Excuse us while we geek out a bit! Following our last Healthy & Whole post about managing endometriosis pain through diet, we wanted to focus on something just as exciting: preventing disease through diet.
Diabetes is on the rise, both here in the US and around the world. At the current rate, people diagnosed with diabetes in the US will triple by 2050. This is an incredibly personal statistic to us; not only do we know people who are affected by the disease, but our professional work has been dominated by diabetes-related products.
I don’t know about you, but we’re incredibly passionate about this issue because of the good news: Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. According to Harvard, about 9 in 10 cases of diabetes could be avoided by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.
Say what? Preventing disease through eating well sounds fantastic compared to doctor visits and medical bills. So here’s the challenge: will you join us in working to reverse this trend? Below are four “guidelines” from the Harvard School of Public Health on how to eat to prevent diabetes. We’ve paired them with a few of our recipes to help illustrate what that looks like “in real life”. And even better: eating healthy can be just as delicious as unhealthy foods, once you train your tastebuds to start craving real, whole foods.
Let us know: what do you think about preventing disease through diet (and exercise)? What can be done to increase interest eating for disease prevention?
1. Choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates.
Switching over to whole grain breads and pastas is a great first step; even better is choosing whole grains like brown and wild rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, farro, and oats. Here are a few recipes to get your feet wet:
2. Skip the sugary drinks, and choose water, coffee, or tea instead.
Giving up sugary drinks takes some weaning for sure. Alex used to drink soda constantly, so he’s found he needs a “replacement” beverage that is not just flat water. On a daily basis, we use a SodaStream to make bubbly water, and sometimes add some lemon or lime for a little flavor. Below are a few other soda substitutes we’ve come up with:
3. Choose good fats instead of bad fats.
Good fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, trans fats do the opposite. They’re found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in many fast-food restaurants, and products labeled with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”. We primarily cook with olive oil in our recipes that are posted on this site. Below are some recipes full of “good fats” to start some inspiration:
4. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose nuts, whole grains, poultry, or fish instead.
Limiting meat sounds hard until you start trying, at least in our experience. With so many flavorful and creative fish and vegetarian dishes to try, we’ve never felt deprived. We hope these recipes can help start your creative juices flowing:
Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta (served with a whole grain)
Lentil Tacos (with whole wheat tortillas)
Pesto Portabello Burger (with whole wheat bun)
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.