By Annabella He
MGH Dietetic Intern
It’s 2017! At the start of year, you may be making a New Year’s resolution to better manage your diabetes by eating healthier and exercising more. In order to stick to the plan, your New Year’s resolutions should be specific, measurable and reasonable. The following are some specific tips to get you started. Pick one or a couple to work on!
- Cut down on portion size: The amount of food you eat for each meal has a huge impact on your blood glucose and weight control. Having a smaller meal keeps your glucose and insulin levels more stable. Also research shows that lowering total calorie intake helps with long-term weight loss, so portion control is the key. Use food labels and measuring cups to accurately gauge your intake.
- Eat breakfast: Have a filling breakfast to keep yourself full for longer. Eating breakfast reduces your hunger levels later in the day. A balanced breakfast like whole-wheat cereal with low fat milk and nuts, or scrambled egg with some vegetables are good options. Instead of topping the toast with butter, try avocado to make it tasty and healthy.
- Make a balanced plate: Fill half plate with fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate starch.
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables: We always say eat more vegetables, but the kinds of vegetables we eat also matter. Starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, winter squash and potatoes are high in carbohydrate. Eating too much of those will increase your blood sugar, so it’s important to moderate the portion size of these vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, salad greens and beets contain little or no carbohydrate. Eating more of those vegetables not only stabilize your blood sugar level, but also help fill you up without gaining much weight.
- Choose healthy snacks: It’s okay to have some snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable and promote energy levels. Again, make sure to control the portion size and make healthy choices. Here are some examples of healthy snacks: whole fruits, cut vegetables, almonds, Greek yogurt and low-fat popcorn.
- Learn a new healthy recipe every month: Search for new healthy recipes and practice. Cooking at home is fun and it saves money. You are in full control of what’s in your meal. Also, by December, you will master cooking 12 recipes. How exciting is that?!
- Drink more water: The daily recommendation is 8 cups of water or other non-caffeinated beverages. Drinking enough water helps you stay hydrated and energetic. Sometimes you may feel hungry, but actually you are dehydrated. Drinking water helps you to not get hunger and thirst confused.
- Go to bed early and get enough sleep: Going to bed early keeps you from eating too late at night. Also, getting a good night sleep helps your body process carbohydrate and has a positive effect on weight control.
- Exercise more: Try different types of exercise such as walking, running, hiking, yoga or a group class at the gym. Get a pedometer or use phone app to record your steps while walking. Recording your steps can motivate you to try to reach a higher goal by walking more miles.
- Stay up to date with medical appointments: See your provider regularly to make sure everything is going well with your diabetes and that you are up to date on your health screenings (including eye exams).
Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE
By Melanie Schermerhorn, Dietetic Intern
Most of us have heard the phrase, “everything in moderation.” Many say moderation is the key to success; for someone who has diabetes this phrase is especially true when it comes to what you eat. Moderation in relation to healthy eating habits, especially portion control, can have a huge effect on your overall health! To break the phrase “everything in moderation” down further, let’s talk about what it means. What your healthcare providers are saying is: eat a balanced diet most of the time, but do not deprive yourself of the not-so-healthy things you enjoy. In other words, it’s alright to eat them but be sure to have them less frequently and in a smaller portion.
With diabetes this is important for your blood sugar management. The goal is to not completely deny yourself things like chocolate chip cookies, but instead maintain a healthy lifestyle while still treating yourself. A tip to do this is buy smaller portion sizes, so having one small cookie won’t have as much of an effect on your blood sugar as a larger one would. Another great way to keep track of your portions is reading the labels on packages for serving sizes. Sometimes a package could be more than one serving! Sharing a baked good with a friend instead of eating the whole thing can help you consume less as well. You could make homemade treats with healthier ingredients like in the recipe below so you aren’t consuming a heavily processed carbohydrate. So aim to keep your portions in check and when it comes to sweets “Everything in moderation!”
Recipe: Healthy Banana Pancakes: Combine 1 ripe banana, 2 large eggs, and a few shakes of cinnamon in a bowl until smooth. Heat up a pan on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Put a few spoon fulls of the “batter” into the pan. Cook until lightly brown on each side and serve.
Post content reviewed by Department of Nutrition and Food Services
Research shows that cooking more meals at home encourages healthy eating, but many people feel they don’t have time to cook dinner during the week. If time (or lack of it) is what’s holding you back, here are a couple of time-saving tips for getting a jump-start on your meal. Dedicate some time during the weekend to plan your menu and chop all the veggies you will need for the coming week. If you need to pull a meal together quickly, frozen veggies are a good choice since all the chopping and peeling has been done for you.
