The Bitter Side of Sweet: Diabetes & Artificial Sweeteners

Diabetes – such common a condition in today’s society that I doubt it even needs an introduction.

In a nutshell, diabetes is the mismanagement of the body’s ability to control blood sugar. In most cases this can occur in one of two ways – or “types”:

Type 1 – an autoimmune condition
-The body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin
-NO method of prevention
-NOT brought on by lifestyle

Type 2 – a metabolic disorder
-The body’s inability to use the insulin it produces
-CAN BE preventable
-CAN BE brought on by lifestyle

For type 2 diabetics, the cells of the body are not responding to insulin – otherwise known as insulin resistance. The role of insulin is to lower blood sugar levels by regulating the rate in which glucose is taken up by the cells of the body. Insulin resistance can develop over time when the body is exposed to high levels of sugar in the diet that it just simply cannot keep up.

So naturally one might think that by replacing sugar with zero calorie man made chemically sweetened toxic crap such as Splenda or Aspartame, one may be better equipped to manage their blood sugar, right?

Wrong.

Our brain is hardwired to associate sweet with calories. When the calories don’t show up, our inherent biological reaction is to go and find them- so in other words, our brain quite literally sends us on a hunt for sugar (i.e. cravings!).

This reaction (and subsequent junk food feast) directly contributes to insulin imbalance and resulting blood sugar fluctuations, all the while increasing fat storage. Yep, you heard that right – WEIGHT GAIN. Another function of insulin is to control fat storage, so if your insulin levels are high, it is also likely you will have an easier time gaining weight and a much more difficult time losing it.

So the next time you think that you are doing yourself a favour by reaching for that zero-calorie food or drink, remember that even though they may not technically contain sugar, they can still have the same effect on blood sugar that actual sugar does, or worse. These charming chemicals can also tend to come with a whole slew of additional gnarly side effects including nausea, headaches, breakouts and mood disorders.

Not so sweet now, huh?

 

Guest post by Alex Nucci

I’m a Nutritionist and here is why I know losing weight can help your type II Diabetes

In the spirit of Diabetes Awareness month, I thought it would be appropriate to walk you through why Type II Diabetes, as a preventable lifestyle disease, can be prevented and even often cured when smart and realistic steps are taken from someone who is motivated to positively change their life.

“The growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers is tied to excess weight.” So although we know that being overweight and type II diabetes are closely linked, unfortunately, often people struggle getting started on making change- whether it’s from lack of knowledge, a poor support system or they simply feel that getting started is daunting or too time consuming. But that is where I come in. As YOUR nutritionist, I am here to lay it out for you, be your support system and cheerleader. This is my job and I love it.

I often hear from my clients, that once they begin sessions with me, a lot of the fears they had about changing their diet and lifestyle that the process is no longer scary. Once they know that I’m here for them through the whole process, without judgment and only for their best interest, they are calm and ready to dive in.So what does diving in look like?
Well for everyone it is different. It depends on where each person is starting from.

  • How much weight do they need to lose?
  • How high are their blood sugars?
  • How long have they been this way?
    Etc…

So lets dive in with 4 simple, food based suggestions I want you to add into your diet today that will help you lose weight and begin to lower and better balance your blood sugars.

1. Cinnamon: This fragrant spice is amazing for naturally lowering blood sugars. I give this to all of my clients who have blood sugar concerns and weight to lose. Cinnamon is a tasty addition to smoothies, oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt and even coffee and tea. How much you ask? I say, add cinnamon to as many foods as you can through your day.

2. Green Tea: is being touted as an awesome natural support for blood sugar management. “Various studies have shown the beneficial effects of green tea, not only on cardiovascular diseases but also on obesity and type 2 diabetes itself”. If you don’t like it hot, consider buying an infused green tea, such as lemon or raspberry infused green tea and cool it down with lemons and limes and store in your fridge. If you really want to hide the taste, use cooled green tea as a base for your smoothie instead of using water or juice.

3. Turmeric: Talk about a potent antioxidant rich food! Pay attention if you don’t use this food yet in your diet. As a member of the ginger family, this plant is a powerhouse in my option and should be used by everyone. In the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry researchers “found that Turmeric could prevent diabetes from developing”. How to use: add a pinch to smoothies or salad dressings, sprinkle over cooked veggies for a touch of flavor, add to rubs for fish or poultry or enjoy in a stir-fry.

