Category: Diabetes

Smart Steps to Watching Your Health This Thanksgiving


Don’t let the roasted turkey, homemade dressing, and pumpkin pie get you off balance this Thanksgiving. Instead of stuffing yourself at one huge meal packed with carbohydrates and sugar that can wreak havoc on diabetes and other health issues, plan to eat smaller portions of healthier foods throughout the day instead. When you do sit down to eat your Thanksgiving meal, take time to savor the flavors and enjoy conversations with family and friends.

“You can enjoy holiday goodies and still manage your diabetes by being sensible with food portions,” says Magdalene Szuszkiewicz-Garcia, MD, an independently practicing endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “There are no forbidden foods, however; if you have diabetes it is best to avoid foods with concentrated sugar.”

She recommends that you watch your caloric intake. “Stay away from high-fat munchies like potato chips that are high in calories, and indulge in fresh vegetables and fruit,” she recommends. “Before the meal, try a hot broth-based soup, which can help you feel full and keep you from overeating.”

Prepare your family’s traditional recipes, but substitute calorie-laden ingredients with those that have less fat and sugar.

Throughout the holiday season, exercise is particularly beneficial. “It is very important to get as much exercise as possible so that you are helping your body with the extra goodies that are around during the holidays,” Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia says. “Go out and take a walk with your family after the Thanksgiving meal. Consider cheering actively by jumping up and down or dancing while watching the football gameThe increase in your physical activity will really help.”

Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia explains that one reason diabetes has become so prevalent is that the typical American diet is high in fat and concentrated sugars. When combined with inactivity, these habits become strong risk factors that cause many adults to develop
type 2 diabetes.

Current figures show that the number of adults with diabetes in the United States is on the rise, and it is estimated that one-third of those may have the disease without knowing it, according to the National Institute of Health. In addition, about one out of every four adults has what’s called prediabetes.

“People with diabetes have high levels of glucose, or sugar, in their blood because their bodies have trouble using or producing insulin,” Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia explains. What may start out as being overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. All of these can increase a risk for cardiac disease and stroke.

“We encourage people to reduce their risk of developing diabetes and heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle, eating less and exercising more,” says Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia. “If you have diabetes, controlling your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diet can prevent or delay complications.”

Managing your dietary habits is important during the holiday season, but it is also a lifelong commitment. If you embrace the challenge, you’ll not only feel better and have more energy, you’ll be making an important investment in your health.

To find healthy recipes this holiday season visit and fight off holiday weight gain.

About Methodist Health System
Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Methodist Health System (Methodist) provides quality, integrated care to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas.  Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Methodist Richardson Medical Center, Methodist Midlothian Health Center, and Methodist Family Health Centers are part of the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. Additional information is available at To see why Methodist Health System is a brilliant choice for your career, join our talent community at and connect with us through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and our blog.


Human Resources
1441 N. Beckley Avenue
Dallas, TX 75203
Contact: Suzanne Lewis

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Ready for Fall Baking? Here’s how to Bake it Healthier!

By Carrie Camin
Assistant Vice President, Wellness
Methodist Health System

There’s nothing like the first cold snap — which for Dallas means our temperatures drop below 90 degrees — that sends many people to the kitchen for fall baking. After all, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Celebrating the fall harvest means richer flavors, but it doesn’t have to mean that these delectable treats are packed with calories. Here are some tips and substitutions for healthier baking this season.

Substitutions: Use ingredients that are natural like agave nectar, honey, or applesauce instead of refined sugar or chemicals.

  • Try using half the amount of butter called for in the recipe.
  • Use mashed bananas to hold your ingredients together rather than eggs and oil.
  • Substitute applesauce for sugar.
  • Instead of coating a pan with oil, use nonstick cooking sprays.

Did you know?

  • If the recipe calls for three eggs, use only one yolk and the egg whites of the other two eggs.
  • Most recipes still taste great if you simply cut salt in half.
  • Nuts are good for us, but they also add a lot of calories. In the spicy pumpkin bread recipe below, 1/3 cup of black walnuts is 255 calories — so use nuts wisely.

To get your holiday baking off on a healthy note, here’s a recipe for spicy pumpkin bread. Enjoy!

Spicy Pumpkin Bread
This particular pumpkin bread gets its kick from a blend of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Top with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts for a salty crunch that pairs perfectly with the sweet, moist bread.

One serving of this dish is about 1 slice.


3 1/2 cups All-purpose white flour, enriched
2/3 tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Allspice, ground
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon Salt, table
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Cloves, ground
1 1/3 cups Brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup Nonfat milk, calcium fortified (fat-free or skim)
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 Eggs with yolks or 1 egg and 2 egg whites
1 cup Pumpkin, canned without salt
Cooking spray, 1 squirt
1/3 cup Black walnuts, chopped
198 calories; 34 grams carbs; 6 grams fat; 4 grams protein
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 7 ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture.
3. Combine brown sugar and the next 5 ingredients (brown sugar through pumpkin) in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
4. Spoon batter into 2 loaf pans (8 x 4–inch) coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans, then cool loaves completely. Cut each loaf into 12 slices.

