We all have the desire to stay happy and healthy especially during the summer months. Since vacations are here, we travel, socialize and go outdoors more. Few things are as appealing as having an event in the backyard centering around the grill. Let’s look at a few threats that can easily be avoided. Safe summer grilling can be accomplished with the following tips.

  • To avoid parasites like E. Coli and Trichinosis make sure you are cooking meat all the way through at a high enough temperature. People with diabetes have an immune system which may not function as well especially when blood sugar readings are elevated. Many people prefer their meat rare but that can increase the risk of E. Coli or Trichinosis. Trichinosis can occur when meat (especially pork, sausage, pork products or wild animals) are under cooked. The risk is higher in rural or farm areas where pigs are raised. Under cooked meat contains the small roundworm larvae. The larva matures in the intestine after it is eaten and can travel to other tissues including the muscles. Mild cases cause no symptoms but the more parasites in the body, the more symptoms appear. Abdominal problems include cramping and diarrhea. This happens early on after being exposed and later muscle pain, weakness, swelling and headaches can appear. If severe discomfort is experienced seek medical attention. A blood test can indicate if there is a problem by measuring white blood cells. The parasites generally die on their own with no further damage to the organs but symptoms may need to be treated. Treatment would include pain relievers, short term use of low steroids to reduce inflammation (which may temporarily raise your blood sugar) or anti-parasite medication. To prevent any possible food preparation problems always start with hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds. The best way to prevent either E. Coli or Trichinosis is to purchase a meat thermometer. The internal temperature for pork loins, chops, veal, lamb or beef should be 145°F. Ground pork or ground beef should be 160°F. Ground poultry should be 165°F and poultry parts should be 170°F. Although these conditions are rare, be aware!
  • Grilling is easy, fun, offers delicious flavor and helps the fat drip off to save calories and added saturated fat. One concern with grilling is high heat causes AGEs (advanced glycation end products). Glycation means sugar molecules attach to protein molecules which results in damage to our skin and internal organs. The more AGEs in our body the more possible cellular damage. People with diabetes may already have elevated AGEs which contribute to inflammation and cardiac disease. Do not avoid the grill! Try to start the cooking process by placing meat in the oven, poaching, steaming or slow cooking prior to placing on the grill. The hotter and longer the food is on the grill the more AGEs develop. Using a marinade is an excellent way to reduce AGE formation; they actually protect or shield the meat. Consider marinades with lemon or vinegar which contain acid. Other good choices contain garlic, mustard, wine or olive oil. Place the marinated meat in the refrigerator until ready to place on the grill. Remember to trim off visible fat or skin prior to marinating to avoid later temptation; the marinade will keep the meat moist. Never eat the charred meat or fat which contains the most AGEs and never reuse the marinade that was used with raw meat to help prevent parasites and bacteria; use different trays or plates after cooking. Consider cooking in foil with vegetables surrounding the meat poultry or fish to keep them moist.

Summer time is a great time to enjoy an outdoor meal treat if done with some small changes. Enjoy!

NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Roberta Kleinman

Roberta Kleinman

Roberta Kleinman, RN, M. Ed., CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in Long Island, NY. Her nursing training was done at the University of Vermont where she received a B.S. R.N. Robbie obtained her Master of Education degree, with a specialty in exercise physiology, from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.

She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.

She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.
Roberta Kleinman

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