It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us, and with all of the festivities can come the seemingly inescapable holiday weight gain, or so you may think. Although a research study found perceived weight gain throughout the holidays to average around 3.5 pounds, in reality, actual weight gain during the holiday season averaged just under 1 pound.² However, the same study found that individuals who started the holiday season at an overweight or obese Body Mass Index (BMI) gained more weight than those with a BMI of <25.³ This is concerning for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes, as excess weight is thought to be a significant contributor to insulin resistance.⁴
Although the holidays might seem like the time of year when dietary moderation is the last thing on anyone’s mind, it can actually be a great time to focus on simple nutrition strategies that can help set you up for a lifetime of well-managed blood glucose levels. By identifying factors that may lead to holiday weight gain, and using simple tips, you can enjoy a healthier holiday season without deprivation or possible negative health consequences.
Mindfulness Is Key
One factor in holiday weight gain may be the abundance of food offerings within arm’s reach anywhere you turn. From candy dishes at work to cookie platters at home, the temptation can be hard to resist. For individuals with diabetes, overindulging in holiday classics can be especially damaging. Mindless eating of carbohydrate-rich foods may lead to increases in blood glucose levels, which may pose health problems in the short and long-term. To help prevent dangerous spikes in blood glucose, we need to focus on minimizing temptation and practice mindful eating strategies. Research shows that by simply placing goodies in opaque colored containers instead of transparent glassware, consumption can be decreased significantly.⁵ Research also shows that daily food journaling can be an effective strategy to increase awareness of food consumption and help support weight loss efforts.⁶
Encourage Simple Recipe Swaps
Many holiday dishes are packed full of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, which can pose great challenges when it comes to effective blood glucose control. While you may be aware of these consequences, you may find it hard to alter a traditional holiday recipe. By choosing ingredient substitutions that improve health while maintaining the taste and texture of the original version, you might just be swayed to tweak Grandma’s apple pie recipe. Try some of the following simple swaps to help holiday favorites have less of an impact on blood glucose levels:
- When preparing recipes that call for all-purpose flour, a rich source of refined carbohydrates, try substituting one half of the flour for 100% whole-wheat flour. This swap helps to increase the fiber content and may help lower the glycemic load of the recipe.
- Substitute one ounce of baking chocolate with 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to cut 105 calories from the recipe.
Becoming more mindful of food choices and adjusting favorite holiday recipes to reduce the overall caloric value can help you build healthier habits any time of the year!
Boden G, et al. Excessive caloric intake acutely causes oxidative stress, GLUT4 carbonylation, and insulin resistance in healthy men. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Sep 9;7(304):304re7. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aac4765. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26355033
²Yanovski, JA, et al. A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain. N Engl J Med 2000; 342:861-867. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200003233421206
³Yanovski, JA, et al.
⁴NIDDK. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. NIH Publication No. 14-4893. June 2014. Retrieved from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/insulin-resistance-prediabetes/Pages/index.aspx
⁶Hollis, J. (2008) News release, Kaiser Permanente. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August Vol 35. http://www.kpchr.org/research/public/News.aspx?NewsID=3
I have partnered with Sunsweet PlumSmart Light and Amaz!n Prune Light to bring this content to you. Although I have been compensated for this post, all opinions are my own.
If you are like most of my clients, from the day you heard the words “you have diabetes,” you have probably felt like the list of foods and drinks you need to avoid is a mile long. Trying to keep a list of “good foods” and “bad foods” in your head is not only exhausting, but it can also be unnecessary and even unhealthy. To manage diabetes, you need to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. That means that very few foods or beverages need to be completely off limits. Sure, portion control and moderation are key, but the same can be said about any food that any of us eat, whether we have diabetes or not. Telling yourself you can never have a certain food or drink can backfire. As soon as you tell yourself you can never have something, guess what you want way more than you ever did before? Telling yourself a food or drink is completely off limits causes feelings of deprivation, which lead to cravings, and eventually may even lead to binge eating. As we kick off National Diabetes Month this November, my mission is to show you how you can still eat and drink what you love while successfully managing diabetes.
