• Fresh Views

    Move to Mediterranean-style Eating: Tips, Swaps, and How-to’s that work

    View of the Mediterranean Sea from Eze Village, France

    In the quest to eat healthy (with or without diabetes), embracing a Mediterranean eating style can be a helpful approach. In fact, in our last blog post you’ll find the highlights from the new consensus report on nutrition therapy for adults with diabetes or prediabetes which confirms that the Mediterrannean eating pattern, along with a variety of others, can help people with or at risk for diabetes to eat healthier and be healthier.

    We are personal fans of the Mediterranean approach. We enjoy the flavors, variety and health benefits (of course)! So, we want to share a few practical tips that have worked for us, as well as clients we have coached over the years. But first… 

    What exactly is Mediterranean style eating? 

    Traditional Mediterranean meals feature foods grown all around the Mediterranean Sea, and emphasize foods that are minimally processed, seasonally fresh, and locally grown. Focus is on including the following:

    • Plant-based foods, including vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, fruit, and whole grains. 
    • Fish and other seafood (small amounts and limited frequency of red meat)
    • Olive oil as the main dietary fat
    • Dairy products (mainly yogurt and cheese) in low to moderate amounts
    • Fewer than 4 eggs per week
    • Fresh herbs and spices for flavor
    • Wine in low to moderate amounts
    • Water as the go-to beverage
    • Infrequent use of concentrated sugars or honey

    Does this peak your interest? If so, are there some of these foods that you already like and eat, that you could swap in more often to begin eating “more” Mediterranean?

    There is no one “right way” to eat Mediterranean style. If you are interested in eating “more” Mediterranean, here are 6 small steps to get you started.

    6 steps to start eating more Mediterranean

    1. Eat fish at least twice each week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring are good choices.
    2. Fill at least half of your plate with Mediterranean style non-starchy vegetables which include the following: artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, celeriac, chicory, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, greens, leeks, mushrooms, nettles, okra, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, scallions, shallots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnip, and zucchini.  Vegetables are a staple of the Mediterranean eating pattern. 
    3. Replace butter and margarine with healthful oils such as olive or canola oil. Use these oils for cooking, dip bread in flavored olive oil, or lightly spread olive oil on whole-grain breads.
    4. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as whole-grain pasta and rice products.
    5. Season meals with herbs and spices rather than salt.
    6. Snack on small servings of nuts or seeds instead of snack foods. Deb likes pistachios so has small zip-top bags of them on her desk at work, in her travel bag, and in her car for quick snacks! Perfect for plane travel too!

    The Mediterranean eating style is not low fat, but rather rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fat from plant sources such as olives and nuts. Here are some of our favorite swaps to make the switch to high quality Mediterranean fats…

    4 simple swaps to healthy Mediterranean-style fats

    • Top whole grain toast with almond butter or peanut butter rather than butter. Natural nut butter is preferred (rather than the kind with added fat). If you have trouble with the nut butter separating, screw the lid on tightly and store the jar upside down. That way when you turn it right side up to open it, the oil will be in the bottom rather than on the top.
    • Mash and spread avocado on a sandwich rather than mayonnaise.
    • Lightly dip crusty bread in olive oil rather than slathering with butter.
    • Try almond milk on your morning cereal rather than dairy.

    We’ve found that seeing how all of this could come together in the form of an actual meal is helpful too. Here are some ideas to spark your thinking on what might work for you:

    Like yogurt for breakfast? Try plain Greek yogurt topped with chopped figs, unsalted pistachios and a light drizzle of honey

    Savor a sandwich at lunch? What about  a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, salad greens, and tuna, dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice; and a date stuffed with almond butter for a sweet bite

    Trying to fit in more fish at dinner? Go for grilled trout; tomato, cucumber and arugula salad with lemon olive oil vinaigrette; steamed broccoli; couscous; watermelon; and a glass of red wine (if you choose to drink wine)

    Searching for a snack? Grab a nectarine or peach; or walnuts or almonds for a no carb option.

    The Mediterranean eating style is easily adaptable to today’s busy lifestyle. We hope you enjoy one of our favorite Mediterranean style recipes which follows. It’s super easy, colorful, and packed with flavor!  And only has 2 ingredients! (We confess that just talking about this for the blog made us hungry for it, and required a run to the market for dinner!)

