Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Revealed!

It's that time of year. Endless ads for diet plans, gym memberships, and sales on exercise equipment. Most people have at least one if not more, New Year's resolutions related to weight loss or health improvement, but how many of us actually maintain those resolutions beyond one to two weeks? The honest truth is not many. The problem is we have big expectations and big goals - which is great, but not necessarily realistic. When we slip up a bit, we get discouraged, and give up on these resolutions.

The key is to make small, achievable, realistic resolutions. For example, instead of a resolution such as "I plan to exercise daily" or "I want to lose ## weight this year", make resolutions such as these:

*In 2011, I plan to exercise at least 3 times a week.
--Three times a week is reasonable, however if more EVEN BETTER!

*In 2011, I plan to bring my lunch to work at least 3 times a week.
--Three times a week is reasonable, however if more EVEN BETTER!

No need to go cold turkey. Start with small steps to reduce the unhealthy behaviors. You are more likely to keep to the switch!

*In 2011, I plan to limit my take-out consumption to once/week (or less).

*In 2011, I plan to skip the bread basket and the appetizer when I go out to dinner with friends.

*In 2011, I plan to split an entree with a friend when going out to eat with a group of friends.

Resolutions should have a positive spin... don't just eliminate something, have something healthy to substitute in! See these examples:

*In 2011, I plan to substitute soda from my diet with seltzer with a splash of juice.

*In 2011, I plan to use skim milk in my coffee instead of half & half.

*In 2011, I plan to switch from regular soda to diet soda.

*In 2011, I plan to switch from drinking fruit juice to eating a piece of fruit.

Other resolutions to think about:

*In 2011, I plan to eat slower and savor every bite during each meal.

*In 2011, I plan to take 30 seconds before I eat something I know is not healthy to if I really want it.

*In 2011, I plan to be more aware of my portion sizes. Don't be afraid to cut it in half and save it for later!

Celebrate all successes - no matter how small. You'll be more likely to keep your resolutions and no need to wait until January 1st to make a healthy change!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Question of the week: New Year's Eve

The following question was submitted by a reader, "I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and my wife has pre-diabetes. New Year's Eve we always have a large celebration with cocktails and lots of food. We are growing weary of the party this year given my new diagnosis. Any tips on how we can still enjoy the party?"

It is still possible to enjoy New Year's Eve and any other party that may come your way despite your recent diagnosis. The key is to focus on socializing and moderation.

*Alcohol: If you choose to partake in alcoholic beverages during the party, the equivalent of one drink for women or two for men is the definition of moderation. Keep in mind that alcohol generally reduces your blood sugar levels and can lead to hypoglycemia. If you do have a drink, do so with a meal as the food will help delay the absorption of the alcohol.

*Beverages: If possible, stick with sparkling water with either a lemon, lime, or orange slice for flavor. Save your calories for your meal.

*Small salad plates help you to keep your portion sizes in check.

*Socialize away from the table - You'll be more apt to snack and nibble...... And dancing burns calories!

*Have a healthy snack before the party - Going to a party ravenous can cause you to binge on unhealthy appetizers and treats.

*Bring your own healthy dish: Pick out a healthy and tasty recipe and bring it to the party.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Question of the week: Help with holiday sweets!

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I have diabetes and this time of year is the toughest for me. It seems holiday treats/sweets are everywhere tempting me! Is it ok to indulge a little? If not, how can I build up enough will power to avoid holiday sweets? "

The holiday season is difficult for everyone when it comes to avoiding holiday indulgences. Controlling even the slightest instance of coming in contact with ‘tempting’ foods is one way to effectively reduce your consumption. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many ones you can.

1. Make a mental note of tempting places and try to control them.
*Do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace?
*Do you frequent the dining room table or pantry where you store all your holiday goodies?
Try making a pact with co-workers that goodies will be kept only in the break room, not at the front desk or in various offices. Mentally plan ahead how you will avoid tempting situations.

2. Limit to one-a-day
*Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it sometime during the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren’t confronted with "holiday" foods that day, just skip your one-a-day – but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the following day.

3. Never go to a party hungry

*Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt, or a low-fat, whole grain (no sugar added) granola bar. When you arrive at the party, you won’t be craving hors d’oeuvres and dip!

4. If you’re going to a potluck dinner bring a healthy dish to share such as a salad, veggie or fruit tray, or a low-fat/low-calorie dessert. This way you know you will at least one healthy choice on the buffet!

5. Use a small salad sized plate - you'll be less inclined to pile the food on it.

6. Skip the caloric beverage -- save your calories for dinner. Water with lemon or lime, diet soda, coffee, tea, or unsweetened iced tea are good choices.

7. Don't socialize near the food - you'll be more likely to snack. Take your plate and move to an area where there are no chips, dip, or other types of appetizers sitting around out of arms reach.

8. Don't be shy about saying "no thank you". Just because it is served to you, doesn't

7. Say No Politely

Many times you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you. Sometimes you feel that you will insult the host if you say no. Learn to say no politely, such as "No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious", or "I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful". You’ll find saying no isn’t so hard to do after all.

8. Focus on socializing

Don’t stand around the food table when you are at a party – focus your energies on making conversation with others instead of focusing on foods. Conversation is calorie-free. Take a walk around the block with a friend between courses or after dinner (weather-permitting).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Question of the week: Help with a Low Salt Diet!!!!

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, " I have pre-diabetes and have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure as well. My doctor says to watch my sodium intake. I feel like I've been hit with a double whammy! In addition to trying to lose weight and watch my carb intake, I now have to watch my salt as well. Could you give me some low salt ideas for dinner meals?"

Although you may seem overwhelmed with a new "dietary restriction", there is no need to worry. Many of the foods that you are now including in your diet as you are watching your carb intake and watching your weight for prediabetes may already fall into this category. Many companies have come out with reduced salt and sodium free varieties of their products to accommodate consumers.

Just because you don't use your salt shaker doesn't mean that you aren't eating a diet that is high in sodium. Sodium is hidden in many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis.

Your body does require some sodium in order to maintain blood volume levels and controls fluid balance in the body. Sodium(salt) becomes a problem when amounts get too high. High sodium levels in the diet can also cause fluid retention. Shortness of breath may result if fluid retention occurs around the lungs. The current daily recommendations for sodium intake are for less than 2300 mg (milligrams) daily. That is equivalent to only one teaspoon daily (6 grams)! Studies show that people with a sodium intake of 1500 mg and lower were able to reduce their blood pressure.

Tips to Reduce Sodium Intake

1. Read your labels! Choose low sodium varieties when available.

2. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables!

3. Instead of using bottled salad dressings - try vinegar and olive oil. Dip your fork instead of pouring!

4. Limit the amount of prepared foods that you eat. This includes all frozen, canned, and boxed foods. *Exception: frozen fruits and veggies

5. If you choose to use canned vegetables/beans, search for low sodium varieties. When using canned vegetables, rinse the product with cold water and a strainer to try and reduce some of the sodium.

6. When eating out, request for sauces/gravies/dressings on the side, or ask the kitchen to not use any added salt or MSG.

7. Monitor your cheese intake. Use low sodium varieties or use smaller amounts. Grated and shredded allow you to use a little bit to get the most flavor.

8. Season your dishes with black or red pepper, garlic, onion, fresh or dried herbs and spices. Try a spice or herb blend like a sodium free Mrs. Dash.

9. Reduce or eliminate processed, canned, smoked, or cured meats as they are high in sodium levels. Choose tuna that are packed in water and rinse with fresh water when possible.

10. Read the labels on the cereals and breads that you purchase. Many of them have high sodium levels that you might not even be aware of.

