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The Importance of Paying Attention to Prediabetes

Written by Marcia Sikorski, RD, LDN, CDE; member of PMA Diabetes Education Team

Diabetes awareness is becoming a focal point to help reduce the consequences of the disease and to provide information about its management and prevention. Prediabetes is the red flag waving to tell you that you are on the path toward diabetes. There is good news about this waving flag, if you take action at this stage you may never experience the many complications of diabetes. Continue reading “The Importance of Paying Attention to Prediabetes”

Choosing Healthy Fats

healthiest fats

Quick tips to choosing healthier fats


Choosing foods with healthy fats is an important part of everyone’s diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. What are saturated fats and where are they found?

Saturated fats are found in animal products. Most people remember the beef, pork, lamb, eggs and processed fatty meats like sausage and bacon, but often forgotten are dairy products- milk, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cream cheese, yogurt, butter and solid fats. Saturated fats are known to increase LDL (low density lipoproteins) that can increase your risk for developing heart disease. Tips below can help you improve the type of fat in your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking

Plant based oils such as olive and canola oil are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fats. Try dressing up a salad or roasted vegetables with an olive-oil based vinaigrette.

Ditch the Trans Fat

When grocery shopping, reading food labels will help you find foods that are trans fat free. Look for the “0” under total fat, and read the ingredient label for the words “partially hydrogenated oil”. Most manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products due to a law from 2006 requiring them to list the trans fats on their food labels. There are still food products in markets where trans fats are used to enhance food flavor, so vigilance is still needed to keep your intake of trans fats close to zero each day. In restaurants that don’t provide nutritional labeling, it is best to avoid fried foods, biscuits, and baked goods and desserts. Many restaurants are attempting to provide this information to their patrons, but it best to steer clear unless you know that the restaurant has eliminated trans fats from their inventory.

Switch from Butter to soft-tub margarine

Choose a product that has zero grams of trans fat and read the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t have partially hydrogenated oils. Use a plant based oil whenever possible; refrigerated extra-virgin olive oil makes a great spread for toast!

Eat at least one good source of Omega-3 fats each day

Current research shows that omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and may also help depression, diabetes and other chronic conditions. These healthy fats are being added to everything from eggs to peanut butter. You can also get them naturally in salmon or tuna, or from fresh, oily fish. The fatty fish, walnuts and canola oil all provide omega-3 acids, essential fats that our body cannot make.

Cut back on red meat, cheese, whole milk and ice cream

Red meats (beef, pork and lamb) and whole fat dairy products are high in saturated fat. Eating less red meat, especially processed red meat such as bacon, and choosing fish, chicken, nuts or beans is an important change to make to reduce the risk of heart disease. If you do choose to eat red meat, choose lean cuts and keep the portions in control. Low fat and reduced fat cheeses are available, but they’re not always so low in fat, and they are often higher in sodium. If choosing cheese, select the one you like, watch the portion and savor the flavor. Low fat or non-fat dairy- milk and yogurt, is better than whole fat choices, and depending on the amount you consume, it might not make a difference.

As you choose foods with healthy fats, and limit the saturated and trans fats in your diet, remember to not replace the saturated fats with refined carbohydrate foods as these can cause weight gain and will not protect your heart, and may increase your risk of developing heart disease.


8 Rules for Living Well

1. Limit sugar, salt and saturated fats (the kind that’s solid at room temperature).

Reduce those three “S’s,” Diets high in these foods lead to obesity, fatigue and poor health.

2. Watch out for “portion distortion.”

Try to keep servings at a sensible size.

The ideal meal plate has one-half of the plate devoted to vegetables and fruit; one-fourth of the plate to proteins (ideally the protein is baked, broiled or grilled) and one-fourth of the plate to starches, either whole-grain starches or such starchy vegetables as peas, potatoes and corn.

3. No more “happy plates.”

Stop telling yourself you have to clean your plate.

Be aware, too, that stress and negative emotions can trigger “emotional eating.” Is your stomach really growling? Is there an empty feeling there? If not, take a walk, call a friend, clean a closet, write a letter or pick up a book. And try to keep comfort foods out of your house!

