Archive for October, 2010

LOTS of Vegetables!

This is a question that I received from

Q:  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?

I could go on all day about how amazing vegetables are, but I’ll try to keep this short!  EVERYONE should make vegetables a staple in their diet, whether they are at risk for diabetes or not.  Not only are they delicious and full of vitamins and minerals, but research has shown that they can reduce the risk for many diseases, especially cancer.

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you will want to limit your intake of  starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas.  The great news is that you can have LOTS of non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens,  artichokes, green beans, asparagus, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers (the last three are biologically fruits, but are often classified nutritionally as vegetables).  For people with diabetes, non-starchy vegetables are basically a ‘free food’ – they contain only about 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving, and most of those carbs come from fiber so you may not need to count them as carbohydrates unless you eat more than two servings at a time.  You should eat them in abundance, at least 3-5 servings a day.

There are several healthy ways to enjoy vegetables.  You can eat them raw, steamed, roasted, or sauteed in a small amount of olive oil (not butter).  Frozen vegetables can be convenient if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, just avoid boiling them because most of their healthy vitamins and minerals get leached out in the process.  DO NOT fry your veggies or smother them in dressings or cheese!

Replace unhealthy snacks with veggies - you'll be surprised how much better you feel!


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Finding Healthier Alternatives

I recently received this question from

Q:  I have type 2 diabetes and love Mexican food.  Could you give me some tips on what to order at my favorite Mexican restaurant?

Breaking old habits can be difficult, but it is often necessary when you’re trying to plan a healthful diet.  You can still eat at your favorite restaurants as long as you learn to make healthier choices and practice portion control.

Many Mexican food selections are high in fat and carbohydrate, but following these simple tips will steer you toward some healthier choices:

◊  Make sure that the items you order are grilled or baked rather than fried.

◊  Lower the carb count of your meal by cutting at least one major carbohydrate item out of your meal.  For example, order your burrito without a tortilla or order your meal with no rice.

  Avoid high fat toppings like cheese and sour cream.  

Some healthier menu items include salsa, guacamole, black beans, grilled chicken or fish, and fresh salads (get the dressing on the side!).

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The Whole Truth

I recently received this question from

Q: 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?

Unfortunately, rye and sourdough breads are not good sources of whole grains, and would not be good choices for someone with diabetes.  However, there are so many different brands and varieties of whole grain bread to choose from that it should be easy to avoid boredom in your routine.  Whole grain, high-fiber foods are an important part of a healthy diet.

Just don’t forget that even whole grain breads must be consumed in moderation.  When counting carbs, a food that contains 15 grams of carbohydrate is considered one serving, and a person with diabetes should typically consume 3-4 servings of carbohydrate each day.  Keep this in mind, and choose foods made with  whole grains rather than refined starch, and you’ll be on the right track! 

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Diabetes and Protein Intake

This is a question that I received on

Q:  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?   

This is a great question!!  People with diabetes are always getting bombarded with information regarding carbohydrate intake, but it is important to be aware of the guidelines for intake of the other macronutrient groups as well.

As long as your kidneys are in good health, you can consume 10-20% of your daily caloric intake from protein.  This is the same amount of protein that is recommended for individuals without diabetes.  In fact, research indicates that protein can help slow down the absorption of carbohydrate in people with well-controlled diabetes.  That means that consuming protein and carbohydrate  in the same meal could help keep your blood-glucose levels lower!    

It is important to limit your intake of meats that are high in saturated fat such as beef and pork.  Some healthier sources of animal protein include poultry, fish, and egg whites.  If you would like to add more plant proteins to your diet, beans and soy products are great choices.  Soy is a complete protein, so tofu is an excellent meat substitute.  


 There are all kinds of delicious ways to prepare tofu!

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