Sunday, December 12, 2010

Diabetes and Weight Loss

Here is a question I recently received from

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?

Losing weight by eating healthier and participating in regular exercise is a great way to help control diabetes. However, you also want to make sure you are maintaining a healthy body weight.

First off, be sure you are consuming regular meals and not exercising excessively. 20-30 minutes of moderate physical activity is what is recommended for all Americans. Also be sure you are eat at least 3 meals per day containing all the food groups.

Here are some tips to improve your diet.

*Make good carb choices. This means choose more complex carbohydrates (whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy products) as opposed to refined carbohydrates.

*Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, especially if you work out. Many people mistake hunger for thirst, so if you feel hungry, drinka glass of water, wait 15-20 minutes, and reassess your hunger level. However, do not drink water right before meals, as you will fee full because you have filled up on water.

*Incorporate heart healthy fats into your diet, such as olive/canola oils and nuts. However, be careful, as a little bit of these foods go a long way.

*If you still feel you need to increase your caloric intake, increase your consumption of lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables, as these foods do not affect blood sugars much.

Good luck to you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carbohydrate Choices

Here is a question I recently received from

I am very confused. I have been told to have 3-4 carbohydrate choices at each meal. Could you help me figure out what one of these carbohydrates equates to? Is it one gram of carbohydrate or one item containing carbohydrate? Please help!

Carbohydrate choices or carbohyrate servings are used as a guide to help diabetics choose proper portions of carbohydrates to monitor their glucose levels. 1 carbohydrate choice or serving is equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrate. This equates to 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal.

As far a portion sizes go, use this list as a guide. Each of these items is equivalent to 1 cabohydrate serving or 15 grams of carbohydrate:

*Starch (1/2 cup cooked cereal/corn/ cooked pean or peas/grits, 3/4 cup dry unsweetened cereal, 1 slice bread, 1/2 small bagel of English muffin, (1) 4" square waffle, 1 small biscuit/muffin, (1) 6" tortilla, )1) 2" cube cornbread, 6 cracker squares,1/2 hamburger or hot dig bun, 1 cup winter squash, 1 cup soup, 3 cups popcorn, 3 graham cracker squares, 3 sugar-free cookies, 1/2" slice angel food cake, 3 gingersnaps)
*Fruit (1 small piece of freah fruit, 1 cup fresh berries or melon, 1/2 cup canned fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup 100% unsweetened fruit juice)
*Milk (1 cup low fat milk or yogurt).

As always, be careful with portion sizes and choose more nutrient-dense foods (ex. eating whole fruit over fruit juice). Also remember to read food labels for pertinent nutrition information.

Good luch and happy holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Here is a question I recently received from

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?

As the holidays roll around, it is very easy to over-indulge with the excess amounts of treats to go around (for diabetic patients and non-diabetic patients alike).

Here are some tips to stay on track.

*Eat a light meal prior to going to an event. You will be less likely to overindulge.
*Stay away from the serving table! If you are near all of the finger foods while socializing, it is a lot easier to mindlessly eat.
*Fill up on lean proteins (ex. white turkey) and non-starchy vegetables. Be very careful about portion sizes on starches (ex. rolls, casseroles, potatoes, corn, noodles, gravy).
*Drink water during the meal and right before eating.
*Desserts- don't deprive yourself or you'll end up wanting more! Allow yourself a small serving of your dessert of choice.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soup is Super!

Here is a question I recently received from

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?

Soup can be a great meal or snack, as long as you do your research! Studies have shown that soup can actually increase your satiety if eaten prior to a meal. However, use these tips to help you select a healthy option.

