Welcome to Diabetes 101. This is a class for EVERYONE, even if you are not a diabetes. Nearly 1 in 9 Americans have diabetes. But it has not always been like this. In the past 40 years or so, the risk of getting diabetes has more than tripled.

Why is Diabetes on the Rise?

Genetics, food industry, lifestyle choices and chemical exposure are the most common reasons for developing diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the risk of having Type 1 diabetes is more common if you inherit the bad genes from both parents.  Type 1 diabetes is more common in white people and those that live in cold climates.  Certain viruses and bacteria are thought to play a part in developing Type 1.  Less than 10% of all diabetics are Type 1.

Type 2 diabetes is much different and mostly caused by the food industry and lifestyle choices. Having family members with diabetes does mean it was genetic but rather you likely eat very similar foods, exercise about the same and have similar exposure to chemicals in your environment.


Overeating and poor quality of food is a large contributor to becoming a diabetic.  The average American consumes twice as many calories per day than is needed.  A lot of these calories are from added sugar. That’s about 6 cups of sugar per week or 152 pounds a year!

You probably don’t buy a 10# bag of sugar every month at the grocery for everyone in your house so where is all this sugar coming from sugar is added to most all processed foods and drinks.

Empty Calories

Junk food contains little to no nutritional value and is referred to as ‘empty calories’. Eating junk food causes a quick rise in blood sugar levels making you tired and sleepy. The pancreas responds by dumping out insulin. By the time insulin is catching up with the rising glucose levels, the junk food is leaving the blood stream. The pancreas tries to turn off the insulin valve but can’t do it fast enough and the blood sugar levels start dropping.  Your brain is seeing this drop and wants to prevent a low glucose at all costs. So, the hunger cycle begins again and repeats until the body receives something nutritious. This cycle happens in everyone eating empty calories. It can be more dramatic and difficult to manage in diabetics.

Proof in the Pudding

Checking glucose level before and about 2 hours after a meal to see the rise in glucose. A healthy meals should raise glucose no more than 50 mg/d.  In our office, we emphasize ‘Time in Range’ for glucose. It is more precise in determining good control that an A1c. This is done by wearing a continuous glucose sensor for 10-14 days. Ask your health care provider about one.  Your out of pocket cost can be as low as $30 but the information obtained will be priceless.

Diabetic Diet Myth

There is NO such thing as a diabetic diet!!!  Let that sink in a little. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states ‘there is not one diet or meal plan that works for everyone with diabetes. The ADA doesn’t specify recommend amounts of carbohydrates, protein or fats.  This means that a healthy diet is the same for every and is adjusted by personal preference.


I am not a fan of counting carbohydrates, fats, calories or anything else. Who has time for that? But if you really want to know what you are consuming, use a fitness tracker like My Fitness Pal.  I don’t promote reading food labels in most instances. Eat natural as much as possible the #1 rule. It is very simple to know what is in an apple! One exception is that Food labels now contain a line of ‘added sugar’.  This number needs to be very low, preferably ZERO. 

As Einstein said, ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’  Lowering the junk food in your diet is simple. Start slow by replacing one bad thing with something healthy. Over time, your body will crave less and less junk food. This means less expense at the grocery. Your weight will start to decline. Blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterols will lower. Your exercise tolerance will increase and the BEST part:


Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, info@diabetesmgtassociates.com.  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.