Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Healthy Switcheroo!

Rather than using high fat sour cream - swap for 0% Greek Yogurt. It has less fat and calories, as well as calcium and a protein bonus! Even great to use as a 'healthier' dip option! Great on a baked potato too!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Importance Of Eating a Healthy Breakfast!

A reader has posed the following question: "I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. During the day at work I eat very little, but in the evenings and weekends, I can't seem to stay out of the kitchen. Do you have any suggestions to control my snacking in the evenings and weekends?"

You probably heard someone say this before, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Those people would be right. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can set you up for overeating later in the day or at night. Your breakfast should consist of a whole grain, fiber, and include some sort of protein to keep you satiated. For example, an egg with a slice of wheat toast and a small piece of fruit is a complete breakfast.

My other suggestion in addition to eating a healthy breakfast is to "graze" throughout the day. Rather than eat three large meals, eat five to six small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels even and keep hunger at bay. These meals should be nutrient dense not loaded with empty calories.

Another idea is to brush your teeth after dinner. For some people, that simple action will keep you from heading back to the refrigerator after dinner...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Which sugar substitute is the best for diabetics to use daily or to use for baking?

There are many different sugar substitutes available for purchase today. Artificial weeteners such as Equal, Splenda, and Stevia have been approved as safe to use by the FDA. These sweeteners only contain very little calories or carbohydrate and can be used in moderation daily.

Diabetics may use artificial sweeteners because they make food taste sweet without raising their blood sugar levels. However, other ingredients (carbohydrates or proteins) in foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect your blood sugar level.

Some foods labeled "sugar-free" — may contain sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol, which are not completely calorie free and may affect one's blood sugar level. It is important to be cautious when using sugar alcohols as they may increase your blood sugar level and for some people, cause diarrhea.

Some sugar-free baked products (such as cookies or cakes) may also contain flour or other ingredients, which will raise blood sugar levels.

Each of these artificial sweeteners have different properties and all may not be suitable to cook or bake with.

Splenda (aka sucralose)sells various varieties for baking including a granular version that measures cup for cup with sugar.

Stevia (which is marketed as Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf, Stevia in the Raw, Sun Crystals sugar-stevia blend). Each stevia brand recommends its own sugar-to-stevia ratio (so check the brand’s Web site. Some stevia brands also sell the sweetener in liquid or bulk form.

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Natra Taste) is not recommended to bake or cook with as high temperatures may diminish its sweetness.

Blue Agave Nectar is now widely available in stores (i.e. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods) and marketed under such brand names as Wholesome Sweeteners, Madhava, and Volcanic Nectar. Agave Nectar is sweeter than sugar so one must use between 1/4 and an 1/8 less than less than if one was to use regular sugar. Unlike the artificial sweeteners previously mentioned, agave nectar is not carbohydrate-free or calorie-free. It has the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as sugar however it is a food with a low glycemic index so the syrup won't raise one's blood sugar levels as much as sugar or honey would. In addition, since Agave is sweeter than sugar, you are more likely to a smaller amount.

Agave nectar can be used to bake, however recipes must be adjusted. For every 1 cup of sugar should be replaced with 2/3 - 3/4 cup of agave nectar. In addition, you must reduce all other liquids in the recipe by a 1/4 cup. The oven temperature must be lowered by 25 degrees to prevent burning, and shorten the cooking time on cookies by 3 to 5 minutes and cakes by 7 to 10 minutes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day One! Where to Begin?

It is Day One and you are about to embark on a lifestyle change. Diet is a dirty word - diets do not work. You are not looking at the short-time. It is all about making small achievable steps.

The first thing I suggest is to keep a food journal - nothing fancy, a spiral notebook will do. At the top of each page, write the date and write down everything that passes your lips. All beverages, condiments, and foods. Try to make a good approximation of the amounts you are eating as well.

This is the first step in taking a step back and determining where substitutions can be made. Notice I didn't say eliminating, I said substituting. Once you are aware of what you are consuming, then we can proceed.

The first topic I would like to cover is portion sizes which will be helpful to you to keep an accurate assessment in your food journal. For the last three decades the amount of food purchased in pre-packaged form or served at a restaurant to be eaten in one sitting has ballooned to such an extent that the average person has no concept of what constitutes a sensible portion. Think: Big Gulp, Triple Whopper, All You Can Eat Buffet, Bottomless Bowl of Breadsticks. As a result many of us have started to underestimate the amount of food we eat in a sitting.

The following is a portion control size guide with common visual cues:

3 oz of Beef, Chicken or Fish is equal to the size/width of a deck of cards, checkbook or the palm of your hand.

1/2 cup is equivalent to a golf ball or 1/2 of a tennis ball.

1 cup is equivalent to your fist or a tennis ball.

1 oz (of cheese) is equivalent to approximately 4 dice.

1 Tbsp of peanut butter, butter, or salad dressing is equal to the size of your thumb.

Your thumb tip or the size of one die is equal to approximately 1 Tsp.

Watching your portions is one of the easiest ways to cut back on calories although it can be one of the most challenging.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My name is Michelle Rauch and I am a 2010 graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey with a B.S. in Dietetics. I also hold a B.A. in Communications-Journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey and have over 15 years of food industry experience.

Currently, I am pursuing my Registered Dietitian credential through an accredited internship program as well as a Nutrition Editor at This is a great website designed to help people with diabetes, those trying to eat healthier, and others who want to learn about other nutrition-related topics, so I hope you'll check us out.