Health

Understanding Emotional Eating

Have you ever come home after a stressful day and ended up eating a pint of Chunky Monkey?  Or maybe you’ve mindlessly eaten a bag of chips at your desk willing the workday to go by faster?  Both of these examples are types of emotional eating:  eating for reasons other than hunger.  While eating when you’re  hungry addresses a physical need (providing the body with food in order to function), emotional eating uses food to satisfy an emotional need.  Some common causes of emotional eating include stress, anger, boredom and loneliness.    Emotional eating can affect your diabetes management because often the foods eaten are high in sugar, fat and calories.  This can raise blood sugar and make it hard to lose weight.

So how can you tell if you’re eating because you’re hungry or because you’re stressed out?  Physical hunger comes on gradually and can be satisfied by any type of food. You stop feeling hunger when you have eaten enough to feel full.  Emotional “hunger” comes on very quickly and is focused on a strong craving for a particular food, taste or texture. Emotional eating is also often mindless and can lead to feelings of guilt afterward.

Now that we know the difference between physical and emotional hunger, here are some strategies to help manage emotional eating:

  • Know your triggers – If you know what it is that causes you to eat (e.g. boredom, stress), you can take action to prevent mindless munching before it begins. Use another activity to distract yourself from wanting to eat. Try going for a walk, talking to a friend or loved one, or listening to music.
  • Pause – Before reaching for the bag of chips, stop and think: am I hungry, or am I bored? Wait 10 minutes and see if you are still truly hungry.
  • Eat smaller portions –   If you wait 10 minutes and still can’t stop thinking about those chips, have a smaller, individual portion to keep you from overeating.
  • Practice mindful eating – Slow down and take the time to really enjoy the smell, tastes and textures of your favorite foods. Try not to multi task – make eating your only activity.
  • Seek help if you need it – Emotional eating can sometimes be a symptom of depression or anxiety.  If you feel this may be the case, talk to your healthcare provider, a diabetes educator or a mental health specialist.

Post content reviewed by Jen Searl, MLS, CHWC

Health

Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2017: Diabetes Medications

Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

I recently reviewed updates to the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Standards of Care for 2017.  In this post, I’ll review Section 8 of the standard that talks about different medications for treating diabetes. I will also discuss some of the newer medications used to treat diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is always treated with insulin, either through multiple injections or an insulin pump. Type 2 Diabetes can be treated with oral medications (pills by mouth), injections, or both.  The ADA recommends that people with Type 2 diabetes start patients start with the pill metformin, as long as it safe for them to take it.    Taking metformin for a long time may lead to not getting enough Vitamin B12, stomach symptoms, and can affect how well the kidneys work (your care team will monitor your kidneys to be sure they are working properly).

If someone is taking one oral medication at the highest possible dose but their A1C is still not at goal, providers should consider adding additional medications:  another oral medication, long acting insulin (injection), or a non-insulin injectable medication called glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 receptor agonists).

Examples of GLP-receptor agonists are exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), and dulagultide (Trulicity).  These medications cause food to move through the stomach slower so people feel full sooner. This leads to less glucagon (another hormone made by the pancreas) being released after meals and lowers appetite, which helps with weight loss.  These medications need glucose to work, so there is little chance of hypoglycemia.  Side effects include nausea, vomiting and acute pancreatitis. They may also cause medullary thyroid cancer in animals. It should be noted that these medications are expensive.

People with poorly controlled diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD aka heart disease) may benefit from a new medication called empagliflozin (Jardiance), a type of medication called SGLT-2 inhibitor.  These medications work by preventing the body from reabsorbing glucose. This lets more glucose leave the body through urine.  People may have lower blood sugar values after eating and lose some weight.  Studies show empagliflozin helped reduce deaths caused by heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  Empagliflozin is the only SGLT-2 inhibitor with these results, but other medications are being studied (liraglutide [Victoza] may have the same results, but other GLP-1 receptor agonists are not used this way).  Potential side effects include hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, dizziness, urinary tract infection, needing to urinate a lot, and increased LDL and creatinine (a waste product filtered out by the kidneys).  Again, these medications are very costly.

There are many medications available for the treatment of diabetes. These standards are general recommendations for medical care.  Always discuss questions about your care plan with your healthcare provider.

