Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Question of the Week: "Comparing the nutrition of Fruit & Vegetable Juices"

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog post: "I have heard I should avoid fruit juice since I have diabetes.  What about vegetable juices?  Can I have tomato juice and other vegetable juices?"

If you were to compare fruit and vegetable juices, vegetable juices tend to have less carbohydrate than fruit juices.  In a 4 oz glass, vegetable juice has 5 grams of carbohydrates (vs. 15 grams in a fruit juice).  However, vegetables juices tend to be high in sodium (if store-bought) and don't have any fiber.  

Vegetable juices can be included in your diet but should not take the place of whole vegetables due to their lack of fiber.  Read the labels (keep an eye on their sodium content) and watch your portion size (stick to 4 oz).

Additional Nutrition Information:

Low Sodium V8 lists 140mg of Sodium in an 8 oz serving.  Be aware that 8 oz is actually 2 servings of carbohydrate (10 grams).    Regular V8 has 480 mg of Sodium in an 8 oz serving!!!

Campbell's Tomato Juice has 680 mg of Sodium in an 8oz portion.   Their low sodium variety has 140 mg of Sodium.  Campbell's makes a Healthy Request variety that still contains 480 mg of Sodium in an 8 oz. portion.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Question of the Week: "What if I can't have Milk?"

The following question was submitted to me for discussion on my blog: "I have type 2 diabetes and cannot tolerate milk.  What may I substitute for my recommended two milk servings per day?  Would I substitute a carbohydrate or a protein?"

My first question to you would be are you allergic to milk or do you have a lactose intolerance?  My answer will depend on how you answer that question.

 If you are lactose intolerant (and not allergic to milk), there are many products available that you can take advantage of such as lactose-free milk or lactase tablets (which can be taken prior to consuming a dairy product) which will allow you to consume milk without the undesirable side effects.  In some cases, people who are lactose intolerant are able to tolerate some dairy products such as yogurt if not consumed in large amounts.

In the case of a milk allergy, you may want to try either rice milk, soy milk or almond milk.  In some cases, they are fortified with calcium.  There are varieties that are flavored with chocolate or vanilla but they may have added sugar (so check your labels!).

Milk is counted as a carbohydrate on a Carbohydrate Counting/Controlled diet.  It has 12g of carbohydrate and 8g of protein per serving. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Question of the Week: "Microwave Dinners / Convenience Foods"

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog, "I am writing on behalf of my sister. She does NOT cook.  She is living alone and has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.  She lives mainly on microwave dinners and convenience foods.  She is not open to learning to cook.  Do you have any helpful hints for someone like this?"

First I would ask what your sister's aversion to cooking is?  Is it a lack of time?  Has she ever tried to cook?  Cooking can be fun - plus it puts you in control of what is in your food and gives you more available healthy options.  Additionally, she'll find it is much cheaper to buy ingredients and make your own food than "ready to eat".  There are many of quick recipes you can put together that don't require much time or effort. 

Microwave dinners and pre-prepared foods are very convenient but not necessarily healthy choices.  They tend to be high in sodium, carbohydrates, calories, and fat.  It is important that she reads (and understands) the nutrition labels of these products that she is buying.

Here are some suggestions for some healthier meals that don't require cooking:

1.  Rotisserie Chicken :  Many supermarkets have this ready to purchase. Remove the skin before eating. Serve with the frozen green vegetable of your choice (which can be microwaved) and parboiled microwaveable brown rice (which is done in 90 seconds).

2.  Grilled Chicken Strips:  Several brands sells them (not the breaded kind).  Put over a bed of bagged baby spinach and other cut vegetables.  Lightly dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

3.  Tuna fish (or use canned salmon) packed in water over salad greens and fresh vegetables

4.  Hummus with sliced veggies (red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes) in a whole wheat pita

5.  Homemade Mini Pizzas --Multi Grain English Muffins with Tomato Sauce, Low Fat Shredded Mozzarella and veggies.

6.  Hardboiled Eggs (which can be purchased pre-made) over bagged salad greens and cut vegetables.

7.  Pasta Primavera:  Get various frozen vegetables such as broccoli and spinach and microwave them.  Toss with pasta and sauce.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Question of the Week: "What to do if I don't like vegetables?"

