Lark Diabetes

Mission 4: Eat Well

Can I Eat Potatoes with Prediabetes?

Can I eat potatoes with prediabetes? What about other types of starchy vegetables? Those are great questions, since carb-laden, starchy vegetables seem to be the opposite of the types of foods that can help lower blood sugar.

It turns out that not all vegetables are created equal, and it is more complicated than simply dividing them into starchy and non-starchy vegetables. Some starchy vegetables appear to lower diabetes risk, while others may increase it. Here is what you should know about how to identify starchy and non-starchy vegetables, which ones to choose, and how to serve them to get the most benefits.

Starchy vs. Non-Starchy Vegetables

Not surprisingly, starchy vegetables are high in starch. Non-starchy vegetables are not. Along with potatoes, starchy vegetables include yams, sweet potatoes, green peas, corn, parsnips, plantains, and winter squash such as butternut, acorn, and kabocha squash. Most other vegetables are non-starchy.

Potatoes and Prediabetes
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The Surprising Food Group that Prevents Diabetes

Quick: can you name a food that bumps up blood sugar? Some examples are white pasta and white rice. White bread is another example.

Here is another question – Can you name a food that may lower diabetes risk? You may be surprised to learn that pasta, bread, and rice may be correct answers, with a caveat. This holds true only when they are in their whole grain form. Here is the scoop on whole grains and how you can use them to lower diabetes risk.

Whole Grains for Health and Weight Loss

Whole grains have as much starch and as many carbohydrates and calories as their refined counterparts, but those values do not tell the whole story. Whole grains have different effects on your body than refined grains. There is more than one reason why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends choosing whole grains!

Whole Grains
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Protein: Quality over Quantity for Diabetes Prevention

Protein is a focus for many people who are trying to lose weight and lower diabetes risk. That certainly makes sense, since protein helps delay hunger and stabilizes blood sugar. However, the protein story is not as simple as “more is better,” and not all protein sources are the same.

How much protein should you have, and which foods should you choose for getting your protein? This is what you should know so you can make the best decisions for your health.

How Much Protein Is Enough?

The basic protein need for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. That translates into 56 grams of protein per day for someone who weighs 154 lb. Someone on a high-protein diet might aim for around 25% of calories from protein. If you are following a 1,600-calorie-per-day diet for weight loss, that would translate into 100 grams of protein per day.

Protein Chart
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All Sugars Aren’t the Same

Sugar may be on your mind if you have prediabetes or are at high risk for diabetes. Dietary sugar is in the foods you eat, and your blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels are all-important in prediabetes and diabetes.

The Lark DPP check-in may have alerted you to the fact that not all sugars are the same, if you were not already aware of that fact. You may have already guessed that soft drinks, cookies, and other foods with added sugars are not the best foods for preventing diabetes, but there may be good news. Foods with natural sugars, such as fruit, can be satisfying while they lower your diabetes risk.

Natural vs. Added Sugars and Their Sources

Added sugars are what you probably think of when you think of “sugar.” They are sugars that are added to foods and beverages, usually to sweeten them. Soft drinks, sports drinks, flavored coffee drinks, sweet tea, cookies, candy, cake, pies, ice cream, and pastries are all examples of foods with added sugars.

Are Any Sugars Okay?
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Which Fats Will Make You Skinny?

Fat was the villain for years. The mainstream advice to the public was to reduce fat intake to lose weight and improve health. That advice turned out to be largely wrong.

It turns out that not all fat is the same, a low-fat diet is not the only way, or even the best way, to lose weight and improve health. A better approach to hit your goals may be choose certain types of fat known to have health benefits. This is some information on how to make fat your friend for diabetes prevention and weight loss.

Types of Fat

Dietary fat is a nutrient in many foods. It provides about 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the 4 calories per gram that protein and carbohydrates contain. For that reason, fats and high-fat foods are high in calories. It is easy to get a lot of calories very quickly from fat and high-fat foods.

Fats Aren’t All Bad
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A Healthy Meal at a Moment’s Notice

As you learned in the Lark DPP check-in, you can make healthy eating easier with some smart supermarket shopping that includes stocking up on lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains. What can you do with those ingredients, though, and how can you get a healthy meal on the table (or in your belly) whenever you need one?

Grocery Shopping

Set yourself up for success by buying the healthy foods you need for the week. Make a list with any staples you may need to stock up on as well as the fresh foods you need. You can speed up your meal planning without getting bored by establishing a regular pattern, such as:

  • Monday – chicken (such as roasted with vegetables)
  • Tuesday – fish (such as pan-seared with citrus salsa or roasted in foil with vegetables)
  • Wednesday – chicken (such as stir fry or baked with pasta sauce)
  • Thursday – meatless (such as veggie burger or vegetarian burrito)
  • Friday – ground turkey (such as chili or stuffed peppers)
Prepping Ahead
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10 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Over the course of the “Eat Well” mission in Lark DPP, you learned a lot about healthy eating to lower diabetes risk. Check-in 7 brought up an important point: the cost of food.

You can eat healthy on a budget just by going to regular supermarkets. These are 10 tips for eating healthy on a budget.

    1. Reduce waste
    2. Check sales and use coupons
    3. Choose store brands
    4. Drink more water
    5. Prep your own
    6. Portion your own
    7. Reduce junk food
    8. Eat plants
    9. Buy in bulk
    10. Stock up for a rainy day
Meal Ideas
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You Have Completed Mission 4: Eat Well

Eating well is one of the most powerful tools to fight type 2 diabetes. This mission covers the basics on healthy eating and building healthy meals, plus overcoming barriers to choosing healthy foods. With some practice, choosing the right foods can become natural.

In general, the best foods to lose weight and lower blood sugar are lower in calories and sugar, and higher in fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. These can include vegetables, lean proteins such as chicken, fish, tofu, beans, and eggs, cottage cheese, whole grains, and fruit, for example. Foods to limit include sugary, fatty, and high-calorie foods, such as fried foods, sweets, and fatty meats.

For most meals, a healthy plate may be half-filled with vegetables with the rest of the plate split between lean protein and high-fiber whole grain or fruit, plus a small amount of healthy fat such as avocado, nuts, or olive oil.