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Many people who first learn they have diabetes express surprise, said Mary Degnan, director of nutrition services at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. “A lot of the patients that we see are Type 2 diabetics, so they’ve been walking around diabetic, with high blood sugars, for a very long time and not been aware of it until they’ve been diagnosed. So the initial shock and awe gives way to ‘How am I going to do this? How am I going to manage this?’ ” said Degnan, 44, who along with fellow dietitian Jessica Masterson recently became a certified diabetes educator.

What are the healthiest foods a prediabetic or diabetic can eat?

Fruits and non-starchy vegetables, whole grains. Whole wheat pastas, quinoa, lean meats. And just because you’re chicken is lean doesn’t mean it needs to be deep fried.

Your healthy, go-to foods?

Grilled salmon, and quinoa with black beans and corn.

What tend to be the most popular healthy foods at Falls Memorial?

Salads are very, very popular, but we’re trying to teach people what they’re putting on their salads can be unhealthy: ‘I had a salad for lunch but I put three packets of blue cheese dressing on there.’ For our patients, one of the popular things we do here is vegetable lasagna. Everything we do is low sodium, but we don’t tell them.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Read about diabetes risks at blogs.buffalonews.com/refresh