11. When choosing snacks, look for salt-free or reduced salt nuts.

12. TASTE YOUR FOOD FIRST. So many people pick up that salt shaker and blindly season before they even take one bite.

Other Foods that are generally higher in sodium include:

*Processed foods
*Canned Soups / Condensed Soups
*Frozen Meals / Dinners
*Dried Soup Mixes and Side Dishes
*Processed Meats / Cured Meats / Cold Cuts / Cheese
*Canned Vegetables / Canned Beans

**Keep in mind that some seasonings do have salt/sodium in them. Products such as Seasoning Salt and Garlic Salt should be substituted with other low sodium products.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Question of the Week: Carbohydrate Clarification?

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I am very confused. I have been told to have 3-4 carbohydrate choices at each meal. Could you help me figure out what one of these carbohydrates equates to? Is it one gram of carbohydrate or one item containing carbohydrate?"

Carbohydrate choices (also known as exchanges) have about 15g of carbohydrate in each serving. The amount of carbohydrate choices you can have each day is dependent on your calorie range. Carbohydrate consumption should be consistent so try to evenly distribute them between all of the meals you eat.

Each serving in the starch and fruit group contains about the same amount of carbohydrates — about 15 grams a serving. Milk contains 12g per serving. Non-starchy vegetables including, but not limited to, asparagus, celery, cauliflower, peppers, tomato, squash, and spinach have only 5g. Meats,Meat substitutes, and fats do not contain carbohydrates.

Serving sizes of these exchanges can be found at the following resource: Exchange Lists!

Some examples:
*1/4 of a Large Bagel (1oz) = 1 Starch Exchange (CHO)
*1/2 of an English Muffin = 1 Starch Exchange (CHO)
*1/2 of a Hot dog or Hamburger Bun (1oz) = 1 Starch Exchange (CHO)
*1/3 cup of rice (white or brown, cooked = 1 Starch Exchange (CHO)
*1/3 cup cooked pasta = Starch Exchange (CHO)
*1/2 cup cooked oats = Starch Exchange (CHO)
*(1) 4 oz Apple, small 1 Fruit Exchange (CHO)
*17 Small Grapes (3oz) 1 Fruit Exchange (CHO)
*1 1/4 cup whole strawberries = 1 Fruit Exchange (CHO)
*1 Cup (8 oz) Fat Free Milk = 1 Milk Exchange
*6 oz Yogurt, Plain = 1 Reduced Fat Milk

Friday, November 19, 2010

Question of the Week: How To Handle Thanksgiving?

The following question was sent in by one of my readers: "My husband was diagnosed with diabetes as few months ago and has been working hard to lose weight and control his blood sugar. Each year we have a family gathering for thanksgiving that includes lots of food (large turkey dinner with all the trimmings and assorted pies & cakes for dessert). What are your suggestions to ensure my husband doesn't overeat but also does not feel deprived this thanksgiving?"

The holidays can be a time when it is easy to overindulge. Here are some tips so you and your husband can enjoy the holiday without feeling deprived at Thanksgiving or any upcoming holiday or dinner get together.

1. Skipping meals before a big holiday party or holiday meal will cause you to binge on all the wrong types of food. Have a little protein, small meal with lots of fiber, or a piece of fruit before you go which will not leave you ravenous when the festivities begin.

2. Use a small salad-sized plate when choosing from the holiday table. With a larger plate you are more likely to try and fill it.

When it comes to picking from the turkey - white meat has less calories and fat than dark meat - and be sure to remove the skin to reduce the fat/calories even more.

3. Balance your plate with protein and fiber-rich foods such as lean meats, salad, vegetables, and fruits. Simpler is better; shrimp cocktail, crudités (without high fat dip) are great party staples to enjoy.

If vegetable side dishes are available choose ones without added fat - for example, skip the green bean casserole (made with fried onions and cream of mushroom soup) and go for the steamed green beans or green beans almondine instead.

Choose a baked potato (or better yet sweet potato) over mashed potatoes made with lots of butter and salt if possible. When choosing your potato - try to pick one that is about the size of your fist. Stay away from rolls/bread from the table (save those carbs for your potato).

4. Try to steer clear of anything that is fried, cheesy, or oily. Stay away from mayo-based salads, greasy appetizers, fatty dips, or anything deep-fried.

5. Use oil-based dressings for your salad and put them on the side. Dip the tines of your fork in them before piercing your salad for flavor. You'll save on calories but not skimp on flavor.

6. Don't deprive yourself of the goodies being served as some of these particular dishes only come once a year. Sometimes a taste is all you need to satisfy a craving.

7. Although nuts are healthy, it is very easy to eat them mindlessly and end up eating more than just a handful which adds up in calories and fat grams.

8. Don't drink your calories (save it for the food). Drink water with your meals - add a lemon or lime slice for flavor. If you want to have a holiday drink, enjoy a wine spritzer instead of wine - you'll save on calories but not substitute flavor.

9. If possible, ask if you can bring an entree or side dish - that way you can make something healthier and have control of the ingredients that are in it.

10. When socializing, try to do it away from where the food is displayed. Out of sight, out of mind.

After dinner, and if the weather is nice, instead of sitting on the couch - go for a walk outside with some of your family and friends to continue socializing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Question of the week: Is soup good food?

Here is the latest submitted question: "I enjoy eating hearty soups in the fall and winter months. Are there any soups that are better for me to eat than others?"

Soup is an excellent food choice for the winter months and to answer your question:

Yes, there are some soups that are better choices than others. If made a certain way, soup can be a very healthy and economic meal as well as be a part of any healthy eating plan.

Soups made with large amounts of cream or cheese (i.e. chowders) are high in fat and calories. Don't be fooled by soups like corn chowder or cream of mushroom soup, that despite being made with some vegetables as ingredients, are also full of cream and fat.

A better choice would be tomato or broth (i.e. beef, vegetable, chicken) based soups, as well as ones that are full of vegetables and legumes.

Examples of healthier soup choices (still check labels as they are all made differently):
  • Lentil Soup
  • Chicken w/Wild Rice
  • Pea Soup
  • Vegetable Soup

Caution with canned and condensed soups as they are usually very high in sodium. Keep an eye on portion sizes as well.

An even better idea is if you can make your own soups - you can can control the amount of salt as well as the ingredients used. Make a huge batch and freeze portions of it to use at a later date.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Question of the week: What type of diet is best for me?

The following question was emailed to me by one of my readers, "My doctor has diagnosed me with diabetes and has told me to lose weight. I have heard about high protein diets, low fat/high carb diets, and many others. I want a sound diet instead of a fad. What type of diet is best given my situation?"

A healthy diet consists of nutrient dense foods (foods that are rich in nutrients in relation to the number of calories it has). Nutrient dense foods include whole grains (such as brown rice, whole grain breads, grains such as quinoa), fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (such as poultry and fish), and healthier fats (such as avocado and nuts) and low fat dairy products.

Another important aspect of a sound diet plan is portion size. Make sure you are eating sensible portions. For example, a sensible portion of lean protein is between 3 - 4 oz.

Fad diets, or any other type of diet that promises a quick fix are usually nutritionally unbalanced and close to impossible to maintain for any length of time. The best approach to starting a new
"lifestyle change" (I don't like the word, "diet" as it has a temporary and negative conotation) is to make small changes/substitutions to ensure that you can stick to it.

Finally, incorporate some physical activity into your lifestyle. Even just walking for 30 minutes daily can make a big difference and help you work towards your weight goal!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Question of the week: What should I pack for lunch?

The following question was posed by one of my readers to be addressed on my blog, "I have diabetes and work long hours. I usually eat lunch at my desk while working. I'm struggling with what I can have for lunch. Could you give me some tips on what to pack for lunch at work?"

Packing your own lunch for work is not only a great way to save money, but it is a wonderful way to control what you eat. Ordering take out, buying food in the company cafeteria, or going out to a restaurant make it difficult to control your portion sizes as well as the ingredients that go into your food. Snacks from the vending machine are generally not healthy....

