Holiday Eating with Diabetes

"Thanksgiving Dinner" by atl10trader is licensed under CC by 2.0
“Thanksgiving Dinner” by atl10trader is licensed under CC by 2.0

Personally, the fall and winter months are my favorite times of the year. The days get shorter, the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to change color in anticipation to the new season and festive events. The main reasons that I am a fan of the fall and winter months are because they are jam packed with holidays, family get-togethers and plenty of delicious food! But as a diabetic, holidays can be a challenging time because of all the temptation presented not only by the variety of different eats but also by imbibing in drink as well. We all know diabetes doesn’t prevent us from enjoying in the holiday festivities and eating delicious food but as a diabetic, we just need to properly plan for such events and have a greater amount of self-control.

To enjoy holiday meals with friends and family, follow some of these tips to prevent over eating while indulging in the flavors of the season!

  • Eat breakfast and/or snacks earlier in the day; the idea of saving carbs for a big meal may cause blood sugar to be more difficult to manage
  • Take a walk or another exercise session the day to lower your blood glucose
  • Limit the servings of starchy foods (potatoes, yams, rolls, stuffing); rather select one of the items or smaller portions of multiple items
  • Select vegetables served raw, grilled or steamed rather than in creams
  • Choose zero-calorie drinks such as water, tea or mineral water instead of sodas and other sugary beverages
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and take it with food; one alcoholic drink is:
    • 12 fl oz of beer
    • 5 fl oz of wine
    • 5 fl oz of 80 proof spirit
  • Enjoy holiday sweets but enjoy them in small portions, eat them slowly and savor the flavor and texture
  • After a big meal, take a walk to enjoy the cool weather with family and friends while also burning calories and removing yourself from the temptation of holiday treat

Even though diabetes is a condition that must be dealt with everyday including the most tempting of times during the holidays, it does not prevent the simple enjoyment of holiday meals and get-togethers. By following these simple steps and focusing on proper food choices and self-control, holiday meals and parties can be a time of great joy with friends, families and delicious foods! Cheers to the upcoming holidays and enjoy them in moderation!

Additional Holiday Eating Tips

Holiday Eating Infographic


Alcohol and Diabetes – You Wont Believe What Drinking Red Wine Does for Diabetes!

Alcohol is a double edged sword in the nutrition world. A little enjoyment each day has shown positive benefits in mental well-being such as reduced stress while also improving physical health by lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. There can however be “too much of a good thing” and drinking too much alcohol can hinder cardiovascular health by damaging heart muscles. Excessive alcohol consumption can also limit the effectiveness of white blood cells in the body which are responsible for keeping bacterial invaders at bay.

A recent study however has shown a positive relationship between the moderate consumption of red wine and management of type 2 diabetes.The study consisted of 224 participatents between ages 40 to 75 over a two year period consisting of alcohol abstaining type 2 diabetics that had their diabetes under control. They were randomly assigned to 150 ml of mineral water (control), white wine, or red wine with dinner for two years with wines and mineral water being provided by the study. All groups in this study followed a Mediterranean diet without restrictions on caloric intake. 87% of participants completed the trial with 80% drinking their daily dose of wine.

The results revealed that high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – the good kind of cholesterol – was increased significantly through the consumption of red wine while also having a more beneficial cholesterol ratio compared to the group that only drank mineral water. Participants that were in the wine group also had improved quality of sleep. This study suggests that moderate consumption of red wine among well controlled diabetics can be part of a healthy diet and is not only safe but also helps to modestly decrease cardio-metabolic risk.

Red wine contains a number of unique antioxidants that are hard to obtain through other sources. The alcohol in red wine also helps to manage post-meal spikes in blood sugar by absorbing the sugar and calories in the meal.

The Negative Effects of Soda Pop

From my previous post regarding soda and diabetes, I’ve stumbled upon even more information revealing soda to be detrimental to overall health.