    You can print our recipe card below for Two Ingredient Sun-Dried Tomato and Shrimp. (Deb likes the Bella Sun Luci brand of sun dried tomatoes that she buys at Costco or Amazon)

    Yield: One serving

    TWO INGREDIENT SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND SHRIMP

    TWO INGREDIENT SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND SHRIMP

    Quick and easy yet tasty 2 ingredient shrimp recipe

    Prep Time 2 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 7 minutes

    Ingredients

    • ½ cup julienne cut sun dried tomatoes in olive oil and Italian herbs
    • 3 ounces (6-7 large) cooked shrimp (we buy the fully-cooked frozen version and thaw under cool running water or purchased pre-cooked shrimp in the deli area)

    Instructions

    1. Rinse shrimp (thaw if frozen).
    2. Heat 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil in a sauce pan or skillet until warm.
    3. Add shrimp and stir until shrimp are warm.
    4. Serve and enjoy, that's it!

    Notes

    If you prefer, and have time, you can make your own sun dried tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and herbs.

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    A favorite variation: With summer produce arriving, another favorite variation is to mix diced fresh tomatoes, diced sun dried tomatoes, and fresh garlic in a skillet with hot olive oil and toss until tender. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor, and coarse ground salt and black pepper to taste. If you have fresh parsley or basil, chop and stir in before serving.

    Fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs

    Rounding out this Mediterranean-style meal: Enjoy the shrimp and tomatoes alone, over steamed spiralized zucchini, or with a side of green vegetables as a light low carb meal. Salad greens topped with Kalamata olives, a sprinkle of Feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar rounds out a quick meal. You can also serve the tomatoes and shrimp over quinoa, a whole grain pasta, or small cheese tortellini if you want a more hearty meal and carbs aren’t a concern for you.

    Shrimp and sun dried tomatoes served over tortellini

    The summer months are perfect timing to begin embracing a more Mediterranean eating approach with the bounty of fresh produce from summer gardens. What Mediterranean style foods are you already eating? How can you fit those in more often? 

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  • Fresh Views

    Making a list (and checking it twice): A way to calm and conquer

    With the holidays in full swing at the time of this post, and carols in the air, the lyrics to a popular holiday song about “making a list and checking it twice” struck a chord with us. Not only does making a list and checking it twice help jolly Old Saint Nicholas keep up with who is “naughty or nice”, evidence shows that making lists lends a number of benefits.

    While we @AFreshPOVforYou are personally super fans of lists (especially “to do” lists!), many clients have shared the value they personally find in making lists as well. One client took two days off work to make lists, organize her home, and run errands, noting that it helped her feel calmer. She’s noticed she’s physically and mentally healthier when doing this.

    There are many kinds of lists. And whether they’re compiled on a post it note, piece of paper, in an app, in the Notes on your phone, in an electronic document, on a whiteboard, by asking Alexa or Google, or whatever method works for you…the goal is to get information and clutter out of your head and placed somewhere else to refer back to.  Making lists can help bring a fresh perspective and point of view on life situations, including life with diabetes.

    Here are 7 other benefits of making lists:

    1. Reduces mental clutter. If a thought is written down or documented where you can easily refer back to it, then you no longer have to waste mental energy and capacity thinking about it. And that directly leads to benefit #2.
    2. Reduces stress.  With lists you can see what needs to happen without having to try to remember or fear you will forget.
    3. Allows you to prioritize and allocate time most efficiently. You can separate minutia from what matters.
    4. Helps maintain focus to get things done and combat avoidance, which is particularly helpful when feeling overloaded.
    5. Serves as a valuable communication tool. Whether lists of questions for your health care team at the next visit. Lists of carbohydrate content of favorite holiday foods. Lists of home repair tasks you need a family member to help with. You get the idea.
    6. Brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment when marking things off the list.
    7. Promotes inner calm (not only during the holidays, but beyond).  And undoubtedly that can translate into positive health impacts on blood pressure and  blood glucose.

    List making does offer an opportunity for creativity as well. While some prefer a plain “get it done” checklist, others may prefer a splash of creativity making lists “pretty” via formatting, spacing, color, and font choice. That can enhance calming for some.