Servings: 20
Note: This recipe is public and was created by a dietitian.

Methodist Health System supports our employees’ efforts to make healthy food choices. We include healthy recipes on the wellness page of our employee intranet site, and we just opened cooking light cooking stations in the cafeterias at Methodist Dallas and Methodist Richardson Medical Centers.

If you’re looking for a career you can truly be thankful for, then it’s time to choose Methodist. Learn more by visiting Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

© Methodist Health System


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Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween

By Carrie Camin
Assistant Vice President, Wellness
Methodist Health System

I know I’m running the risk of being perceived as the witch who wrecked Halloween or the apparition that applied logic to ghoulish fun, but I have a theory. I believe you can celebrate Halloween and fall festivals without consuming a year’s worth of sugar and calories in one night. Having a happy, healthy Halloween is possible, and it doesn’t take a magic potion.

For many, Halloween is the kickoff to a sugary, fat-laden, calorie-crammed holiday season. After all, this is the heyday for the retail season, and delectable temptations are everywhere. The reality is there are ways you and your family can enjoy the seasonal fun while making healthy food choices. Here are a few hints.

Limit your intake. Decide ahead of time what your daily (or weekly) treats will be and how many you’ll have. Decide how much works for you and put the treats in a small ziplock bag so you can control your portions.

Don’t munch mindlessly. Keep Halloween candy out of sight. Keep it in the refrigerator or a hard-to-reach cabinet so you’ll be fully aware of what you’re doing when you grab a couple of pieces.

Stock up on healthy snacks and sugarless gum. Keep sugarless gum and healthy snacks like baby carrots, grapes, apple slices, or popcorn on hand for when you feel like having a snack.

Don’t skip your exercise or outdoor time. Stay active and get a daily dose of sunlight to help keep your mind and body balanced as the days grow shorter.

Avoid the candy creep that occurs around Halloween. If you’re going to give out candy to the trick-or-treaters at your door, buy it on October 31st. Choose candy you don’t like or goodies that are lower in calories and fat. Better candy choices include:

  • Tootsie Pops (60 calories each)
  • Lollipops (50 calories each)
  • Life Savers (10 calories per candy)
  • York Peppermint Pattie Miniatures (50 calories per piece)
  • Nestlé Crunch bars (60 calories for fun size bar)
  • Quaker Chewy Mini Granola Bar (60 calories)
  • Nabisco Teddy Grahams (60 calories for fun size pack)

Better yet, cruise past the candy aisle and buy pencils, stickers, gum, and other nonfood items to distribute. Get rid of any leftovers immediately. Crunching on Halloween candy through Christmas isn’t a pretty picture for you or your well-being.

Methodist Health System supports our employees’ efforts to make healthy food choices. We include healthy recipes on the wellness page of our employee intranet site, and we just opened cooking light cooking stations in the cafeterias at Methodist Dallas and Methodist Richardson Medical Centers.

If you’re looking to nourish your career in a healthy environment, then it’s time to choose Methodist. And have a happy, healthy Halloween! Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


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12 Ways to Avoid the Holiday Eating Frenzy

By Karen Taylor

Employee Health Coach
Methodist Health System

Starting a diet during the holidays? Think again. Most dietitians agree that the season of giving is also the season of eating. Starting a quest to lose weight may be fraught with challenges. While gifting is great, the extra calories and fat grams found in many holiday foods result in the gift that keeps on giving.

Most people gain one to five pounds during the holiday season, which are hard to lose. In addition to temptations such as cookies, candy, and traditional favorites like dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce, many people are driven to eat to relieve the stress of the holiday season. When we’re stressed, we don’t make the best health choices.

Losing weight during the holidays is tough. Watching portion sizes is important, but saying no to the many opportunities for extra treats is the most effective as well as the most difficult strategy. Instead of trying to lose weight over the holidays, the best plan may be to maintain your current weight. Then you can kick your quest to lose weight into high gear with the start of the New Year.

Maintaining your weight during the holidays may sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but there are many factors working against you — extra treats in the break room, lots of parties with high-calorie foods, and more.

