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Sweet Potatoes! Yum!

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

I was recently diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes and I’m trying to follow a low fat diet.  I have a question I hope that you can answer.  Are sweet potatoes considered a vegetable and are they ok to eat in my diet? -Kara D.

Sweet potatoes happen to be my absolute favorite food in the whole entire world! I am such an advocate for this super-food.

Now when I call it a super food, I mean a sweet potato is loaded with many of the nutrients you need in your daily diet. And of course, they are absolutely delicious!

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, calcium, and manganese. They are also helpful in stabilizing blood sugar. They are very nutrient dense, meaning they are low in calories, but high in nutrients and satiety value. Satiety value means they will keep you full for a long time.

One reason that I love sweet potatoes much more than regular white potatoes, is that I can just eat them plain. They are so sweet and delicious without any toppings. Eating a sweet potato plain definitely saves you on calories, compared to loading a white potato with butter, sour cream, and cheese. If you feel the need to add a little something to your sweet potato, try a teaspoon of honey or a shake of cinnamon.

Sweet potatoes are great! Eat up!

New Year’s!

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and my wife has pre-diabetes.  New Year’s Eve we always have a large celebration with cocktails and lots of food.  We are growing weary of the party this year given my new diagnosis.  Any tips on how we can still enjoy the party? -James R.

New Years can always be an easy time to over indulge. There are too many excuses to have plenty of high calorie drinks paired with high calorie finger foods. However, don’t let the temptations slow you down from having fun with friends!

When attending a New Years party, have your own meal before going. If you go to a party filled with calorie temptations on a ravenous stomach, you are not going to be able to hold yourself back. It’s just not realistic. So, go to the party after a light dinner and you will be much less tempted to eat. Leave yourself a little room for dessert or a little room for your favorite finger food. Just remember, don’t over indulge.

I definitely emphasize this point on a regular basis. Yes, treat yourself a little bit, but overindulgence is your enemy. Let yourself have a light drink. If possible, even try to avoid the alcohol at all costs. If that isn’t an option, because it is New Year’s Eve after all, go for a small glass of wine (about 120 calories) or liquor with club soda/diet drink. There are easy ways to keep your calories in check by avoiding calorie-laden alcohol drinks.

Have fun, don’t deprive yourself of being around friends and family during the holidays. You can find a balance! Good luck and Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

I have diabetes and this time of year is the toughest for me.  It seems holiday treats/sweets are everywhere tempting me!  Is it ok to indulge a little?  If not, how can I build up enough will power to avoid holiday sweets? -Annie T.

The holiday season can wreak havoc on even the most dedicated dieter’s waistline if he is not careful. Cookies, cakes, pies, and casseroles are everywhere waiting to be enjoyed.

To answer your first question, yes it is alright to indulge a little during the holiday season. However, that does not mean that you can have a bite of every cake, a taste of every cookie, and every casserole. You must make wise decisions, and leave yourself a little room for indulgence.

On Christmas day, let yourself have a little sliver of pie. It isn’t necessary to have an entire slab though. When eating Christmas dinner, eat everything in moderation. Fill up at least half of your plate with vegetables. They will fill you up, and they are great for your diet. If your family eats turkey for their holiday meal, choose white meat instead of the dark meat. If you must have casserole, choose only one kind out of the plethora on the dinner table and eat it in moderation. There are ways to enjoy all of the delicious foods of the holiday season. Remember, moderation is key.

Don’t go overboard. If you must indulge, do it. No harm done. Just remember to balance out the rest of your diet for the day. Don’t let yourself go crazy for one day and think there will be no repercussions. Keep your diet balanced and you will be greatly rewarded.

Happy Holidays!

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org.

I have type 2 Diabetes but am not on meds yet.  I am trying to control by diet and exercise.  My problem is now that I am eating healthier I am losing weight, and I don’t need to.  I am 5’5” and currently weigh 112 lbs.  What can I eat that is still good for me but will put some weight back on? -Holly S.

First things first. Congratulations on your weight loss. That is step one of the battle. Now it’s time to continue living a healthy life.

Most importantly, keep fruits, vegetables, and whole highly prevalent in your diet. They are full of vitamins and minerals and will keep you full.

In your diet, you should include lean protein, such as, grilled chicken, lean turkey breast, and salmon (full of omega-3 fatty acids). Steer clear from meats high in saturated fat, such as fatty steaks and burgers. Increasing the amount of protein you eat can help you gain muscle when combined with exercise.

Also, to maintain your weight, hit the gym. Lifting weights will put on muscle, which will increase your metabolism and keep you healthy and energetic. Also, include cardiovascular exercise to strengthen your heart. It is healthier for you to gain weight through exercise and muscle mass, instead of trying to do it directly through food choices.

Sodium

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

I have pre-diabetes and have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure as well.  My doctor says to watch my sodium intake.  I feel like I’ve been hit with a double whammy!  In addition to trying to lose weight and watch my carb intake, I now have to watch my salt as well.  Could you give me some low salt ideas for dinner meals?

-Carol T.

