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Summertime Cooking, The Healthy Way with Elaine Magee, RD

Enjoy the joys of summer -- and stay healthy too!

Cobbling Up a Lighter Cobbler continued...

In terms of irritable bowel, you would probably know which foods are troublesome for your constitution and hopefully could easily avoid them. For me, eating light, in terms of low fat, really helps me personally. I generally do not have any problems eating at a picnic or barbecue, as long as I stay away from the real greasy, fatty foods. I would think with hypoglycemia you would be better off eating smaller, more frequent meals and making sure each meal has quite a bit of fiber and each meal is nicely balanced with some protein and good fats along with good carbohydrate choices.

To answer your question about high-protein, low-protein, high-carb, etc., I personally strongly feel that the low-carb way of eating is just plain wrong. What I think helps most people is to make smart carb choices and to make more balanced meal choices to include some protein and fat along with carbohydrates.

Member question: We're having a block party cookout and I know one family that's coming has two diabetic members. As the host, what should I be aware of in offering food?

Magee: You'll probably want to offer some high-fiber choices; limit sugars and sweeteners when you can; choosing smarter fats will also help, like olive oil and canola oil. But generally people with diabetes can eat anything; it's a matter of them knowing the portions that work for them. Generally the higher fiber the meal is, the easier on the blood glucose it's going to be, and then not overdoing certain carbohydrate-rich items.

This is a funny story about my dad who was diabetic (passed away a year ago). He called me one day and told me he was very confused coming home, he couldn't remember how to get home. He took his blood sugar when he got home and it was really high. So I asked him, "What did you eat two hours before?" He was describing his lunch and he said, "Oh, I had watermelon." I said, "How much watermelon?" He said, "One." "One slice?" "No, one watermelon." The point being, a little bit of watermelon is fine; a lot of watermelon can cause problems. That was the day he learned it's not that watermelon is bad, you'd be hard-pressed to eat more than 150 calories from a serving because it's mostly water, but if you eat enough of it, it can cause problems with your blood sugar.

Member question: My aunt always brings baked beans to family gatherings in the summer. What can be done to make baked beans healthier (aside from leaving out the salt pork)?

Magee: Baked beans are really not too bad. They're very sweet, so if you were making them from scratch, you could cut the sugar a little and instead of salt pork, you could add lean ham, which would give you some of those flavors, but without as much fat. I personally might add a little bit of flax seeds to baked beans because it's dark in color and the flax seed hides well.

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