One Real Nutrition reader mentioned the frustrations of trying to figure out what to eat when you have Type 2 Diabetes. There are plenty of things out there telling you what not to eat, but how do you figure out what you can eat?
Trying to eat healthier is a challenge for anyone. Often we are told to eat better without being given any other practical tools or advice to go by. People are left feeling alone, with the only guidance being what they see and hear in public, which is often full of misinformation and marketing ploys.
There are no exact equations to help you find the perfect food because 1) there are so many foods available to us and 2) many foods possess both good and bad qualities. However, there are point and scoring systems that can serve as guides for people in choosing which foods to eat more or less of.
Weight Watchers uses a Points Plus food point system based on protein, fat, carb, and fiber content of foods. Essentially, the foods that are healthier and more filling will have a lower point assignment, and those that are less filling and more calorie-dense will have a higher number. For example, an apple has 0 points and a piece of pizza has 8-14.
The Weight Watchers point method encourages people to choose healthier, more filling foods to help keep them satisfied throughout the day and to limit less healthy options. Check out their calculator and an estimate of your recommended daily point values at http://www.calculator.net/weight-watchers-points-calculator.html .
NuVal is another type of point system that has been created by medical and nutrition experts to help determine the overall nutrition quality of a food using a 1-100 numeric scale. For example, a food with a score of 95 would be considered to have high nutritional value whereas a food with a score of 5 would have very little.
Many grocery stores have begun to adapt the NuVal scoring system in their stores, providing signs, tags, and brochures near foods to help shoppers make better choices. Local stores that incorporate this system include Meijer and HyVee. Learn more about NuVal at http://www.nuval.com/ . The only drawback of this system is that it does not include specific or individualized recommendations for people on how much to consume on a daily basis.
For people with diabetes, carb counting is another way to help you choose foods and track how much is appropriate by adding up the amount of carbs you consume per meal. Ideally, people with diabetes should meet with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator to find out the most appropriate carb content for their lifestyle, but general recommendations can also be found at the American Diabetes Association website.
The easiest advice to give for someone with diabetes is to choose as many healthy foods as possible and to limit portions at each sitting. My definition of healthy foods includes whole grains, all fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and dairy products, and healthier sources of fat, consumed in recommended quantities. The USDA’s Choose My Plate gives us more information about better choices and reasonable portions sizes.
You can also check out my Web video from Shaw Media discussing the Choose My Plate method of healthier eating.
Meeting with a Registered Dietitian is always a great way to assess your own personal nutrition needs and meet your specific health goals. To locate a dietitian near you, consult the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics RD finder.
There’s nothing like Thanksgiving, the holiday that’s known for overconsumption! It’s both my husband and my daughter’s favorite holiday because it involves splurging in front of the TV and the dinner table!
I wouldn’t be living up to the “real” in “Real Nutrition” if I didn’t admit to going overboard myself on Thanksgiving. Unless you have ultimate self-control, it’s likely to overdo the calories at least a little bit this special day of the year.
Here are some ideas to control the overeating this year:
- Use the plate method of portion control: ¼ plate turkey, ¼ plate whole grains/starch (potato, corn, etc.), ½ plate vegetables
- Only allow yourself one plateful of food
- Keep appetizers healthy and low-calorie like fruits and vegetables with low-fat dip
- Serve a salad with low-fat dressing before the meal
- Prepare more vegetable dishes to go with the meal; limit the starchy sides
- Limit dessert to one option and keep portions limited
- Go for a walk or workout before dinner and take another walk after dinner
- Stick with non- or low-calorie beverages like water, diet pop, lite beer, etc.
Here’s some great info from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) for tips on how to fill your plate and lower calorie recipe ideas. While this info can be applied to everyone, there are also helpful tips for people with prediabetes and diabetes who need to be particularly careful with overeating at meals.
I wish all of you, your families, and friends a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful to have you all as readers of my blog!
Starting next week, I will begin to write responses to reader questions submitted to me last month so stay tuned for answers and discussions regarding your nutrition concerns!
Shaw Media recently posted an article about the FDA Banning the use of Trans Fats in foods.
Many of us have heard of trans fats and know that they are bad for us, but don’t necessarily understand what they are or what they do. To put it simply, trans fats are created by turning unsaturated fats (healthier fats) into artificial saturated fats (less healthy fats). They are used as a cheap fat in food products and help to increase taste and shelf life of packaged goodies.
From a health perspective, they can both increase bad LDL-cholesterol and lower good HDL-cholesterol levels, having an extra negative effect on risk for heart disease and associated health problems.
Current food labeling requirements do not require products to list trans fats on the food label if their presence is less than 0.5g per serving, despite health recommendations that suggest limiting total daily trans fat intake to less than 2g per day.
If you consume foods containing partially- or fully-hydrogenated oils in any regularity, you could easily be exceeding these recommendations. Common foods containing these oils are packaged chips, cookies, salad dressings, microwave popcorns, pastries, and other foods using shortening in the ingredients.
As the article above suggests, many food companies have already begun to replace these fats in their food products because of their potential for negative health effects. While I absolutely agree with the ban on the use of trans fats, we will need to think about what has and will continue to replace these trans fats in the junk foods we eat. The most likely substitute will be other forms of saturated fats, which isn’t much better.
Make sure to watch food products for increases in saturated fats and try to choose foods with 2g of saturated fat or less per serving. Total saturated fat intake per day should be limited to 10-20 g/day depending on medical history and body size. To limit both trans fats and saturated fats, choose fresh foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products instead of packaged food products as much as possible.
Check out more info on trans fats from the American Heart Association.
So I don’t know about your household, but my kids collected a few pounds of candy this year while trick-or-treating. While I’d like to think we all have some element of self-control when it comes to candy, the treats seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate!
To prevent those pounds of Halloween goodies from transferring directly to your waistline, here are some ideas for getting rid of them in a useful way.
Donate to Soldiers:
Many local dentist offices or other organizations participate in candy collections this time of year. Do local Internet searches or watch for stories and flyers from local organizations regarding candy donation.
Start a collection yourself on behalf of your school, business, or service group, and submit to Operation Gratitude. Check out their list of tips and ideas for participation.
Anyone can donate to soldiers by sending candy to Operation Shoebox out of Belleview, Florida. Find their shipping address as well as a list of other items need by troops.
Donate to Families of Sick Children:
Ronald McDonald House Charities may also collect candy to provide to families of children receiving medical treatment who are staying in Ronald McDonald House facilities. Check with the local chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities to see how you can help.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken questions from readers. If you have a nutrition or diabetes-related question, please send it to me at info@RealNutritionByKate.com. I will answer your questions as part of my upcoming blog entries. I look forward to hearing from you!
Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator
Kate has been working as a registered dietitian for 10 years and is the owner of Kate Olson, MHA, RD, CDE, a private nutrition counseling practice. She specializes in the areas of prediabetes and diabetes management, weight loss, and family nutrition. She enjoys teaching others about nutrition and giving people practical and realistic ideas on how to make healthy lifestyle changes.