4. Fish and Hemp seeds: I wanted to include these two omega-packed protein sources in this list to demonstrate the importance of both fatty acids and protein in blood sugar management. I meet very few individuals in my practice who eat enough protein and this can wreak havoc on our blood sugars. Protein helps to balance sugars from foods, slowing them down in our blood stream- hugely important to anyone trying to lose weight, but especially vital for type II diabetics.
Pick ideally 3-4 servings of clean and lean protein per day. Examples include: plain Greek yogurt, eggs, chicken and protein powders (one of my favourites are Fermented Vegan Proteins + by Genuine Health).

If you are anyone you know is struggling with type II diabetes, my hope is that you share this article with them.
If you decide you want to learn more about healthy weight loss, please check out my newest book, Your Weight Loss G-Spot – The woman’s how-to weight loss system for a healthy, sassy you!
It is a make-it-happen weight loss book that combines the fundamentals of nutrition and healthy eating with the mind–body–heart targeted coaching required to get you to your goal and to make it stick. To find out more about it, go here: www.weightlossgspot.com –Coming November 14th 2015!

_______________________

i Parvez Hossain, M.D., Bisher Kawar, M.D., and Meguid El Nahas, M.D., Ph.D. (2007). Obesity and Diabetes in the Developing World — A Growing Challenge.N Engl J Med 2007; 356:213-215 January 18, 2007 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp068177

ii Diabetes Metab J. 2013 Jun; 37(3): 173–175. Published online 2013 Jun 14. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2013.37.3.173 PMCID: PMC3689013 The Effects of Green Tea on Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Hyun Min Kim and Jaetaek Kim

iii http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/new-study-confirms-turmeric-can-benefit-diabetes/

Picture credit: ichdhealthcare.org

Breakfast fuel!

Hi! I’m Alex! I’m a nutritionist who is fiercely passionate about health, food, wellness… and breakfast.

BREAKFAST! Gosh, even the word is beautiful. It is the (delicious) fuel that replenishes your body after a long nights rest, and gives you the energy and momentum to tackle your day head on. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself first how can you possibly try to take on the rest of the world?!?

So how come so many of us opt to skip this fantastic meal all together? I’ve heard it all.

“I’m just not hungry in the morning”

There is no rule which says you need to eat a 3-course meal for breakfast. If you wake up without much of an appetite have something protein rich (a small portion at first) I can almost guarantee that once you begin to eat consistently in the morning, your body will come to yearn for it (this is a good thing!) Replenishing your fuel stores after a long night sleep is exactly what your body needs to reset and kick into gear for the day ahead!

“If I eat breakfast I’m hungrier throughout the day. If I don’t eat I can suppress my appetite better”

Eating is not a punishment, nor is it something we should strive to avoid. Many people think that by skipping meals we can “save on calories” leading to weight loss. There have been numerous studies which prove quite the opposite. Calorie omission can do some serious damage to your metabolism and mess with your blood sugar. This can lead to poor food choices throughout the day, increased mindless snacking, and over-eating once lunch / dinner finally rolls around.

The fact is our bodies NEED to eat- quite simply our food is our fuel and calories are energy. No matter how much we try to suppress this basic human need our bodies will not stop reminding you that you NEED TO EAT ( hunger pangs, mood / energy fluctuations, etc).

“I don’t like breakfast food”

Eggs too boring? Add some salsa, avocado, and sautéed spinach to the mix! Plain yogurt no fun? Try throwing in some nuts, cinnamon, and fresh berries! The message here is great creative! Think outside the box if standard breakfast dishes bore you. Plus, who is to say leftovers can’t be breakfast? Ever tried re-heated sweet potato breakfast hash? Mmm…

“I don’t have the time”

Everyone has the time. It’s up to you to MAKE time! Go to bed earlier. Prep the night before.

The key in all of this is not simply just to eat, but to eat smart. Keep breakfast simple and healthy. Avoid the processed, sugary dessert-like breakfast cereals, muffins and bars at the grocery store and opt for protein rich whole foods like eggs, nut butters and whole grains.

Remember, breakfast is exactly that: it’s what breaks your 7-8 hour sleepy time fast and reminds your body that you love it. It enables you to reconnect with yourself and your environment. It’s your reset button.

Tomorrow morning I encourage you all to get up and hit your reset buttons – start fresh, and treat yourself to a delicious, nutrient rich breakfast.

** STUDIES –

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23512957

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9537627

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22178258

Guest post by Alex Nucci, Nutritionist

 

Learn more about breakfast smoothie tricks here!

