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Keyser pharmacist uses patient education to curb diabetes

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Photo courtesy of Mark Reed. Pharmacist Mark Reed owns and operates pharmacies in Keyser and Romney. Photo courtesy of Mark Reed. Pharmacist Mark Reed owns and operates pharmacies in Keyser and Romney.

For The State Journal

KEYSER — Educating patients about diabetes and helping them find a way to change the way they eat is one of pharmacist Mark Reed's priorities.

Reed owns and operates pharmacies in Keyser and Romney. He is also certified as a pharmacist to care for patients with diabetes.

"What we do is talk to patients about their lifestyle changes," he said. 

"That is kind of what diabetes is all about. We want them to understand the correlation between diabetes, food and exercise."

By changing lifestyles the diabetes patient can take care of diabetes on their own.

Reed provides those he counsels with a booklet titled "Take Charge by Counting Carbs." The book is divided by starches, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, fats, oils, sweets and miscellaneous foods in order to monitor intake.

Each section provides a list of serving sizes and the number of carbohydrates, in grams, for each food.

Typically Reed said a diabetes patient should eat between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrates for each meal, and 15 to 18 grams of carbs for each snack.

"A diabetes patient should eat three meals a day and three snacks a day," Reed said.

Reed teaches patients how to look at labels when purchasing food to measure the carb content.

"I try to give them a heads up on how to grasp what they are eating, to look at the product, the serving size and the amount of carbs in it as well as the sugar content," Reed said.

Carbohydrates and sugar numbers should be added together for the total sugar compound.

Reading through the book to discover what is high in carbs and what isn't is eye-opening.

For instance, the common saying says an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but one raw, unpeeled apple contains 21 grams of carbs, and one cup of sweet, canned applesauce contains 29 carbs, which are both beyond the 15 to 18 grams Reed recommends for a snack.

Most starches are high in carbs — a 2.5-inch biscuit contains 27 carbs and a 6.5-inch pita bread has 33 carbs. 

But the total carbs in most vegetables are low — an entire head of lettuce contains only 11 carbs.

And just about anything served at fast food restaurants carry double digit carb counts — a large order of curly fries will cost you 73 carbs, the BK Big Fish at Burger King is 69 carbs and the mac and cheese at KFC is 45 carbs. A hot cakes with sausage meal from McDonald's racks up 104 carbs.

Reed said most diabetic patients think candy is the only thing they have to mind when calculating carbs, but he is mindful to let patients know that all starches turn to sugar. 

And the common meal staples of pasta, pizza, bread and potatoes are all high in carbohydrates.

Reed said keeping a list of meals and their carb counts is essential to changing the way a person looks at food.

By keeping a list that shows what foods were eaten at each meal and each snack, a family doctor can be aware of how the patient is eating and how he or she can be helped to curb diabetes.

At the same time, Reed said, it's important to test your blood sugar and keep that figure on the list as well.

Reed said exercise is always a factor in a person's health and every single thing that is consumed matters.

"I try to instill in people's minds that even though a potato is a vegetable it is full of carbs," he said. "Lifestyle modification is the key to helping curb diabetes. We are not conscious of what we are eating. We have to be willing to change the way we think about eating."

Reed said most people don't look at diabetes as a disease.

"We have to understand it is a disease, and we must try to take care of it," he said.

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