Diabetes: the silent killer


Photo taken by Lua Pramos from Flickr. https://bit.ly/2HqOrxo No changes were made.

Sweet Tooth. Sugar is everywhere around us, and can be hard to avoid. By eating minimal amounts of added sugars in processed foods and desserts, you can lower the risk of having diabetes. You can replace desserts with sweet fruits, such as strawberries and mandarins.

Alyssa Freyman and Grace Drawdy

Every day, we try to eat right. We try to avoid sugar – which can be hard for people now that it is in most foods – and attempt to exercise daily. Even with all of this effort, the International Diabetes Federation reports that “diabetes kills one person every six seconds”. The CDC also claims that that 193,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 had diabetes in 2015. The number of young people diagnosed with diabetes increases every year, making it more important than ever for students to know how to prevent themselves from getting this burden. Chef Martin, a culinary teacher at South Forsyth High School and dietary nutritionist, sat down with me to discuss the importance of healthy nutrition and how to avoid developing diabetes.

We talked with Chef Martin, a culinary teacher and nutritionist at South Forsyth High School, to learn more about diabetes and ways to help prevent it from developing.

Q: Why do you have diabetes as part of your curriculum?

A: It’s one of our standards. For another, as a dietitian, I think it is really important for us to understand one of the top ten causes of death. There are several of the top ten causes of death that are related to food. I think that one of the things we don’t always realize is that food is very powerful. I didn’t realize that at your age in high school, and I suffer today because of that.

Q: Tell us about the camp you helped start for children with diabetes.

A: Before I was a teacher, I was a certified diabetes educator in Savannah, Georgia. I worked at a diabetes management center. We started seeing a lot of kids who didn’t know how to manage their diabetes, particularly Type I. Type I is a type where you have to have insulin from an outside source to maintain life. We decided that we would try to do something that would make it a little bit more fun, so the people who worked at the diabetes management center, mainly a nurse and myself, we got to together and said ‘let’s have a camp’. We did, and the camp consisted of several nurses, a dietician who was also a CDE (certified diabetes educator), and we had exercise physiologists come in. We checked their blood sugars around the clock, watched what they ate, had a dance floor, had outdoor activities, and mainly tried to teach them how to manage diabetes in many different situations. When they were out, a lot of times it was very hot, their blood sugars would drop […]. It also ended up giving the parents a break.  If you have someone who has diabetes […], you don’t sleep a lot, because you’re checking them at all hours of the night, trying to figure things out. We just wanted it to be a fun time learning for the kids and give the parents a break.

Q: What are some ways that you can reduce the risk of getting diabetes?

A: There are two types (of diabetes). Type I is an auto-immune and is usually brought on by some kind of big sickness that brings it to the surface (like the flu). A lot of times, it’s sitting there, but it just waits for something big to happen. Not always, but it can happen sometimes. Type II is the one that is easier to control with diet and exercise. One myth we have is that Type I is the bad type. I think that equally alarming is Type II. Sometimes we think that just because we don’t see it right there in front of us if we ignore it it will go away. We don’t realize that high blood sugars over long periods of time is what causes long term complications and ultimately damage our bodies. Diet and exercise are very important, and a lot of times, we like to tell people with diabetes ‘don’t you ever eat another sweet again’. It makes you want it more, doesn’t it? We should eat as all diabetics do; very little sugars in our diet, watching the fats that we have, exercising. […] That keeps the insulin regulated. Eating higher fiber things is better for us. Some people say that can’t eat carbs. That drives me nuts because it’s not carbs; it’s how much we’re eating and what kind we’re eating. You can’t get some of the same nutrients in carbohydrates as in protein. There is nothing in science that says that if you eat protein that it will make muscle. If you eat too many calories at once, you will gain weight, because what you don’t need, your body stores as fat. It is very difficult for people to figure out today (a healthy diet) for most people because you have your Keto diet that everybody swears by, which is high good fats and higher protein. Then you have you’re high protein diet and they swear that carbohydrates are bad, but you need fiber to keep you regulated to move food through properly. It’s a balance. It’s a lifestyle. I hope in your lifetime, you will be able to see a cure for it (diabetes), but until there is, I think we need to be responsible and need to visit registered dietitians.


With the right kind of food and exercise, the chances of developing diabetes can lower. To learn more about how to have a healthy diet, visit https://ccsmed.com/living-healthy/article/dietary-recommendations-for-adults. Eating the right foods (or wrong foods) can change your life forever.