Sunday, November 12, 2017

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Are you at risk of diabetes?  About 1 in 4 Americans have diabetes and don’t even know it.  About 23 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and 7 million of us don’t even know it.  Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes.  We can take some steps to lower our risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.  The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of information on diabetes and even a Diabetes Risk Test you can take.

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.  They used to call these juvenile diabetes and adult diabetes.  However, so many Americans, even those at a young age are getting Type 2 diabetes that they no longer refer to this as adult onset diabetes. 
  • Type 1 – Usually kids or young adults get this type of diabetes, that is why it used to be called juvenile diabetes.  This type affects about 5% of Americans.  The body does not produce the insulin needed to get sugar (glucose) into the cells so blood sugar rises.  People with Type 1 are put on insulin therapy and other treatments and taught to manage their diabetes through medication and diet.
  • Type 2 – This is the more common type of diabetes.  Blood sugar (glucose) levels rise because the body isn’t using insulin well.  The body tries to make extra insulin to handle the rising blood sugar but over time the body can’t make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. 

What are 3 Steps to lowering your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes?
  1.  Take off some weight -  Even a Few Pounds:  a healthy weight is one way to help prevent Type 2 1diabetes.  If overweight, one doesn’t have to lose a lot of weight to improve their health.  
  •  Drop a few pounds - even a loss of 10-15 pounds can lead to a big improvement in your health.
  •  Keep a normal weight – if you already are at a normal weight, work to keep it there.  Do what my nutrition teacher, Mrs. Osborne did.  When she gained 5 pounds over her normal weight, she focused on losing those 5 pounds.  If you have lost some weight, focus on keeping those lost pounds off.  Being at a normal weight is a great way to reduce one’s risk of many health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes. 
 2.       Physical activity – being active helps you use up the sugar (glucose) in your blood as it is burned off for energy. In particular, going for a walk after eating a meal is especially helpful.
  • Be active every day – it doesn’t mean going to the gym every day.  Go for a walk, do some yoga at home.  Housework and yard work also counts as being active
  • Get off the couch.  A local physical trainer named her company, “Off Da Couch” as she wanted to emphasize sitting less and exercising more.  
Take a walk
 3.  Healthy eating – Cutting back, not on carbs, but on fat and the number of calories you take in. 

a.     Cut back on fat and calories.  Going out to eat?  Look up the menu online before you go.  Fast Food and other restaurants such as Chipotle, Panera, McDonald’s post their menus and nutrition information on line.  Take a few minutes to look down the nutrition information for menu items for Fat Calories in the foods.  Choose the food with less fat and especially less saturated fat.  Choose the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the fried chicken sandwich.  Instead of a Large French fries, get the Medium French Fries.  Small changes can make big differences in the amount of fat and calories in a meal.
b.      Eat breakfast every day – not only will this energize your morning but people who eat breakfast every day are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
c.       Cut back or eliminate the sugary drinks – so much added sugar in sodas, fruit punches, the juice drinks that masquerade as real juice.  Research has found sugary drinks are related to an increase in Type 2 diabetes.  So cut out or cut back on the sugary drinks in your day. Choose water, unsweetened ice tea, flavored water.
d.      Whole grains – eating more whole grains lowers your risk of Type 2 diabetes.  The fiber in the whole grains slows the absorption of sugars.  Switch out some white bread for some whole grain bread.  Instead of potato chips at Subway, choose some Sun Chips which are whole grain.  At Chipotle, choose the brown rice.  Simple changes can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Whole wheat bread
Take a walk after lunch this week.  Eat breakfast every day and have some oatmeal on weekends.  Check out the Fast Food menus for lower fat options.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cut the Added Sugar

So much added sugar in our diets.  We notice most of the added sugar in our diets, like the added sugar in candy, ice cream or desserts.  But so much added sugar is “stealth sugar” in our foods.  Manufacturers love to add sugar to common foods like bread and pasta sauce.  There is also so much confusion about “sugar” as some people avoid “sugar” and then end up avoiding milk because it has lactose, a natural sugar in milk. Or they stop eating fruit like bananas, as they mistakenly say, “bananas are high in sugar”, when bananas have NO ADDED SUGAR.  So, what should you know about added sugar?  Consumer Reports has provided an excellent guide called, Eat Smarter, Eat Healthier which includes information about we can cut back on the added sugar in our diet.  

