The Nutrition Clinic at BWFH helps diabetics live healthier lives
Living with diabetes can be a challenge. Patients often feel like they are restricted from eating the foods they love. But Nancy Oliveira, MS, RD, LDN, in the Nutrition Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Family Care Associates, is working to make the task of controlling blood sugar seem less daunting.
Oliveira offers both nutrition classes and cooking classes in English and Spanish to those living with prediabetes and diabetes, their families and anyone else looking to lose weight and live a heart healthy lifestyle. She stresses this nutrition information applies to those who do and do not have diabetes. It’s a healthy way of eating that will benefit those who want to lose weight, those with heart disease and more.
Students learn about the balanced plate model in
registered dietitian Nancy Oliveira’s diabetes
When facing diabetes, many patients fear having to cut out sugar, carbohydrates and starches completely. But "it’s not just about cutting out sugar," says Oliveira. It’s about portion control and a balanced plate. The balanced plate model recommends you fill one-quarter of your plate with lean protein like chicken or fish, one-quarter with a high-fiber carbohydrate like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa or whole wheat cous cous and one-half with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale or asparagus.
In her nutrition classes, Oliveira focuses on the balanced plate and reviews different types of foods and how they can affect blood sugar levels. She also gives tips on what to look for on food labels and why portion size matters. Finally, she suggests healthy snacks that will keep you satisfied without causing a spike in blood sugar. She says, "Try to avoid eating just bread or crackers alone. Always try to have it with something." She has a simple formula for snacks that makes it easy: carbohydrate + fiber + protein. Some options include a slice of whole wheat bread with two slices of turkey, a whole grain English muffin with one tablespoon of peanut butter or a small piece of fruit with 20 almonds.
According to the American Diabetes Association, "Diabetes is an urgent health problem in the Latino community. Their rates of diabetes are almost double those of non-Latino whites."*This may be attributed to the fact that Latino recipes often include beans, rice, fried meats, plantains, tortillas and other starchy high-carbohydrate foods. Oliveira’s cooking class addresses these issues. She helps patients learn how to use their favorite ingredients in healthful nutrient-packed recipes that have less salt and fat.
The diabetes Latino cooking class features nutrition education, a cooking demonstration and a tasting. The recipes she makes include Fiesta Bean and Quinoa Salad (a play on classic beans and rice), Meatball Rice Soup (which meets the whole plate model with its lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrate and abundance of non-starchy vegetables) and Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream" (a cool treat that’s sure to satisfy any sweet tooth). In her recipes, Oliveira uses low-sodium broth for soups and flavors with herbs and spices rather than salt. She says, "Use more herbs, more fresh ingredients and maybe just a pinch of salt." In fact, the use of your favorite herbs and spices can help make any healthy meal taste more like the comfort food you crave.
Whether you have prediabetes or diabetes, you want to lose weight or you simply want to live a heart healthy lifestyle, the Nutrition Clinic at BWFH has advice and cooking tips that can help you to eat well without feeling deprived of your favorite foods.
To learn how to make Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream" at home, click here.
To stay up to date on the Nutrition Clinic’s cooking classes and other events, check BWFH’s Facebook page or call the Nutrition Clinic at 617-983-4455 to be added to their email list.