Summer Eating fun for diabetics

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Summer is here at last! Beach trips, backyard BBQ’s, and picnics at the park make summer a season of fun in the sun. Even if you’re living with diabetes, there’s no need to feel left out. Summer’s bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables are perfect for any healthy diet. Aside from the awesome flavors, they’re loaded with the vitamins and minerals everybody craves. Just be sure you keep track of your portions, as you would with any carbohydrate. Here are a few tips to help diabetics, and those at risk for diabetes, make the most out of the season.

Pot Luck: For your next potluck, bring a diabetic friendly side dish that’s sure to make everyone ask for seconds. This pasta salad recipe (http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/recipe/salads/italian-pasta-salad) swaps in whole grain pasta for a healthier twist. It’s packed with fresh veggies and boasts a flavorful dressing free from fatty creams or mayo. The chopped red peppers are loaded with lycopene, a carotenoid that helps reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and even protects your skin from harmful UV rays. Red peppers are also delicious paired with cherry tomatoes and lean meat on a BBQ skewer. Tomatoes are a summertime super-fruit and a great source of vitamins C, K & A, as well as potassium and folate – all in a low calorie, low carb package.

Hydrate in Style: Keeping hydrated is doubly challenging in a high-desert summer when the temperature averages 97 degrees and our bodies sweat more to try to stay cool. Dehydration is especially dangerous to diabetics since it wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty! Feeling thirsty means you’re already getting dehydrated. Hydrating is crucial to your health, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Get hooked on spa water this summer! Spa water is simply cold water naturally flavored by adding slices of fruit and herbs. This could be as simple as some orange and lemon wheels, or you could kick it up a notch with sliced watermelon and lightly muddled mint and basil leaves. Experiment with flavors, and find unexpected combinations online. Storing your custom water in a pitcher with measuring marks is a handy way to ensure that you’re taking in at least 64 oz each day.

Get Fresh: Find a local farmer’s market and make it your summer grocery store. Local produce is not only fresher and tastier, but it often has more nutrients since it doesn’t need to get picked before it’s ripe. Farmer’s markets have the added benefit of being a great place for a morning stroll, so you can combine shopping, exercise, and eating well. Just be sure to steer clear of the shaved ice cart and other sugary indulgences.

Treat Yourself: There are better, tastier ways to beat the heat in summer. DIY popsicles are a fast, easy win straight from the freezer to your mouth. Fruit popsicle recipes abound online, but be mindful of how much sugar is called for, or use sugar substitutes. Sugar-free pudding mixes, whisked with milk and poured into popsicle molds, are another fun option for frozen treats. If you’re dishing up desserts for a group, bust out the food processor and make some “ice cream.” Frozen chunks of pineapple and mango, drizzled with lemon juice, whip up into a fruity soft-serve in seconds. Get the recipe from EatingWell: www.eatingwell.com/recipe/261424/pineapple-nice-cream/

Summer is calling, and diabetics don’t have to miss out on a second of it. Just take some common sense precautions, like checking your blood sugar more often and knowing your low blood sugar signs, and you’ll be able to enjoy the season safely.

NAOKO NAGAYA, RD

“I always learn something new from patients,” Naoko says.