Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Question of the Week: "Struggling with Weight Loss"

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog post, "I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes and was prescribed medication.  I have been following a diet to lose weight but unfortunately in the past few weeks, I have actually gained a few pounds.  When I was eating whatever I wanted without the medication, I stayed the same weight.  In the past, I have exercised at least 3 days a week but after a year of doing this I only lost about 10 pounds.  Do you have any suggestions?"

Most importantly, my first suggestion is to speak to your doctor - this is to ensure that there are no underlying issues causing the weight gain.

Your email did not mention your age, and it is also important to mention that as we get older, our body composition changes.  We lose lean body mass which leads to a slow down in metabolism therefore what you may have been able to eat in the past without putting on weight may not have the same effect anymore. 

Every successful weight loss plan (and healthy lifestyle) includes an exercise component.  Exercise will help boost your metabolism and burn calories.   Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days weekly.. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, swimming for recreation or cycling. Stretching, yoga, pilates, or weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your level of fitness.  Consult your physician before starting any exercise plan.

Rate your plate.  Visualize your plate divided first in half.  Then divide one of those halves into quarters so that there are three sections to the plate.  The largest half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables.  One of the smaller sections should contain a 3 - 4 oz of lean protein and the other section should have your starch/whole grain.  Portion sizes are important - use the following link as a guide for portion sizes.

Other tips:
  • Keep healthy snacks available. 
  • Keep a food journal - if you are mindful of what you are eating, you are more likely to be careful
  • Read food labels - be aware of what you are eating.

 Picture Source  http://www.tops.org/TOPSTools/images/plate.gif

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Question of the Week: Healthy BBQ Ideas

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog posting, "Every year in late May our friends & family has a large BBQ.  Since I'm watching my weight and blood sugar, what types of foods should I eat more of and what foods should I avoid at my BBQ?"

There are plenty of delicious foods and recipes that you can incorporate at a summer BBQ!  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Have a light healthy snack before you attend your BBQ such as a small apple with a tbsp peanut butter.  This will keep you from being famished by the time you get to your BBQ and help you from wanting to reach for chips and pretzels!

2. Skip the chips and mayonaisse-laden salads! Opt for a crudite platter with fat free ranch, 0% Greek yogurt, or hummus. instead.

3.  Steer clear of caloric beverages - save your calories for your meal.  Unsweetened iced tea with lemon or water with a lemon or lime slice are the best choice followed by "diet" beverages.

4.  Choose lean meats such as poultry (chicken or turkey - light meat, without the skin) or seafood (i.e. salmon, shrimp) over beef when possible.   If choosing beef or pork, look for leaner cuts (i.e. pork tenderloin over pork chops or beef tenderloin over porterhouse).

5.  For a vegetarian option try grilling a marinated portabello mushroom!  Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs.

6.  Veggie Kebobs are a delicious option.  Load them up with your favorite vegetables and pineapple as a healthy side dish!

7.  Delicious dessert idea:  grilled peaches and grilled pineapple with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice-cold watermelon.  Freeze a banana or some grapes for a refreshing treat.

8.  Skip the butter:  Grill a garlic bulb with the top sliced (exposing the tops of the cloves) and drizzle in olive oil (wrap in foil) for 35 minutes until it is soft like butter.  Spread the softened cloves on your grilled corn on the cob.

9.  If using bottled marinades, read your labels.  Many are high in salt and sugar.  Make your own - you can control the ingredients.

10.  As always, watch your portions.  Fill your plate 1/2 with veggies, 1/4 with lean protein, and 1/4 whole grain.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Question of the Week: Ideas for the Munchies

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog post, "I have diabetes and have grown tired of munching on carrots when the crazy hungry munchies hit.  I'm replacing chocolate bars with almonds in an attempt to lower my weight.  What exactly can I snack on when these munchies hit? "

I applaud you for making healthy changes!  Almonds are full of vitamins and minerals and should be included in your new plan however limit your portion size to 2 tablespoons or so with nuts as they are high in calories and fat (although the good type).

When you feel like you have the "munchies",  try taking a drink of water.  Sometimes we have a tendency to confuse the thirst sensation with hunger.  You may find that after a drink, you don't have the urge to munch!

Another tip is to have healthy snacks ready.  When you have the urge to have a snack, if you have healthier options available and ready to grab, you will be more likely to eat healthier!

To best keep you satisfied have some protein along with a carbohydrate and try to keep your snack under 200 calories (closer to 150kcal).  Here are some suggestions: 

  • 1 - 2 oz of low cheese with a couple of whole grain crackers
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter on some apple slices or celery
  • Low Fat/Skim string cheese with a piece of fruit,
  • Hard boiled eggs and a couple of whole wheat/grain pretzels
  • Greek yogurt with some nuts sprinkled on top

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stop The Sugar Sabotage!

Sugar is found in many of the foods that we eat.  In some foods such as fruit, milk, or milk products, these sugars are naturally occurring (fructose, lactose).  Other foods have sugar added during either the manufacturing process, the preparation, or at the table.  These sugars are called “added sugars”.  It is these “added sugars” that pose the problem for Americans.  “Added sugars” contribute an average of 16% of the total calories in the Western Diet according to the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that we limit the amount of added sugars that are consumed.  The AHA recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories/day in added sugars while men should consume no more than 150 calories/day in added sugars.

Here are some tips to lower your sugar intake:

1.  Take all sugar off the table!  Put away any sugar (white, brown, syrups, or honey) off your table.  Out of sight, out of mind!