Hopefully you have access to a refrigerator and a microwave at your workplace as it will expand the options that you can bring with you!

Here are some great ideas for "brown bagging it":

Soup! Choose those that are clear broth based. Avoid cream-based soups. Look for kinds full of veggies, beans (or other types of legumes), or lentils. These are the types of soups that will really keep you satiated.

Salad: Chop your own veggies at home and put together a salad at home. Add garbanzos or kidney beans for extra nutrients. Swap lettuce for spinach to change things up a bit. Skip croutons but sprinkle slivered almonds or sunflower seeds (watch your portions with these!!!) for some crunchy texture. Pack some oil/vinegar on the side in a separate container that you can dip your fork in.

Yogurt: Choose greek yogurt for protein. If greek yogurt isn't your preference, choose yogurts of low/nonfat variety. Sprinkle with a spoonful of walnuts or slivered almonds for texture.

Fresh turkey or chicken breast sliced thin rolled with lettuce (hold the bread). Use mustard or a very ripe avocado to spread in your "roll". Skip the mayo.....

Tuna fish or canned salmon...... (again hold the mayo)

Hard boiled eggs (limit the yolks)

Small sandwich made on whole grain bread(see my earlier post on how to pick a healthy bread) using either all veggies (tomato, lettuce, cucumber) with your favorite hummus.

Lean Cuisines or Healthy Choice lunches are an option however they are high in sodium. If you find these are not filling enough for you, supplement with more nonstarchy frozen veggies or a piece of fresh fruit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Question of the week: How many veggies should I eat?

The following question was submitted by one of my readers,

"I was just diagnosed with pre-diabetes. The nurse told me to eat lots of vegetables. Could you tell me what "lots of vegetables" means and what type of vegetables to consume? Also, how should I prepare them?"

Depending on how many vegetables you currently eat, start with 3 servings a day with a goal of 5 servings a day (to avoid any possible GI distress from the new fiber increase to your diet).

A serving of vegetables is equivalent to either 1 cup of raw vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables. When choosing which vegetables to eat, eat more "non-starchy" vegetables as they have less calories and carbohydrates than "starchy vegetables" such as potatoes and corn.

There are so many delicious ways you can prepare your vegetables! Steaming, baking, grilling, and microwaving are just a few of the ways. Utilize garlic and onion for flavoring - experiment with different spices or herbs. Use lemon juice or balsamic vinegar for flavor.

How can you increase my intake of veggies? Load on extra veggies to your sandwich, create a healthy veggie stir fry, or use cut veggies as a snack with hummus or tzatziki.

Examples of Non Starchy Vegetables:
# Artichoke
# Artichoke hearts
# Asparagus
# Baby corn
# Bamboo shoots
# Beans: green, Italian, wax
# Bean sprouts
# Beets
# Broccoli
# Brussels sprouts
# Cabbage: bok choy, Chinese, green
# Carrots
# Cauliflower
# Celery
# Chayote
# Cucumber
# Eggplant
# Green onions or scallions
# Greens: collard, kale, mustard, turnip
# Jicama
# Kohlrabi
# Leeks
# Mixed vegetables without corn, peas or pasta
# Mung bean sprouts
# Mushrooms
# Okra
# Onions
# Oriental radish or daikon
# Pea pods
# Peppers, all varieties
# Radishes
# Rutabaga
# Sauerkraut
# Soybean sprouts
# Spinach
# Sugar snap peas
# Summer squash
# Swiss chard
# Tomato: raw, canned, sauce, juice
# Turnips
# Vegetable juice cocktail
# Water chestnuts
# Zucchini


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Question of the week: Eating Healthy in a Mexican Restaurant

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I have type 2 diabetes and love Mexican food. Could you give me some tips on what to order at my favorite Mexican restaurant?"

My first suggestion is to steer clear of the tortilla chips that are usually on the table. Save those calories and carbohydrates for your meal!

My next suggestion is to check with your waiter or waitress to see if they have whole wheat tortillas available (if your meal includes tortillas). If possible, limit the amount of the tortillas you use with your meal. For example, if you order fajitas, try to eat your meal with one or one and a half whole wheat tortillas despite the stack of them they might serve you with your meal.

Before you even start eating your meal, divide your entree into two portions and ask for a container to take half of it home for another meal. Restaurant portions are usually overinflated. Out of sight, out of mind!

Skip the appetizer - or choose an appetizer as your meal. Usually the appetizer portion is a more reasonable size than an entree.

Pass on the sour cream - salsa is a much healthier choice. Guacamole is healthier than sour cream, however, watch your portions as it is high in calories fat (albeit the of the healthier sort).

Avoid entrees that are fried or breaded - look for ones that are grilled!

Choose black beans as a side dish - avoid refried beans as they have more added fat.

Load up on veggies where possible - lettuce, tomato, peppers, and onions can add alot of flavor and fiber and not alot of calories!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Question of the week: Healthier bread options?

The following question was asked by one of my readers, "My husband has diabetes and we always eat whole wheat bread but wanted something different for a change. Is rye bread or sourdough bread as good of an option as whole wheat?"

In order to determine healthy bread choices, it is important to read the nutritional labels. This is what you need to look for in making a good bread choice:

Fiber Content: A good bread choice should have at minimum 3g of Fiber per slice. A high fiber choice will have 5g of fiber.

Whole Grains: Brown bread is not always healthier than white - sometimes it is merely a marketing gimmick (coloring). To tell if bread is truly "whole grain" - the first ingredient should be "whole wheat".

If you see the words "bleached" or "enriched", or just "wheat flour" - then this bread is merely just white bread with brown food dye.

In some cases, labels will say only "wheat flour," which means the bread is 75% white and 25% whole wheat.

Always read the nutritional labels!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Question of the week: How much protein should I eat?

One of my readers has sent me the following question, "Since I've been diagnosed with diabetes, a lot of people have given me advice about how much carbohydrate and fat to eat. I'm wondering about protein. How much protein should I get in my diet and from what foods besides meat?"

The recommendations for protein for people with diabetes are the same as for people without. However, before you take this recommendation, be sure to check with your medical practitioner to ensure you are not experiencing any kidney problems.

Your protein intake should be between 10-20% of your total calorie intake. For example, if you are eating 1800 calories for the day, between 180-360 of those calories (45g-90g) should be protein.

There are many other sources of protein other than meat:

Legumes are good sources of protein. Chick peas, beans, and lentils can be used in many delicious ways and are full of nutrients. Dairy products such as eggs, milk, and cheese are also good sources (watch your portion sizes for fat/cholesterol content). Tofu, tempeh, and other soy products (i.e. milk, edamame) are even more choices for non-meat sources of protein.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Question of the Week: What are "good" blood sugar numbers?

The following question was posed by one of my readers, "I have diabetes and my blood sugar is all over the map. Could you please tell me the ideal blood sugar level?"

Your "ideal" blood sugar level is dependent on when you have taken the test:

Before a meal(no food/liquids other than water for several hours): 70-130 mg/dl

After a meal 1 - 2 hours after you have started eating): <180 mg/dl

After you finish testing your blood glucose, log your results in a journal or notebook to review and see how the food you are consuming, your activity and stress levels have affected your blood glucose. If your blood glucose record levels are too high or too low several days in a row around the same time, you may need to make some changes to your care plan. You can work with your diabetes educator, registered dietitian or medical practitioner to find what works best with you. Don't be discouraged as it may take some time to find what works.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Question of the week: Popcorn as a snack choice?

The following question was asked by one of my readers, "I have pre-diabetes and enjoy having an afternoon snack. Is microwave popcorn ok for me to have? "

Popcorn can be a healthy snack depending on how it is prepared. 3 cups of air-popped popcorn has just less than 100 calories and is equivalent to 1 carbohydrate choice. Popcorn is also a good source of fiber!