Can you enjoy some added sugar?
Yes.  Who doesn’t like dessert, some ice cream, some cookies or other treat every day?  I do.  The problem is we eat way too many foods with added sugar and manufacturers have sneaked added sugar into so many foods that we aren’t even aware of all the added sugar we take in each day.

How much Added Sugar do Americans eat each day?
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports Americans eat:
17 teaspoons (73 grams) of added sugar
Teenagers consume 20 teaspoons (82 grams) a day – the most of all age groups – sugared soda anyone??  The Centers for Disease Control found that kids are now getting about 16% of their total calories from added sugar.  
How much Added Sugar should we get in a day?
  • 9 teaspoons men (36 grams) or 150 calories
  • 6 teaspoons women and children (25 grams) or 100 calories
  • Children under 2 should have no added sugars in their diet according to the American Heart Association. 
American Heart Association

Is Added Sugar linked to weight gain?
Consumer Reports claims:  Sugar:  The Gateway to Weight Gain. Yes, we should be “cutting the carbs” in our diet, the added sugar carbs.  They report that manufacturers have convinced us saturated fat is bad so we began buying low fat foods loaded with added sugar and refined flour.  This was no healthier than the saturated fat we were trying to avoid.  The high sugar, refined flour foods may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in our country and it related diseases, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Consumer Reports highlights a study from 2015 of 1,700 adults that found people with the highest intake of sugars were 54% more likely to be obese or overweight compared to those who had the lowest intake of sugars.
Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D, R.D. is quoted as saying, “It’s settled science that a high intake of added sugars in the American diet, is associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity-conditions that are directly linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes.”

How to find the stealth added sugars in foods:
Manufacturers make it hard to limit the added sugars in our diet.  Not only do food manufacturers add sugar to so many foods but they add sugar that many of us don’t even recognize as sugar.  New food labels are coming that will tell you how much added sugar is in a food, but until then look at the ingredients to see if sugar has been added. So many people buy what they think is “juice” only to find it is a “juice drink” with lots of added sugar.  If sugar is one of the ingredients, it is not 100% juice. 
Cereal – look for how much sugar has been added to the cereal you or your child eats. 

Added Sugars
 Dr. Sears in his book, The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood, teaches kids to look for cereals with less than 6 grams of added sugar per serving. And to choose cereals with no artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
Other suggestions Dr. Sears makes in his book to cut back on added sugars:
  • Soda:  replace with water, or sparkling water and 100% fruit juice          
  • Juice Drinks (and fruit punch, fruitades like lemonade)–  replace with water mixed with 100% juice.  Consumer Reports notes that 7% of the calories of kids comes from fruit drinks and soda.
  • Hi sugar cereal – choose a low sugar cereal and add cinnamon, berries, raisins
 And look at the yogurt you are buying to see how much sugar has been added. 

Sweetened tea is big in the south and it certainly tastes good.  To cut back on the added sugar, my daughter first mixed the sugar sweetened ice tea half and half with unsweetened ice tea.  She gradually kept adding more and more unsweetened ice tea and now just chooses the unsweetened ice tea in a restaurant.  Ice tea is quite healthy but sugar sweetened ice tea is not so healthy.
Look for the hidden added sugars in bread, pasta sauce, salad dressings, and peanut butter.  Cutting back on these hidden sugars is a way to get some of the added sugars out of your diet.
Hidden sugars can include:  agave syrup, cane sugar, coconut sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, raw sugar, honey and words that end in -ose, like fructose, maltose, sucrose.

