Fighting the Fads

Tips for long-term, healthy eating.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is 100% Fad Free, which is an excellent message for people with diabetes. Fad diets are very popular, with a new diet hitting the market every couple months – from the cabbage soup and blood type diets to the extreme low-carb diets - fad diets are never a good idea. Fad diets usually claim to offer quick fixes with rapid weight loss, miracle foods, and extreme diet measures. Often the results sound too good to be true and usually they are. While some fad diets can result in weight loss, many times they are too extreme for a person to follow long-term and once a person stops the diet, weight gain can be very rapid. In addition, many fad diets are unhealthy because they eliminate whole food groups, such as fruit, milk, and whole-grain products. Healthy eating involves eating a variety of food groups to obtain the proper amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat along with various vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed for good health. Learn how to spot a fad diet by looking for diets that have unreasonable or exaggerated claims that eating specific foods or supplements may cure diseases or offer quick weight loss

People with diabetes can be tempted by fad diets in order to better control blood sugar levels or promote weight loss. Healthy eating for diabetes is not a fad and involves a long-term lifestyle change. Remember, a registered dietitian and/or certified diabetes educator can sit down with you and help you create a healthy eating plan.

Here are some tips for long-term, fad-free, healthy eating and living:

  • Find your balance between food and physical activity. Physical activity is important in controlling blood glucose levels, weight, and promoting good heart health. It can also lead to better sense of emotional well-being and aid in stress management.
  • Eat three meals every day and space meals about 4-5 hours apart to best control blood glucose levels and to avoid being too hungry and overeating. Also, incorporate healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, light yogurt or low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers for a snack.
  • Make half your plate low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, salad, greens, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, or zucchini. This will decrease your calorie intake and boost your fiber, vitamin, and mineral intake. It should also fill you up more.
  • Keep your carbohydrate portion sizes reasonable. A portion size of pasta or rice should be no larger than the size of your fist. You should think of these foods as side dishes rather than main courses. Also, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice are whole-grains and better choices.
  • Moderation is the key to healthy eating. You do not have to avoid your favorite foods, but you may need to decrease the portion sizes and modify other components of your meal and keep these foods to moderate amounts. For example, if you want to celebrate a birthday with a slice of birthday cake, you should decrease the amount of carbs eaten with the meal. A chicken breast with green beans and a side salad might be a good dinner choice to go along with the birthday cake.
  • Experiment with modifying recipes to decrease the sugar, carbs, calorie, and fat content. Check out this modified recipe for "fried" chicken on the next page – it proves healthy eating can taste great!

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Last Modified Date: May 20, 2013

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