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A guide to healthy holidays and diabetes living

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BATON ROUGE - With World Diabetes Day approaching on Friday, dietician Angelina LeBlanc returned to the News 2 at 4 set to promote diabetes awareness, prevention and coping techniques.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 400 million people worldwide have diabetes with 29.1 million in the United States alone so it is especially important to be aware of the causes of Type 2 diabetes and to take proactive measures to avoid the disease.

LeBlanc encourages everyone, with diabetes or without, to jump start the day by eating a healthy breakfast. She says skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of overweight, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Breakfast fuels our metabolic fire to burn sugar and fat acquired from other meal throughout the day. Eating a breakfast also promotes liver health and is a great opportunity to get some extra protein, whole grains and calcium sources for overall better nutrition and health. Below are a few menu items the dietician recommends:

*Meal replacement shake (Glucerna, Boost Glucose Control, Ideal Protein)
*Greek or non-dairy yogurt and fruit parfait
*Special K with protein cereal, lowfat milk or unsweetened vanilla almond or soy milk
*Oatmeal (prepared with milk or unsweetened vanilla almond or soy milk), blended with berries or pumpkin puree, cinnamon, stevia and nuts
*Scrambled egg with low fat cheese, salsa on whole grain deli flat or tortilla
*Whole grain waffle topped with peanut butter, cranberry sauce and a side of low fat milk or unsweetened almond milk

In regards to the upcoming, diet-destroying holiday season, LeBlanc also has some healthy tips:

*Start with a lean proteins such as roasted turkey, pork loin or beef loin/round roast.
*Make cornbread and rice dressing mixes with lean ground meat or turkey (90% lean or better), olive oil, lots of fresh veggies (onion, peppers, celery) and low-sodium stock.
*Try substituting half or all white flour for whole grain in cornbread and other bread recipes.
*Make 1-2 sides (preferably veggies) that are not sauced, stuffed or casseroled such as a large garden salad with lite dressing; saute green beans with olive oil, fresh garlic and almond slivers; roast broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.
*For lower carb sweet potato casserole, substitute half sweet potatoes with roasted butternut squash, use stevia (PureVia) as sweetener and egg whites for whole eggs (2 egg whites replace 1 whole egg). Add lots of pumpkin pie spice and top with chopped walnuts for crunch.
*Substitute 2% cheese, 1-2% milk, Campbell's Healthy Request cream mushroom soup and low-sodium stock in casseroles and other dishes.
*Vary desserts with a fresh fruit salad. Top with squeeze lemon to prevent fruits from browning. If other treats are tempting you, select only your most favorite that comes around only once per year.

Beside monitoring what you put into your body, LeBlanc advises her clients to relax and enjoy the holidays. While it can be a stressful, action-packed time for most, she advises that stress raises blood sugar levels and can result in comfort food overeating to cope with the discomfort. She advises taking a 10-15 minute brisk walk before or after every meal to total 30-45 minutes of activity every day.

Finally, LeBlanc encourages "mindful eating", another tip that may be an especially difficult task during the holiday rush. Mindful eating means taking the time to enjoy your food and avoiding distractions like TV, phones and meetings. Eating mindfully allows your body to realize your eating and to achieve the maximum satisfaction from your meals.



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