4 Tips for a Healthy Heart

If you have diabetes, or have been diagnosed with prediabetes, your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly increases. There are so many resources out there that it can become overwhelming very quickly! Let’s explore four simple tips you can start incorporating into your eating plan that will keep your heart healthy and strong.

#1: Limit Sodium Intake

Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart issues. You can avoid high sodium foods by preparing your meals at home more often and monitoring the amount of salt you add. But often, high sodium culprits can appear in spice blends you buy at the grocery store, canned or prepared foods, even condiments. Be sure to look at labels to determine sodium levels in foods you eat. According to the American Heart Association, you should limit your salt intake to 2300 mg or less per day, which equals to about 1 teaspoon or less. If you also have high blood pressure, that number drops to 1500 mg or less per day.

#2: Be Selective with your Proteins

Protein helps build muscles. It’s the centerpiece of the majority of our meals. Sources of protein can include: seafood, meat, chicken, turkey, lentils, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, soy products such as tofu, eggs, and dairy products, like milk and yogurt. For heart health and overall well-being, focus on proteins that are “lean” or “low fat”. Limit processed proteins such as bacon, hot dogs/sausages, and high fat meats.

You can find diabetes friendly recipes on our website here.

#3: More Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating more whole foods into your diet has so many positive effects, from heart health to gut health. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, select the freshest options by buying fresh produce “in season” which can be less expensive. Frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables can also be great options.

#4: Fuel with the Right Liquids

One of the best (and most simple) things you can do for your heart and overall health is to fuel your body with the right liquids. This means more water, and water-rich foods (like certain fruits and vegetables). Limit your amount of alcohol, sugar-filled sodas, and caffeinated beverages.

When you drink more water, you decrease your risk of dehydration, which can impact everything from your heart to your motor functions (movement, speech). How much water you drink per day is individualized, but aiming for at least 8 cups of water per day is a good place to start.

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you will be on your way to better heart health and lower your chance of cardiovascular issues in the future. Remember, it’s progress and small changes every day that will lead to the best outcomes.

Better Diabetes Management: Strategies to Keep Your 2024 Resolutions

By: Priscilla Thomas

Ready to take charge of your diabetes journey in 2024? As we dive into the new year, the key is not just setting resolutions but finding effective strategies to stay on track. Let’s explore common challenges and practical advice on accountability, tracking progress, seeking support, and keeping up your motivation to navigate the year successfully.

Facing Challenges and Finding Solutions

Challenge 1: Initial Enthusiasm vs. Long-Term Commitment

Solution 1: Set Realistic Goals

We all start the year motivated, but how do we keep it going? Start by setting realistic goals that you can actually achieve. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable steps. For instance, if your goal is to improve your diet, start with specific changes like incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your meal plan or reducing added sugar. Realistic goals provide a clear path to success and foster a sense of accomplishment, propelling you toward long-term commitment.

Challenge 2: Accountability Dips

Solution 2: Staying Accountable

Don’t be on this journey alone. Find someone who shares your health goals or understands what you’re going through. Partner up and set goals together. Regular check-ins and shared objectives will keep you motivated and accountable.

Challenge 3: Progress Monitoring

Solution 3: Use Tracking Tools

Tracking your progress is crucial to making progress. Use tools, such as diabetes management apps and digital health tools, blood sugar trackers, Bluetooth-enabled devices, continuous glucose monitors, or journals, to measure and track your blood glucose levels. These tools track your improvements, showing you where you’re succeeding and where you might need to adjust your approach.

Challenge 4: Dealing with Setbacks

Solution 4: Embrace a Growth Mindset

When things don’t go as planned, think of them as opportunities to learn and grow.  This mindset shift encourages resilience and a proactive approach to improve how you manage your diabetes. Look for support from your healthcare team or support groups to gain new insights and perspectives.

Challenge 5: Maintaining Motivation Over Time

Solution 5: Celebrate Small Wins

To stay motivated, it’s important to celebrate the small wins. Every step counts! Whether it’s hitting your step goals, making healthier food choices, or incorporating local produce into your diet, acknowledging these achievements keeps you motivated and committed.

