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U.S. Diet not Diabetes-Friendly

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U.S. Diet not Diabetes-Friendly

U.S. Diet not Diabetes-Friendly

June 04, 2008


By: Meredith Fairbank for Diabetes1

As any person with diabetes knows, the food industry doesn’t make it easy to put your health first when making food choices. The most convenient and economical foods are not necessarily those that are best for you. But there is a way to get food right. This is not a novel idea. In fact, the idea is so old it has been forgotten. Returning to the traditional diets that sustained our ancestors may be one key to maintaining good health.
 
Traditional diets developed over thousands of years. Suddenly changing those patterns is never a good idea.
 
Recent studies have noted that immigrants to this country who acculturate tend to gradually leave behind the flavors of the old country in favor of adopting the eating habits that are popular in the United States. This means the introduction of snacking and adopting a diet that lacks sufficient fiber and is overloaded with saturated fat, sugar, and processed foods.
 
It is especially true as compared with immigrants who strive to maintain a diet primarily comprised of the traditional foods of their country. The Mediterranean diet, for example, might feature a bed of spinach or mixed greens with olives, fish, vegetables and sliced eggs topped with olive oil and lemon dressing and pita bread. The traditional Mexican diet has become popular in its fast-food incarnation with add-ons such as the flour tortilla, but at its core it features corn served in many forms along with squash, beans, and rice topped with crushed tomatoes, chilies, herbs, and onions. Asian dishes feature a wide variety of vegetables, meats, and herbs on a bed of rice or noodles contain a good balance of nutrients.
Healthy Recipe Alert
Deliciously simple traditional gazpachos of all kinds can be made in the blender. Grape gazpacho is a favorite. Serve chilled:
  • 1 ½ cups green grapes
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds or walnuts
  • 3/4 cup ice water
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  •  
    Following a traditional diet provides an edge in maintaining good health, but the temptations are many. With dozens of flavors of ice cream and a truly impressive array of junk foods with almost no nutritional value, even if immigrant groups continue to enjoy the regional dishes of the old country, they tend to sample the inexpensive desserts and snack foods that are so readily available here.
     
    Now that the fast food empires of American cuisine have gained a substantial foothold in Europe, we can expect the trend to bring other changes as well. For example, obesity is for the first time increasing in Europe. While obesity does not always lead to diabetes, the conditions are closely linked.
     

    For more ideas on how to eat right, the American Diabetes Association has prepared a series of guidebooks: Mr. Food's Quick & Easy Diabetic Cooking, Beyond Rice and Beans, Month of Meals: Festive Latin Flavors. To order these materials, call 1-800-232-6733 or visit http://store.diabetes.org.

     

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