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Holiday Health: Choose Wisely

October 17, 2016

For Americans, November is a month of contrasts. On one hand, we celebrate the abundance of Thanksgiving with a huge meal, and on the other, we are cautioned against the health risks of eating too much with November’s designation as National Diabetes Month.              

That contradiction can’t be ignored here in Central Florida, where diabetes is a top health concern. A recent Community Health Needs Assessment identified diabetes as the number one health risk for Orange County residents and the number two risk in Seminole County.

To turn the tables on diabetes, I recommend a healthy eating plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat and added sugar, and moderate in calories. While those with diabetes must pay close attention to their food choices, a diabetes-friendly diet is healthy for anyone.

The holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends and good food. This year, add some healthy eating habits. Here are a couple of helpful tips:

It’s best to limit highly refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, rice, soda and snack foods, in favor of the slow release carbs found in sweet potatoes, winter squash, quinoa, beans and lentils. These complex carbs are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and help keep blood-sugar levels even because they are digested more slowly. They also provide lasting energy and help you stay full longer.

Be smart about sweets.

Eating a diabetes-friendly diet doesn’t mean eliminating sugar altogether. The key is choosing wisely. Eat sweets with a meal rather than as a stand-alone snack. Eaten alone, sweets cause your blood sugar to spike, but when consumed with other healthy foods such as yogurt and nuts, your blood sugar won’t rise as quickly.

Shopping for Slow Release Carbs

The following are great examples of carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly by the body, which means they will keep you full while helping to prevent chronic disease.

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Lentils