A typical 12 oz can of soda contains 35 grams of sugar which is equal to about nine teaspoons! A new review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology – the most comprehensive review on sugar-sweetened beverages to date –  has found that drinks high in sugar (soda, energy drinks, and any artificially sweetened drinks) can have an adverse affect on the heart increasing the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. This review was performed by Vasanti Malik who is a nutrition research scientist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and Frank Hu, MD, PhD, a Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The paper reviewed data from recent epidemiological studies revealing that consuming one or two servings a day of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to the following:

  • a 16% increased risk of stroke
  • a 35% greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and
  • a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes

The reason why these sugary beverages have such an impact on overall health is because of fructose’s behavior in the body. Compared to glucose which is metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract and used as fuel for the bodies cells, fructose is metabolized in the liver and converted to fat compounds (triglycerides) leading to fatty liver, increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol, and insulin resistance which is a key factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

Hu explains that fructose is rarely consumed in isolation and the major source in our diet comes from fructose-infused drinks containing sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. Hu also states that their findings reveal the urgent need for public health strategies that call for a reduction in the consumption of these drinks.

Although halting the consumption of sugar infused drinks isn’t going to be the cure-all for heart disease and diabetes, it can definitely play a role in reducing the epidemic to have a measurable impact.

To better educate the consumer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new labeling system identifying the amount of sugar added to a product, compared to the amount that naturally occurs. Hopefully this will play a role in reducing the daily intake of these sugar infused drinks.

Want Type 2 Diabetes? Drink More Soda!

“Sugarland aka Supermarket” by Vox Efx licensed under CC BY 2.0

You like soda? Me too! You like diabetes? I didn’t think so! Well if soda is part of your regular diet, then you’re headed for the land of high blood sugars, insulin resistance, obesity, and a whole range of detrimental health issues. In fact, a recent study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) estimates that the consumption of sugary sweetened drinks may be responsible for nearly two million cases of diabetes over a period of ten years in the United States, and 80,000 in the United Kingdom.

This study was performed at the University of Cambridge under the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit with the aid of an international team of researchers. The study assessed whether the chronic consumption of drinks sweetened by sugar whether artificial (high fructose corn syrup) or natural (juice) had any association with the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D), as well as to estimate whether the 10-year risk was attributed to the consumption of sugary drinks in the US and UK.

Seventeen different observation studies took place and the researches found that the habitual consumption of drinks sweetened by sugar had a positive association with the frequency of T2D, excluding the status of obesity.

There was less evidence regarding an association between artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juices with T2D, but researches found little benefit for the consumption of these types of drinks as a substitution, concluding that these these drinks are unlikely to serve as a healthy alternative for preventing T2D.

One point of emphasis that the researchers stressed however was that the studies analyzed were onlyu observational, thus no definitive conclusions could be made between the cause and effect relationship. Although only observational, the researchers assumed a small correlation and estimated that new diagnosis of T2D events in the US to be two million and 80,000 in the UK from 2010 to 2020.
The study was lead by Dr. Fumiaki Imamura who was the lead author; he stated that the

“…findings together indicate that substituting sugar sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened drinks or fruit juice is unlikely to be the best strategy in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes: water or other unsweetened beverages are better options.”

There have been multiple studies done regarding the link between high calorie beverages loaded with sugars; this is just another one to add to the list. By having self control and limiting what goes into our bodies, we have better control of our health and well being.

The complete study can be found here.

“Mart Bittman Soda Quotation” by licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Mart Bittman Soda Quotation” by licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fish and Diabetes

"Salmon" by Camilo Rueda Lopez
“Salmon” by Camilo Rueda Lopez licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fish is one of my favorite proteins to eat – it’s flavorful, full of nutrients including healthy fats, and easy to prepare. In fact diabetes experts recommend eating fish to improve cardiovascular because of the omega-3 fatty acids which have been show to decrease the risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeats) which can actually lead to sudden death.

If you haven’t had any experience with fish other than the frozen fish sticks at the super market, you’ve definitely been missing out! Fish does not require a lot of work to taste fantastic – a some herbs here and a dash of seasoning there and the natural flavors blend to make fish a great option for a diabetic diet!

Why Fish is Such a Great Choice for Diabetics!

Most fish have low amounts of unhealthy saturated and trans fat, as well as cholesterol. Instead the fat that it does contain is a natural source of heart-healthy omega-3, unsaturated fat which helps to lower total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol in the blood. Another benefit for eating fish is that the protein is of high quality. Fish also lacks any carbohydrates so it will not cause a sudden spike in blood glucose. Also, most fish is cooks quickly and is an ideal choice for a quick and easy meal that everyone will enjoy.

