boost. 
  • Crackers and hummus: Purchase whole-grain crackers or ones made from almond flour for added nutrition and pair them with a healthy hummus dip. Hummus usually is made with chickpeas, garlic, tahini (ground sesame seed paste), and olive oil. It provides healthy protein and fat sources to keep you satiated. 
  • Overnight oats: Create a lunchtime or snack parfait using an overnight oats recipe. Overnight oats are made by mixing old fashioned oats, milk (dairy or nut milk), yogurt, and other add-ins and letting the ingredients sit and thicken for at least five hours, or even overnight. Change the flavor profile by experimenting with nuts (or nut butters), fruits, and spices. This nutrient-dense meal will provide plenty of energy without bogging you down. 

When dining out for lunch, fill up on vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, such as a quality white fish like wild cod. Starchy, cheesy and fast foods can contribute to fatigue that compromises afternoon productivity.  


Kelly Cardamone, MS, RD, CDE, CDN She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist, Integrative & Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, and Certified Health & Wellness Coach practicing at General Physician, P.C. To make an appointment with Kelly, call 716-631-8400. 

Thanksgiving Feast

During the upcoming months, families and friends will get together to eat, drink, and be merry. For people with diabetes, big meals and busy schedules mean staying aware of maintaining good health. So instead of getting stressed, create routines and priorities that allow you to enjoy yourself. Here are a few tips you can use to help.

1.         Take Your Prescriptions

Maintaining healthy routines during the holidays can be a struggle, and most of these guidelines are not diabetes-specific. First: take your prescribed medicine as prescribed. Set daily reminders on your phone. There are many apps to track your prescriptions to make sure you don’t forget. Neglecting your medication can get you off on the wrong foot.

2.         Maintain a Regular Eating Schedule

Don’t skip meals! Instead, eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with three to four hours in between. If your meals occur at odd times, bring snacks along to have while you wait. It’s tempting to skip a meal for the sake of a bigger one later, but fluctuating blood sugar can take your mood and energy for a stressful ride.

3.         Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Don’t wait for the New Year to get yourself into action. If you’re eating more than usual, get your body moving, even if it’s only for a walk. Exercise helps lower your blood sugar and insulin resistance, which can help balance any treats you may be indulging in. Also, don’t let the cold weather be an excuse! YouTube has plenty of yoga, bodyweight, and other exercise videos to help keep you active indoors.

4.         Prioritize Desserts

That’s right: you don’t need to abstain from special treats completely. You can’t eat every dessert, but if your grandmother makes an incredible apple pie, then make sure to have a slice. Take note of the desserts you love most, and abstain from the rest. Then, by prioritizing desserts or treats, you can stay on top of your blood sugar and indulge safely.

5.         What about Alcohol?

Remember to drink responsibly and not excessively. Alcohol still has calories! Avoid high-calorie, high fat, and sugary drinks like egg nog. Be sure to eat and do not drink on an empty stomach. It is also important to be mindful, as, with some medications, you should avoid alcohol. If you are unsure, check with your provider ahead of time.

6.         Test Blood Sugar Regularly, but No Need for Compulsion

When it comes to testing your blood sugar, you want to aim for a healthy awareness, not obsessive anxiety. The CDC recommends testing your blood sugar every morning, before every meal, and two hours after every meal. Listen to your physician and follow general guidelines. Note that most people do not need to test that often unless on insulin or A1C is elevated. Once again, it’s always good to speak with your physician or health care provider and follow their instruction. Your healthcare team will work with you to put together an individualized plan. Try putting reminders on your phone or consider using a pillbox to keep everything organized.

7.         Portion Control

An excellent guide to portion control is the diabetes plate method. Fill half of your plate with starchy green vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with carb-rich foods. This is a general rule, and you will have the best idea of how your body reacts to different portions of food. Make sure to ask a medical professional if you aren’t sure. Then, use your experience and the guidelines to enjoy a bit of everything!

8.         Look Up Diabetes-friendly Recipes

Need a great way to control what goes into your body? Make some dishes yourself. No one is going to look out for you better than you. Consider using sugar substitutes in any sweet recipe to ensure your blood sugar stays in check. The ADA and Diabetes Self Management websites have recipes for every meal, including appetizers and snacks. On Diabetes Self Management alone, there are over 900 recipes. You’ll be able to find something you like. If you don’t have the best culinary skills, consider sending recipes to the head chef.

The holidays are a time of joy for you and your loved ones. Instead of worrying about whether your diabetes will get the best of you this year, plan to be aware and prepared to take care of yourself. With gift-giving, holiday dinners, and the uncle who brings up the strangest topics of conversation, your plate is full. Make sure that diabetes is not one of the stresses interfering with your holiday spirit.

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