November is Diabetes Awareness month. About 4.9 million, or 18.7 percent of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes. A healthy diet plays a major role in the fight against diabetes. Jessica “Chef Jess” Swift), a registered dietitian and culinary expert, shares her personal diabetes story.
A stressful work schedule, poor eating habits and lack of exercise lead to Chef Jess’ father to be admitted to the hospital with a blood sugar level of 541 (close to a diabetic coma).
Seeing her father’s struggle with diabetes lead Jessica to focus on healthier cooking styles. Sharing her nutritional knowledge and healthful, tasty recipes with her father, resulted in her dad being able to daily monitor his insulin levels and eventually go off his diabetes medication safely.
Chef Jess’ recipes educate and share tips on healthy eating habits for diabetic patients.
Here are a few practical healthy eating tips:
• Read nutrition labels – If sugar or a variation of sugar is listed in the first five ingredients don’t buy the product
• Purchase only products where sugar comes from natural sources- (i.e. dried fruits, honey)
• Don’t be afraid to venture out and try new
products (eat ancient grains, freekah, quinoa, amaranth)
• Stay away from starchy white foods – white bread, white rice, white potatoes, pasta
• Purchase foods that have whole natural foods listed and ingredients you are familiar with
• Avoids canned foods and eat fresh foods as much as possible
• ½ of your plate should include non-starchy vegetables – preferably something green
• Pay attention to grams of sugar but also to the total carbohydrates in a
package and follow the rule (5 percent or less is low, 20 percent or more is high).
• Eat your fruits, instead of drinking them in juices
Chef Jess’ father will always have to deal with diabetes; but learning important nutritional facts, helps keep it at bay.
*Jessica “Chef Jess” Swift, a registered dietitian, specializes in culinary arts, nutrition, recipe testing and writing. She provides healthy and delicious foods for those experiencing food ailments, intolerance or disease. She has a master’s in Nutritional Sciences.