How to Eat Rice and Beans When You Have Diabetes

Written by Marina Chaparro, RD, CDE, MPH

Chances are if your Abuelo had diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing diabetes in your lifetime.The reason is not just because you're related, but rather because you could share similar habits that are sabotaging your health.

We’ve all heard type 2 diabetes runs in the families.In fact, Hispanics are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to the general population. But diabetes is also influenced by our environment and lifestyle choices. We can’t change our culture, race, age or gender, but we can certainly change our habits. 

According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the US comprising over 17% the population. By 2060, Hispanics will reach 119 million residents in the US, making 28% of the US population. Despite this growth in numbers, Hispanic health outcomes don’t seem as promising. Hispanics are not only likely to have diabetes but are 50% more likely to die from diabetes compared to whites. Moreover, the rates of kidney failure among Hispanics are one a half times higher than the general population. We know the causes of type 2 diabetes are multifactorial. Genetics and hereditary play an important part, but so does our environment.  Aka, our food choices, exercise routines, family dynamics, and even health perceptions.

Some of the well-known risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

Culture is so ingrained in who we are, what we eat, and how we perceive our world around us. Latinos, for example, “love to have family meals” says Lorena Drago, CDE, a certified diabetes educator specializing in multicultural education author of Cultural Food Practices. “Part of this interaction involves large portion sizes in family gatherings or the family pressure to “clean your plate” at each meal.” But you don’t need to sacrifice your cultural traditions or favorite family dishes. Instead, you need to develop healthy habits and be aware of your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Below are simple strategies you and your familia can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

There are some things in life we can’t change, as our family and genes. If you are one of the 56 million Hispanics in the US, know that you are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But you still have the power to prevent it. As they say, knowledge is power. You can still enjoy your favorite foods and Hispanic traditions without sacrificing your health. Just remember to do what abuela said and eat your veggies.

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