Living in Calorie-fornia!

By Clark’s Nutrition, C Doussett MPH, RDN

Living in a state that has such an abundance of cities with health-food stores and healthful chain stores offers a unique advantage for the health-conscious individual.  For the simple reason that our environment has as much to do with our ability to succeed as learned habits and our resources. Many organizations, businesses, and educational institutions have wellness policies that dictate steps and policies aimed at promoting wellness, preventing injury, and creating an environment where healthy choices are easy choices. As important as it is for companies and institutions to keep their constituents healthy, it is imperative to establish a personal wellness policy that is consistent with ones goals, resources, and skill set. One of the most important reasons for doing so is to avoid the twin pillars of non-communicable diseases, obesity and diabetes. So prevalent are these two scourges that many cancer researchers are now echoing the sentiments of cardiologists everywhere that the obesity and diabetes epidemic can potentially undo fifty years of progress and disease mitigation.

Type II Diabetes and problems with blood sugar control affect 1/10th or nearly 30 million people in the U.S. Overweight individuals in this country make up 70% of the population and obese individuals are at an all-time high of 38%. This is a serious issue that is multifactorial in nature and in solution. Type II diabetes is also associated with an increase in sickness and death, including blindness, heart disease, obesity, nerve damage, and amputations. Type II Diabetes manifests itself when an individual’s body can no longer control the level of blood sugar due to the constant intake of simplified sugars and fiber-less meals. The amount, type, and frequency of sugar will have a very large outcome as to the effects on the body. In addition, exercise has a major role in glucose metabolism and exercising regularly is an excellent way to maintain proper glucose levels.

Research has shown that diets that include fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and a well thought out exercise program can reduce the undesirable side effects associated with type II diabetes.

  • Nuts and legumes, beans are the magical fruit (tons of minerals and complex carbs)
  • Whole grains (if tolerated) such as oats, wheat, rye, and barley (sorry, not the malted kind)
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (as much as possible) but watch for too much of the high sugar fruits like grapes, watermelon, and pineapple and be sure to emphasize variety. Start meal planning around vegetables and the protein and fat will follow
  • Fish, chicken, and soy protein
  • Low or whole fat dairy products
  • Water and unsweetened tea
  • Fiber , fiber, fiber, females need up to 25 grams/daily and males should get 40 grams
  • Add exercise- thirty minutes a day (all at once or in intervals) five to seven days a week.

Start slow, having a group or partner to work with increases the likelihood of compliance and safety.  Focus on strength movements, cardiovascular fitness, and articular flexibility. Everyone will have a different level of performance but it is important to emphasize strength, flexibility, cardiovascular competence, and endurance. Change will come gradually and will eventually become a habit instead of a goal. Ask a nutritional consultant about more ways to make lasting changes to your lifestyle and how to take advantage of your environment.