How Many Servings of Fish Should I Eat?

It is recommended by the American Heart Association to eat fish high in omega-3 at least twice a week, with each serving being about 3.5 oz after cooking. Fish is a great replacement for red meat and poultry.

One caveat however is that larger sea fish should be limited because of the mercury levels. For women that are pregnant or breastfeeding, should limit their intake of fish that have high levels of mercury. The great thing however is that there is still a large selection of fish types that are low in mercury while still being high in omega-3, including salmon, anchovies, herring, trout, sardines, and mackerel!

One of my favorite ways to prepare fish is with a lot of Asian influence. I found a recipe on YoutTube that gives a quick rundown and explanation for a healthy, steamed white fish that packs knockout flavor! Full recipe was taken from Special Fork.

Steamed Fish with Ginger and Green Onions

1 fish filet (3/4 to 1 lb)
2 tbsp soy sauce (substitute for light soy sauce if desired)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh ginger, thinly cut lengthwise
Green onion, thinly sliced diagonally
3 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil (optional)

1. Add water to a steamer pot that is big enough to fit the fish filet
2. Cover steamer pot and heat over high, bringing the water to a boil; reduce heat until water is at a low roll
3. Place fish on a heatproof plate
4. Small bowl, combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar (optional), and garlic; mix well and drizzle over the filet. Sprinkle with ginger and green onion.
5. Place fish filet and plate into the steam and steam for 8-10 minutes until the fish is no longer translucent. Ladle sauce over the fish

Heat in a pan 3 tbsp of olive oil and then pour over the fish – CAREFUL – the oil and liquid will splash! This adds extra flavor!

The Incredible Edible Egg….and Diabetes

“Egg” from Steve Johnson licensed under CC by 2.0

Eggs are one of the most nutrient rich foods available; it’s amazing that a whole egg contains all the nutrients to form a multi-celled organism (chicken) from a single cell! I personally love eating eggs because they are a great source of protein and can be prepared so many different ways while also being the main ingredient in so many different dishes!
Unfortunately, eggs have received negative press previously because of the whole debacle of cholesterol. Egg yolks are packed full of cholesterol; in fact one large egg (50 g) contains 187 mg of cholesterol which is sixty-two percent of the daily recommended cholesterol.

Cholesterol unfortunately has a negative connotation that is undeserved with the belief that ingesting too much cholesterol will cause a sharp increase in cholesterol levels. Fortunately this isn’t the case as the body is a miraculous thing and is able to adapt. Cholesterol is typically produced in the liver but when cholesterol consumption increases, the liver naturally produces less cholesterol causing the total amount in the body to stay relatively consistent.
(Reference 1, 2, & 3).

Studies have also shown there to be a positive effect on the body when consuming more eggs:

In fact a few years ago a study stated that eating four eggs a week can actually reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by more than a third! The study revealed that egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of the disease as well as lowering blood sugar levels. This study consisted of 2,332 men aged between forty-two and sixty and it was found that those who ate at least four eggs per week had a thirty-seven percent lower risk of having diabetes compared to the men who rarely or never ate eggs. Those that did include eggs as a regular part of their diet also showed lower blood sugar levels without seeing a sharp rise in cholesterol levels. Research however says that eating more than four eggs a week did not provide any boost in protection. The study also notes that’s they did not take into consideration how the eggs were cooked however boiling, scrambling, and poaching eggs are considered to be the healthiest options while frying can actually increase cholesterol intake up to fifty percent.

Eggs are a great food choice because they are readily available, affordable and provide a great source of nutrients including high-quality proteins, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins while also having several bio-active compounds that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. One of my favorite ways to prepare eggs is by poaching them and I’ve included a quick recipe below.

Simple Poached Egg


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil
2. Add a table spoon of vinegar to the boiling water – this helps to coagulate the egg
3. Stir the water to create a gentle whirpool – this helps the egg white wrap around the yolk
4. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and set a time for 5 minutes allowing the egg to poach
5. Crack open the egg and slowly pour it into the swirling water
6. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon or spatula, serving immediately

Take a look at my main man Alton Brown as he shows use how to properly poach an egg!