What’s on Your Plate?

From an anonymous submitter…

“The truth is that I have always hated talking about nutrition. This was mostly because I wasn’t good at it; I wasn’t one of those people who loved nutritious snacks and grabbed an apple out of the fridge if I was hungry. My mother made me cinnamon toast on white bread for a snack. My first instinct was always to grab potato chips or chocolate bars as snacks. After years of growing up with this pattern, how could I not be pounds and pounds overweight and physically weak. When my diabetic mother came to live with us, and she began struggling with all the repercussions of an unhealthy diet including vision and circulation problems due to her diabetes, I knew it was time to take a serious look at my own diet. Through Weight Watchers and a lot of family support, I have lost 75 pounds and am still on my way to my goal weight. Nutrition and exercise are no longer words I avoid.”

National Nutrition Month® is in March. It is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and focuses on the many different lifestyles of Americans and specific food requirements for those lifestyles. According to registered dietician Jim White, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there’s no one diet that is right for everyone. “It’s important to follow a healthful eating plan that’s packed with tasty foods and that keeps your unique lifestyle in mind,” said White.

For example, if you live an on-the-go lifestyle, like many Americans, it is important to plan ahead and pack fresh fruits or vegetables to eat throughout the day. Don’t assume that you can find the healthy choice you need at a restaurant nearby. Check the menu first.
Athletes should eat protein-filled food like peanut butter and yogurt, in order to have the fuel they need for their daily activities.
Students should turn to the healthy options in their school cafeteria like baked chicken and the salad bar. Avoid the popular favorites like French fries and other fried foods.

Vegetarians and vegans should include protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts and soy products.  Because lifestyles vary so widely from person to person, White recommends seeking the guidance of a registered dietician to develop a food plan that’s right for you. Find a registered dietitian in your area by visiting www.eatright.org.

February – Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Mom began to complain about a blurry spot in the middle of her vision while reading; something she loves to do every day. Threading needles for her quilting was also harder and we helped her out by pre-threading them and pinning them to her sewing room curtain. Little did we know that she was experiencing some of the most common symptoms of Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)

ARMD or AMD — is the deterioration of the macula,  the small central area of the retina of the eye responsible for visual acuity. The health of the macula determines our ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual task that requires us to see fine detail.

According to Friends for Sight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight, ARMD affects 1.65 million individuals in the United States and is the leading cause of vision loss in people older than 65 years.  Due to the aging of the U.S. population, the number of people affected by AMD is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.

According to a recent study by university researchers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.5 percent of Americans age 40 and older have some degree of macular , which explains why when mom began sharing her diagnosis with her friends, several of them also admitted to struggling with reading and seeing small print, just like her!

Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry or wet.  In dry AMD, there is new growth of blood vessels in the retina where they are not supposed to be. About 85 to 90 percent of AMD patients are diagnosed with dry AMD. Doctors believe it may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, the depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two.

Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed when yellowish spots known as drusen begin to accumulate in and around the macula. It is believed these spots are deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue. Gradual central vision loss may occur with dry macular degeneration. Like my mum, most people begin to first experience difficulties with reading small print such as on their medication bottles or their mail.

In wet macular degeneration new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision.

AMD usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. In rare cases, however, vision loss can be sudden. Early signs of vision loss from AMD include shadowy areas in central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision.

Risk factors for macular degeneration include having a family member with AMD, high blood pressure, lighter eye color, diabetes, obesity, poor nutrition and inactivity.High levels of dietary fat also may be a risk factor for developing AMD.

Although there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, there are some treatments which may delay its progression or even improve vision. Many doctors may recommend a type of nutritional intervention such as taking a good multi-vitamin, may help prevent its progression to the wet form. These dietary modifications are also beneficial to one’s overall health as well. individuals with diabetes. For example, some studies have suggested a diet that includes plenty of salmon and other cold water fish, which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, may help prevent AMD or reduce the risk of its progression.

As you age, particularly if you are a diabetic, make certain to be aware of the risk factors associated with AMD. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including good nutritional choices and exercise.And, don’t forget, visit your eye doctor and general practitioner annually. If you do find that you are struggling with some of the side affects of ARMD, call the staff at VRS for assistance. We can help you learn how to use some basic tools and strategies to see you best and to continue to do the things you love, even with ARMD.