Microwave popcorn can be an okay choice but read your labels as there are some that are very high in sodium and fat. Keep in mind that a whole bag of microwave popcorn may contain anywhere from 2 - 3 servings.

Calories for microwave popcorn may vary depending on brand. The following website is very helpful in researching nutritional information on different brands,

In addition to sodium and calories, other items to watch out for on your labels of microwave popcorn:
*Saturated Fat
*Trans Fats

The optimal way to consume popcorn would be if you could air-pop your own (being able to control the type of oil, amount of salt, and toppings that it would contain.

Suggested tasty toppings for your popcorn: A small amount of grated Parmesan, cayenne pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika, nutritional yeast, lemon pepper, garlic powder,cinnamon, or taco seasoning.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Question of the week: How Do I Stay Motivated?

The following question was posted by one of my readers, "I have diabetes and I'm having trouble staying consistent and motivated. I'm usually good for about 2 weeks and then I go back to my old ways of eating and lack of exercise. How can I stay motivated?"

It isn't easy to change habits, especially those that we have had for a long time. The key is to start small, and once you see yourself succeed, you'll have the motivation to continue.

Try the following to help with motivation and to stay consistent:

Set short term goals that are attainable.
**For example, instead of setting a goal to workout an hour per day or to go to the gym everyday, set a goal to work out 3 or 4 times per week. However, you can start "small" and work your way up. When you see yourself succeeding at the 3 or 4 days, you will feel motivated.

**Another example, would be instead of setting a goal saying that you are going to stop eating ice cream (for example) everyday, set a goal that you will allow yourself a low calorie frozen portioned dessert (i.e. Skinny Cow, Weight Watchers Frozen Treat) a couple of times a week or allow yourself one 1-Cup portion of ice cream on the weekend and one during the week.

Another way to stay consistent (and stay motivated) is to keep a journal or make a chart of your successes. Get a blank notebook, date the page, and list all the positive choices that you made that day. For example, I could list that on a particular day:
*I skipped eating a slice of cake at the company party
*I exercised for an hour on the treadmill
*I took the stairs instead of the elevator at the office
* I drank 8 glasses of water throughout the day
* I had 3 pieces of fruit during the day
*I used skim milk instead of half and half in my coffee

As you look back on your successes and positive choices, you'll find that you stay motivated!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Question of the week: Good Fats???

The following question was posted by one of my readers, " I have pre-diabetes and am confused about fats. A friend was telling me there are "healthier fats" I should be including in my diet. I thought all fats were bad? Could you tell me which fats I should include in my diet (if any)?"

Your friend is correct. When including fats in your diet, there are definitely fats that are better choices than others.

Fats play an important role in the body. Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Fats provide essential fatty acids, which must be obtained from food. The essential fatty acids are linoleic and linolenic acid. They are necessary for controlling inflammation, blood clotting, and brain development.

Fat functions as the storage substance for the body's extra calories. It is also an insulator and an important energy source. Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps the body absorb and move the vitamins A, D, E, and K through the bloodstream.

There are several types of fats:

The "healthier" fats are the unsaturated fats. There are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Despite being healthy, it is still important to watch your portion sizes when consuming these healthy fats.

First there are the monounsaturated fats that include, but are not limited to, avocados, oils (i.e. canola, olive, peanut, or sesame), nuts (such as almonds and cashews), olives, and all-natural peanut butter (unprocessed).

Polyunsaturated fats include oils (i.e. corn, safflower, soybean, and cottonseed), walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and fish.

The fats that we need to reduce, or better yet, eliminate from our diets are the saturated and transfats.

Saturated fats are the biggest dietary cause of high LDL levels or bad cholesterol"). When looking at a food label, pay very close attention to the percentage of saturated fat and avoid or limit any foods that are high. Saturated fat should be limited to 10% of calories. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream, and fatty meats. They are also found in some vegetable oils -- coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils.

Transfats form when a vegetable oil hardens (hydrogenation) and can increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. They can also reduce HDL levels ("good cholesterol"). Trans fatty acids are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers), processed foods, and margarines. Key words on food labels which indicate transfats are "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated". Transfats have been linked to heart disease.

Source: Medline Plus

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Question of the week: Pre-Diabetes and Weightloss

The following question was submitted by a reader for discussion on my blog, "I have pre-diabetes and my doctor has told me if I don't lose weight I will end up with type 2 diabetes. I have about 75 pounds to lose. Could you tell me the best way to do this?"

Pre-diabetes is the condition that occurs when one's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough for to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Losing even a small amount of weight (5-10 percent of total body weight) through diet and moderate exercise, such as walking or riding a bicycle (ie. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) can make a huge difference). A loss of just 10-15 lbs can make a huge difference. If you have pre-diabetes, you are at a 50% increased risk for heart disease or a stroke.

*Integrate more fruits, vegetables, and high fiber foods into your diet.
*Substitute any whole or full fat milk or cheeses with ones of lower fat or fat free varieties.
*Drink water (flavor it with a lemon or lime wedge) and eliminate any caloric beverages (i.e. soda, flavored sweetened beverages). Avoid diet sodas.
*Substitute white flour products and white rice with ones of whole grain varieties. i.e. Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Bread.
*Introduce whole grains into your diet such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet.
*Watch your portion sizes.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question of the week: Blood Sugar Numbers

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I was just told I am type 2 diabetic. My doctor told me to try to control by numbers by diet. I have noticed my blood sugar is high in the morning before I have eaten. Could you explain why?

There are several reasons why your blood sugar would be high in the morning before you have eaten. There is something called the "dawn effect," also called the "dawn phenomenon," which is a term used to describe an abnormal early-morning increase in blood sugar (glucose) — usually between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. — in people with diabetes.

Researchers believe it's due to the natural overnight release of hormones — including growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine — that increase insulin resistance.

High morning blood sugar may be caused by other things. Some of the possible causes may be insufficient insulin the night before, incorrect medication dosages or eating carbohydrate snacks at bedtime may cause blood sugar to be elevated in the morning. When necessary, checking your blood sugars once during the night — around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. — will help you and your doctor to determine if you have the dawn phenomenon or if there's another reason for an elevated morning blood sugar reading.

Based on the blood test results, your doctor may recommend one of the following options to prevent or correct high morning blood sugar levels:

* Not eating a carbohydrate snack at bedtime
* Adjusting your dosage of medication or insulin
* Switching to a different medication
* Using an insulin pump to administer extra insulin during early-morning hours

Source: The Mayo Clinic

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Question of the week: Cinnamon and Chromium as supplements?

The following question was sent to me for discussion on my blog: "I have diabetes and a coworker was telling me I should be taking supplements such as cinnamon and chromium to help control blood sugar. Are these safe and effective?"

Before taking any type of vitamin, mineral, or supplement, please contact your doctor to ensure that it will not interact negatively with anything else you may be taking.

Recent human studies indicate that consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less leads to dramatic improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Intake of cinnamon, at these levels, is very safe and there should not be any side effects.

Studies also indicated that the active components of cinnamon are found in the water-soluble portion of cinnamon and are not present in cinnamon oil, which is largely fat-soluble. In addition to ground cinnamon consumed directly, one can also make a cinnamon tea using cinnamon sticks and let the solids settle to the bottom

There are also companies selling water soluble components from cinnamon that contain the active ingredients with minimal amounts of the components that could be toxic at elevated levels.

Source: USDA


According to University of Maryland Medical Center:
The benefit of chromium supplements for diabetes has been studied and debated for a number of years. While some clinical studies have reported no beneficial effects of chromium use for people with diabetes, other clinical studies have reported that chromium supplements may reduce blood sugar levels as well as the amount of insulin needed by people with diabetes. Pregnancy-induced and steroid-induced diabetes may benefit from chromium as well. Chromium was found to decrease the insulin resistance problems seen in individuals who smoke cigarettes. Chromium is an antioxidant, which helps protect the body against free radical damage (oxidation).

