Reading Labels Can Help Diabetics Shop to Better Health

Someone who had just learned they have diabetes might suddenly find grocery shopping an overwhelming task -- as healthy choices become essential in preventing complications. In today's Dealing with Diabetes report, a local expert has some advice.

Grocery shopping has never been a simple matter for Las Vegas nursing student, Kelsi Mascari -- who has had diabetes since the age of 9. While diabetics can eat the same foods as everyone else, a healthy balance is essential. For Mascari, every aisle involves important decisions.

"How many carbs and sugars you're putting into your body that are going to affect your blood sugar. It's all going to affect it. And then calories and fat can play a part in weight, which can complicate your diabetes," said Mascari.

Adding to the challenge, Mascari finds that foods she would rather avoid are often prominently displayed.

"The big racks they have out front with all the stuff on sale. And it's always soda and Gatorade and macaroni and cheese. They just throw sugar in front of you," she said.

Las Vegas dietitian, Darlene Allen says diabetics can clearly benefit by learning to read labels, with close attention paid to carbohydrates, which have a direct impact on blood-sugar levels.

"So people with diabetes are reading labels and choosing foods that are reasonable in carbohydrate, lower in salt, to help with controlling blood pressure, and lower in fat so they're helping to control and reduce their risk of heart disease," she said.

Aside from label-reading, Allen suggests sticking to the perimeter of the store as much as possible -- where there are fewer processed foods. And -- spend more time in the produce section, where you'll find the best sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

"So when you leave the produce section, you should have a rainbow of colors in your supermarket cart," she added.

If you'd like to learn more about food labels and ingredients -- a "virtual grocery store tour" will be set up Friday, March 14 in the main lobby of Valley Hospital -- from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Experts, including Darlene Allen, will be on hand to answer questions. For more information -- the number is 477-6530.

For more information, click here and here


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