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Health Corner: Taking Back Your Life!

According to the Virgin Islands Department of Health (VIDOH) Bureau Health Education Virgin Health Education Diabetes Prevention and Control Program 2010 Focus on Disparities Fact Sheet, diabetes mellitus is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As cited in a 2011 September article, Eat to Beat Diabetes. 1 in 4 of us over 65 will get the disease – use diet to prevent it, 1 in 12 Americans – and more than 1 in 4 Americans age 65 and over are affected by diabetes.

See Also: AARP Diabetes Learning Center

But the good news is, if you are suffering from this disease it is quite possible that you can in fact take back your health! Healthy eating truly begins with a balanced diet and a good place to start is the management of your portion size. The American Diabetes Association "create your plate" campaign uses a 9-inch plate to manage portion size and nutritional balance in five steps:

  • Imagine a line down the middle of the plate, cutting it in half. Fill one half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables: salad, green beans, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli.
  • Imagine a second line cutting the other half of the plate into two equal parts. Fill one of those parts with starchy foods: noodles, rice, corn, potatoes, beans, whole-grain bread.
  • Fill the remaining quarter of the plate with meat or meat substitute: lean beef or pork, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, low-fat cheese, *tofu.
    Add one piece of fruit (or a ½-cup serving of fresh, frozen or canned-in-juice fruit).
  • Add an 8-ounce glass of non-fat or low-fat milk (or, if you don't want milk, another small serving of a carbohydrate such as a 6-ounce container of low-fat yogurt or a small roll).

Note: The breakfast portion must should be limited to starches in half the plate, fruit in one quarter of it and meat/meat substitute in the other quarter. *Also, there are other plant-based proteins other than tofu such a tempeh so be sure to survey your local grocery store for other meat substitutes.

Once you have taken control of managing your portion size, combining your healthy diet with regular exercise is also important. Since many of us may be experiencing hard economic times and therefore cannot afford a gym membership, go to your nearest public facility such as a school track and start your day off with a 30 minute walk. Get together with friends and colleagues and start a walking/running club to support each other on a journey to better health. It is never too late to get in shape so why not start now? Cheers to better health!

To learn more about diabetes by going to the AARP Diabetes Learning Center. There you can also access the health tools database where you can conduct a condition & treatment search, symptom search, and drug search. Also, for additional tips on healthy eating inclusive of some great diabetes-friendly recipes, check out Eat to Beat Diabetes.

Visit the AARP VI web page for future Health Corner news. We also encourage you to visit our social media sites on Facebook and Twitter for more information on health tips as part of our weekly online publication of AARP health articles and other information.