Health, Uncategorized

Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2017 (Part 2)

Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

This week is part two of my review of the revisions to the 2017 American Diabetes Association Standards of Care (click here to review Part 1).  First, a quick reminder that these are guidelines; always discuss questions about your personal health care plan with your health care provider.

Section 6: Glycemic Targets

The International Hypoglycemia Study Group has recommended that serious, clinically significant hypoglycemia be defined as a reading of less than 54 mg/dL. People who have experienced such measurements need to notify their health care providers immediately and be prescribed a glucagon emergency kit.

Hypoglycemia measuring less than 70 mg/dL is still treated by the rule of 15: 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate with a blood sugar check in 15 minutes for an expected increase by at least 15 points. Repeat the process if the result doesn’t improve.

Section 7: Obesity Management for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

The best blood sugar results occur with weight loss early in the management of Type 2 Diabetes, before beta cells begin to stop working. For this reason, metabolic surgery (formerly referred to as bariatric surgery) is now recommended for people with a BMI of 30 (or 27.5 for Asians with poorly controlled diabetes).

Section 9: Cardiovascular Disease and Risk Management

Any of the medications for managing high blood pressure can be used (except for beta blockers) as long as the person doesn’t have protein in the urine (albuminuria). One or more medications should be used at bedtime to improve blood pressure control.

The goal for blood pressure for pregnant women is 120-160/80-105.  When prescribing medications, providers should consider both maintaining the health of the mother and avoiding harm to the baby.

There is a discussion of new medications and the potential benefits for people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease: empagliflozin (Jardiance) and liraglutide (Victoza).

Section 10: Microvascular Complications and Foot Care

There is an increased risk for retinopathy in pregnant women with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.  Thorough eye exams should be a part of preconception counseling as well as during pregnancy.

Anyone being treated for neuropathic pain should be evaluated for the addition of medication therapy with pregabalin (Lyrica) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). They should also be fitted for therapeutic footwear by a podiatrist.

Section 12: Children and Adolescents

Preconception counseling should begin in puberty to help to avoid the risk for birth defects in unplanned pregnancies.

When diabetic ketoacidosis appears in children, it is important to know if the child has Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes as 6% of these cases are actually Type 2 Diabetes, not Type 1.

Section 13: Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy

Insulin is the preferred treatment for pregnant women.  Oral medications may harm the baby.

Targets for blood sugar are the same for gestational diabetes as for preexisting diabetes.

Section 14: Diabetes Care in the Hospital

It’s now recommended to use basal and/or basal bolus insulin regimes (instead of sliding scale insulin alone) when patients are admitted to the hospital.

Health

2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes (Part 1)

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) publishes guidelines each January to educate professionals about the best clinical practice for people diabetes. I will review the standards that have had changes made in them for 2017.  Section 8 (Pharmacologic Approaches to Glycemic Treatment) is a very important section with a great deal of information, so it will be covered in a separate post.

This year the Standards of Care have been updated to address psychosocial issues in all aspects of care.  This includes the importance of assessing self-management capabilities, mental health status, and complications and comorbidities.  These standards are meant to provide general treatment goals and are not meant to replace clinical judgment.   This post is a brief overview of the changes to the standards; click here to access a full list and descriptions.  Please remember, that these are in no way meant to replace the individual care that you are participating in with your health care team.

Section 2: Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes

There is a new consensus on staging Type 1 Diabetes. Three stages have been identified:

  • Stage 1 – no changes in the blood glucose values and no symptoms are present
  • Stage 2 – some impaired fasting blood glucose and possibly some impaired glucose tolerance, too
  • Stage 3 – the stage that most people are diagnosed. They may appear with dangerous hyperglycemia and have symptoms such as excessive thirst, hunger and urination

Investigators hope to use this staging system as a research road map to help better plan intervention strategies.

A new risk test has been developed to help to identify people with prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes as soon as possible. Click here to see the test and share with loved ones.

Dentists are also are important in identifying people with diabetes. One study shows 30% of people over 30 that are treated for periodontal disease have abnormal glucose levels. Educating dentists to refer these individuals to their health care providers for formal assessment will be helpful in identifying at-risk people sooner.