As a general statement, Americans consume too much sodium. The upper level set for sodium intake is about 2300 mg per day. On average, Americans consumer way over 3000 mg per day. This sodium intake comes from processed foods, restaurant foods, additives, and unnecessary table salt. Over 77% of the sodium in the diet comes from processed foods. It is so much easier to cut down the sodium in your diet than it seems. Eating whole foods versus fast foods will easily cut down more than 50% of the sodium in your diet.

Excess sodium in the diet is called hyponatremia. Symptoms of the condition include nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, appetite loss, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps, seizures, and decreased consciousness or coma. Many medical illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, or pneumonia may be associated with hyponatremia.

The biggest toll that sodium takes on your health is its affect on blood pressure and heart health. The kidneys process the sodium in the body. When there is an excess amount, the kidneys cannot fully process it. The over amount of sodium in the body remains in the bloodstream. The mineral, sodium, retains water, which leads to a buildup of water volume in the body. In turn, the circulatory system must work double-time to pump the blood throughout the body. Over time, the strain results in kidney failure and heart disease.

Low salt meals are much easier to come by than people make it seem. Cooking at home already makes low salt meals possible. A high sodium diet comes from fast and processed foods. When at home, cook with whole foods and not a lot of frozen foods. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned ones.

For breakfast, eat and egg white omelet with fresh vegetables and a fresh fruit salad.

For lunch have a grilled chicken breast with a spinach salad.

For dinner, eat whole wheat pasta, with grilled salmon and fresh vegetables.

Remember, in a low sodium diet, whole foods are key. Avoid heavily processed foods and you are golden!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

My husband was diagnosed with diabetes as few months ago and has been working hard to lose weight and control his blood sugar.  Each year we have a family gathering for thanksgiving that includes lots of food (large turkey dinner with all the trimmings and assorted pies & cakes for dessert).  What are your suggestions to ensure my husband doesn’t overeat but also does not feel deprived this thanksgiving? -Martha T.

Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite Holiday of the year! I love being with my family, being surrounded by delicious food, and spending a very relaxing day at home.

All that food on Thanksgiving day can be a caloric bomb! There are so many great pies, cakes, gravies, stuffing with which you can fill your stomach!

On the other hand, there are so many great and healthy choices to eat on Turkey day. Turkey, if not covered in gravy, is such a great protein choice. It is low in fat, calories, and cholesterol. Make sure when you choose a piece of turkey meat, however, that it is white meat. Choose the breast meat. It is the lowest in fat and calories compared to the dark, leg meat.

Instead of having mashed potatoes with gravy on Thanksgiving, a great, and I think more delicious option, is a baked sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, magnesium, fiber, potassium, iron, and the list goes on and on. Most importantly, sweet potatoes have so much more flavor than a simple white potato. When you make mashed white potatoes, they are usually loaded up with butter and you want to pour gravy or sour cream all over them just to add flavor. Sweet potatoes on the other hand are so delicious plain. You could also mash them up with a pinch of cinnamon for even better fall flavor.

Vegetables are also overly abundant on my Thanksgiving table. Steamed green beans, fresh corn, large salads, and more are always present. Load 3/4 of your plate with these great, vitamin rich vegetables. Just make sure you don’t cover them in butter. Keep them as simple as possible, they are great as they are!

Instead of buying canned cranberry sauce, which is high in calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, make it yourself. It is so much fresher and more delicious than the cylinder that falls out of the can. It is a great way to get a serving of fruit in a much healthier way!

Also remember, everything is okay in moderation. If this is the one day a year you really let yourself have a little something extra. That’s okay! Don’t cut yourself a huge slab of pie, but reward yourself with a little sliver. If you completely deny yourself of the deliciousness that is dessert, you are more susceptible to binge on pie later in the day. Allow yourself a little breathing room.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Eating!!

This week I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last spring.  I enjoy eating hearty soups in the fall and winter months.  Can I still eat soup?  Are there any soups that are better for me to eat than others? -Ellen C.

I love soup! One thing you must know, however, that many canned soups are sky-high in sodium content. The average person should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. Many experts also recommend to keep sodium levels below 1500 mg. Your daily salt intake can quickly creep up on you if you do not pay attention.

An average can of chicken noodle soup contains about 890 mg of sodium per serving. That much sodium in 1/2 to 1 cup of soup is too much.

The good news however, is there are many healthier soup options for you to enjoy!

The best option, for most foods, is to make it yourself. It may take a little longer than heating up canned soup in the microwave, but the flavor is better, you can control the salt and ingredients, and it is more rewarding to eat something you created yourself. Using low sodium broths as the base of your soup recipes will ensure sodium control. Also, make sure you use fresh vegetables in your soup. Many canned vegetables can have large amounts of sodium in them.

Also, many canned soup brands have low-sodium options. They are still great in flavor, but the amount of salt in each serving is much lower than normal canned soups. When you are in the grocery store, look for these kinds of soups. Always, ,always read the nutrition labels on the back of your foods. It is great to be educated about what you are eating and to make the best choices for yourself.

Best of luck, and happy eating!!

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