Cleaning up after the meal can sometimes be just as time-consuming as the prep work. Save time on the dishes by making meals that can be cooked in one pot or skillet. For example: stir-fry strips of chicken breast or other lean protein with seasonal veggies with a little olive oil in a large skillet for a quick and easy summer meal. A Croc-Pot® or other slow cooker is another great tool for making a variety of easy, one-pot meals.
Okay, now that we have a game plan, here are a few good reasons for making a habit out of cooking more at home:
- Healthy Options: Many restaurant meals are high in calories, sodium, and fat. Not to mention the portions served are often larger than the recommended serving size. Cooking at home means you have control over what goes on your plate and can easily substitute in healthy ingredients (and even experiment with different flavors). Using measuring cups/spoons and kitchen scales can also help you keep an eye on portion size.
- Save Money: Eating out several times a week can be expensive! Making more meals at home will save money in the long term. In many cases, leftovers from dinner can be easily reheated for lunch the next day. During the winter, you can easily make an extra batch of soup or chili and freeze in serving-size portions. Defrost later for an easy workday lunch or weeknight dinner.
- Involve the Whole Family: Sharing a meal is a favorite way to bond with loved ones. Think of cooking at home as another opportunity for spending time with friends and family by making meal prep a group activity. This way one person isn’t expected to cook the whole dinner for everyone. Plus, involving kids in the kitchen has been known to help with develop healthy eating habits later in life.
If you’re new to cooking at home, start small. Try making just one meal a week at first. As you practice skills in the kitchen, you’ll develop confidence to cook more often. Bon appétit!
(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)
By Veronica Salsberg, MS
It’s estimated that approximately 26 million Americans, or just over 8% of the population, are living with diabetes. Nearly 3 times as many Americans may have prediabetes. Many people believe a diabetes diagnosis means the end to indulging in their favorite foods, making this festive time of year filled with holiday parties and traditional family meals suddenly feel especially stressful. Yet others believe any attempts at maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays are doomed to fail. The truth is neither of these is the case! You can still enjoy celebrations with friends and family without that all-or-nothing mentality.
Heading out to a holiday party? Follow these tips to help you stay on track this season:
- Stick to your normal eating routine as much as possible both leading up to the party and afterwards
- Never go to a party or event hungry. Have a small snack with a little protein, healthy carbohydrate and fat (such as a cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit or raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons of hummus) beforehand
- Hydrate! We often feel hungry when we’re dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day
- Don’t graze from the appetizer table. Use a plate and serve yourself small portions
- Use smaller plates to help control portions. Stick with 1 small plate of appetizers and 1 small dessert (or split 2 small desserts with a friend or relative)
- If you’re drinking alcohol*, alternate with water or seltzer. Flavored, calorie-free seltzers are a fun and festive non-alcoholic beverage that won’t leave you feeling deprived (*Check with your doctor if drinking alcohol is ok. General recommendations are no more than 1 drink/day for women and no more than 2 drinks/day for men)
- Bring your own healthy snacks to your next party. If you’re hosting, provide your guests with plenty of healthy options!
Helping to cook the holiday feast this year? Talk to your loved ones about putting a healthier spin on traditional recipes. Save on calories and fat and boost flavor in mashed potatoes by swapping out cream and butter for low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh snipped chives. On stuffing duty? Use whole wheat bread for added fiber and nutrients, and replace the melted butter with olive or canola oil. Check out the recipes below for ideas for healthier, but still delicious, holiday side dishes!
This green bean dish is just under 100 calories per serving, making it a much healthier alternative to the traditional green bean casserole.
Mushroom and Leek Stuffing ~ MyRecipes
Full of fresh vegetables and herbs, and with fewer than 200 calories per serving this stuffing is sure to satisfy your taste buds without breaking the calorie bank.
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots ~ MyRecipes
Try mashed sweet potatoes as an alternative to traditional mashed potatoes this holiday season. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A. Crispy shallots and fresh rosemary add flavor without adding to your waistline.
Butternut and Barley Pilaf ~EatingWell
Simple yet bursting with fresh flavors of parsley, lemon, and garlic, this dish has the added health benefits of whole grains from the barley and vitamin A from the butternut squash. It’s low in fat and calories and high in fiber which means you can indulge without guilt!
Mini Apple Pies with Cheddar ~ Eating Well
Save room for dessert! These adorable mini pies mean automatic portion control. The white whole wheat flour, oats, pecans, and abundance of apples means each little pie has about 5 g of fiber!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and tasty holiday season!