One big myth I hear from my clients time and time again is that juice is a complete no-no for anyone with diabetes. Most individuals that I meet with who have diabetes think that juice needs to be reserved only for times when blood glucose levels are crashing. But that’s actually not the case. If you love juice, you don’t have to feel like it is completely off limits. Sure, water should always be the go-to beverage for people with diabetes, but small amounts of juice can still be included as part of a healthy diabetes meal plan. The key is knowing how to choose the right juice and the best portion for your own individual health needs.
Not all juice is created equal
Some brands of juice are a better choice for those with diabetes than others. Two brands I like to recommend are PlumSmart Light and Amaz!n Prune Light. I prefer these varieties since they contain fewer calories and sugar compared to full sugar beverages. Less sugar and less carbohydrates per serving means that these juices still provide great flavor without having as large of an impact on blood glucose levels. For instance, per serving Amaz!n Prune Light contains only 100 calories and 8 grams of sugar and is good for helping to regulate digestion. PlumSmart Light provides a good way to get in your daily fiber contains with only 60 calories per serving and 60% less sugar and calories than other leading juice cocktails.
How to Work Juice Into Your Meal Plan
How to Choose The Right Juice For You
When you are choosing a beverage, it’s not just calories and grams of sugar that matter. Fiber matters too. Fiber helps to slow digestion, allowing you to feel full longer and allowing blood glucose levels to rise and fall more gradually. Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can be helpful in managing blood glucose levels as well as cholesterol levels. There is a misconception that fruit juice contains very little to no fiber at all, but that isn’t true for all juices. Both PlumSmart Light and Amaz!n Prune Light contain fiber from the fruit of the plum, which can be a helpful way to boost your overall daily fiber intake. A high fiber diet is essential to good health. Taking in enough fiber each day can help promote weight maintenance and blood sugar control, in addition to digestive health. So how much juice is okay to have when you have diabetes? When choosing a fiber containing juice, such as PlumSmart Light and Amaz!n Prune Light, you can determine the appropriate portion of juice based on your carbohydrate counting goals. If you are allowed 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, an 8 ounce serving of PlumSmart Light or a 4-ounce serving of Amaz!n Prune Light could be balanced into a meal containing 30 grams of other carbohydrates.
Boosting Hydration with Flavor
Having juice on hand can also be beneficial in helping you to reach your daily hydration goals. If you struggle to drink enough water each day, adding a hint of flavor to your glass may help you to consume more. Staying hydrated is essential when it comes to managing diabetes. Even slight dehydration can cause your energy levels to drop. And as I am sure you know, it is a lot harder to be motivated to eat well, prepare healthy foods, or exercise when you are tired. In addition, dehydration can cause higher blood glucose levels. As blood glucose levels rise, you can become even more dehydrated as your kidneys try to flush out the excess glucose by producing more urine. Making sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day (64 ounces total) is key to keeping energy levels up and blood glucose levels down.
If you struggle to drink plain water, why not try adding 2-3 tablespoons of PlumSmart Light or Amaz!n Prune Light to an eight-ounce glass of water for a hint of sweetness. This is a great way to boost the flavor of your drink while consuming minimal amounts of carbohydrates. You can even take it a step further and freeze the juice in an ice cube tray. Then simply add 2-3 cubes per glass for a refreshing beverage that will stay chilled and flavored while you drink.
As you celebrate National Diabetes Month this November, remember that following a diabetes meal plan means that you are eating a well-balanced, nutrient rich diet- a diet that everyone could benefit from regardless of if they have diabetes or not. Don’t set yourself up for feelings of frustration and deprivation by focusing on “yes” and “no” foods, but instead, understand how can you balance the foods and drinks you love into a healthy meal plan.
The Halloween countdown is on!
