Eat This, Not That

Reducing your risk for type II diabetes…be aware of the food misconceptions

There are several things an individual can do to reduce his/her risk for diabetes.  Many people may begin by increasing their physical activity regimen, and others may upend their diet by making some drastic food choices.  It is well supported by physicians and dietitians that physical activity is one of the best ways to lose weight and lower blood sugar.  Increasing physical activity doesn’t mean hitting the gym 7 days a week but more so walking for 150 minutes a week at moderate-brisk pace.  Along with physical activity, a well balanced diet is extremely important but many people think that they have to cut out many types of food in order to prevent diabetes.  Below are a few misconceptions to avoid if you’re trying to improve your health and reduce your risk for type II diabetes.

Shying away from all ‘white foods.’
People think that all ‘white’ foods are bad.  Examples include white potatoes, white rice, white pastas, white bread, and the list goes on.  However, think about all of the foods that are white but oh so good for you: egg whites, cauliflower, onions, garlic, kohlrabi, parsnips, fennel, white corn, white beans, and many others.  The key with any well-balanced meal is just that- balance.  The recommendation is that at least half of your grains are whole grain.  For example, whole grain pasta and whole grain breads.  Just remember that balance is the key in any healthy eating meal plan and any diet that suggests removing a certain food type or food group perhaps isn’t the best option.

Drinking only skim milk.
One of the biggest misconceptions about milk is the amount of carbohydrate in each (cow’s) milk (i.e. whole milk, 2%, 1%, and skim).  In fact, these milks all contain the same amount of carbohydrate, vitamins, and protein.  The only difference between these milk options is the fat content.  Hence, 2% has only 2% milkfat, 1% has only 1% milkfat and so on.  The American Heart Association recommends that adults drink 1% milk or skim milk but that recommendation is for the low fat (heart healthy) components and has nothing to do with the carbohydrate amount.

Shunning fruit.
Since fruit has natural sugar many people think that they shouldn’t eat fruit if they’re trying to prevent type II diabetes.  However, fruit is rich in fiber and fiber is excellent for digestive health and helps you lose weight.  Fruit also contains a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are great for the body.  One recommendation is to limit the amount of fruit juice one has in a day because many fruits juices contain added sugars (and don’t contain fiber).  Hence, an apple a day won’t cause diabetes.

Cutting carbohydrates out completely.
Carbohydrates are not a bad thing.  In fact, experts recommend that over half of your calories in a day come from carbohydrates.  The brain’s primary source of fuel are carbohydrates, hence they need to be part of a healthy diet.  Additionally, people seldom realize that carbohydrates are in all types of food and not just breads and pastas.  Carbohydrates are in vegetables, fruits, milk, and yogurt too!  The best forms of carbohydrates are low-fat milk and yogurt, whole grains, whole fruit, and vegetables.  If you have specific dietary needs it is recommended that you speak with your physician or a dietitian before changing up your diet.  They can guide you on what well balanced healthy meals are best for you and your needs.