By Misty Cox, FNP-C, WHNP, family nurse practitioner
November is National Diabetes Month, and the timing is perfect as the holiday season means a lot of food and celebrations. The holidays are busy and many of us get out of healthy routines such as exercise, eating a balanced diet, and more.
Type 2 diabetes, unfortunately, does not take the holiday season off, so here’s four types of foods to avoid or moderate your intake of this holiday season and throughout the year. These four food types increase your risk of type 2 diabetes:
Heavily processed carbohydrates
Foods made with white flour, white sugar, and white rice are low in bran, fiber, vitamins, and minerals; examples include breads, muffins, cakes, crackers, and pasta. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a diet high in heavily processed carbohydrates increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent compared to those who ate a whole foods-rich diet.
Drinks sweetened with sugar
Sodas, sweet tea, fruit drinks, and lemonade can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Having just two sugar-sweetened drinks per day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 26 percent, according to a 2010 study by the American Diabetes Association. Water is the best substitute and has many health benefits for your body.
Saturated and trans fats
Saturated fats are found in dairy products such as butter, whole milk, cream, and cheese as well as fatty meats. Trans fats are tied to fried foods (fast food restaurants, “bar” food) and packaged baked goods. Some healthy alternatives include:
- Snacking on nuts, not sweets
- Eating lean meats and/or poultry, and removing the skin
- Avoiding salad dressings such as blue cheese, ranch and thousand island and using olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead
- Cooking and baking with olive or canola oils
Red meats and processed meats
Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats have higher levels of sodium and nitrites, which put you at not only higher risk of type 2 diabetes but heart disease. A study shared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a three ounce serving of red meat daily increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19 percent, and a serving of less than three ounces of processed meats increased the risk by more than 50 percent. Protein is essential to your health so switch to wild caught fish, like salmon, or organic poultry like chicken or eggs combined with vegetables to optimize your meal plan.
Prediabetes is alarmingly prevalent. Did you know one of three Americans is prediabetic? Your best defense is getting information on your risk factors and how to optimize your lifestyle to decrease your risks. We primary care providers (PCP) are here to help. If you have not had your annual wellness exam, schedule it, and talk with your PCP about your health goals.