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story.lead_photo.caption Some carbs are better than others; fresh vegetables often provide fiber as well as nutrients. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

The year is off to a good start. I'm looking forward to kicking 2020 in the tush — if I can just get it together.

I just have to figure out what "it" is and find the glue, tape or staples to hold "it" all together.

The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I think many of us have a tendency to look at the big-picture instead of seeing and savoring our victories.

I'm aware of the health problems I face as a diabetic. I'm a cautionary tale, and I seek to share my struggles so others can learn from my successes and mistakes. I am by no means an expert in the field of nutrition, exercise or health. My efforts are usually trial and error, or throw it in the air and see where it lands.

I have to lower, and keep, my blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Experience has taught me that exercise and healthful eating are the answer.

It's up to each of us to decide on our eating plan of choice. What works for me might not work for you, so it pays to use due diligence when deciding. I know my body does not need the empty carbohydrates found in pasta, rice or white bread — my favorites. They spike my blood sugar, which in turn makes me lethargic and sometimes sleepy.

The general consensus seems to be three to four carbohydrate servings per meal and one for a snack for women, and for men, four to five per meal and one to two for a snack. One serving is considered 15 grams, so the carbohydrates should fall in the 45-to-60-gram range per meal.

According to information from the Mayo Clinic (, carbs do have health benefits, but some are better than others. They are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. Most occur naturally in plant-based foods, but some are added to processed food in the forms of starch or added sugar. Common sources for natural carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes.

There are three main types:

◼️ Sugars, the simplest form. These include fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose).

◼️ Starch. It's a complex carb made of sugar units bonded together, and it occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, beans and peas.

◼️ Fiber. It's also a complex carbohydrate, but one the body cannot digest. It's found in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and peas.

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. If you choose to eat them:

◼️ Emphasize fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Try whole, fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, without added sugar. Juices and dried fruits are concentrated sources of natural sugar. There are more nutrients in an equivalent weight of dry fruit than fresh, but that can mean more sugar.

◼️ Choose whole grains. They are better sources of fiber and important nutrients than refined grains because refined grains go through a process that strips out important nutrients and fiber.

◼️ Dairy products are a good source of calcium, protein and other vitamins and minerals. Some nutritionists urge us to use lower-fat versions, but on the website of Time magazine, I found an article about a review published in the European Journal of Nutrition. Existing research on dairy fat came to some surprising conclusions: People who ate full-fat dairy were no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes than people who ate low-fat dairy. When it comes to weight gain, they found that full-fat dairy might be more helpful.

Of the 25 studies included in the review, 18 reported lower body weights, less weight gain or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters. The other seven studies were inconclusive. None of the research suggested low-fat dairy was better than full-fat dairy.

◼️ Eat more legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils. They are typically low in carbs and high in nutrients, fats and fibers. They are a source of protein and can be a substitute for meat.

◼️ Limit added sugars. Small amounts are not harmful, but there is no advantage to consuming it. Less than 10% of calories we consume every day should come from added sugar.

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Style on 01/13/2020

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