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog: "I have a very big issue when it comes to having diabetes and that is I do not eat vegetables.  I have tried.  I want control my diabetes and be around to raise my young children.  What suggestions do you have to add vegetables to my diet?"

Vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet.  Not only are they full of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, but they are full of fiber which will make you feel fuller, for longer.  Additionally, if your young children see you eating vegetables as part of your diet, they will be more likely to do the same.

First you need to ask yourself what was it about the vegetables that you didn't enjoy?  Was it the texture?  Vegetables don't need to be raw in order to be healthy.   You can cook them if it is the "crunch" that you disliked.  

There is an infinite amount of ways to prepare vegetables:  grilling, sauteing, stewing, roasting.  Maybe preparing them in a different fashion will change your mind.   Try a vegetable kebab - grill the vegetables until tender and include pineapple chunks to add a sweet flavor to the vegetables.

Why not try adding seasonings to the vegetables may increase your enjoyment of them?  Try onion, garlic olive oil.... Open your pantry and try a new seasoning or spice.  Create a sauce to simmer them in such as tomato, pesto, ......  Let your imagination go wild.

There are countless types of vegetables to choose from.  Go to your market and try something new.  It's possible that you may find something else you may enjoy. 

Grab a cookbook or look up recipes on line and give something new a shot.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Question of the Week: Low Glucose but High A1c?

The following question was submitted by a reader for discussion on my blog, "I was recently told by my doctor I have pre-diabetes and that I need to lose weight, eat right, and get my sugar levels down.  On a 12 hour fast, my glucose level was 73 yet my A1C was 6.1%.  If my glucose is low, why is my A1c still high?  What can I do?"

An A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of hemoglobin (the protein found in your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body) is covered in sugar.  Therefore, a single blood glucose test reading or "finger stick" may not show the same results reflecting that A1c number.  It is possible to test high or low during a single test.  If you are able to keep good control over your blood sugars you should see your A1c decrease in time. 

Speak to your doctor or CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) about testing your blood sugars two hours after meals to monitor your glycemic control.  This way you can check how your meal choices are affecting your blood sugars and adjust where necessary.  Getting to a healthy weight is also another way to help achieve your blood sugar goals.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

National Nutrition Month 2011 -- How Can I Add More Fruits / Veggies to my Diet?

It is recommended that we eat anywhere between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, however, less than half of our population achieves that.  According to a 2010 Gallup Poll, nationwide, less than half of Americans (46.6%) report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables on five or more days per week, but 32.7% do so two to four days per week and 19.4% do so one or fewer days per week.

However many servings YOU may be currently eating - my goal is to help you add at least one more serving to your daily routine! Here are 23 suggestions as to how to add some more "color" (fruits / veggies) to your diet.

1.  Add some fruits to your regular garden salad.  Try adding fresh berries, orange or grapefruit sections, or grapes.  Salads are not just for veggies.

2.  Add new kinds of lettuces/greens to your regular garden salad.  Try a new blend.  Skip the iceberg and look at romaine, spinach, butter lettuce, radicchio, argula, mache, or one of the other many varieties!  The deeper the color, the higher nutrient benefits it has.

3.  Add new kinds of lettuces/greens to your sandwich.  Again, skip the iceberg (not high in nutrient value).  Try adding spinach leaves or one of the other varieties listed in #2.

4.  Add fruit slices to your sandwich:  add thinly sliced apple or pears onto your sandwich.  In addition to adding beneficial vitamins, minerals, etc., it will add texture and sweet to your already savory sandwich!

5.  Making mashed potatoes?  Add turnips or parsnips to the mixture.  In addition to adding texture, these veggies add nutrition and flavor!

6.   Eating pizza or making your own?  Top it with broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini...

7.  Use fruit as a marinade and accompaniment with poultry and fish!  Puree berries, apples, peaches, or pears.  Use orange/grapefruit/pineapple juices as marinade.  Garnish the top with pieces of the fruit!

8.  Fruit Smoothie using skim milk or non-fat yogurt -- use frozen fruits and a banana.

9.  Dessert or snack ideas:   Drizzle warm chocolate sauce on a banana.  Smear a little peanut butter on a banana or on apple slices.

