Posted Nov 2, 2012

Managing diabetes is all about education.

“People can be pleasantly surprised that counting carbohydrates is not as difficult as they think,” said Linda Howsen, a registered and licensed dietitian with The Medical Center Medical Nutrition Counseling.

Howsen and other experts want to help people control the disease with the Community Diabetes Forum. The panel-style forum will feature discussions by Dr. Hamza Sheikh, endocrinologist with Graves-Gilbert Clinic, and registered nurse Tammy Davis of The Medical Center Diabetes Education Program. The forum is free and registration is not required, but is requested.

“We did a diabetes education forum a couple of years ago. We felt it was time with the increasing number of adults and children with diabetes and prediabetes,” said Linda Rush, director of community wellness. “There is so much prevention that can be done with early detection and treatment.”

Diabetes is a condition in which, after a meal is eaten, the blood sugar stays in the blood stream instead of going into the body cells, Howsen said. There are two kinds of diabetes. In Type 1, the pancreas stops making insulin and the patient is insulin dependent. In Type 2, the patients may or may not need insulin. Risk factors include genetics, age, weight, exercise and a sedentary lifestyle.

“We encourage people to watch their carbohydrates, to move with a regular exercise program or an activity they enjoy such as dancing or gardening,” she said. “It’s going to be the big thing that helps lower your blood sugar.”

Howsen helps patients with healthy eating from all the food groups. She tailors the nutritional counseling to each patient’s needs.

“It depends on their gender — men tend to be bigger than women, so they eat more food — weight and eating habits,” she said. “Some people eat a big breakfast and a small supper. Some eat snacks and some don’t. I try to get as close to normal for them as possible so they can get successful.”

A common myth is that people who have diabetes can’t eat sweets.

“You can have sweets as long as you know how many carbohydrates are in them,” Howsen said.

Prevention, early detection and treatment can prevent complications from diabetes.

“They can happen from head to toe. It can lead to eyesight problems. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the country,” Howsen said. Other complications include “heart disease, kidney failure and numbness and tingling of the feet. The feet can get infected and sometimes amputation is necessary.”

Patients sometimes have to be their own advocates to get the education they need to control their illness, Howsen said.

“Education is available. As long as the doctor gives the order and say it’s OK to come, we take over from here,” she said.

— For more information or to register, call 745-1010 or toll free at 800-624-2318 or online at

©2012 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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