Because of the popularity of taking chromium supplements for blood sugar regulation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the clinical evidence and concluded that the relationship between chromium picolinate intake and insulin resistance is highly uncertain. More research is needed.

Source: University of Maryland Medical Center

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Question of the week: What Can I Eat to Lower My Cholesterol?

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I just had an appointment with my doctor and she said my A1C was 6.7 and that my cholesterol was also high. I guess I have been eating too much cheese and eggs, which raised my cholesterol. What diabetic friendly foods can I eat to help me lower my cholesterol?"

The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to later gauge how well you're managing your diabetes. The A1C test reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. A non-diabetic person will have an A1c result between 4% and 6%. Someone with diabetes would have an A1c level of 6.5% or higher while someone with pre-diabetes would have an A1c of 5.7% - 6.4%.

You don't have to completely give up eggs or cheese in order to lower your cholesterol levels. Substitute whole eggs with egg whites or egg substitutes and switch to low or fat free cheeses. Cholesterol is found in foods of animal origin.

Other tips to help lower your cholesterol (Source: American Heart Association):

Focus on low-saturated-fat, trans fat-free, low-cholesterol foods such as these:
• A variety of fruits and vegetables (choose 8 to 10 servings per day)
• A variety of grain products like bread, cereal, rice and pasta, including whole grains(choose 6 or more servings per day)
• Fat-free and low-fat milk products (2 to 3 servings per day)
• Lean meats and poultry without skin (choose up to 5 to 6 total ounces per day)
• Fatty fish (enjoy at least 2 servings baked or grilled each week)
• Beans and peas
• Nuts and seeds in limited amounts (4 to 5 servings per week)
• Unsaturated vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, safflower and soybean oils (but a limited amount of margarines and spreads made from them)
*Foods high in soluble fiber such as Oats. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

Soluble fiber can reduce the help the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Just five to ten grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.(Source: Mayo Clinic).

Exercise can also assist in lowering your cholesterol levels. Consult your personal physician before starting any new exercise regimen.

Weight loss can help to lower your cholesterol.

In some cases, where high cholesterol levels may be genetic, and diet has been modified, it may be necessary to consult a doctor about prescription medication.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Question of the week: Suggestions for maintain diet and exercise while traveling?

The following question was posed by a reader for discussion on my blog, "I have type 2 diabetes and travel quite a bit. My eating & exercise are unpredictable at best when I travel and I'm having a difficult time managing my diabetes. What do you suggest?"

It is possible to maintain your proper diet and exercise regiment while traveling. The key to it is preparation.

The first thing I suggest is, if traveling via airplane - request a diabetic or vegetarian meal for your flight. Also, if possible, pack and carry healthful snacks with you as to avoid the fast-food kiosks at the airport and so that you don't allow your blood sugar levels to get too low.

Next I would suggest researching the area. The internet is a useful tool. You can look at restaurants local to where you are staying and usually menus are found on line. This way you can search out menus with healthful choices on them.

Many restaurants will allow you to make special requests such as ordering fish broiled or grilled with lemon (and not butter), chicken grilled, and salad dressings on the side. Look on menus for words such as grilled, broiled, baked, broth, multi-grain, poached, seared, steamed, and seasoned. Request that your side vegetables be steamed and served with a lemon wedge. Restaurant sized portions are usually inflated, try to stick to 3 - 4 oz of lean protein (see: a deck of cards), 1 cup size of complex carbohydrate (see: fist), and 1/2 the plate can consist of green veggies.

AVOID menu items that use the words, breaded, battered, fried, smothered, glazed, melted, and crusted. Skip the breadbasket and bread sticks that may be set on the table - better yet, ask the waitstaff not to bring them or remove them from the table.

Another suggestion is to check out a local supermarket if possible and pick up healthful snacks as well as fresh fruits and veggies. This way you can have more healthful choices and avoid impulses.

Regarding exercise, most hotels have a gym ( and a pool so be sure to pack appropriate gear) that you can have access to. Take total advantage. An even better idea, is to run or powerwalk locally - this way you can sightsee as well as get your exercise in!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Question of the week: Controlling blood sugar levels

The following question was submitted by a reader this week: "I just been diagnosed with diabetes. Doctors say I have uncontrollable diabetes any tips on how I can get my sugar level down?"

First thing to look at as diet. A healthy diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Portion size and eating frequency are also important for controlling your blood sugar. Eliminate as many white flour and sugar products from your diet as possibly (i.e. white bread, white pasta, cookies, cake).

The proper portion of a lean protein such as fish or chicken would be 3 - 4oz. A serving of a complex carbohydrate should be 1/2 cup (i.e. brown rice), and 1 cup of vegetables. Use this visualization as a guide: A "proper" plate would consist of 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 whole grain, and 1/2 non-starchy vegetable.

Better to eat more small meals than fewer large meals. This should help with keeping your blood sugar regular. Consistency is also important as your body will respond to excess fat and calories by causing an increase in blood sugar levels.

Next thing to look at is physical activity. Try to increase your physical activity - set a goal for 20 minutes a day. Whether it is walking or participating in a group sport, exercise has many positive benefits and will help in creating a healthier lifestyle and controlling your diabetes. Consult with your doctor before starting any type of physical regimen.

Finally, be sure to take your medication as prescribed and monitor your blood sugar as directed.

See the following link for more information: Mayo Clinic-Diabetes Management

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Question of the week: Not All Starches Are Created Equal

A reader sent the following question for discussion on this blog: "I have type 2 diabetes and am confused about carbohydrates. Are all starches out completely? "

Starches are complex carbohydrates - although starches are easy to digest, however your body doesn't digest cellulose which is a major component of dietary fiber. Starches do not need to be eliminated from your diet as long as you watch your portion sizes and stick to foods that are nutrient dense: meaning high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The higher the fiber content of the food, the longer you will feel satisfied.

Good starch sources include, but are not limited to, brown rice, beans and legumes, multi or whole-grain bread, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. To learn more about the benefits of dietary fiber visit the Mayo Clinic's website:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Question of the week: Exercise?

The latest question submitted by one of my readers is: "I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. The doctor has not put me on any medication, but would like me to lose weight and watch my diet. I'm not sure how much or how often I should be exercising. Could you give me some tips?

Implementing exercise into your daily lifestyle is a wonderful thing whether you were diagnosed as "pre-diabetic" or not. You will look and feel better in no time! Not only will you find that daily exercise is helpful with losing weight, but you also will feel better physically and mentally as well!

Some of the possible health benefits from daily exercise include:
* lower your blood glucose, blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
* raise your good cholesterol (HDL)
* improve your body’s ability to use insulin
* lower your risk for heart disease and stroke
* keep your heart and bones strong and joints flexible
* lower your risk of falling and breaking bones
* help you lose weight and reduce body fat percentage
* give you more energy and reduce stress levels

Physical activity also plays an important part in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. A major Government study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), demonstrated that even losing a small amount of weight (i.e. 5 to 7 percent, 10 to 15 pounds for a 200 lb. person) can delay and/or possibly prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. The participants in this study used both diet and exercise to lose weight.

My suggestion is to set a goal of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. Brisk walking is a great way to achieve this.

If you can get a "walking partner" it can make it a fun event. If you don't currently exercise, start small - try walking every other day until you are able to build up to your goal.

Other suggestions would be to get a pedometer, and strive for a minimum of 10,000 steps daily and/or keep an exercise journal (or mark the calendar that you use daily) with your exercise achievements. It can be a motivational factor.