Diabetes Resolutions for 2024 with a Southern Maryland Twist

As you step into the new year, here are some ideas to help you stay motivated:

  1. Embrace Local and Seasonal Produce: Explore Southern Maryland’s farmer’s markets and add some seasonal fruits and vegetables to your meals. Support local farmers while boosting your nutrition. Frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables can also be healthy and budget-friendly choices.
  2. Savor the Seafood Bounty: Given Southern Maryland’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, enjoy local seafood favorites such as grilled or baked Rockfish (Striped Bass), or steamed Maryland Blue Crabs lightly seasoned and in moderation. These local favorites are healthy choices that celebrate the region’s culinary traditions.
  3. Balanced Spice with Local Flair: Just as Old Bay seasoning often adds flavor to Southern Maryland dishes, be mindful of sodium intake. Experiment with lower-sodium versions of Old Bay or create your spice blend to enhance the taste without compromising health.
  4. Explore Local Trails and Waterfronts: Get moving by exploring the beautiful landscapes of Southern Maryland. Take advantage of local waterfronts, parks, and trails  for regular walks to reduce insulin resistance and maintain your blood sugar levels within your target range. If it’s too cold out, try these exercises you can do at home.
  5. Connect with Local Diabetes Resources: Engage with local diabetes support groups and education programs. Connect with TLC-MD or with your local diabetes community to share experiences and stay updated on the latest management techniques within the vibrant Southern Maryland diabetes community.

By weaving these resolutions into your new year’s goals, you’re embracing a holistic approach to managing diabetes coupled with the rich culinary traditions of Southern Maryland. Each small step contributes to significant progress over time, ensuring that diabetes doesn’t hold you back from savoring the Southern Maryland way of life. Cheers to a healthier and more vibrant year ahead!

Eat healthier, live happier: Take charge of your health today with this free 2-page guide to healthy food choices

Eat healthier, live happier: Take charge of your health today with this free 2-page guide to healthy food choices

couple selecting vegetables

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and you want to enjoy great health and maintain steady blood sugar levels…nothing is more important than selecting the right foods.

Your diet plays a critical role in:

  • Regulating your blood sugar
  • Keeping your energy levels stable
  • Preventing long-term diabetes complications

With help from this simple 2-page guide, you’ll be empowered to make great food decisions with confidence.

Related Content

For healthy blood sugar with diabetes, learn what makes your glucose levels rise and fall

For healthy blood sugar with diabetes, learn what makes your glucose levels rise and fall

glucose monitor

When you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar in check means understanding the factors that make it fluctuate.

  • Stay mindful of influences on blood sugar like food, exercise, medication, illness, drinking, stress, and pain.
  • Track your glucose levels using fingerstick testing or continuous glucose monitoring.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to set targets and make adjustments.
  • Use your readings to guide your decisions on diet and activity timing.

Related Content

How to Fit Diabetes Management Into Your Lifestyle

By: Priscilla Thomas

Growing up, my siblings and I spent our summers in North Carolina with friends and family. As I got older, I started to realize that many of our relatives suffered from the complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease. I often wondered if they had access to the resources they needed —could it have made a difference in managing their diabetes and preventing complications?

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services are one of the resources that can help improve your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol; lower the risk of diabetes complications; reduce hospital admissions; and improve your overall health. 

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for years, DSMES services can help you find ways to manage your diabetes that fit your lifestyle. 

Although we know the benefits of DSMES, the number of people with diabetes who access these services is very low (only half of adults with diabetes). TLC-MD’s goal is to increase awareness and reduce barriers so that people with diabetes have easier access to these services. DSMES is covered by many insurance plans. If the cost of the services is a concern for you, there are also free or low-cost resources available. To get started with DSMES, ask your healthcare provider for a referral

There are four key times to ask for a referral to DSMES services:

  • When you are first diagnosed with diabetes.
  • During your annual checkup or if your lab results or other health goals are not within range. 
  • When you have a new concern, new medications, or develop a new complication such as neuropathy (numbness in your feet), heart disease, or kidney disease. 
  • When you have a hospital admission or Emergency Department visit.

