Carrots: The Misunderstood Vegetable

Carrots: The Misunderstood Vegetable I teach a lot of prediabetes and diabetes classes. I also counsel clients one-on-one about the disease and how to help manage it through diet and exercise. Why so many classes, attendees and clients? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2012, 29.1 million people in the U.S. had diabetes. This represents 9.3% of the population. Another staggering number is that there were 86 million prediabetics. These are people knocking on diabetes’ door. Americans aren’t the only people with the dubious distinction of having blood sugar issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 2014 9% of Earth’s population age 18 and older had diabetes. Why is this a problem? Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in America. Complications from diabetes include kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, blindness and amputations. Not good. So what do these sobering statistics have to do with the much-maligned carrot? It’s about starchy versus non-starchy veggie. Non-starchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrate and should make up half the plate. A serving size of starchy veggies (corn, peas, beans, potato, winter squash, pumpkin, plantains and parsnips) have as much carbohydrate as a slice of sandwich bread. They should occupy one-quarter of the plate. (For the record, the other quarter of the plate should be lean protein. Fruit and low fat or nonfat dairy can be outside the plate.) When I talk about veggies in my classes, I always ask the group to call out the starchy ones. Invariably at least one attendee, usually more, yells out “carrot.” But they’re misinformed....

Coumadin vs. Vitamin K?

I’m on Coumadin. Do I have to avoid foods with vitamin K? Coumadin, or Warfarin, is a blood thinner. Vitamin K helps the blood clot, which is the opposite of what you want. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid vitamin K rich foods. People taking Coumadin can typically have small and consistent amounts each day or several times a week. Don’t overdo it and, again, be consistent. Vitamin K rich foods include green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, cabbage, collard greens, romaine and green leaf lettuce, endive, turnip greens and green tea. Garlic, and other herbs and herb supplements, when taken with Coumadin can increase the chance of bleeding and bruising. Please tell your doctor about all over-the-counter vitamins, minerals and herbs you’re taking, as some should be avoided. I also suggest you work with your health care provider regarding regular blood checks, foods to limit and any changes needed to medication...

How many steps should I walk?

I got a pedometer at a health fair. How many steps should I walk? The goal is 10,000 steps a day which equals five miles. If you find you’re walking less than that, no problem. Just increase your steps each day or week until you get there. Besides going on walks or exercising on the treadmill, you can also take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in parking lots (if safe) and just take the long way around on foot as often as you can. You can even march in place while you’re sitting down watching...

Daily calories for weight loss?

I’m 5’3” and weigh 150 pounds. How many calories can I have in a day to lose weight? Aim for 1,200 calories a day. Don’t consume less calories than that and don’t skip meals. Enjoy balanced healthy meals and include daily...

Should I go gluten-free?

What’s gluten? And should I go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight? Gluten is a protein that’s in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. People with celiac disease must avoid it because even small amounts of gluten can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. There are also some that have gluten sensitivity and may suffer symptoms after eating gluten products. But this accounts for about 1% of the population. So if that’s not you, I don’t recommend a gluten-free diet. Not only can it be expensive, it’s a tough diet to follow as a lot of items contain gluten. And eliminating whole wheat and other high fiber foods can make it difficult to get all the fiber we should have in a day. I do recommend that you monitor portion sizes, like a half cup serving size of rice, pasta and oatmeal. Aim for balanced meals in which one-half of the plate is non-starchy veggies, one-quarter is protein and the other quarter is starch. Fruit and low fat or nonfat dairy are outside the plate. Prepare food in a healthy manner such as baking, grilling, roasting, steaming and baking. Don’t drink your calories and don’t skip meals. And if your doctor approves, engage in 60 minutes of physical activity a minimum of 5 days a...