JANUARY: Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause vision loss because of damage to the optic nerve, the nerve responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.  It is sometimes called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no obvious symptoms and as much as 40% of vision can be lost before a person seeks medical attention.  Experts estimate that half of those with glaucoma don’t even know they have it.

January is Glaucoma awareness with more details

Although glaucoma does not have obvious symptoms before vision is lost, there are several risk factors which could make you more susceptible to glaucoma.  The disease is more prevalent among African American and among Latino populations.  These groups are 6 to 8 times more likely to have glaucoma than Caucasians.  Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, people who are severely nearsighted, and those with diabetes.

Regular eye exams are especially important for these high-risk groups.  Glaucoma causes your eye pressure to increase due to fluid buildup, coupled by your eye’s inability to regulate the internal pressure.  Your doctor or eye care professional will be able to determine eye pressure quickly with that little blast of air during a routine exam.

The relationship between diabetes and open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma), has intrigued researchers for years.  People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as are non-diabetics.  Similarly, the likelihood of someone with open-angle glaucoma developing diabetes is higher than that of a person without the eye disease.

Neovascular glaucoma, a rare type of glaucoma, is always associated with other abnormalities, diabetes being the most common.  In some cases of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels on the retina are damaged.  The retina manufactures new, abnormal blood vessels.  Neovascular glaucoma can occur if these new blood vessels grow on the iris (the colored part of the eye), closing off the fluid flow in the eye and raising the eye pressure.

There is no cure for glaucoma.  However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss.  The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors.  Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.  If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately when it is discovered and the amount of vision loss can be reduced.  An annual eye exam is your best defense against glaucoma and its devastating effects.

Seasons Greetings & Happy Holidays

Vision Rehabilitation Services of GA wishes each and every one of you very Happy Holidays!  May the time you spend with family and friends warm your hearts and remain with you always.  VRS looks forward to the New Year and being able to serve our clients and their families.  We also appreciate our sponsors and supporters in all they do to help our efforts.

In observance of the Holidays, VRS will be closing at 1pm ET today.  We will remain closed Monday, December 25th, and Tuesday, December 26th.  We will reopen, Wednesday, December 27th!

Four-Part Christmas Plan For Diabetics

Christmas bellsIt’s the Christmas season and those with diabetes should approach the season with thoughtful planning in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep up with hard-earned healthy habits.  Creating a four-part plan for eating, drinking, traveling and activity at Christmas is one strategy recommended by the American Diabetes Association.  VRS instructors can assist you in developing your holiday plan – feel free to contact us at any time with questions:

Holiday Eating Plan:

American holidays are typically celebrated with excess food, so it is important to have an eating plan for maintaining healthy glucose levels Holiday Eating plan graphicthroughout the season.

  • Communicate your dietary needs to the event host
  • Offer to bring healthy alternatives to add to the menu
  • Have a high protein snack earlier in the day to avoid arriving hungry at the event

How to cut calories, without compromising on taste:

  • Remove the skin and eat light-colored meat (breast) rather than dark meat (thigh)
  • Make low-carb pigs in a blanket. Use low-fat cocktail sausages and pierce the skins. Instead of wrapping in bread, wrap with lean back-bacon (with the excess fat trimmed off) and grill. Do not fry or bake
  • Roast your potatoes; minimize fat by dry-roasting or using spray oil
  • Use vegetarian sausage rather than high-fat, high-calorie sausage meat in your stuffing
  • Keep to the healthy plate rule: 2/3 of your plate should be vegetables
  • Be extra cautious with dessert. Check out this link for dessert ideas. https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/diabetes-friendly-holiday-desserts/

If you have a higher blood glucose level than normal due to overindulging or changing your routine; don’t worry too much as this shouldn’t affect your long-term diabetes control.  Do aim to avoid persistently high readings in order to avoid compromising your hard-earned healthy habits.

Holiday Drinking Guidelines:

Holiday Drinking guidelines graphicAlcohol intake can lower blood glucose levels and increase the risk of a hypoglycemia incident.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding how your prescriptions interact with alcohol and adjust your intake accordingly.