So try to cut back on the carbs in your diet, the added sugar carbs.  Look at labels this week, look at the ingredients.  Are there foods you can swap out to get rid of some of the added sugar?  Choose real juice instead of fruit drinks.  Choose a cereal with less added sugar.  Choose pasta sauce with no added sugar.  One almost has to be a detective to cut back on the added sugar in their diet.  I enjoy desserts and know that the desserts I eat have added sugar.  But we do try to cut the added sugar in our bread, peanut butter, pasta sauce and we always buy 100% real juice. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Common Nutrition Myths- Part 2

So many nutrition myths.  Amazing how people can be so concerned about their health and nutrition and then get fooled by some nutrition myth.  In my last blog we looked at nutrition myths about eggs and gluten free diets.  This week let’s look at myths about snacking and the idea that all calories are equal.  As noted last week, Snapchat posted some nutrition myths from the article on Self, 15 So-Called “Healthy” Eating Habits That Are Anything But.

1.        Nutrition Myth:  Snacking
How many times have you heard, “snacking is bad for you”, “don’t snack between meals”.   Why?  Because some people think snacking is bad for your health.  In fact, snacking can not only be a good, healthy idea for all of us but snacking is especially important for kids who need snacks between meals.  Snacks can be a healthy addition to your day.  Just choose snacks from the food groups.  As Julia Axelbaum, R.D. tells Self, “when you go too long between meals without eating,” it can be difficult to not overindulge when you do eat.  What to snack on?  Aim for 2 food groups in your snack.  Snacks for kids should include at least 2 food groups.  Kids should be served milk at meals but snacks are a good time to serve real, 100% juice or water.  Snacks can add nutrition to your day.  And for picky eaters, snacks can add nutrition that growing bodies need.  Mayo Clinic recommends snacks be about 100-300 calories depending on your daily calorie needs.
  • Yogurt + fresh or frozen fruit
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese
  • Fruit, veggie and cheese kebabs – cherry tomatoes with feta cheese, strawberries+ grapes + cheese, melon chunks. 
Tangerine Pumpkins
 Mayo Clinic has a list of healthy snack ideas:
  •  Fresh or dried fruit
  • Nuts or nut butters (check ingredients and avoid nut butters containing palm oil)
  • Whole-grain crackers or cerea
  • Vegetable sticks with some Ranch dressing 
  •  Hummus or cheese
  • Yogurt 
Nut Butters
Bring some healthy snacks with you to work or to the after-school game.  Have some cut up veggies, a handful of nuts in a baggie, some fresh fruit, some dried fruit. 

2.       Nutrition Myth:  All Calories are Created Equal
Always amazing how so many people will cut the carbs but not the fat in their diet.  The National Health Goals focus on cutting 2 types of calories – reducing our calories from saturated fats and from added sugars.  Fats have more calories than carbs as fats have 9 calories a gram and carbs have four calories per gram.  The first thing a person who wants to lose weight should do is cut out some of the fat in their diet, especially saturated fat which is linked to heart disease.  And cutting out the added sugar is also healthy as Americans have way too much added sugar in their diet.  Just cutting back on carbs is not a good idea.  Carbs are a major source of energy for our bodies.  We want healthy carbs in our diet such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains.  We also want protein in our diet for building muscle, tissue, repair, for healthy immune systems.  We need some fat in our diets as fat helps protect the organs in our body and helps us the vitamins, A, D, E and K.  Choose fat from plant oils like olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower or corn oil. 
When choosing “calories” choose calories that will add nutrients to your day.  As the dietitian, Lauren Blake, points out eating a banana adds only 100 calories but is also packed with many vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  So much healthier than 100 calories from a candy bar which has a lot of added sugar. 
Looking for something to quench that thirst?  Water is always a good choice.  Or some 100% real juice.  But stay away from the juice drinks and the soft drinks which are loaded with added sugar.  The next time you go to buy some “juice”, look at the ingredients.  If you see added sugar, lots of food coloring, and only a small amount of juice, put it back on the shelf as it is not real juice. 
Many more nutrition myths are outlined in the Self article.  Don’t be fooled by nutrition myths. 
1.        Enjoy some healthy snacks by focusing on:
a.       Fresh fruit
b.       100% Juice
c.       Fresh Vegetables
d.       Low-fat dairy
e.       Whole grains
2.       Focus on Healthy Calories – yes, cut the carbs but focus on cutting added sugars and keep the fruit, veggies and whole grains in your diet.  Cut the saturated fat but keep the plant oils like olive oil, safflower oil in your diet.  
Healthy Sea Turtle Snacks for Kids