Birth weight of infants is no longer a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. Women who had gestational diabetes should have their fasting glucose test done 4 to 12 weeks after having their baby (instead of 6 to 12 weeks).  The hope is that most women will have the test done before the 6 week checkup so they can discuss results and implications with their provider.

Section 3: Comprehensive Medical Evaluation and Assessment of Comorbidities

This is a new section highlighting screening for, and management of, comorbid conditions in people with diabetes. Assessment of sleep pattern and duration has been added as well as HIV, autoimmune diseases, depression and anxiety, and disordered eating patterns. Please refer to the full standards to see the entire list of conditions.

Section 4: Lifestyle Management

People following a flexible rapid acting insulin schedule should work closely with a registered dietician for education on counting fat and protein values as well as carbohydrates to be sure they are using correct insulin amounts.

Sitting is the new smoking! Stand up and move a little every 30 minutes. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week and try to do strength training 2 to 3 times a week. Balance and flexibility are priorities for older adults, and activities like yoga or Tai Chi are recommended.  There is also a table providing information about situations that may require referral to a mental health professional.

Health

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

By Annabella He
MGH Dietetic Intern

It’s 2017! At the start of year, you may be making a New Year’s resolution to better manage your diabetes by eating healthier and exercising more. In order to stick to the plan, your New Year’s resolutions should be specific, measurable and reasonable. The following are some specific tips to get you started. Pick one or a couple to work on!

  1. Cut down on portion size: The amount of food you eat for each meal has a huge impact on your blood glucose and weight control. Having a smaller meal keeps your glucose and insulin levels more stable. Also research shows that lowering total calorie intake helps with long-term weight loss, so portion control is the key. Use food labels and measuring cups to accurately gauge your intake.
  2. Eat breakfast: Have a filling breakfast to keep yourself full for longer. Eating breakfast reduces your hunger levels later in the day. A balanced breakfast like whole-wheat cereal with low fat milk and nuts, or scrambled egg with some vegetables are good options. Instead of topping the toast with butter, try avocado to make it tasty and healthy.
  3. Make a balanced plate: Fill half plate with fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate starch.
  4. Eat more non-starchy vegetables: We always say eat more vegetables, but the kinds of vegetables we eat also matter. Starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, winter squash and potatoes are high in carbohydrate. Eating too much of those will increase your blood sugar, so it’s important to moderate the portion size of these vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, salad greens and beets contain little or no carbohydrate. Eating more of those vegetables not only stabilize your blood sugar level, but also help fill you up without gaining much weight.
  5. Choose healthy snacks: It’s okay to have some snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable and promote energy levels. Again, make sure to control the portion size and make healthy choices. Here are some examples of healthy snacks: whole fruits, cut vegetables, almonds, Greek yogurt and low-fat popcorn.
  6. Learn a new healthy recipe every month: Search for new healthy recipes and practice. Cooking at home is fun and it saves money. You are in full control of what’s in your meal. Also, by December, you will master cooking 12 recipes. How exciting is that?!
  7. Drink more water: The daily recommendation is 8 cups of water or other non-caffeinated beverages. Drinking enough water helps you stay hydrated and energetic. Sometimes you may feel hungry, but actually you are dehydrated. Drinking water helps you to not get hunger and thirst confused.
  8. Go to bed early and get enough sleep: Going to bed early keeps you from eating too late at night. Also, getting a good night sleep helps your body process carbohydrate and has a positive effect on weight control.
  9. Exercise more: Try different types of exercise such as walking, running, hiking, yoga or a group class at the gym. Get a pedometer or use phone app to record your steps while walking. Recording your steps can motivate you to try to reach a higher goal by walking more miles.
  10. Stay up to date with medical appointments: See your provider regularly to make sure everything is going well with your diabetes and that you are up to date on your health screenings (including eye exams).
Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE
Health, Nutrition

Blood Sugar: What Does It Mean for Your Health?