2. Be mindful of sweeteners you use on a daily basis – whether it is adding sweeteners in coffee, tea, milk, cereal, pancakes, waffles, etc.  Use a smaller amount and try to wean yourself off from using them – or find healthier substitutes.

3. Choose sugar-free or reduced sugar varieties of beverages when available.

4. Buy fresh or frozen fruits.  If buying canned/jarred fruits – choose those packed in fruit juice and NOT heavy syrup.

5. Instead of adding sugar or syrup to breakfast cereals, try fresh, freeze-dried, or frozen fruit.
6.   When baking, try reducing the amounts of sugar added by 1/3 or ½  or substitute sugar with an equal part of unsweetened apple sauce.

7. Use extracts such as almond, lemon, or vanilla in baking instead of sugar.

8.  Try ginger, cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg to enhance the flavor of desserts instead of sugar.

9. Try using artificial sweeteners (in moderation) such as
stevia, sucralose, aspartame, or saccharine to replace sugar. 

10. Watch portion sizes – too much of any food is not good for you.

11. Read food labels – sometimes foods that you don’t think contain sugar may have it in one form or another such as pasta sauce, salad dressings, and bread.

12.  Read labels!  Sugar can be listed in many forms.  If you see any of the following listed in the ingredients.... it is the same as SUGAR:
  • Sugar:  Brown, Powdered, Turbinado, Maple
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose (Milk Sugar)
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Agave Syrup
  • Cane Juice
  • Beet Juice
If the ingredient ends in "-ose" it is a form of sugar.  If the ingredient ends in "-ol" it may be a sugar alcohol.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Question of the Week: Healthy Breakfast Choices for Special Occasions

The following question was submitted to me for discussion on this week's blog post, "On special occasions, my family usually gets together for a big breakfast.  Now that I have diabetes, I'm not sure what I can eat.  Waffles, pastries, omelets, bacon, or what?  What are the best items I should choose? "

There are sure to be many delicious temptations on special occasions when you family gets together, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Additionally, when you are not the one preparing the foods, or reading the labels of the foods or ingredients used, it may be a bit overwhelming to make the correct choices.  

As with any meal - be portion-sized minded and try to keep your breakfast balanced to more than just carbohydrates - be sure to have some protein.

Muffins and other baked goods are usually very high in calories and carbohydrates and low in nutritional value.  Best to skip past these.    I

Bagel-Shop Sized Bagels are usually around 400 kcals each and equivalent to at least 4 - 5 Carbohydrate choices.   You can get more "bang" for your carb/calorie buck elsewhere.... Croissants and Brioches are usually made with alot of butter.  Best to find a delicious whole grain bread (and there are many).  Just watch your portion size.  Depending on side - usually one slice equals one serving or carbohydrate choice (15g).  Look for whole grain varieties of english muffins and breads and keep to 1 - 2 carb choices.

Donuts are fried, full of sugar and oil.  They may taste delicious but all they will give you is calories, and carbohydrates and leave you hungry for more.

Look for low fat, low calories varieties of margarine, cream cheese, and jam.  Use them sparingly.  A little goes a long way!

Good Choices:

1.  Egg White Omelet: Add veggies (mushrooms, tomato, peppers, onions) - add a sprinkle of low fat cheddar cheese.  If you like it hot, season with a dash of hot sauce.  Eat with a slice of whole wheat toast!  Full of protein and fiber this will be delicious and filling!

2.  Steel Cut Oats -  (Cooked in water.)  Top it with Fresh Fruit and a sprinkle of almond slivers or walnut halves for crunch.

3.  French toast made with Multi-Grain or Whole Grain Bread sprinkled with Cinnamon.  Watch your portion size with these (2 slices max).

4.  Greek Yogurt:  Fresh Fruit and a Sprinkle of Nuts for crunch.  High in protein and will keep you full!

5.  Whole Grain Ready To Eat Cereal:  Read the labels to ensure you are choosing a whole grain variety and one in added sugars, low fat, and low sodium.  Look for one with more than 3 - 4 grams of Fiber to keep you full.  Top the cereal with cut up strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!

6.  If available, choose turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or chicken sausage it is leaner than regular.  Watch your portions (do I sound repetitive?)!!! - stay to no more than 2 strips or links if possible.  I like to break them up into pieces and sprinkle into an egg white omelet.  It makes a little go a long way!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Question of the Week: Healthy Salad Dressing Options

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog, "I've been trying to increase my salad intake and am not sure about what type of dressing to choose.  Could you give me some suggestions for salad dressings that are acceptable for someone with diabetes?"

First, it is great that you want to increase the amount of salad you eat.  Greens and vegetables are loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and FIBER!  In addition to being "nutrient-dense", they are low in calories, and will keep you feeling fuller longer!

Salad Dressings should always be on the side so you can control the amount used, and I always suggest dipping your fork in the dressing rather than pouring it on.   Always remember to watch your portions.  It is easy to pour mindlessly...  If using a commercially produced dressing, READ the labels.  Many of these dressings are full of fat, salt, and sugar, and high in calories.

When eating out, choose reduced or fat free varieties when available.  Ask for fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over your salad with black pepper in lieu of dressing.  Oil and vinegar is always a better choice and be sure to use more vinegar to oil.  Avoid creamy based dressings when possibly.

Experiment with other types of vinegar and oil combinations.
Here are some healthy dressings (inspired by Mark's Daily Apple) that are quick and easy for you to make at home:

**Raspberry Vinaigrette
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

**Parsley Vinaigrette
3 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp chopped parsley

Alton Brown of the Food Network has a no Guilt Caesar Dressing : No Guilt Caesar Salad Dressing!

Bon Appetite!