someone-getting-veggiesDiabetes is a condition that requires the individual to self-manage many different issues from planning healthy nutritious meals eaten at the best time intervals to establishing a regular physical activity and fitness routine to help keep blood sugar levels within optimal ranges. (1, 2)

As a nutritional consultant and healthy cooking skills coach, at the beginning counseling session with an individual or group, there are three main questions that I like to explore that will help in deciding the type of advice I will need to cover:

1. “Are you eating mostly for pleasure?
2. “Are you eating mostly for your health? or,
3. “Are you Eating Smart? (3)

For the first two questions, most people give quick answers which usually leans more towards the pleasure side (although a combination of both would be the best answer). Many would say they just eat whatever they feel like at the moment, without any thought to the health benefit that it is providing. While others would say they always try to decide what would work best for their diabetic diet, regardless of the taste appeal. But, I contend that food can be both healthy and enjoyable at the same time, especially when the individual embraces the art of cooking with healthy ingredients such as herbs, spices, healthy oils and natural flavor enhancers such as lemon or lime juice. It’s the third question that seems to provoke the most need for explanations. People ponder over what is meant by “eating smart,” and then conclude, “yes, at times I do eat smart, and at other times, I don’t.”

Eating Smart, by my own definition, simply means the act of putting thought into what you are eating with your health in mind. When one is practicing eating smart, you are keenly aware of what you are getting out of the foods you eat, how it affects your body, and how the food can be prepared for the best nutrition. (4) To answer the question with confidence, one would already be aware of your health risks, current health issues, and have made a commitment to make healthy choices the majority of the time (yes, we all know no one is perfect). Some people I meet have already done their homework and only need help with finding new recipes and other ideas to stay motivated; while others need help on creating their healthy eating plan that they will be able to manage and enjoy for the long haul.  

Now let’s examine the question, “Are You Eating Smart?” and evaluate how well you can answer the question. To assist in your self-assessment, review the Eating Smart statements below and check how many you do on a regular basis.

 Eating Smart Statements:

  •  I follow the Choose MyPlate Food Guide for planning healthy meals; keying in on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and other nutrient dense foods
  • I read and understand the Nutrition Facts Food Label to know what’s in my food
  • I control my portion sizes to control calories
  •  I eat at the right time intervals to keep my blood sugar levels under control
  • I adjust favorite recipes for better nutrition by increasing fiber or reducing the amount of fat, salt, and sugar content (e.g. use oatmeal or oat bran cereals in place of bread crumbs; use 1% or fat free dairy products)
  • I use healthy fats such as olive oils in cooking to maintain a healthy heart
  • I use healthier seasonings such as powders, herbs, natural spices and low-sodium seasonings (e.g., onion or garlic powder, low sodium soy sauce)
  • When eating out, I evaluated the menu and select from the lower calorie options

Through practicing Eating Smart, you’ll discover the pleasure of eating for health while keeping your blood glucose levels well within normal ranges! Eating Smart means that you are eating “mindfully” with careful thought, verses eating mindlessly. Eating mindlessly involves letting only your taste buds rule your choices, which usually comes with higher levels of fat, salt, or sugar. These foods are sometime referred to as comfort foods due to their pleasurable emotional appeal. However, I contend, that by practicing eating smart and creating a habit of eating for health and wellness, healthy foods become the new comfort foods that you crave such as the smell and flavor of the succulent fresh orange.

Remember, when it comes to healthy eating, it’s all about you and the choices you choose to make. (4)   

Over the course of the next couple of articles, I plan to explore all of these statements more in depth. Please feel free to make comments and provide ideas of what you would like to be explored in the future that will help you in your quest to eating smart and controlling your diabetes. Remember, in this column it’s always about you!

Yvonne is the owner of Y-EAT Right…Nutritional Consultant for Healthy Living, She conducts special workshops to promote healthy nutritional and living behaviors. To find out more about her services email her at: yeatright@aol.com or phone her at (414) 639-5660.   

References:
1.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). National Diabetes Statistics Report:
Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from here.
2.) National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (2014). Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes web page. Retrieved from here.
3.) Greer, Y. (2013). I’m I Eating Smart? Get Active Today. Milwaukee, WI: Active Across
America.
4.) Greer, Y. (2013). Diabetes and obesity: reducing your health risks. In: Real Life: The Hands
on, Pounds-off Guide, Milwaukee, WI: TOPS Club, Inc.