*If you can, make your own soup! Canned or ready made soups are usually high in sodium, so be sure to investigate the nutrition facts prior to purchasing and consuming.
*Be careful with "Low sodium" or "Reduced sodium" soups. Read food labels before purchasing. These products often contain a significant amount of sodium and claims are based upon reductions from the original product.
*Choose broth-based soups over cream based soups.
*Add lean proteins to soup, such as beans, lentils, fish, ans chicken to make a complete meal. Beans and lentils will also boost fiber intake.
*Add plenty of non-starchy vegetables to soup to increase vegetable consumption and get those 5 daily servings in.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Type the query "SuperFoods" into your search engine of choice and you will most certainly find a myriad of lists from various authors on their picks for "SuperFoods".

These "SuperFoods", known more scientifically as neutraceuticals, provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. A wide variety of foods are included in these lists.

After attending a seminar on functional foods this week, I was inspired to choose my Top5 "SuperFoods" to share with the world. Perhaps this will inspire you to include some of these in your diet.

Top 5 SuperFoods

1. Eggs. Eggs get a bad reputation, but they are actually a very nutritious food. Eggs are one of the most versatile foods- think about how many ways eggs can be prepared (scrambled, boiled, fried, poached, etc). Additionally, eggs are an inexpensive source of protein. They also are high in lutein, a corotenoid which promotes eye and skin health. More specifically, a research study at Tufts has shown that luteincan protect against eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

2. Salmon It's delicious, but salmon also provides high amounts of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids to promote heart health and brain function. Your parents were right when they said fish is "brain food". Another plus is salmon is very easy to prepare- simply bake or broil with lemon juice, garlic, dill, and/or other spices. Not sold on salmon? Try tuna, which offers many of the same benefits as salmon.

3. Sweet Potatoes. This fantastic vegetable is high in vitamin A, a nutrient which is known for improving eyesight. The bright orange color is a clear indicator that this superfood is packed with nutrition.
sweet potatoes have a great flavor by themselves. While sweet potatoes are often served with sugar, butter, and other sweeteners, take the sweet potato challenge: consume a whole sweet potato without all the additives and be surprised at how good it naturally tastes. Added bonus: sweet potatoes are full of fiber, making you feel very full after consumption and less likely to indulge in extra calories during the day.

4. Spinach. Popeye's super-strength resulting from consuming a can of spinach is not all fiction. While you will probably not receive super-human strength instantaneously, spinach is very rich in antioxidants, calcium, and iron. By including spinach regularly in your diet, you, too, can be "strong the finish", with all of the nutritional benefits it has to offer.

5. Green Tea. Green tea is another very rich-antioxidant food. There have been links to green tea to manage and/or prevent a wide variety of health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity. Tea is delicious and calorie-free. An added bonus: it soothes you on a cold day or when you are feeling ill.

These are my Top 5 SuperFoods. What are yours?

Diet and Weight Loss

Here is a question I recently received from

My doctor has diagnosed me with diabetes and has told me to lose weight. I have heard about high protein diets, low fat/high carb diets, and many others. I want a sound diet instead of a fad. What type of diet is best given my situation?

A sound diet instead of a fad diet is the way to go. In most instances, fad diets are only a quick fix, omitting key food groups and depleting necessary calories and nutrients and should be used on a long term basis.

To be successful, choose a balanced diet that contains all of the food groups (starch, fruit, vegetables, dairy, fat, and protein). It is imperative that none of these components are omitted.

Weight change is based on something called "energy expenditure". This is the balance of what goes in and what goes out. By cutting calories, weight loss is achieved. At the same time, consuming more calories than needed results in weight gain. Keep a food diary to get a good picture of your typical intake and analyze to find ways you can improve.

Along with diet, regular physical activity will also help you obtain your weight loss goals.

The key to weight loss is to make small, achieveable goals and to not get discouraged. Weight loss is a process; a good weight loss should be 1-2# per week on average. Also don't get discouraged when you hit a plateau area of weight loss.

