When it comes to keeping her type 2 diabetes in check, Debra Jaliman, MD, is always on call—despite 12-hour days at her dermatology practice.
Debra Jaliman, MD, returned from vacation, met with her endocrinologist and got the news she’d been dreading: She had type 2 diabetes. It didn’t take her entirely by surprise. “Everyone in my family has diabetes,” Dr. Jaliman explains. “My mother and father. Grandparents, aunts and uncles. I have the worst family history.”
She had managed to keep her blood sugar in pre-diabetes territory (between 100 mg/dl and 125 mg/dl as determined with a fasting blood glucose check) for years, but a break with routine during her getaway pushed her into full-blown diabetes.
It was time to take her blood sugar control efforts to the next level, but how to find it—the time, that is? After all, “super-busy” barely describes the star dermatologist’s days. Besides caring for her daughter, she spends long hours seeing patients, plus teaching at Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine, where she is an assistant professor of dermatology. Dr. Jaliman is also a go-to source for the media, frequently tapped by publications and national TV shows for her dermatology expertise. And to top it off, she’s wrote a book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
Determined to take charge of her diabetes right away, Dr. Jaliman knew fitting diabetes management into her schedule was non-negotiable. And she succeeded—by the time she’d had her A1C levels checked three months later, her blood sugar had dropped and her energy was through the roof!
How’d she do it? Read on for her secrets.
Be an early riser. It’s the only way Dr. Jaliman can be sure to get in her daily exercise session: “I can’t miss a day,” she says. “If I have a full workload at the office, I just have to get up earlier.” If bad weather thwarts her 3-mile dog walk, she’ll jump on her home elliptical. “That’s the minimum,” she says. “Most days, I’ll follow up the cardio with some light weights.”
Eliminate “what’s for [breakfast, lunch, dinner]?” stress. For Dr. Jaliman, it’s as easy as having a few meal mainstays. For breakfast it’s a 180-calorie fruit-and-nut bar with 20 grams of carbohydrates (4 grams, fiber; 11 grams, sugar), 5 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat. Lunch is often egg salad. (“I love eggs,” says Dr. Jaliman. “They keep me full.”) And dinner is a variation on a theme: “I sauté chopped-up vegetables like bok choi and mushrooms in a little vegetable broth and eat 4 ounces of fish or a chicken leg with that. And I’ll have guacamole with a high-fiber cracker. If I want fruit, I’ll have an apple, a pear or strawberries.”
Keep a stash of “safe” snacks. For between-meal noshes, identify foods that satisfy your cravings without sending your blood sugar soaring. When she’s in the mood for crunchy, Dr. Jaliman reaches for 100-calorie packs of organic popcorn. When she’s craving creamy, she opts for Icelandic-style strained yogurt. And for her sweet tooth, she swears by steamed skim milk and cinnamon. “Or organic baby carrots. If you never eat sweets, those things taste sweet!”
Be a smart sipper. Dr. Jaliman sips on her own homemade lemonade throughout the day. (Double-check with your doctor that this is okay for you.) Staying hydrated can help you effortlessly curb your calorie intake, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. To make your own, squeeze the juice from one lemon into a cup of water, and add the sweetener of your choice, to taste. (An average-sized lemon contains about 8 grams of carbohydrates.)