10.  Have leftover rice?  Reheat it with chopped apple, walnuts, and cinnamon as a dessert.

11.  Dessert Snack Idea:  Slice a pear, sprinkle with cinnamon and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes

12.  Lunch Idea:  Veggie Wrap or Whole Wheat Pita.  Fill with roasted vegetables and low fat cheese.

13.  Swap mayo on your sandwich for a ripe avocado.  Not only will it taste better - but much better for you.

14.  Try munching on crunch veggies instead of chips -- dip in low fat salad dressing tzatziki, or hummus

15.  Grill colorful veggie kabobs -- tomatoes, green/red peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, pineapple chunks.

16.  Enjoy omelets or egg whites?  Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms...!

17.  Top your baked potato with broccoli and other veggies with 0% greek yogurt.

18.  Looking for a quick dinner -- try a stir fry!  Cut into small thin pieces peppers, onions, mushrooms, snowpeas, babycorn....use just a little olive oil.  Add the protein of your choice.

19.  Making meatloaf:  Add spinach and other grated vegetables into the mixture (carrots, onions, zucchini).

20.  Add fruits to your morning hot/cold cereal or your yogurt.

21.  Eating soup?  Chop EXTRA veggies and add to your soup.  or....  Make your some chicken/beef/veggie broth - add your favorite veggies chopped to the broth and similar until at your desired texture.  Then add either a pasta, quinoa, or brown rice to the soup. 

22.  Add veggies to your pasta by making your own "primavera":  stewed tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli rabe....

23.  Add veggies to your lasagna:  spinach, squash, mushrooms -- sneak them into the layers.

I hope that these suggestions have inspired you to try something new -- or at least try one of mine.  As you can see, it is easy to add veggies or fruits to what you are already to eating.

Have a suggestion?   Let's hear it!

"Eat Right With Color" --March is National Nutrition Month!

The theme of this year's  American Dietetic Association's National Nutrition Month  is to "Eat Right With Color" which encouraging healthy eating habits.  My goal is to inspire you to add some color (and flavor) to your plate on a daily basis. 

Besides being delicious, fruits and vegetables are  full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as other phytochemicals and antioxidants.  The health benefits that they provide us are so valuable and many of us don't take advantage of what they offer. 

Why are the colors important? Besides for aesthetic value, each of the colors contains a class of nutrients chock full of health benefits.  So instead of eating Skittles when you want to "taste the rainbow".... reach for a few of the fruits/vegetables mentioned below instead!  See the reasons why below:

Red fruits and vegetables have been linked with heart health, memory function, decreased risk of some cancers, urinary tract health.  Red is equated to such health-promoting compounds as lycopene and anthocyanins. The darker and richer the color,  the higher the phytonutrients content.•Red: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, radishes, blood oranges, rhubarb and tomatoes

Green fruits and vegetables have been linked with vision health, decreased risk of some cancers, strong bones & teeth.  Green means chlorophyll, and green vegetables are rich in folate and such phytonutrients as carotenoids, lutein, and indoles.  The darker the greens, the better.•Green: avocados, apples, grapes, honeydew, melons, kiwi, limes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli rabe, green beans, brussell sprouts, celery root, green peppers, bok choy, snow peas, and leafy greens such as spinach

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables have been linked with heart health, vision health, decreased risk of some cancers, healthy immune system.  These vegetables/fruits are great sources of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and beta carotene (vitamin A).•Orange and deep yellow: apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruits, mangos, papayas, tangelos, pears, peaches, pineapples, carrots, yellow peppers, clementines, squash, yellow corn and sweet potatoes

Purple/blue fruits and vegetables have been linked with healthy aging, decreased risk of some cancers, improves memory function, urinary tract health.  Dark-colored fruits and vegetables are good sources of anthocyanins, a phytonutrient that brought alot of attention to blueberries and now they are touted as a superfood. Other blue and purple foods offer similar benefits.•Purple and blue: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage, and purple-fleshed potatoes

White fruits/vegetables have been linked with heart health, lowers cholesterol, decreased risk of some cancers and some contain a phytonutrient called allicin.
•White, tan and brown: bananas, brown pears, dates, white peaches, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potatoes and white corn.

For more information on National Nutrition Month - check out the American Dietetic Association's website: