7 Tips for Easy Healthy Meal Planning

7 Tips for Easy Healthy Meal Planning

Meal planning is essential to a successful healthy diet. It will prevent grabbing something that you probably shouldn’t be eating when you don’t have anything planned for dinner. If it’s a quick snack to hold you over until the meal, at least it should be a wise choice. A plan helps you to stock up on healthy options.

  1. The planning should begin before you head to the grocery store. Once a week sit down and create a menu plan for the meals you are going to make for the next week. Include all meals and snacks for each day. Include raw veggies for snacks, such as bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

  2. Then prepare a list of the ingredients you need for your week’s pre-planned meals. Shop from the list to prevent “oh, that looks good” impulse buying. You can use a digital program to have it handy on your phone or tablet. We’ve used Wunderlist, Todoist, and others to build our lists. When we add the item to the cart, we check it off and it drops into the completed list. Then when we need it again, we scroll down and uncheck it so it goes back to the active shopping list.

  3. In the beginning, meal planning will take some time. Once you get the first week or two done, it will get easier and take less time. You might even decide that you’ll come up with 2 weeks of variety and then duplicate those 2 weeks as many times as you wish. If you are no longer using that menu plan, file it for later. When you need to come up with menu ideas and you are short on time or ideas, pull out the tried and true menu and you’re all set.

  4. If you’re following a specific diet such as Paleo, Carb counting, the TLC Diet, or Omni diet, you’ll need to know what foods you can have, the portion sizes and how they can be cooked. If you are not following a specific diet plan, then be sure you know what foods are best. While specifically targeting diabetics, my book Overcome Diabetes has detailed information that applies to healthy meal plans for everyone. Plan your meals around those.

The short version: eat more veggies, eliminate sugar and simple carbs, eat more whole foods.

  1.  Plan each day out in its entirety. Make it realistic. Don’t plan to make a meal that requires a lot of prep/cook time on a night that you know you won’t be home until late. Save the meals with more preparation for when you have time and make extra so you can have left-overs. If you are going to do this, you can plan the left-overs into the week’s menu.

  2. Don’t go to the grocery store when you are hungry. If you do, there is more chance that you will buy food that you do not need. As you’re pushing around the cart, only get what is on your list. Skip the aisles that don’t have something on the list (cuts down on temptation.)

  3. Before you get in line to pay for your food, make sure nothing jumped into your cart that you shouldn’t have. Put it back. My husband sometimes puts things like cookies into the cart to see how long it will take me to notice. Not very long 🙂

These 7 tips will make sure you stick to your meal plan and save you money too.

We’ve followed two specific diets in the past. Now we follow the wise choice foods listed in my book. These foods have become a habit.  If my husband goes to the store to replenish supplies, I know he’ll come home with good choices from our shared digital list. There are times when we splurge, but we know that’s what it is – a one-time splurge.

To your health!


Marian Hays writes, coaches, and speaks about health and personal growth for people who want to take control of their health and empower their lifestyle.  She’s an advocate for others as she researches and shares the truth instead of hype, infused with humor. Her goal is to inspire others to accomplish their goals and work through challenges that might otherwise hold them back.  You can find her books on Amazon.

Diabetes and Obesity: Twin Epidemics

Diabetes and Obesity: Twin Epidemics

An article published 7 years ago in the Harvard Gazette details how diabetes and obesity are parallel epidemics. Medications for diabetes lead to obesity. Obesity leads to diabetes. Studies have been going on “for decades” but no one was taking them seriously. Only now, seven full years later, is the parallel between the two getting any attention. This delay means about 30 percent of overweight people have the disease, and 85 percent of diabetics are overweight.

From the now 7 year old article:

“The twin epidemics of obesity and its cousin, diabetes, have been the target of numerous studies at Harvard and its affiliated hospitals and institutions. Among seminal findings was the first study to document the extraordinarily tight connection between the two diseases. Research done by Harvard School of Public Health Professor Walter Willett and his colleagues showed that being even slightly overweight increased diabetes risk five times, and being seriously obese increased it 60 times. ”

As reported in the Harvard Gazette article, “The study’s authors had to push just to get the results in print.

We had a hard time getting the first paper published showing that even slight overweight greatly increased the risk of diabetes,” Willett said. “They didn’t believe it.”

There is so much we can do to reverse this in our own lives.  It’s time to take action!

Source: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/03/the-big-setup/

Prediabetes and Type 2: Health Benefits of Eating Nuts

Prediabetes and Type 2: Health Benefits of Eating Nuts

I came across an interesting article about the health benefits of eating nuts.  A study shows how eating a handful of nuts daily is helpful in preventing prediabetes and helps stabilize type 2 diabetics. Eating nuts as a snack instead of many typical snacks such as granola bars or yogurt.

According to researchers from Pennsylvania State University, eating an average of 52 grams of nuts a day can reduce the likelihood of developing insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated that up to 50 percent of people with insulin resistance will develop diabetes if they don’t make lifestyle changes.

“Previous studies have suggested that eating nuts regularly is tied to better blood glucose (sugar) control and protection from type 2 diabetes. The new findings suggest that adding nuts to your daily diet can help improve insulin sensitivity.

Nuts are high in healthy unsaturated fats, fats thought to help improve insulin sensitivity. Dietary fiber and magnesium in nuts may also play a role.

“Pistachios and walnuts are a good source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid linked to protection from type 2 diabetes.

52 grams of nuts, the average daily intake across the 40 studies, is equivalent to 300 calories worth of almonds (43 nuts), 340 calories of walnuts (26 halves) or 290 calories of pistachios (74 kernels).

To prevent adding excess calories to your diet, swap nuts for snacks such as granola bars, crackers, cookies and chips. Substitute nuts for granola as a topping on yogurt.  Replace meat in stir-fries with nuts, which, in addition to unsaturated fat and fiber, add plant-based protein.”

Excerpts from an article by Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/article-everything-you-need-to-know-about-eating-nuts-and-preventing-diabetes/

Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

Reading food labels is one of the most effective ways of determining the right kind of food to buy in the supermarket. It lets you make sensible food selections. The food label includes valuable information, especially to a diabetic.

Admittedly, reading food labels can be very tedious and confusing. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, it will be easier for you to maintain healthy food choices by knowing what’s really in the foods you are purchasing and consuming.

The ingredient list
This is a good place to start before looking at the numbers on the food label. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity to the entire product.

If sugar is listed first, there is more sugar in that product than anything else. The closer it is to the beginning of the list the more of it is present in the food. Unfortunately, sugar has so many different names – many of the chemical – that you might see 4 types of sugar listed further down the label, some chemical names.  Add them up and sugar could be the largest ingredient in the product.

Avoid foods that list items that don’t work well for you. Allergic to rosemary?  Check the label to see if it’s listed. Products with a lot of unpronounceable chemical ingredients should also be avoided.

Look at the serving size and compare that to the number of carbohydrates is in a serving. Diabetic serving size for carbohydrates is usually 15 grams.  If one serving is higher than 15 grams, you’ll have to eat less than the suggested serving size to stay on track with your meal plan.

Sugar-free foods
These may grab your attention as something safe and yummy to add to your shopping cart.  But look at the carbohydrate and fat counts first. Most foods that are sugar-free use artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, but have higher carbohydrates or fats added.  There are always tradeoffs to make the foods tasty.

Check the fat content.
Unless you are on a very controlled keto diet, look for a small number of fat grams.  Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are listed in grams.  However, protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram in the calorie count.  Fat, on the other hand, has 9.  More than double the protein and carbs. So, the total calories from fat could be much higher than expected. As a percentage of the product, it could easily be over 50% of the total calories.

Back in the 70’s, the government declared war on fats (like Arnold Schwarzenegger said in True Lies, “they were all bad”).  So, the food manufacturers decreased fats and increased sugars and carbs for flavor.  And the swelling of America happened.

Fortunately, now the tables are turning. It’s been scientifically proven that fats aren’t all bad. But you need to know what kind of fats you’re eating.  Trans fats should be avoided.  Some saturated fats are fine – coconut and avocado for example.  All fats have the same 9 calories per gram, but they react differently in your body.

Through the “Nutrition Facts” section of the label, you can identify the serving sizes and number of servings.  Remember to take into consideration how much you eat as a single serving.

The amounts and kinds of nutrients are included in the label. Usually, the label contains the information on saturated fat, sodium, total fat, fiber, and cholesterol amount “per serving.”

Things you need to know

Serving size
As already stated, the amount of servings on the label refers to the quantity of food the manufacturers determine people “usually” consume. Food manufacturers may use this to trick the casual observer into thinking there are fewer calories, fats, and carbs in the product.

The manufacturer cleverly shows acceptable amounts but increases the number of servings. If you typically consume an entire package of mac and cheese in one sitting, you need to multiply the number of servings by the grams/calories shown to get the real amounts and their effect on your body.  You may be stunned at how many calories, fat grams, and carbs you’re eating.

We live in a supersized world
A restaurant’s “single serving” is usually about two or three at-home servings.  We’re used to larger quantities without even thinking that it means more calories.

Nutrients
This refers to the list of available nutrients in the food product.  The percentages are based on the government’s recommended daily dietary allowance, usually an arbitrary 2,000 calories.  However, if you have a very small frame and can only burn 1,500 calories/day, you might need to recalculate the percentages.

Ingredients
This refers to the list of the ingredients that were used to manufacture the product, arranged from the greatest amount by weight to the smallest quantity. Occasionally some ingredients are listed as “other spices,” for example, in unknown amounts, which usually means a very small quantity.