    While there are many types of lists, here are 10 types of lists that we’ve found valuable in our clients’ every day lives, and in our personal lives, to help calm and conquer (in no particular order):

    1. To do or task lists. A simple running list of things to accomplish. Seeing allows planning and executing them better.
    2. Accomplishments. Include even the little things – they add to feeling accomplished.
    3. Worries. Putting thoughts and feelings into words by writing them down has a calming effect on the brain.
    4. Gratitude lists. It’s easy to fixate on the things not going well. Rather by turning focus to the good things going on in life, one may become more optimistic and less anxious. When it comes to managing diabetes, for those that may use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for instance – rather than focusing on blood glucose out of range, noting gratitude for time in range. What was going on at that time? How can you do that more often?
    5. Hopes/Life lists/Bucket lists. These are things that you’d like to do, see, or experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and forget about the bigger picture.
    6. Questions for your health care team. Going to a visit with a list of questions in hand can help insure you get the information you need.
    7. Shopping lists. One client made an electronic list of all the groceries he bought routinely and arranged it in the order he’d find the items at the store. He’d leave room for additions. Each week, he’d print it off, cross off anything not needed, and add anything not on the list, then go shopping. He found the shopping list template stress-reducing by not having to “re-create” a shopping list each week. And heading into the store armed with an organized shopping list helped him get in and out of the store faster.
    8. Self-care lists. These are things you can do just for you. So whenever you have even just a few minutes, you have inspiration and ideas at hand. The goal is to help remind you to make the time for self-care. And, you can’t look after anyone else without looking after yourself first.
    9. Menu lists. A list of tried and true dinner meals that work for you saves so much brain power! No wondering what the carb count is or what to buy at the store. You have ideas in front of you. You may decide to add breakfast, lunch and snacks to the list too.
    10. Health logs. Considering that a log is basically a list of events tied to specific dates and times, keeping a list of exercise achievements, blood glucose readings, food consumption, or medication doses for instance, can help measure  progress and identify opportunities for change.

    Keep lists handy and refer to them often. Which lists could help you calm, conquer, and realize a fresh perspective on life?

  • Fresh Views

    Finding solutions when they’re not obvious

    The holiday season is in full swing! December travels included a stop in New York City. What’s a trip to New York in December without a visit to the Rockefeller Center tree? Always a magical sight to get you in the holiday spirit!

    New York City Rockefeller Center Tree

    We are big fans of musicals, so seeing one on any trip to New York City is high on the list. A few friends recommended a somewhat unlikely musical that received rave reviews (and a Tony Award!). A musical which really requires one to think differently about the interpretation of life’s events. The show is “Come From Away”  Maybe you’ve heard of it? At the core, it is a story about the power of kindness and generosity of strangers during a horrific time in the world, the first 5 days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.

    Come From Away

    To briefly recap, the setting is Gander, Newfoundland – a remote island with a “retired” military post from WWII and an old refueling station for transatlantic flights (before planes were large enough to carry all needed fuel). When the U.S. airspace was closed to inbound flights following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 38 jumbo jets were diverted to Gander. This town of 9,000 nearly doubled in population as an additional 6,759 passengers became refugees so to speak  – unable to leave or to even get their luggage off the planes for 5 days. Along with them were 9 cats, 11 dogs, and 2 rare apes (one who was pregnant). The town affectionately called these individuals the “Plane People”, and put aside their worries and issues to care for these tired and terrified fellow humans. Local residents cooked food all night long. Stores donated medicine, supplies, diapers and toilet paper, while others donated clothing. School buses provided transportation to shelters and even private homes. During this horrific time, while deep sadness was everywhere (one woman lost her son, a New York City Firefighter), friendships were formed. One couple would even later marry and return to Gander for their honeymoon. When the time came to leave, the “Plane People” asked how much money they owed the people of Gander, and were told, “Nothing. You’d do the same for us!”

    This tragic event in U.S. history was translated into a certainly unlikely – and yet successful – Broadway musical.  How did the creator, Michael Rubinoff, think this would work? According to Mr. Rubinoff, “Well, not many people shared that vision to turn this into a musical. It’s not obvious.” Building on that, when times are challenging and solutions are not obvious, it’s easy to feel down. One of those challenging (and stressful) times can be the holiday season. Add onto that the impact of managing diabetes and life can be downright overwhelming. (Be sure to check out our next blog where we’ll share one tried and true strategy to reduce stress). Yet during this often stressful holiday “season of giving”, there is some encouraging news. Did you know that giving to others may actually be good for your health?   Giving is linked with reduced stress, less depression, lower blood pressure, and feeling happy. Giving back can be a helpful strategy or solution to manage holiday stress. A solution that may not seem obvious. We believe giving can help build resilience.  