As always, consult a registered dietitian to help you with diet planning and weight loss goals. Also, speak with your primary care provider before starting any exercise or weight loss plan.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Freaky Eaters

Earlier this week, I was introduced to a new television program entitled "Freaky Eaters" on the TLC network. This show documents people with some very unusual food addictions. As a registered dietitian (RD), this show naturally intrigued me. I saw a brief snippet of the show, in which the gentleman featured in the episode claimed that he lived off a diet of 4 cheeseburgers a day. Everyday. This lead me to question "What kind of nutrient intake would one receive from solely eating 4 cheeseburgers a day?".

To explore this more thoroughly, I did a brief nutrient analysis. USDA has a great resource for anyone to track their nutrient intake. Using this program, I yielded results for just what a 4 cheeseburger a day diet entails.

First, I analyzed how this diet measured up with MyPyramid recommendations based upon eat food group. Below are the results (Intake denotes what is provided by the cheeseburger diet. Recommendations denote what is recommended by MyPyramid):

Milk Intake 1.1 cup equivalent
Milk Recommendation 3 cup equivalent

Meat and Beans Intake 4.3 oz equivalent
Meat and Beans Recommendation 6 oz equivalent

Vegetables Intake 1 cup equivalent
Vegetables Recommendation 3 cup equivalent

Fruits Intake 0 cup equivalent
Fruits Recommendation 2 cup equivalent

Grains Intake 10.5 oz equivalent
Grains Recommendation 7 oz equivalent

Or, in percentages, for those who like numbers:
Pyramid Categories Percent Recommendation
Milk 37%
Meat and Beans 72%
Vegetables 33%
Fruits 0%
Grains 150%

I then explored the nutrient values for the diet. This chart denotes the actual intake based upon recommended intake.

Nutrient Your Intake Recommendation
Food Energy/Total Calories (kcals) 1402 2294
Protein (gm) 72 46
Carbohydrate (gm) 142 130
Total Fiber (gm) 7 25
Total Fat (gm) 59.3 31.2 - 54.5
Saturated Fat (gm) 24.9 < 15.6
Monounsaturated Fat (gm) 22 **
Polyunsaturated Fat (gm) 6 **
Linoleic (omega 6) (gm) 5.3 12
Alpha Linolenic (omega 3) (gm) 0.8 1.1
Cholesterol (mg) 183 < 300
Vitamin A (mcg RAE) 152.4 700
Vitamin C (mg) 20.3 75
Vitamin E (mg a-TE) 1.7 15
Thiamin (mg) 0.9 1.1
Riboflavin (mg) 1.5 1.1
Niacin (mg) 17.2 14
Folate (mcg, DFE) 269.2 400
Vitamin B6 (mg) 1.1 1.3
Vitamin B12 (mcg) 5.2 2.4
Calcium (mg) 762 1000
Phosphorus (mg) 756.9 700
Magnesium (mg) 121.9 310
Iron (mg) 11.9 18
Zinc (mg) 12.6 8
Selenium (mcg) 87.9 55
Potassium (mg) 1270 4700
Sodium (mg) 3144 1500 - 2300

What this chart demonstrates is that this diet insufficient, as it does not meet the recommended daily requirements for many necessary nutrients. This diet lacks in calories; fiber; monounsaturated fat; polyunsaturated fat; omega 3 and 6 fats; cholesterol; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; thiamin, folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium. This diet meets and/or exceeds the requirements for protein, carbohydrate, total fat, saturated fat, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and sodium.

Also keep in mind that this analysis was based upon cheeseburgers alone. It did not contain the usual accompaniment of a large soda and fries. In this case, I would imagine the calories, fat, and sodium would be exceeded by a long shot.

In conclusion, 4 cheeseburgers per day is not an adequate diet for anyone. An in-depth look of the lack of key nutrients proves this. While a cheeseburger can fit into a healthy diet in moderation, the same adage goes for all foods- "There can be too much of a good thing". So please be sure that your diet includes a variety of different kinds of foods from each of the food groups.

Also, before going out, check to verify the nutrient intake of foods. Most restaurants have nutrition information available and the new food labeling laws will make this information more available at more restaurants and wherever food is purchased.

Has anyone else seen this show? Thoughts?