Label claim
This refers to the kinds of nutritional claims of the food item. For instance, if the label says it’s sodium-free, it should have less than 5 milligrams per serving, or a low-fat item should contain 3 grams of fat or less.

In looking at carbohydrates, the label should show total carbs and fiber. If you subtract the fiber grams from the total carbs, you will have net carbs.  Since fiber is non-digestible, some diet plans count only the net carbs.

Happy label reading! Just be prepared to put things back on the shelves.

Obesity and Diabetes:  Know the connection!

Obesity and Diabetes: Know the connection!

People with diabetes have higher than normal blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates, sugars, and starches found in many foods, into glucose, a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. The pancreas, through insulin, regulates the amount of glucose entering the cells of the body. Glucose that can’t be accepted by the cells is converted into fat.

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children and young adults, though it can appear at any age. In the past, type 1 diabetes was called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The body is deficient in insulin or can’t produce it naturally so the diabetic is dependent on prescribed insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people who are also overweight or obese. The disease is now becoming more common in overweight and obese children and adolescents.  Most doctors will prescribe medication to regulate blood sugar and insulin production. Insulin is not commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetics.

Physical Inactivity, Obesity, and Diabetes

Physical inactivity and obesity are strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Type 2 is not genetic, but the eating patterns may be passed on through family habits.

An imbalance between caloric intake and the number of calories burned (physical activity) lead to overweight and obesity.  It’is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Central obesity, in which a person has excess abdominal fat, is a major risk factor not only for type 2 diabetes but also for heart and blood vessel disease, also called cardiovascular disease (CVD). This excess belly fat produces hormones and other substances that can cause harmful, chronic effects in the body such as damage to blood vessels.

Measuring your waist is a quick way of assessing your diabetes risk. This is a measure of abdominal obesity, which is a particularly high-risk form of obesity. Measure your actual waistline (not your pant size).  It should be 1/2 or less than your height in inches. Women have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if their waist measures 31.5 inches or more. Asian men with a waist size of 35 inches or more have a higher risk, as do white or black men with a waist size of 94cm (37 inches) or more.

Simple Steps to Lower Your Risk

Making a few lifestyle changes can dramatically lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. They can also lower the chances of developing heart disease and other life taking cancers.  The same changes may reverse type 2 diabetes and prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2.

1. Control Your Weight: Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes by seven-fold. Being obese makes you 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight. Losing weight can help if your weight is above the healthy weight range. Check your BMI. Losing 7 to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.

2. Get Moving and Turn Off the Television: Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to burn glucose. This puts less stress on your insulin-producing pancreas.

3. Tune Up Your Diet: 4 dietary changes can have a big impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes

a. Avoid refined carbohydrates and other processed foods.

b. Skip the sugary drinks, and choose water, coffee, or tea instead.

c. Choose good fats instead of bad fats.

d. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose nuts, poultry, or fish instead.

If you are already diagnosed with diabetes, take actions to improve your health.  Keep your body active, such as a walk every day. Choose healthy foods and supplements, and be sure to take the proper doses of any prescribed medications.

A Dozen Reasons to Resist Diabetes Miracle Cure Hype

A Dozen Reasons to Resist Diabetes Miracle Cure Hype

A Dozen Reasons to Resist Diabetes Miracle Cure Hype

Not all diabetes products are hype, but many are. While some true experts offer good non-prescription solutions, many are less than beneficial “miracle cures” created by marketers. How do you tell the difference? Here are a few things to think about.

  1. Unless you trust the known expert promoting a product, you won’t know what ingredients are really in it. Some claim a significant amount of a special ingredient, but it may be only a very small amount with other fillers.
  2. The latest breakthrough product is a one-size-fits-all that doesn’t take your unique needs into consideration.
  3. Some claim you don’t need to change your diet. No pill, organic or otherwise, works if you continue to eat the same amount of sugar and carbs.
  4. Some claim you can stop your prescription meds. Dangerous.
  5. Marketers are masters at manipulating emotions. The miracle cure was often discovered after a heart-wrenching series of events that led to a hunt for a cure.
  6. The sales letter claims it’s a doctor speaking, usually someone you’ve never heard of and can’t research. The person writing the sales letter could be a very good fiction writer.
  7. Big Pharma is NOT afraid of these “cures.” Medical doctors will not shut down the product if they find the ad.
  8. Sales pitches may have a grain of truth to sound credible, but not necessarily sound science.
  9. They usually don’t work. Marketers know most people won’t return products for a refund.
  10. If you chase miracle cures you may become passive in taking care of your health.
  11. If your medical doctor is convinced your diabetes is a life sentence with no recovery, find another doctor who understands nutrition, not another miracle cure.
  12. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Want more information to overcome the confusion?  Get your free report today:
3 Steps to Overcome Your Diabetes