Time to spring clean those cabinets stocked with the junk accumulated throughout the winter! It’s the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month (NNM) and we have a whole 31 days to make sure we are keeping our bodies and healthy eating habits right on track. It’s common to slip up around the holiday season, but NNM falls at the most fitting time of the year-perfectly placed between winter and spring. Out with the old decadent holiday treats, and in with the new freshly grown fruits and veggies!
NNM is a nutrition education campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its foundation. The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. Each year there is a new, designated theme for the month, and this year’s couldn’t be more appropriate for people with diabetes:, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” Encouraging personalized healthy eating styles, this year’s NNM recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions, as well as health concerns can all impact individual food choices.
Eating right is vital and goes a long way in controlling or preventing diabetes. But don’t worry, no special foods or complicated diets are necessary for people with diabetes to eat right.
A “diabetes diet” is simply eating foods high in nutrients, low in saturated fat, and moderate in calories. And believe it or not, this is actually an ideal diet for people without diabetes, though people with diabetes have to pay more attention to some food choices, especially carbs.
Carbs have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, but your body needs a certain amount of it for energy every day. You just need to be smart and aware about what types of carbs you eat. Limit highly refined carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, and junk foods. Instead focus on high-fiber, low glycemic index carbs.
High-fiber carbs digest more slowly than processed or refined varieties. This slow digestion can help keep blood sugar levels in control, provide lasting energy, and help you stay full longer. Some high-fiber foods that are less likely to spike your blood glucose levels than their refined counterparts are brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat or whole grain bread. Most high-fiber complex carbs are high in nutrient value, containing plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease, so be smart about the fats you eat. Not all fats are unhealthy; there are many that can have health benefits. But all fats do tend to be high in calories, so keep in mind to correctly manage your portion sizes.
One of the unhealthiest types of fats is saturated fats, found mainly in animal products such as red meat and whole milk dairy products. The best fats, called unsaturated fats, mainly come from plant sources. Try olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados.
To reduce your intake of unhealthy fats, cook with olive oil instead of butter or lard, trim any visible fat off of meat before cooking, and remove the skin from chicken or turkey. And instead of snacking on crackers or chips, try nuts or seeds.
Remember: improve your eating habits one step at a time. If you slip up one day, don’t get discouraged. It happens to everyone! And don’t restrict yourself to the point of misery. You are allowed to treat yourself from time to time in moderation! Focus on your overall improved eating habits rather than your mistakes. You’ll be springing into a healthy new body with sound eating habits in no time!
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, Joslin Registered Dietitians will be available to answer your food and nutrition questions! Stop by and visit the nutritionists in the Joslin Atrium on March 6 from 11 a.m. to noon, March 14 from 11 a.m. to noon, March 20 from 1 to 2 p.m., and March 27 from 1 to 2 p.m. If you cannot make it in person, follow us on Twitter @JoslinDiabetes and tweet us a question of your own with #JosFood. Be sure to check our Twitter feed once a day this month for an additional nutritional tip from one of our Registered Dietitians.
Also, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has proudly announced the sixth annual Registered Dietitian Day, set for March 13! Registered dietitians are the nation’s food and nutrition experts, committed to improving the health of their patients. They are advocates for advancing the nutritional status for all of us around the world. Take some time that Wednesday to thank your RD for their dedication in helping you manage and control your diabetes.
If you have any questions about your diet, a registered dietitian can be used as a good source of information. Make an appointment with one of Joslin’s certified diabetes educator dietitians by calling (617) 732-2440, or learn more by visiting the Joslin Nutrition Programs website.
Check back here all month long for more healthy eating content!