When you participate in DSMES services, you will:

  • Work with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (DCES) to set and track goals that will work for you. 
  • Improve or learn new knowledge, skills, and tools to help you feel more confident with managing your diabetes.
  • Develop and practice problem-solving skills to fit diabetes care into your daily routine. 
  • Learn how to get the support you need from your family, friends, and healthcare team.

DSMES services focus on seven key self-care behaviors:

  • Healthy Coping: Find the support you need and identify ways to reduce stress.
  • Healthy Eating: Learn the common myths about healthy eating and how to create an eating plan that meets your needs. 
  • Being Active: Discover how to include activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
  • Taking Medication: Learn tips to take medications as prescribed and how medications work together.
  • Monitoring: Know if you are meeting your treatment goals and if adjustments may be needed.
  • Problem-Solving: Identify problems, find solutions, and develop a plan to take action.
  • Reducing Risks: Take steps to lower your risk of developing complications.

No matter how long you’ve had diabetes, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) can help you fit diabetes management into your lifestyle and make a difference in your overall health. Remember: There are four key times to ask for a referral; DSMES can help you gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and support you need to manage your diabetes; and a diabetes care and education specialist will help you develop or improve seven key self-care behaviors. Sometimes getting access to DSMES services can be challenging. You don’t have to do this alone. TLC-MD is here to support you and connect you to the services you need so you can thrive with your diabetes.

To learn more:

You’re stronger than diabetes. Protect your mental health

You’re stronger than diabetes. Protect your mental health

Mental-Health-TLC

Living with diabetes can be challenging, but support & self-care promote resilience.

Understand the basics:

  • Assemble a healthcare team you trust
  • Educate yourself & ask questions
  • Release guilt: Diabetes progression is not a personal failure
  • Watch for concerning signs like hopelessness & know help is available
  • Set realistic goals & use tools like CGMs to understand–not judge–your blood sugar

This guide provides tips to safeguard & improve your physical health & emotional wellbeing.

Related Content

How to safeguard your renal health

How to safeguard your renal health

kidney health

Diabetes raises your chronic kidney disease (CKD) risk, but you can take charge of your kidney health by learning how to:

  • Monitor to detect problems early on
  • Manage blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices

Learning about kidney care can help prevent damage. And if you already have CKD, proper management can slow its progression.

Related Content

Enjoy your favorite foods and stay healthy this holiday season

Enjoy your favorite foods and stay healthy this holiday season

people eating

Holidays can be challenging with diabetes, but planning ahead can lead to a happier, healthier celebration.

Learn how to manage diabetes while still enjoying the holidays, including:

  • Time meals for steady blood sugar control
  • Stay active through family walks or even dancing
  • Bring healthy snacks to hold you over between meals
  • Savor your favorite holiday foods in smaller portions
  • Speak to your provider about adjusting insulin

Related Content

Discover how to manage your stress

Discover how to manage your stress

Woman yoga

Stress management is an important part of self-care for diabetes. Excessive stress can harm your blood sugar & affect your health-related decision-making.

  • This guide shares techniques to find calm.
  • Identify your stressors and warning signs
  • Avoid or limit stressful situations
  • Make time for yourself through exercise, hobbies, and relaxation
  • Build your support network of family, friends, groups
  • Seek counseling if needed

Related Content

Protect your child with diabetes at school

Protect your child with diabetes at school

tlc-diabetes-safety-in-school

Is your child with diabetes safe at school? Learn their rights to care & how to protect them from discrimination.

– Get accommodations with a 504 Plan or IEP
– Use a handy checklist to request services & modifications
– What to do if your child experiences discrimination
– Know where to go for additional ADA resources

Stand up for your children’s health with this guide.

Related Content