A Berrie Center Nutritionist Shares Tips For a Healthy Diet

In recognition of National Nutrition Month (March) Kelly Walker, a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN), reminds us all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Kelly, who has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 30 years, works as a clinical research coordinator at the Berrie Center on the GRADE study and the T2P2 study for people with type 2 diabetes.

“At the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, we teach our patients that there is no such thing as a diabetes diet; however, timing is everything,” said Kelly. “People with diabetes are able to enjoy all foods including the occasional slice of cake, cookie, bagel, or pancake but it’s important to remember to check blood sugars per their doctor’s recommendation and make educated decisions about whether those foods are a good idea at that particular time or would be better saved for later.”

Here are four of Kelly’s tips for staying healthy all year long:

•    Incorporate variety and moderation. You get moderation when you include variety. By eating different foods from all the food groups each day, you will achieve a better balanced and more nutritious diet.
•    Quench your thirst with water. If you’re thirsty, your body is craving one of the most vital components of our diet –water. Water is the most effective drink for helping you hydrate. It can also benefit other things as well by decreasing joint pain, increasing your body’s ability to use medicine to the best of its ability, keeping you alert, and helping your food move through you appropriately.
•    Eat fish twice a week for good heart, brain, and eye health. If you’re not into fish, try walnuts, ground flax seeds, or chia seeds. Some foods have been fortified (added) with omega 3’s such as: eggs, milk, and yogurts. Omega 3’s can also help to bring triglycerides –a form of cholesterol, down in the blood.
•    Get moving. If you’re already exercising for 30 minutes 5 days per week, you are doing your body a huge favor. For most adults, the Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate activity (e.g. brisk walking) per week PLUS 2 days of muscle strengthening that work all different major muscle groups. If you are just starting out, even 10 minutes per day can make a difference.

Kelly keeps her meals colorful and varied. She experiments with recipes she finds online and encourages her patients to do the same. Since it’s hard to make good food choices after a hard day at work—Kelly suggests planning meals a week in advance and making an extra portion to pack for lunch the next day. And, she suggests, people learn the difference between and a serving and a portion. She tells her patients that a serving is defined by common measurements (tablespoons, ounces, cups, etc.) and a portion is how much is appropriate for you. 

Here are some of Kelly’s favorite ways to fill her plate:

•    Baked salmon seasoned with lemon and dill served with quinoa with feta, dill, fresh squeezed lemon, and a side of roasted broccoli
•    Whole wheat spaghetti with ground turkey meat sauce and steamed green beans
•    Italian chicken sausage with sautéed green peppers and onions and a whole wheat English muffin with butter/garlic/slice of mozzarella cheese
•    Mixed green salad with grilled chicken, chèvre goat cheese, raisins, cherry tomatoes, carrot slices, English cucumber, and balsamic dressing
•    Tuscan white bean soup with kielbasa turkey sausage and spinach with a side of roasted radishes
•    Baked flounder over sautéed leeks topped with a coarse grain mustard sauce and a side of sweet potato hash

Perhaps it’s time for a nutrition refresher? There are numerous way to enrich your nutrition knowledge at the Berrie Center (be it National Nutrition Month or any month of the year!). Whether scheduling a visit with your RD, or attending a carbohydrate counting class, the Berrie Center offers a variety of nutrition education programs to help you better manage your diabetes. Check our events calendar for a list of upcoming classes and workshops.