4. Don’t forget the veggies.

Try to incorporate vegetables at lunch and at dinner and in one snack every day. Vegetables are very high in vitamins and minerals, and low in carbohydrates, contain fiber, a small amount of protein and no fat. Adding more non-starchy vegetables to meals and at snacks can help you feel full with little calories, no sodium, and no fat if not added.

5. Always add protein.

Protein provides valuable iron and has the advantage of helping diners feel full. Try to get 4 ounces (for women) to 6 ounces (for men) of protein at every meal (with 1 ounce being about the size of a golf ball).

Sources include beef, pork, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, peanut butter and dairy products (low-fat versions are best); Fat-free Greek yogurt is a good high-protein choice for meals or snacks.


6. Make an exercise plan.

Try to fit more activity into the day, aiming for at least 30 minutes (the time can be broken up into intervals of at least 10 minutes) of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. Start slowly if not currently exercising, and work up to the goal of 30 minutes/day.

Alternating days of cardio and resistance training helps to make sure all your muscle groups are being worked, and gives others time to rest.

7. Stay hydrated.

It’s recommended that people drink 64 ounces, eight cups, of water a day. However, most people only get 16 to 32 ounces daily. A nice side-effect of being adequately hydrated: a feeling of fullness.

In a recent study, people who drank a large glass of water before their meal ate 75 calories less and lost about 14 pounds a year, from that alone.

8. Live it. Don’t diet.

Don’t consider healthy lifestyle changes to be temporary or just for the moment. Create healthy patterns for life!!









The Importance of Being Active

Like most people, you have probably heard that physical activity including exercise is good for you. Exercise or physical activity is a struggle for many people especially during the winter months. Establishing regular physical activity habits is as important as healthy eating.

There are many benefits of exercise:

  • increasing your body strength
  • maintaining or reducing weight
  • improving bone density
  • improving your quality of sleep
  • increasing your energy
  • relieving stress
  • countering many medical conditions.

Physical activity is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. Don’t worry if you have never exercised or stopped exercising, making a decision to start being active or exercising is the first step.

Where do I start?

First, check with your physician if you have medical conditions before engaging in an exercise program to ensure safety. Seek the assistance of a physical therapist if you have any on-going physical ailments. If it has been a while since you were physically active, take it slow. Nothing stops a program sooner than injuring yourself by overdoing it at your first attempt. Find an activity that you enjoy participating in to increase the chance that you will continue. Find an exercise buddy to make it more enjoyable, and to increase your success.

What do I do?

Figure out how you can add activity or exercise into each day. It is important to include a combination of activities to increase strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercises should be alternated every other day with the strength training to improve all muscle groups.

How do I add activity?

Think about your current routine. Figure out ways to slips exercise into each day. A brisk walk before starting other daily activities, hopping off the bus or train a stop ahead and walking the rest of the way to your destination, taking a 5-10 minute walk during your lunch break, using the stairs instead of the elevator- or walking a few flights up or down before taking the elevator on higher floors. Think about keeping free weights or exercise bands by the TV chair to use during commercials. Chair exercises, free weights and exercise bands are helpful for persons unable to walk or stand for extended periods of time.

Next Steps for Success

Begin by setting a short term goal. Make it part of your routine. Set a start date and time to initiate your plan for adding activity. Have a busy schedule? Add it to you date book or appointment calendar and make sure you use that time for activity. Seek out an exercise buddy, maybe a co-worker looking for someone to walk with, or friend to join you at an exercise class or join an organized sports team for people of your age group. Seek out what classes or facilities are available in your area. Shop for an exercise or yoga DVD, or seek out options from your local library that allows you to exercise in the privacy of your home. What about that exercise equipment in the basement or spare room? It might be as easy as getting that equipment out from under the clothes hanging on it, and using it at a time that is convenient.

Setting up an exercise routine, as minimal as it might be, is an important step to improving your health. Experts say “any activity is better than nothing!”

In order to be successful when making changes, make them small, simple and progressive. Add one change, and once you are comfortable with that change, introduce another. Get moving!!