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Surviving September (Tips)

We’ve been dreading it for months, the weather is getting cooler, there’s more traffic on the streets, school lunches need to be made again…yes, September has arrived. I’m as sad as you.

A concern I hear on a regular basis from my clients is how to maintain or resume healthy habits when chaos ensues.

Here are some tips on how to keep connected to your healthy diet in September!

Bulk Up:

A great method I really appreciate is prepping all or some of the meals ahead of time (see picture below). This method takes a little upfront effort, but think about how seamless your week would be!

I hear a lot of concerns about the month of September from moms in particular. Kids are back to school, extracurricular activities have started again and dinner is just barley being squeezed in. Think about prepping and freezing some meals ahead of time (now), so when the madness ensues you are ahead of the same.

Map It.

Here is how I do it:

Here is analogy that I like to use. Pretend you were going to spend 2 days driving to Florida for a relaxing vacation on the beach. In order to get there you’d need to plan your route, book a hotel to stay in for a night, make reservations at some restaurants you have never been to before and perhaps pack some snacks and some games/books for a little entertainment.

While you reroute, after having done all the initial prep work, would it make sense that you would change your route for no particular reason? Rebooking new hotels and restaurants would just be a pain in the butt and, not to mention, a waste of time. Once you have made your plan, the odds of sticking to this are very good. The same goes with food prep. If you lay out a plan ahead of time, the odds of you straying for this are pretty low.

Here’s how I do it:

Everyone might have their own method, but this works best for me.

Step 1. Make a list of 7 different dinners you would like to have. Take into account busy nights of the week (i.e. don’t plan to make a roast on the same night you need to drive your kids all over hell’s acres).

Step 2. Write down the groceries needed to make these meals. Tip: Plan to make extra portions so you have left over’s for the next day. Buy groceries for the whole week in one trip.

Step 3. Put this list up on the fridge so everyone in the household knows what to expect for meals.

Step 4. Put this list in a file folder and reuse every 4 weeks.

Simple.

What I like most about this is that the thinking, during the busy week, has been eliminated. If I follow my plan, I know what needs to be pulled out of the freezer the night before, I know if I need to prep something ahead of time and I feel like dinners go off without a hitch.

Slow Cook It

My crock-pot is probably my most favourite piece of kitchen equipment (other than my Vitamix). It makes life so simple (yet tasty). I’m always on the hunt for simple crock pot meals that I can prep the night before and turn on in the morning before I leave for work. With the conveniences of modern technology, presto dinner is hot and ready for my husband and I 8 hours later. At this point, I quickly toss together a salad if needed and enjoy a healthy meal.

You too can experience ease in the kitchen during the dreaded dinner hour.

Buy It:

I know, I know…you are super mom and you’d rather make homemade meals for your family. I get it, I also prefer to do this, but alas I have come to the conclusion that I am not a super hero, so cut yourself some slack and join ranks.

I agree that bought foods probably contain some ingredients we wouldn’t necessarily pick ourselves but I would argue doing this is better than picking up fast food or creating a ton of stress and drama over getting a dinner on the table.

We are all busy, so don’t be too proud to purchase on the odd really busy night. Here are some healthy suggestions to consider:

  • Rotisserie chicken with sides like bean salad, vinegar based coleslaw and grilled veggies (all of these items can be found in most grocery stores in the pre-prepared counters)
  • Opa! Greek food is one of my favourite go-to meal ideas. Find a local restaurant you can pre order from; I usually order a large salad with souvlaki chicken and tzatziki. Yummy!
  • Grocery store buffet tables: here you can choose from grilled fish, hard boiled eggs, marinated tofu and all kinds of sides to satisfy the pickiest of eaters.

Relax in September with these fun snacks!

Shrimp, Bean and Lentil Pasta

A nutritious grain-free pasta dish, with lots of veggies. Serve a side salad with this pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 large shrimp per person
  • large handful of green beans, washed, ends snipped off and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot grated or thinly peeled using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 box of Tolerant Lentil Pasta 
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1-2 leeks washed and cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. After all vegetables have been washed and diced
  2. In a large pan add: onion, leek, garlic and green beans with 1 tbsp oil. Saute on medium heat until translucent (about 7-10 minutes)
  3. bring water to a boil and add pasta (take)s about 7-9 minutes
  4. In the meantime add the carrots, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper and shrimp to the ingredients in the pan.
  5. Cook the shrimp until they turn a light pink colour..
  6. Add cooked pasta and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  7. Combine all ingredients together and enjoy!

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