So how do you avoid falling victim to the holiday eating frenzy? Here are 12 tips designed to keep you on track to maintaining your weight:

  1. Never skip meals. If you know you’re going to be eating a large dinner, plan a low-calorie breakfast, such as oatmeal with blueberries, and a light lunch, such as a broth-based soup and half a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  2. Keep a food diary. Journaling what and when you eat is a great way to identify poor food choices. Then you can quickly adjust.
  3. Exercise. Some exercise is better than none. And more exercise is better than some. Personally, I enjoy the gym and attend a boot camp class on a regular basis. Here, we have gyms at Methodist Charlton and Methodist Dallas Medical Centers, and personal trainers are available to work with you one-on-one at reasonable rates.
  4. Watch portion sizes. They are critical to successfully maintaining your weight. Smaller servings can be just as satisfying while saving you lots of calories.
  5. Holidays are days, not weeks or months. Avoid the holi-week or holi-month cycle that causes many of us to lose control of our diets. Get back on track quickly!
  6. Choose wisely. Weigh your choices on the holiday buffet before making your selections. If you really want Aunt Betty’s holiday fruitcake, take a small piece and consider foregoing the nuts and cheeses and other high-caloric treats that you can enjoy throughout the year.
  7. Skip the seconds. Limit your meal or party dining to one plate.
  8. Eat slowly. We often eat so quickly, we don’t give our body time to send us that cue that we’re getting full. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
  9. Drink water. Many calorie-laden beverages dot the holiday landscape —  eggnog, hot chocolate, holiday punch, gingerbread lattes, and more. What’s more, alcohol is full of calories. A wise alternative is one holiday beverage followed by water.
  10. Keep healthy snacks handy. Put them in your bag, purse, or car. Carry healthy alternatives such as granola bars, carrots, and apples so on-the-run fast-food choices won’t be tempting.
  11. Be the healthy holiday hero. Bring a healthy side or entrée to a holiday gathering so you’ll know there will be at least one nutritious, good-for-you item you can enjoy.
  12. Learn to say no. We’re often overwhelmed with commitments during the holidays. If we can prioritize things that matter most, then you will be well on your way to managing stress and avoiding stress eating.

As a health coach, my top priority is helping our employees stay as healthy as possible, including maintaining an ideal weight and making lifestyle changes that will improve their well-being. If you’re ready to give yourself and your career the gift of happy, healthy holidays, then it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


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Diabetes: Fact or Myth

By Joyce Kaska-Laird, MA, RD, LD, CHES, CDE
Diabetes Program Manager
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

As someone who works with diabetes patients every day, I often find myself in the role of a myth buster. Patients who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes and those who have been dealing with the disease for some time often have to be reminded about the realities of living with their chronic condition. In a word, I reinforce moderation with my patients.

While each patient requires individualized instruction and a care plan specifically tailored to meet his or her needs, commonly held myths still exist. Here are just a couple:

  • Potatoes, bananas, grapes, and other foods are strictly off limits. False. The reality is that patients with diabetes can eat these foods, but they must be vigilant about portion size and balancing food groups to maintain their blood sugar level within desired limits.
  • Sweets are a definite no-no. False. Again, moderation and portion size are the keys to satisfying a sweet tooth. An acceptable portion is a 2-inch square piece of cake or one-half cup of ice cream. Because sweets have carbohydrates, patients must integrate sweets into that particular day’s nutrition plan. For instance, if they ingest carbs with a serving of sweets, they need to reduce carbs elsewhere in their food intake that day. That’s where the balancing act becomes important.

The facts are patients come to us exhibiting the same risk factors that are growing among the population as a whole — obesity, lack of exercise, increased levels of stress, poor eating habits, and a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Most troubling is the rapidly increasing incidence of diabetes appearing in teens and young adults, which translates to increasing health care costs.

The good news is we’ve come a long way in helping patients manage their diabetes. New pharmaceutical advances offer patients improved quality of life. For example, some medications increase the amount of insulin made by the pancreas after a meal and help control the amount of sugar made by the liver.  New injectable medications help patients’ bodies make more insulin after they eat and act to suppress appetite.

Thanks to technological advances with blood sugar meters, tracking information is easier. Older adults can use meters with larger displays and numbers. Meters no longer require coding. New meters can display reading trends over an extended period of time. And we can now monitor patients remotely while giving real-time information to members of their care team. This enables quicker modification of medications, diet, exercise, and other aspects of patients’ lives.

Here are the four most important things that patients can do to either prevent the onset of diabetes or keep their diabetes under control:

  • Lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight. By reducing weight by 10 to 20 percent, patients can improve their blood sugar levels. Maintaining an ideal body weight is as easy as limiting fast-food intake, eating a balanced diet, limiting fat intake, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain balance throughout the day. Watch carbohydrate intake. Don’t skip meals. Instead, eat balanced meals throughout the day.
  • Be active. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Walking, cycling, and running are good examples.
  • Control stress. If stress is an issue, consider joining a support group. Look for activities you enjoy doing. And remember, exercise reduces stress.

At Methodist Charlton Medical Center, we help patients get involved in their care so they can better manage their diabetes for a better quality of life. If you’re ready for a better quality of life, maybe it’s time to make a change in your career and choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting

© Methodist Health System


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