Sources: National Institutes Of Health

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Question of the week: Candies and Diabetes

The following question was posed by a reader, "I have type 2 diabetes. I'm kind of addicted to jawbreaker candy (especially fireballs). How harmful is it to eat these candies and what alternatives should I try... Is fruit a good alternative?"

Fruit is definitely a good alternative - in addition to the vitamins, minerals, and fiber it contains (as compared to candy), you will be allotted a larger serving for the same amount of calories and carbohydrate grams.

If you really have a craving for candy, look for sugar-free varieties. A piece of sugar-free gum, or sugar-free puddings or gelatins may also satisfy your sweet tooth. Sugar alcohols (which are sometimes found in sugar-free candies) may cause gastro-intestinal distress if consumed in large quantities so be aware.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Question of the week: Healthy Breakfast Ideas?

The following question was submitted by a reader, "I have type 2 diabetes and am having trouble with breakfast. It seems so many breakfast foods are high in carbs. Could you give me some breakfast ideas that are diabetic friendly?"

I'm sure you have heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" and it is true. It can set the mood for an entire day so it is important not to skip it. Skipping it may lead to blood sugar fluctuations as well as binging later in the day.

Many of these breakfast ideas are quick or even can be prepared in advance:

*Hardboiled egg
*Egg Salad made with low fat mayo and mustard
*Plain Yogurt with sliced almonds
*Cottage Cheese on Whole Wheat/Multi-Grain Toast
*Cottage Cheese with Tomatoes or Fresh Fruit
*Whole Wheat or Multi-Grain Toast with All-Natural Peanut Butter
*Multi Grain Waffle with Peanut Butter or Cottage Cheese.

When you have a little extra time....

*Veggie Egg White Omelet (tomatoes, peppers, onions) with Salsa
*Scrambled Eggs with either turkey sausage or turkey bacon (or veggie sausage/bacon)
*Cooked eggs with avocado and black beans
*Steel Cut Oatmeal Sprinkled with Sliced Almonds (or other nut meats)
*Multi-Grain or Low Carb Tortilla filled with Low/NonFat Cheese and Veggies
*Turkey Sausage with Sauteed Veggies

With any choices that you make - be mindful of your portion sizes and choose whole wheat or multi-grain options when possible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Question of the week: Fruit Juices vs whole fruit?

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I am worried because I was just diagnosed with diabetes. I drink freshly squeezed orange juice three times a week. Does orange juice contain too much sugar and is it advisable for a diabetic to drink juice?"

First, since you were just diagnosed with diabetes, I would suggest that you make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian or a C.D.E. (contact your local hospital)to help you develop a meal plan as well as answer any questions and concern you have regarding your new diagnosis.

To answer your question, just a 4 oz glass of juice contains approximately 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate. It is easy to consume more than 4 oz in a sitting. Fruit juices will raise your blood sugar at a rapid pace as well. Juice is best used only to help with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

I advise that you eat a fresh orange instead of the orange juice. It contains more fiber and takes longer to eat. For these reasons, the whole fruit will leave you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time. Portion control is easier as well.

If you are really missing the orange flavor in a liquid form, I would suggest taking a cool glass of water and adding some orange slices to it. This will flavor your water without all the added calories and sugar.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Question of the week: What is low carb and low sugar?

A reader emailed the following question, "I have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and a friend told me I should eat low carb and no sugar. What is considered to be low carb and low sugar in specific numbers?"

With pre-diabetes it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Your carbohydrates need to be distributed throughout the day and they should complex in nature and nutrient dense.

Some examples of complex carbohydrates are found in legumes, whole grains, and "starchy" vegetables. Other "good" carbohydrates include whole fruits, low fat/skim milk, and milk products. The "simple" or bad (empty) carbohydrates that should eliminate are the ones containing white sugar (cookies, cake, candies),white flour, white rice, (regular pasta, white bread), syrups, table sugar, soda, and fruit juices.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates is 130 grams. Your brain uses an average of 130 grams carbohydrate daily at minimum to function. This number doesn't include the rest of the parts of your body that need carbohydrates to function optimally!

In addition to eating a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, it is important to include regular exercise and weight loss if necessary. Visit the following link for more information and tips to help prevent Diabetes: I suggest visiting a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) and or a Registered Dietitian.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Question of the week: How do I deal with cravings?

A reader has posed the following question for the blog: "I am very new to the diabetes lifestyle. I have started working out and so far have dropped 8 pounds (I have about 100 pounds still to lose). I am excited about the weight loss so far, but I am scared that I won’t drop the weight and that I will slip somehow. Can you offer any advice in regards to cravings (I have a big sweet tooth and enjoy greasy foods such as burgers and fries)?"

First, congrats on your weight loss! Keep positive - healthy weight loss occurs with a loss of approximately 2 - 3 lbs. weekly and you want to make changes that you will stick in order to maintain your healthier weight.

Exercise is key to a healthier lifestyle and will help you maintain. Building lean body tissue will help you increase your metabolism. As you feel better and see your results it will keep you motivated and prevent you from slipping.

It is imperative that you are not skipping meals or limiting food so excessively that you end up binging later on. Keep in mind that generally, sweets can be very high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates without offering much else nutritionally. If you are unable to save them for special occasions, sometimes giving in to a small bite may relieve your craving.

As far as cravings go, I try to look for healthier substitutes for the things that I crave. For example, I love sweets as well. I have found several products that I use for when those cravings come that I can have in lieu of full fatty/high caloric options.

For example, I have found a product called Vita Tops, Vitamuffins, and Vita Tops. They come in different flavors include chocolate. They are only 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 6 grams of fiber. Under the Weight Watchers program they are equivalent to only one point. I feel like I'm having dessert without doing any major "damage". You can get a good deal on these ordering through Amazon and they keep in the freezer.

Peanut Butter is another one of my weaknesses. I just found and tried another product called PB2 by Bell Plantations. It doesn't contain any additives or preservatives, and it is only 45 calories, 1.5g of fat, low in sodium, and a good source of protein for 2 tbsp. See It is powdered peanut butter that you add water too. Tastes amazing. It's a little on the pricey side but I find it is worth it as I can enjoy my peanut butter without the extra fat and calories.

Other sweet treats or craving foods I try to purchase in packages that are pre-portioned to keep me from overdoing it. This way I can have a little bit and not go overboard. I also try to limit my snacks to 150 calories max.

Regarding your cravings for fast food, if you must indulge try ordering from the children's menu. The portions are much more reasonable.

Skip the bun on a single patty burger or grilled chicken sandwich and add extra lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. Make your own fries at home by slicing a baked potato (brush it with a little bit of olive oil) and putting it in the oven to crisp up. If you feel you must have their fries - order the kid size and split them with a friend.

As with anything you eat, make sure to watch your calories and carbohydrates and make sure they fit into your personal meal plan.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Question of the week: Does the natural sugar in fruit count as carbohydrate?

The following question was asked by one of my readers, "I have pre-diabetes and am trying to learn about carbohydrate and sugar. Does the sugar in fruit count as sugar?"

Yes, sugar in fruit counts as a carbohydrate - however, this does not mean that you should avoid fruit as a pre-diabetic. In fact, fruit should be a part of your diet as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

A small piece of whole fruit or approximately 1/2 cup of frozen fruit has around 15 grams of carbohydrate. One serving of fresh berries or cut melon is around 3/4-1 cup.

I would suggest avoiding fruit juice or canned fruit. Canned fruit is usually sitting in syrup and not a great choice. Dried fruit is high in sugar (although natural sugar) and only 2 tbsp is equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrates. Fruit juices don't have the fiber content of whole fruit and only 1/3-1/2 cup is equivalent to a serving.

You can get alot more "bang" for your carbohydrate buck by eating fresh or frozen fruit. Fruit is a better choice of carbohydrate as compared to what I refer to as "empty carbohydrates" (i.e. white bread, white sugar, cookies, cake, soda).

