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Karen Chapman Novakofski

Professor of Nutrition

Marilyn Csernus

Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness


April-May 2018

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In This Issue
  • Diabetes - the Medical Perspective
  • Diabetes and Food
  • Recipes to Try
  • Menu Suggestions


Diabetes - the Medical Perspective


Fear of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can be a barrier to good blood glucose control. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose drops below 70 mg/dl.  If blood glucose level is dropping rapidly, you may feel symptoms before it reaches 70 mg/dl. Some feel no symptoms though.

Hypoglycemia is more likely to occur if taking any of these diabetes medications:

Any type of insulin




Chlorpropamide (Diabenese)



Any combination of these medications

Hypoglycemia can happen when there are factors causing your blood glucose to drop without any factors that increase blood glucose.

Factors that decrease blood glucose:

  • Insulin and the above listed diabetes medications
  • Physical activity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Alcohol

Factors that can increase blood glucose:

  • Simple carbohydrates (sugar)
  • Complex carbohydrates (starch)
  • Illness or infection
  • Stress

More frequent hypoglycemia is concerning and needs to be evaluated by your health care provider. If your blood glucose drops low enough it can cause loss of consciousness, accidents, or seizures. This is severe hypoglycemia and requires help from another person.   Severe hypoglycemia can be life threatening. Emergency help should be called. A glucagon injection may be given. Glucagon is a hormone that will quickly raise blood glucose. It is important for someone to be aware of your diabetes in case they need to call for emergency help or administer glucagon. A medical alert bracelet is also recommended.

Tips to prevent hypoglycemia:

Unexpected Meal Delay

Have a small carb-containing snack like fruit, yogurt, or crackers to keep blood glucose stable until able to eat a meal.

Unable to Eat a Meal of Solid Food

Drink a carb-containing beverage equal to your usual mealtime carb intake such as juice, milk, or regular soda.

Increased Physical Activity

Plan activity after food intake and keep carb-containing snack handy.


Contact your health care provider if vomiting and unable to eat. Sip on carb-containing beverages.

Moderate Alcohol Intake

Switch to seltzer water, non-alcohol beer, or diet soda.

Guessing Your Carb Intake

Learn how to read labels and count carbs, especially if matching carbs to insulin.

Timing of Medication and Food Intake

Meals eaten at regular times will help keep blood glucose more stable.

Know Your Blood Glucose Level

Use finger stick method to check glucose. Do not rely on how you feel.

Diabetes and Food

It is important to choose the right food or beverage when treating

hypoglycemia. The right choice is something that will raise blood glucose quickly and bring it back up to normal. The usual recommendation is 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate. These carbohydrates are easily converted to sugar in the body.

15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate:  

4 ounces (1/2 cup) fruit juice

7 saltine crackers

4 glucose tablets

1 slice white bread

4 ounces (1/2cup) regular soda

8 lifesavers candy

Fifteen minutes after treating your hypoglycemia, you need to re-check your blood glucose. If there has not been any rise in your glucose, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate. If your blood glucose has begun to rise but not reached 70 mg/dl, check again in another 15 minutes and treat again if it is still below 70 mg/dl.

Being skilled at counting carbs can help in the treatment of hypoglycemia. The more you weigh and the lower your blood glucose, the more carbohydrate you will need to eat bring your glucose up to a safe range.

Recipes to Try

Stuffed Green Peppers

6 servings per recipe


  • 12 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15.5-ounce) red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
  • 1 can (10-ounce) diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 3 large green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese


  1. Brown ground beef in medium saucepan. Add onions and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in red kidney beans, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes; heat to boiling. Reduce to low heat; simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
  3. Wash green peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds.
  4. Place green peppers cut side up in large skillet. Add about ½ inch water. Heat to boiling; cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 5 minutes until crisp tender.
  5. Remove peppers from water and drain on towel. Place cut side up on serving plate, and fill with ground meat/kidney bean/tomato mixture. Top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.
Nutrition Facts per serving
Calories 247
Fat 11 grams
Protein 17 grams
Calories from fat 99
Carbohydrate 21 grams
Cholesterol 42 mg
Fiber  7 grams
Sodium 642 mg
This and other recipes available at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

Seasoned Green Beans

4 servings per recipe


  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green beans or 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 cup non-fat broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Heat broth to boiling.
  2. Add herb seasoning mix, beans and onion.
  3. Turn heat down. Cook 15-20 minutes.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle with lemon and pepper
Nutrition Facts per serving
Calories 36
Fat 0 grams
Protein 1 grams
Calories from fat 0
Carbohydrate 7 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Fiber 2 gram
Sodium 10 mg
This and other recipes available at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

Sample Menu


Amount/ Portion

Scrambled egg and veggie breakfast pizza

1 serving

Sliced cantaloupe

1 cup

Raspberry non-fat Greek yogurt

6 ounces

Chopped walnuts

1 ounce

Skim milk

1 cup

673 Calories; 67 carbohydrates; 4.5 Carb choices



Tuna and white bean salad

1 serving

Whole wheat roll

1 medium

Soft tub margarine spread

2 teaspoons

Fresh strawberries

1 ¼ cup

Skim milk

1 cup

508 Calories;  62 grams Carbohydrates;  4 Carb Choices



Stuffed Green Peppers

1 serving

Rice with cucumbers and scallions

1 serving

Seasoned green beans

1 serving

Lemon Cake

1 serving

Skim milk

1 cup

621 Calories; 75 Carbohydrates; 5 Carbohydrate Choices


Total: 1802 Calories,  204 grams Carbohydrates,  13.5 Carb Choices


†Recipes from Recipes for Diabetes at extension.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/ or this newsletter

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