  • Diabetic men should have a maximum of 3-4 units of alcohol
  • Diabetic women a maximum of 2-3 units
  • Alternate between alcoholic and diet soft drinks or water can help limit the amount of alcohol you consume and keep you hydrated
  • Reduce calories and alcohol units by consuming lower strength wine
  • Do not to drink on an empty stomach – this can cause a low blood sugar event

Holiday Travel Tips:

Travelling with diabetes requires some extra planning and, at times, extra luggage!  List the items needed for your journey; keep an extra copy on your device or with a loved-one.

Travel Tips graphic

  • Always take extra supplies in case of an emergency
  • Plan for the unexpected: storm and airline delays may require longer stays
  • Bring extra insulin, meters, strips, pump supplies, alcohol wipes and Skin Tac wipes. You may also want to bring additional ketone urine strips. Use a Frio or other cooling bag for carrying insulin.
  • If you are flying, plan for extra time to go through security
  • Get a medical note saying you are allowed to carry diabetes- related supplies onto the airplane
  • Carry all of your supplies onto the plane – just in case
  • Divide supplies between bags, perhaps between other family members, in case a bag gets lost
  • Find out about special precautions from your insulin pump company Most insulin pumps and CGMs cannot be removed and sent through the x-ray machine.
  • Wear a medical ID necklace or bracelet
  • Carry a list of your doctors’ phone numbers with you
  • Have a back-up plan. Always carry syringes even if you are on a pump; if your pump fails you will be okay
  • Carry Ziplock bags in case something needs to be put in ice so it doesn’t get all wet (such as a pump or insulin bottles)
  • Carry candy, granola bars, glucose tabs, and other low blood sugar foods
  • Carry extra batteries for your pump/meter if needed

 

Keeping Active during the Holidays:Keeping active graphic

There are lots of easy and fun ways to add in some extra physical activities during the holiday season.  Grab a family member up off the couch and check some of these off your list:

  • Take a brisk walk with your family after your holiday meal.
  • Dance to holiday music.
  • Go ice skating at a local or pop up ice rink.
  • Shoot a few hoops
  • Enjoy the colors or smells with a holiday hike
  • Walk the neighborhood and look at lights
  • Take a caroling walk in the neighborhood

Introducing activity into your holiday season can help control both blood sugar levels and blood pressure.  It also helps us make memories with our families and friends that will last a lifetime. Take some time to make your plan for staying healthy over the holiday season and then go enjoy!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Vision Rehabilitation Services of GA wishes a very Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!  As families and friends gather and share past memories while making new ones, we at VRS wish you a day of happiness and gratefulness.  We are thankful for our clients and the ability to assist when needed.  Our capability to be there for our clients is not possible without our sponsors and supporters who we are very appreciative to and thankful for having.  With much gratitude, Happy Thanksgiving!

In observance of Thanksgiving, VRS will be closed Thursday, November 23rd, and Friday, November 24th.  We will reopen, Monday, November 27th!

November is American Diabetes Month – Did you know…

November is American Diabetes Month, a month set aside to educate the general public about this serious, and sometimes debilitating disease. One of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.

Diabetes#1causeofblindnessOne in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. Another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, people who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes in their life – such as eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and losing weight. Those with diabetes in their family tree should be especially aggressive about making these changes as the risk of diabetes increases dramatically based on genetics.

Here are some tips for “tackling” Thanksgiving, football, and diabetes:

One of the most important considerations for those of us managing our diabetes or similar health issues, is to keep your blood sugars balanced during the day. Stable blood sugars ensure that your visual functioning remains consistent and at its best. The most effective way to balance blood sugars is to eat vegetables and proteins. So, on Thanksgiving Day, plan to eat small balanced meals at your regular meal times –breakfast and lunch –before the big dinner meal. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner by eating small portions of the food available for the meal. Leave the leftovers. Go back to your normal healthy eating the next day. It’s also an excellent idea to get up and move a little. Take an after meal walk and reminisce with loved ones,  stand up, stretch, and move during commercial breaks of the football and basketball games or better yet, go outside and toss the football yourself with the kids!

Even if you are already a diabetic, you can limit the progression and impact of the disease by carefully monitoring your health and following your doctor’s plan of action to diligently treat your diabetes. Further information about the prevention and treatment of this disease can be found on the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.

Attention ALL Adults – Have you had your immunizations?

