Eating for My Blood Sugar: Jessi Fraker

Jessi FrakerAs I saw the possibility of diabetes on the horizon it really sunk in that I needed to make some drastic lifestyle changes. It was hard at first, but with the support of my family and friends I've been able to make many of those necessary changes, and make them stick. I've learned to use self-talk to help myself through much of the emotional baggage that tends to go with major lifestyle changes. Feelings of sadness, anger, and resentment have tried to take me down several times. However, with a strong commitment to healthier living, those feelings are growing weaker every day. In fact, because of the emotional roller coaster, I'm a much stronger person now!

I never knew how carbohydrates (CHO) translated into sugar. My Grandpa had diabetes and he always called it Sugar Diabetes. (My Mom still calls it that.) I didn't know that potatoes and pastas turned into sugar in the blood and that they ultimately do the same thing that sugar does. I always thought I was pretty health conscious and aware of the finer details of nutrition. So when I started learning more about CHOs and diabetes I felt kind of silly for thinking what I had before.

Once I began eating for my blood sugar the weight started melting off. The first thing I did was give up juices and any drink that has CHOs in it. I drink water, and an occasional diet drink. I make low-GI substitutes for the foods I eat a lot sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, Dreamfields© pastas instead of regular pastas, and brown or wild rice instead of white rice. When I do eat these foods, I eat less of them. Those were the “big food changes”. Potatoes, pastas, and rice were the biggest part of my meal, now they are the side dishes. 

I go to the gym and exercise at least three days per week.  (When I first started I went five days per week). I do 45 minutes of cardio and about 45 minutes of strength training per session. In 2008 I was disheartened because I was exercising like this and the weight wasn't coming off. It wasn't until I started eating for my blood sugar (March 2009), along with the exercising, that the weight began to come off.

The more I learned and put into action in my life, the more confident I began to feel in general. Food always seems to have such control over people: living to eat instead of eating to live. Since I have learned how to take more control of my diet, I have made progress in other areas in my life that needed some attention. Kicking bad sleep habits, and becoming more active in general to name a few. I've also started looking outside of myself and have tried to help others. Doing that has helped me to be more at peace with what's happening in my own life. I believe that going through these changes and learning to be willing to reach out and share what I've learned has helped me become a more complete person. 

Jessi has a BS in Psychology and plans to complete her Masters and work as a Marriage Counselor. She is presently staying at home making plans for her baby who's soon to arrive. She enjoys reading, walking, rowing, and trying new recipes. Originally from Upstate NY in the Adirondack region, she moved to TN in 2001 to attend Southern Adventist University, and married her high school sweetheart in 2003.



"Pre-Diabetes" affects 57 million people in the United States.  When a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as Diabetes, they have Pre-Diabetes.  Long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during Pre-Diabetes according to recent research.  Individuals with Pre-Diabetes can delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes from developing with lifestyle changes to control blood glucose levels.  

Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) are used to determine if a person has Pre-Diabetes.  The blood glucose levels that are measured determine whether a person has normal metabolism, Pre-Diabetes, or Diabetes.  If fasting plasma glucose level is between 100 mg/dl and 126 mg/dl, this is considered impaired fasting glucose (IFG); if blood glucose level following OGTT is between 140 and 200 mg/dl after 2 hours, this is considered impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). An A1c between 5.7 to 6.4% is also an indication of Pre-Diabetes. 


     Type 2 Diabetes & Insulin Resistance:Juliana Burnette, RD, LD, CDE

Juliana Burnette

I was 24 years old when an endocrinologist informed me that I had Polycystic Ovarian Disease and later learned I had insulin resistance. It became quickly apparent that healthy food choices and regular physical activity would play a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing diabetes. Physical activity has become necessary for me to achieve a healthy weight and maintain optimal blood glucose levels. I feel fortunate that individuals with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes have medications which can potentially slow the progression of diabetes. I encourage individuals with pre-diabetes or diabetes to consider that life is a journey that should be taken one step at a time. Each day, make a decision to nourish your body with nutritious foods while finding physical activities that are enjoyable and provide movement into your routine.


Factors Indicating Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

BMI (Body Mass Index) ≥ 25 kg/m² (at risk BMI may be lower in some populations)
Physical Inactivity
First-degree relative with Type 2 diabetes
Member of a high-risk ethnic population: African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander
Women who delivered a baby weighing > 9 lbs, or Gestational diabetes
High Blood Pressure ≥ 140/90 or need for therapy to treat high blood pressure
HDL cholesterol < 35 mg/dl (0.90 mmol/L)
Triglyceride level > 250 mg/dl (2.82 mmol/L)
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
A1c ≥ 5.7%
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)
Acanthosis nigircans
History of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Greater than 45 years of age

Reference: ADA Clinical Practice Recommendations, Diabetes Care 2010


Juliana enjoys cooking and trying new recipes and appreciates the subtle texture and rich flavors of food. Her favorite dishes include Italian, and Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan. As a dietitian, she takes her clients best interest to heart, and her sweet and gentle personality makes it difficult to resist her friendly and thoughtful advice. When Juliana is not busy cooking or helping others learn how to make healthy eating a part of their lives, she enjoys shopping, playing card games with her friends, walking outdoors, biking with her husband, and spending time with her 3 beautiful cats. 



Tool Box 

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Evaluation: Diabetes Health

The Road to Diabetes: Diabetes Health

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes:NIH Medline Plus

Ready, Set, Stop! Preventing Diabetes before it Starts: Diabetes Forecast

Preventing Diabetes: Small Changes Have Big Payoff: Identical Twin Brothers

How to Answer When Pre-Diabetes Comes Knocking: Diabetes Health

Metabolic Syndrome:NIH Medline Plus

Diabetes Prevention:

It's Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes: NDEP

More than 50 Ways to Prevent Diabetes, for African Americans: NDEP

Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Step by Step for Hispanics and Latinos: NDEP

It's Never Too Early to Prevent Diabetes in Your Family: NDEP

Tips for Kids: How to Lower Your Risk of Diabetes: NDEP

Tips for Teens: Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: NDEP

Decreasing Risk:

Couch Potatoes Risk Abnormal Glucose Levels: Diabetes Health

Moderate Exercise Reduces Belly Fat and Staves off Metabolic Syndrome: Diabetes Health

Southern States Have the Most Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes Health

African-Americans: 12% of US Population but 17% of People with Diabetes: Diabetes Health

Increasing Insulin Sensitivity: Diabetes Self-Management

Clean Those Choppers: Periodontal Disease May Accelerate Pre-Diabetes: Diabetes Health

Vitamin-C May Lower Diabetes Risk, Gum Disease May Indicate It: Diabetes Health

Less Then Six 6 Hours Sleep Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes Health

Skimping on Sleep Linked to Diabetes and Higher Mortality Rates: Diabetes Health

BMI Calculator: Mayo Clinic

Handing Down the Genes:

When to Worry about Your Childs Risk of Diabetes: Diabetes Health, Part I

Preventing Type 2 in Children: Diabetes Health, Part II

Nutrition and Exercise Tips: Diabetes Health, Part III

Diabetes Facts:

Diabetes & Pre Diabetes Cost to the US: 2010 Novo Report

Revised Diabetes Guidelines: Diabetes Health

National Diabetes Prevention Program: NDEP

Growing Concern for Assertive Treatment of Pre-Diabetes: Diabetes Health