With only a few days left until Halloween, why not get into the spirit by treating yourself and your family with healthy ‘treats’ that are more fun to eat than any candy! It’s amazing how much nutrition you can pack into your family when their food becomes artwork. And don’t worry, I have very limited artistic abilities, so if I can pull this off, you can too! All of these ‘food art’ ideas took less than five minutes to create and were a major hit. Please make sure to share your favorite ways of having fun with your food too 🙂
Banana Ghost, Cheesy Pumpkin, and Peanut Butter & Apple Witch
High Protein Ghosts with Antioxidant Packed Pumpkins
Stuffed Pepper Jack-o-Latern
Peanut Butter Ghostly Graveyard
Yes, it’s a little but of work. But it’s also a lot of fun! And just look at the reaction it gets 🙂
What food art creations do you and your family love?
It’s that time of year again. In just a little over two weeks, Halloween will be here and with it comes the piles of candy and temptation. Then, just when you think you can finally say goodbye to the last Reese’s, Thanksgiving pops up. Yup, it’s that time of year that we all love celebrating, but dread the results that it has on our waistlines. So what can you do to avoid this inevitable weight gain? Well first, stop thinking it’s inevitable! You don’t have to gain weight over the holidays, but if you decide in advance that you will, well guess what – you definitely will!
I’ll tell you a secret- I love sweets! Yup, I have chocolate chips and cookies in the house right now. If it were up to me, these foods wouldn’t be in my house at all because I have no willpower. If I’m around candy for too long, I eat it. Sound familiar? I know there are some people who could care less about sweets and desserts (and I hate them just a little for it), but I think sugary treats really do tempt most of us. So what’s the solution? Definitely don’t ban yourself from them. That’s actually the WORST thing you can do. Why? Think about it this way – imagine I just told you that you could NEVER have ice cream again. Were you thinking about ice cream a minute ago? Probably not. But let me guess, now you feel like raiding your locally grocery store and stock piling every pint of Ben & Jerry’s you can get your hands on, right? Deprivation does that. So don’t deprive yourself or you will definitely go overboard and gain weight during the holidays.
So what can you do? Treat yourself! Yup- go ahead -indulge, but before you do, just give your favorite treats a little bit of a makeover. I’ll tell you a quick little story – one of my favorite holiday treats used to be a Cinnabon. This was before I learned how to read a food label and the horror that I experienced when I discovered what was really in my favorite Christmas morning breakfast. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have eaten an occasional one since that sad, sad day of revelation, but it hasn’t tasted quite the same knowing the reality of how much sugar and fat it really contains.
As sad as that story I just told you is, it that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave an ooey-gooey warm cinnamon roll. I’d eat one everyday if I could. So that’s why this holiday season I decided to find a better way to enjoy my favorite treat. With a little research and experimenting, I came up with a version I think is on par with the mall food court version with a quarter of the calories. And the best part- no added sugars! What?! Yup- no added sugar- even in the icing! So this recipe is even perfect for those trying to lose weight or control blood sugar with diabetes. And it gets better- you can make it in minutes in the microwave! Yes! This is actually a mug cake recipe. If you don’t know what that is, you are missing out on a big, delicious trend (and don’t worry, I only discovered this trend like a week ago myself). To sum it up, you can make individual serving size cakes in a coffee mug – in the microwave! So amazing! I will definitely try to come up with more of these little cakes, but today, I share with you my very first mug cake recipe – Skinny Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Get ready to get excited about breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or any meal really- it’s healthy enough you can enjoy it anytime you want!)
- 1/4 cup oat flour
- 2 tbsp rolled oats
- 1/4 cup mashed banana
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp Truvia
- 1 each Medjool date pitted
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tbsp fat free cream cheese
- 2 tbsp low fat Greek yogurt plain or vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Truvia
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Spray a large mug (or two small mugs) with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together oat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and Truvia. Add in mashed banana and yogurt to form dough. In a separate bowl, mash the date and add in cinnamon and salt (you can also do this in a food processor and add in a bit of water for a thinner textured filling if desired).
Place ½ of dough into the mug. Pour ¾ of date filling on top and then add remaining dough. Cover with the remaining filling. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds or until cooked throughout.
While mug cake is baking, mix together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and Truvia in a small bowl or food processor. Top cinnamon roll with icing when warm. Remaining icing can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 186 Calories 32 gm Carbs, 3 gm Fiber, 8gm Protein, 2 gm Fat
I can’t wait to hear what you think!