Living Well with Diabetes and Vision Loss is a United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta sponsored program run by VRS. Each month we work to provide information that we feel is helpful to those living with diabetes and vision loss.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body uses food for energy due to insulin resistance. Diabetes affects the metabolism as well as the immune system. The disease causes the immune system to destroy insulin producing cells within the pancreas. The immune response is also much lower in people who have diabetes so they are more susceptible to getting infections that could result in the loss of a limb.

Many of us will remember the days of toting our children to the doctor to get their recommended immunizations and protect them from various diseases. As adults, however, we often neglect much needed vaccinations which are recommended and help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. To stay protected against serious illnesses, adults need to get vaccinated too. Shots such as the flu vaccine, are recommended annually for all adults and other shots such as the pneumonia or Shingles vaccine may also be recommended by your doctor.

Take this short quiz below to determine what shots you may need to take, then talk to your doctor about each. Don’t neglect the steps you need to take to be at optimal health.

The Adult Vaccine Quiz from the CDC: https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/

To stay healthy this winter also be sure to eat well, get some exercise and plenty of sleep. The immune system fights best for you when it is healthy and taken care of. Allow for time with family or friends playing games or sharing stories and leisure activities. Laugh a lot. Our emotional health is tied directly to our immune system and when we feel a part of a community our immune system works its best.

VRS Diabetes Support Group Put the Pedal to Metal at Cycle Élan

Cycle Élan gave VRS Diabetes Support Group and staff a warm welcome during their beginner’s cycling class June 22, 2017. VRS enjoyed a private 30-minute high-energy cycling class complete with great music and lots of motivation from the instructor, April. Each client was provided a cycle that tracked their progress, displayed their speed, distance traveled and more.  April encouraged everyone to work at their own pace but not be afraid to push themselves. Everyone seemed to push themselves not only to complete the 30 minutes but to increase their tension levels and speeds.  Assan, another Cycle Élan instructor, cruised the studio to ask each client how they were doing and to encourage them to do what felt comfortable.  VRS client, Derrick Whitaker, felt comfortable cycling at high speed and high tension. He breezed through the cycling class with ease, earning the longest distance of all the cyclists. Admittedly, Derrick spends a lot of time at the gym and had a clear advantage over those who were not as experienced.  He was an inspiration to all to really put the petal to the metal.

VRS Diabetes Support Group Puts the Pedal to the MetalWay to go Derrick !

After 30 minutes, the Diabetes Support Group accumulated several miles of distance and burned a major amount of calories. After class, Cycle Élan provided cold eucalyptus-scented towels to help cool body temperatures. After blood sugar levels were checked, the class enjoyed some snacks and conversation about how much fun the class was.  Everyone seemed pleased with their progress and encouraged to engage in a fitness routine.

VRs Diabetes Support Group Puts the Pedal to the Metal

VRS Diabetes Class Puts the Pedal to the Metal

Some even said they would return to Cycle Élan for more classes.  Why not? The facilities, instructors, classes and hospitality were great!  VRS would like to extend a big thank you to Cycle Élan for welcoming the VRS Diabetes Support Group and helping to inspire to get the wheels moving toward fitness.

 

VRS Diabetes Support Group Is Grabbing Life by the Handlebars

VRS Diabetes Support Group with Cycle Elan

Cycle Élan, an indoor cycling and yoga studio, visited VRS June 14th  to show some of our Diabetes support group, funded by United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, tips on indoor cycling safety and benefits. The session began with clients introducing themselves and sharing their “eye statement” with Cycle Élan instructors. They also discussed their experience with exercising and cycling.  Each client had an interesting story to share about their exercise history. While some were frequent exercisers who went to the gym regularly, others were less experienced and uncertain about whether cycling was safe for them. Instructors, Assan and April, eased their fears by instructing on mounting and dismounting cycles safely.

DeAstin, our Program Assistant, led the way. DeAstin, our Program Assistant, led the way.  “Ater dismounting the bike, DeAstin said, “That was cool!”

Client riding cycle

 

 

Each client had the opportunity to get on the cycle and experience different tensions and speeds.

Derrick getting on the bike

 

They also learned which parts of the body are impacted by cycling and what to expect during a cycling session at a gym or studio. By the end of the session each client was prepared for the upcoming field trip to Cycle Elan where they will experience a 30-minute beginners cycling session, complete with high energy and music and instruction.  Our clients showed their enthusiasm and willingness to try new things. Stay tuned for more VRS adventures in cycling.

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