By Felicia Steward, Dietetic Intern

Blood Sugar Defined

Blood sugar is the measurement of the amount of glucose, or sugar, in your bloodstream. This is important because it tells us how much energy our cells and tissues are receiving from the food we eat. Some foods affect blood sugar more than others. Any food that is mostly carbohydrates will affect blood sugar levels. These include dairy (milk and yogurt), all fruits and fruit juices, starches (pasta, bread, rice, and tortillas), and starchy vegetables (corn, peas, beans, potato, and butternut squash). Eating more carbohydrates at a meal can raise blood sugar, so it’s important to think about portion size along with when we eat and what food items we choose to eat together.

Why Care About the Amount of Sugar in My Bloodstream?

 Glucose provides our body with energy, and is needed for the brain to properly function and process information. Therefore, it is important that we choose foods containing small amounts of carbohydrates whenever we have a meal or a snack throughout the day so there’s enough glucose to support our tissues and cells.

When someone with diabetes eats large portions of carbohydrate-rich foods, too much sugar is released into the blood stream and, because there’s either not enough insulin or they have insulin resistance, their body is unable to use this sugar for energy effectively.  It builds up in the blood stream, causing damage to the body.  Over an unhealthy extended period of time, the body will eventually store much of the excess sugar as fat, which can lead to weight gain. Therefore, it is important to be aware of how the food we eat influences the amount of sugar in our bloodstream and how it affects our weight.

How is Blood Sugar Managed?

helthy-plate

 A healthy eating pattern that includes balance and portion control is an important part of managing the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.  Pairing whole grain, carbohydrate-rich foods with protein and fiber helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Eating a meal or snack that contains foods that increase blood sugar with those that do not affect blood sugar means the glucose is absorbed slowly into the blood and prevents blood sugar from spiking too high. Paying attention to portion size will also ensure that we are providing our body with exactly what it needs each time we eat. What the body doesn’t use for energy right away can be stored as fat and cause weight gain.

Balanced Lunch Examples:

  • PB&J on whole wheat bread + 1 cup carrot and celery sticks dipped in plain yogurt
  •  2 cups tossed salad + 3 oz. grilled chicken + oil/vinegar dressing + 1 banana
  •  3 oz. salmon + 1 cup brown rice + 1.5-2 cups cooked green beans
  •  2 oz. tuna salad (with light/mayo), lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat bread + 1 small apple + 8 oz. of skim milk
 Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE

 

 

Health

Why Medical Appointments are like Math Tests

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

A medical appointment is a really big investment.  It takes time from our busy lives that may impact our employment or family commitments.  It costs us financially through transportation costs, parking fees, childcare expenses and copays.  It also can cause anxiety and uncertainty because of worry about the outcomes of tests (on top of all of the other things I mentioned).  Even so, a medical appointment is the single best investment you can make in your healthcare. The best way to gain the most from this investment is studying the night before. That’s right, just like preparing for that all important math test it’s worthwhile to prepare for your upcoming medical appointment.

Remember, you and your health care provider are teammates working for the same goal: the best health you can achieve.  Using the tips below to prepare for your appointment will help you both get the most out of your time together.

  1. Review your prescriptions and see if you need any refills on medications or supplies.  It is also important to have updated pharmacy contact information so your prescriptions are not delayed, and check to see if you need any specialty referrals.
  2. Make sure that you have your updated insurance information and photo ID with you. Medical offices do not automatically receive insurance changes, so it is important to check this information at each appointment to prevent issues with bills and referrals. You can update your address and phone number at this time if they have changed since your last office visit.
  3. Allow plenty of time to get to your appointment and park so you are not late. We try to accommodate people who are late but sometimes it can’t be done.
  4. Please be patient with me if I am running late. I work very hard to keep on time because I value YOUR time, but if I have a very sick patient, I may run behind. I promise that I will still give you the time you need for your care.
  5. Don’t forget to bring any results from home such as blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar checks. The information I get during the office visit is just one snapshot in time; seeing it along with your home results gives me a clearer picture of your health.
  6. Write down any questions and concerns you want to talk about during your appointment.
  7. Take notes during the appointment and use the same notebook for each visit. This will help keep all of your information organized and in one place if you need to review something you’re unsure about.

I know being a patient is a full time job for many people, and it can be daunting to keep track of everything that goes into good self-care and good health.  I think that preparing for your appointment, just like studying the night before the math test, can make this process less overwhelming and as successful as possible.