Source: American Diabetes Associations

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Walk This Way!

With the arrival of nice weather, ask yourself, "Can I spare 30 minutes a day?". Just a half-hour a day spent walking has tremendous positive benefits to your health.

Start with a smaller goal, commit to 3-4 days a week at first.

For those of you who can't find the time, I suggest using a pedometer. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, and useful to track your activity. Set a goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Keep an exercise log and keep track of your pedometer readings, how many days and minutes you walk! I guarantee that once you start, you'll be feeling great and motivated.

To achieve this goal, try one of these ideas:

*Park your car in a parking spot at the end of a lot away from the entrance.
*Take the stairs over the escalator/elevator.
*Walk a message to a co-worker rather than send an email.
*Call a friend and walk together, walk the mall and browse while you exercise.
*Talk a walk after you eat on your lunch hour.

Have any other ideas? Post them as a comment.

Why should I walk (or do other types of exercise)?
*Walking can decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes.
*It gives you an immediate mood boost.
*Reduce stress levels.
*Assist with weight loss and increase lean muscle mass and flexibility.
*Walking will help you sleep better at night.
*Walking may help you squash snack attacks.

Pair up exercise along with a healthy diet and you'll be feeling great in no time.

I hope that I have inspired you - :0)

Source: Vegetarian Times
Photo Courtesy of :

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Question of the week: Are bars and shakes good to use as a quick snack?

A reader posed the following question: "I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago. I’m wondering about those bars and shakes I see advertised for people with diabetes. Are they good to use? Sometimes I’m out and need a snack or quick lunch."

My suggestion is to choose a snack (whether it be a bar, shake, or something else) that is close in calories as compared to what you would normally eat as a snack. The snack you choose should also ideally contain protein and (good) fat as well - not just carbohydrate. As with anything else, you need to check the nutritional information on the product. In many of these types of products, you'll find that they are high in carbohydrate or high in bad fats. The snack you choose should be low in saturated fat and contain no transfats.

Rather than using a bar or shake product, try one of these suggestions for a quick satisfying healthy snack:

*All Natural Peanut Butter on Celery Stalks
*Low or Nonfat Yogurt with Slivered Almonds
*Low or Nonfat Cheese with Whole grain crackers
*Baby Carrots with Hummus
*Sliced Apple With All Natural Peanut Butter or Non-fat Cheese

If you prepare snacks like these and carry them with you in an insulated bag, you'll always be ready with something quick and healthy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The 4-1-1 on Fiber

Getting enough fiber in your diet is essential to a healthy lifestyle and diet. The RDA (recommended daily amount) of fiber is between 25 - 30g daily. The average person eats less than the recommended amount.

When increasing your fiber intake, it is suggested to do so slowly as to not cause yourself any gastro-intestinal distress. Also remember that fiber is like a sponge. It sops up liquid so as you increase your fiber intact, you must increase your water intake.

There are two types of fiber. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and helps you feel full after eating. It is often referred to as "roughage" and includes the peels of many different fruits and vegetables as well as the husks of whole grains. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and stimulates your intestinal walls to contract and relax. This type of fiber may help prevent or alleviate constipation, diverticulosis, and hemorrhoids.

Soluble fiber includes pectins in apples, beta-glucan in oats and barley, gums and musilages that are found in fruits and vegetables, and legumes. This type of fiber has been found to help lower cholesterol levels.

25 grams/day - Women younger than 50
38 grams/day - Men younger than 50
21 grams/day - Women older than 50
30 grams/day - Men older than 50

Pectin - Fruits (apples, strawberries, citrus fruits)
Beta-Glucans - Oats, Barley
Gums - Beans, cereals *oats, rice, barley), seeds, seaweed


Cellulose - Leaves (cabbage), roots (carrots, beets), bran, whole wheat, beans
Hemicellulose - Seed coverings (bran, whole grains)
Lignin - Plant stems, leaves, skin

Some good sources of fiber:
3.5 oz of dried apricots have approximately 7.8 grams of fiber
3.5 oz of canned chickpeas have approximately 5.4 grams of fiber
2/3 cup of oatmeal has approximately 4.1 grams of fiber
1 large carrot has approximately 2.3 grams of fiber
1 small apple has approximately 2.3 grams of fiber
3 dried figs have approximately 4.6 grams of fiber
1 small orange has 2.9 grams of fiber
1/2 cup cooked brown rice has approximately 2.3 grams of fiber
1/3 cup oatbran has approximately 4 grams of fiber
2 1/2 tbsp of whole wheat flour has approximately 2.1 grams of fiber
1/2 cup cooked legumes has approximately 4 - 7 grams of fiber

Photo courtesy
Source: Vegetarian Times

Oats Demystified!

When you go into any supermarket or grocery store, you are bound to see many types of oatmeal on the shelves. All oatmeal is not created equal, therefore it is important to know the different types of oatmeal that are available as well as to read (and understand) your labels!

Oatmeal is chock full of soluble fiber and can be instrumental in helping one (along with a diet low in saturated fat) lower their cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart disease.

Beta-glucan, is the type of soluble fiber in oatmeal that is responsible for it's cholesterol-lowering properties. Oats also contain an antioxidant called avenanthramides which has been found to protect blood vessels from the damaging effect of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine shows that oats may assist in lowering high blood pressure, prevent type-2 diabetes, and lower blood sugar levels in those who have diabetes. Oats may also have anti-inflammatory benefits and can assist in weight control. In one cup of cooked oatmeal, there are approximately 4.8 grams of protein.

Oatmeal is classified as a whole grain. This means that it has all the parts of the grain: bran, endosperm, and germ. While oats do not contain gluten, many oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat. As a result, they cannot be labeled as gluten-free. In some cases, oats are processed in a wheat-free facility and therefore will be labeled gluten-free.

Rolled Oats: oat kernels that are steamed and rolled to flatten them into flakes. This will decrease cooking time to about 5 - 10 minutes. Also called "old-fashioned" oats or flaked oats.

Steel-Cut Oats: oat kernels cut into thirds instead of rolled. Cooking time is approximately 30 minutes. Texture is heartier and chewier. Also called "Irish" or "coarse-cut", "pinhead", or "Scotch".

Quick Cooking and Instant Oats: These start out as steel-cut, but instead are rolled into a thin texture in order to cook faster (3-5 minutes). Generally, instant oats contain sugar and flavorings. If you are pressed for time and need to choose a quick-cooking oatmeal, look for one with lower sugar per serving and one that is fortified with B vitamins and iron. Some may even be enriched with calcium.

**Some quick-cooking and "instant oats" are so processed in order to cook quicker that they are not considered soluble fiber. Once again, read your labels.....

Oat Bran: Outer layer of the oat kernel. Usually added to cereal products in order to increase the fiber content.


Use longer cooking (and less processed oatmeal) and cook it in large batches. Pre-portion and freeze for use throughout the week.

Prepare it using low or non-fat milk for a creamier texture and added calcium.

Add dried fruit (cranberries), slivered almonds, or fresh fruit for added texture and nutrition. When using dried fruit and nuts, watch your portion to not overdo it with added calories.


You probably are more familiar with these seeds from a well-known pop culture product, however Chia Seeds are an up and coming superfood! Well before the Chia Pet was created, the Aztecs were first to utilize chia seeds as part of their diet.

Along with their delicious nutty flavor, chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fats. Published research data suggests these seeds may help lower blood pressure and assist in preventing heart inflammation.

Full of fiber, research suggests that chia seeds can help prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of diabetes. The levels of soluble fiber are sufficient enough that it forms a gel in the stomach that slows food digestion and therefore decreases blood sugar levels as well as give a feeling of satiety.

If that weren't enough, chia seeds contain antioxidants which can help combat chronic disease and approximately six times the amount of calcium in milk. Magnesium and phosphorous, essential to bone-building, are also present in significant amounts in these seeds.