    We witness giving in the diabetes community all of the time. So many people living with diabetes are advocates and educate others. They create fundraising campaigns like Life for a Child  to provide insulin for children across the world without access.  And we’ve seen posts on social media where someone runs out of diabetes supplies and within minutes, a stranger in a far off state connects with that person to share and provide support. When you have a couple of minutes, take a look at this special video from Diabetes What to Know about “paying it forward” and sharing the gift of education as well as the benefits of learning from others living with diabetes. 

    So during this holiday giving season, will you join us in reflecting on the impact of the people of Gander and channel that in some small way by giving back? Whether giving back to the diabetes community, or others you cross paths with that are facing life challenges.  How can we all support, help, or encourage, as did the residents of Gander? There are many opportunities. It can be as simple as calling a friend and meeting them for coffee, even when you are feeling short on time. Or donating to a worthy organization that means something to you. Or as Ellen Degeneres says, simply “Be kind to one another.” We’ll all feel better in the end!

  • Fresh Views

    Reflections on our #WDD2018 Twitter Chat

    On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, World Diabetes Day, @AFreshPOVforYou was honored to moderate the 7:00 pm ET hour of the #WDD2018 Twitter Chat for #DSMA. Thank you to Cherise Shockley for allowing us to engage with the DOC on such an important evening.The questions put before participants were thoughtfully planned so that the information gained could be used in a small research study. In the near future, we look forward to sharing some of our learnings.

    We were thrilled with the participation and the depth of the responses to our “miracle question” exercise (See our previous blog posts to learn about “the miracle  question” and a bit about Solution Focused Brief Therapy [SFBT])

    There were 32 participants who created 358 Tweets and generated 1.54 million impressions! Wow!  If you’re familiar with Twitter Chats, search the #DSMA hashtag for all of posts between 7:00 pm ET and 8:00 pm ET on November 14, 2018 to follow the conversation.

    An overarching goal of the Twitter Chat was to explore the perceptions of the diabetes online community (or DOC for short)  on the miracle question approach to strengthen resilience and confidence needed to manage diabetes. As usual, the DOC is incredibly insightful and we learned so much.

    Here’s a sneak peak at the many thoughts shared during our discussion.

    We look forward to moderating a future #DSMA Twitter Chat in 2019 as we delve deeper into incorporating SFBT in diabetes care and education. Stay tuned!

  • Fresh Views

    Language can change your POV

    As National Diabetes Month comes to a close, we’d like to share this blog post written for the Society for Participatory Medicine blog post published November 2, 2018.  

    The language used in healthcare has such a significant impact on how a person living with diabetes FEELS about living with diabetes and how they trust and engage with healthcare professionals.

    If you already know us, you know we support the language movement and encourage everyone to think about language in a new and fresh way. When we drafted the scripts for the two #LanguageMatters videos (links on our web page on the lower right and in the blog post) that’s when we began to think about creating A Fresh POV for You because we knew there were more opportunities to impact the diabetes community in a new and positive way.

    Here are a few quick and easy suggestions, that while simple can be a game changer and help stop the blame, shame, stigma and judgement often associated with diabetes.

    • Instead of using words like adherence and compliance, focus on what the person is actually doing to manage their diabetes.  You can ask about when and how they are taking their medication, focusing on their strengths instead of judging behaviors.
    • Refrain from using language that implies the person living with diabetes is unmotivated or doesn’t care. Instead, recognize the time required to manage a chronic condition and appreciate the hard work they are doing every day.
    • Replace the word diabetic with person living with diabetes all of the time! (However, a person living with diabetes can choose the language that best suits them.)

    As we suggest in the blog mentioned earlier, language choice is a habit, and just like anything else, it takes a little practice to change behavior!  If you start to think about diabetes management from a solution focused approach you will naturally use language that is strengths based and action oriented, and not focused on blame. We can embrace a healthier way of talking about diabetes by changing perspectives on language and the impact it has on anyone living with diabetes. Let’s create fresh, new behaviors because #LanguageMatters!

     

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