How to use:
*Chia seeds come in white and black varieties. Both are equal in nutritionally.
*Suggested use of 1 - 2 Tbsp daily.
*Chia Seeds do not need to be ground up to get the nutritional benefits.
*Chia Seeds should be refrigerated.
*Mix Chia Seeds into yogurt, sprinkle on oatmeal, salads, stir-frys, toast, cereal, muffin or bread mixes, mix into hamburger, turkey, or veggie burgers.

A little of these goes a long way so one package will last you a while. I purchased mine at Whole Foods. You may not find these in a regular supermarket but check your local Whole Foods or other natural or specialty stores. They are worth the look.

Source: Vegetarian Times

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Question of the week: Gluten Intolerance

One of my readers has posed the following question, "I have type 2 diabetes and just found out I have gluten intolerance. I haven't been able to figure out what I can eat. I have been leaving grains out of my diet. What should I do?"

Gluten intolerance is a condition where foods containing gluten should be eliminated from their diet. Consumption of these foods may cause symptoms various gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal pain and distention, gassiness, and diarrhea.

There is no need to avoid all grains. Grains that contain gluten and should be eliminated from one's diet are wheat (including varieties like spelt, kamut, farro and durum; and products like bulgur, semolina), barley, rye, and oats(oats are inherently gluten-free, but are often contaminated with wheat during growing/processing).

Grains that can be included in a gluten-free diet are as follows: amaranth, corn, millet, montina (Indian rice grass), quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, and wild rice. Although okay to eat, you will still need to watch your portion sizes and count carbohydrates when consuming these particular grains.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Peas & Carrots - Ok for Diabetics? - Question of the Week

A reader has posed the following question for response on this blog: "Is it ok to eat peas & carrots if you have diabetes? I heard to avoid those two veggies."

As long as you watch your portions and are aware of how much carbohydrate is in both peas and carrots, there is no need to avoid either one.

Despite being a vegetable, peas are considered starchy and contain more carbohydrates than many other vegetables. A 1/2 cup of peas contains 15 grams of carbohydrate. Corn, canned pumpkin, yams, plantains, parsnips, acorn/butternut squash, and potatoes are other examples such as this.

Carrots are not considered a starchy vegetable and therefore one serving contains approximately 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates for 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Other vegetables in this "non-starchy" vegetable category are spinach, green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower.

As long as you have this information there is no need to avoid any vegetables.

More information:

Here is a list of other "non-starchy" vegetables:

* Amaranth
* Artichoke
* Artichoke hearts
* Asparagus
* Bamboo shoots
* Beans: green, Italian, wax
* Bean sprouts
* Beets
* Broccoli
* Brussels sprouts
* Cabbage: bok choy, Chinese, green
* Carrots
* Cauliflower
* Celery
* Cucumber
* Eggplant
* Green onions or scallions
* Greens: collard, kale, mustard, turnip
* Leeks
* Mixed vegetables without corn, peas or pasta
* Mung bean sprouts
* Mushrooms
* Okra
* Onions
* Peppers, all varieties
* Radishes
* Soybean sprouts
* Spinach
* Summer squash
* Swiss chard
* Tomato: raw, canned, sauce, juice
* Turnips
* Water chestnuts
* Zucchini

For more information, you can visit the following link from the American Diabetes Association:> and the Mayo Clinic:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Question of the week: Which is better, frozen dinners or restaurant food?

One of my readers sent the following question, "Since I live alone, I rarely cook (if ever). I have type 2 diabetes and I'm wondering which is better... eating frozen dinners or restaurant food? Thank you for your help."

The answer is, it depends.

Check the nutritional information on the frozen dinners you are eating and see if the numbers are acceptable for your own meal plan. The advantage to the frozen dinner is that you have the nutritional information easily available to you. Keep in mind that many of frozen dinners are high in sodium and fat. In addition, frozen dinners usually have additives, preservatives, and are heavy in carbohydrates, gravies, and sauces.

In regards to restaurant food, some (mainly chains, i.e. Chili's, Applebees, Macaroni Grill)have nutritional information available for their menu items listed on their websites. However you don't know every ingredient being used in their preparation.

My suggestions if eating out in a restaurant:

1. Skip the appetizer - as well as the bread that is put on the table.

2. Drink water(ask for lemon or lime for flavor) - skip the sugary drinks.

3. Ask your server how items are prepared before you order it. Don't be shy about "special ordering".

4. Choose menu items that are broiled, roasted, grilled, steamed, or baked.

5. Ask your server to request that no butter or salt is added to your dish.

6. Plan to take home leftovers! Restaurant portions are usually exaggerated. Ask for a "take home" container before you even start eating and put half of your protein and starch in it. See my suggestions in one of my earlier posts on how to approximate portions sizes (deck of cards = 3 oz Protein, fist = 1 oz of starch).

7. If ordering chicken - remove the skin before consuming. Choose leaner meats such as poultry or seafood.

8. Request sauces, dressings, and gravies be served on the side! Stick with oil/vinegar for your dressing - avoid croutons, bacon bits, and anything laden in mayo.

9. When possible, swap white rice for brown, pasta for whole-wheat, fries for a baked potato (sans sour cream and butter - use a little lemon juice instead.)

My suggestion, if possible, is to pre-prepare your own meals in larger quantities and freeze the extra so you don't have to cook as often and you can have complete control over the ingredients and "healthiness" of what you consume. Utilize frozen vegetables, and crockpot recipes for less prep time and the ability to make the task easier. If you can reserve one day over week or two and make several dishes this way, you don't have to cook everyday.

Don't forget to use for assistance on nutritional information:

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Nutty Truth

In addition to being a good source of protein, nuts and seeds are also chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The fat that nuts and seeds contain are of the unsaturated type which is considered "good" fat which our bodies require. Although nutrient dense, portion size is very important with nuts due to their calorie and fat content.

A handful is a good guide - it equals approximately 1 ounce. Try to stay with 1.5 oz for a serving. They make a very satisfying snack or sprinkled on top of a salad for extra protein and an added crunch. Flax seeds are great to add to yogurt smoothies or to sprinkle on top of oatmeal.

High in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Also contain folic acid phosphorus, and iron. Almonds contain about 18% protein.

*Brazil Nuts:
Rich in calcium, magnesium, thiamine (B1), and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of B6, zinc, and iron.

These nuts contain large amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. In addition to those minerals, cashews also are a source of phosphorus and potassium.

Although high in carbohydrates, chestnuts are a source of B-complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

*Flaxseeds: High in protein and rich in essential fatty acids. Flaxseeds also contain calcium and phosphorus.

*Hazelnuts (aka filberts): High in fiber and a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B, and E.

These nuts are rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, vit B1 (thiamine), and B3 (niacin).

*Peanuts: Very rich in protein (26%) and an excellent source of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin). Peanuts also contain potassi8um, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

*Pecans: A good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium as well as being high in fiber! These nuts also contain small amounts of vitamins A, B, C, and E.

*Pine Nuts:
These nuts contain iron, magnesium, potassium, and folic acid. Another nut that is a rich source of fiber.

A good source of calcium, magnesium, potassiu, iron, folic acid, and B6 and C.

*Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas): Rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and B. Pumpkin seeds are very high in protein (29%) as well.

*Sesame Seeds:
Rich in iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B, E.

*Sunflower Seeds:
A good source of calcium, iron, and rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

*Walnuts: Rich in vitamin E, copper, and magnesium. Walnuts also contain potassium, vitamin B6, B1 (thiamine), and essential fatty acids.

Nuts should be stored in cool, dry conditions in airtight containers away from the light. Due to their high fat content, many nuts benefit from storage in the fridge or freezer to prevent rancidity.

Look for dry roasted, raw, unsalted or low-salt varieties when possible.