Abundant Living FAQ

How do you count milk as a carb?

Milk and yogurt are categorized as carbohydrates, since they contain natural sugars that convert to glucose in the blood. This does not mean that milk and yogurt are not good for you – they are healthy, just like other healthy carbs such as fruit and whole grains. Milk and yogurt also contain protein; Greek yogurt is especially high in protein.

What is the recommended daily serving for milk?

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for healthy Americans recommends 2-3 servings of the “dairy” group per day. It is recommended that you choose non-fat or low-fat dairy products such as skim milk, non-fat yogurt (be careful of the sugar count though – choose low sugar options!), and reduced fat cheeses. Cheese is not considered a carbohydrate, since it does not contain the same natural sugars as milk and yogurt.

What are microwave cooking pros and cons affecting food value and nutrition?

Nutrients in most foods are more preserved in their most natural form – raw or slightly cooked. When cooking vegetables in the microwave, the best way to preserve their nutrients are to add a small amount of water and “steam” the vegetables in a microwave-safe, BPA-free container.

What is watercress?

These are small, Chinese vegetables that are often used in Asian cuisine. They are high in fiber & vitamin C. You can add watercress to any Plate of Life and consider it a vegetable; it can help you to get your 3 cups of vegetables per day, since they are filling due to the fiber and the water content. A great dish to use watercress in would be a stir-fry vegetable dish. They could be stir-fried with cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, and chicken breast pieces. This could all be served over ½ cup cooked brown rice to complete the Plate of Life!

What do you recommend for chocolate substitutes and managing chocolate cravings?

Cravings are driven by the pleasure centers in the brain. Everyone has a different threshold for this reaction, but when we eat sweets, we often continue to crave them more over time, because the brain is perceiving the feeling as good by releasing hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. When something feels good, you want to keep doing it!

To manage cravings, avoid eating too many sweets in 2 ways:

1. Eat about every 4-5 hours to avoid getting too hungry before meals & making poor food choices, such as sweets or very high carbohydrate foods that contain refined sugars.

2. When eating carbohydrates or sweets, combine them with high fiber foods such as vegetables and a good protein source. You will feel full from the fiber & protein & will not want to eat as many of the carbohydrate foods & sweets that are breaking down into sugar and triggering the pleasure centers in the brain. This does not mean that you always have to avoid sweets, but choose them on special occasions and balance them with the Plate of Life meals. Since dark chocolate is less sweet than milk chocolate, you may find that this is easier to control.

It is also useful to buy pre-packaged type desserts, such as Skinny Cow varieties or Greek yogurt pops. It is also fun to freeze Greek yogurt & let it thaw for a few minutes before consuming – feels like ice cream!

 Is there a healthy way to make macaroni and cheese?

There is a healthiER way – check out the recipe on the ALIVE Nutrition page – look for Healthy Cheese Pasta Bake.

I have diabetes and my blood sugar is low at night so I eat a carb such as fruit to bring it up. Is this a good thing to do?

In general, yes. It’s good to eat 1 serving of a healthy carb to keep blood sugar stable plus some protein. One serving of carb together with one serving of protein at night has been shown to control morning blood sugars better.

Some examples:

  • 1 small apple + low fat string cheese
  • 1 0% Greek yogurt (has both carb & protein)
  • ½ peanut butter or turkey sandwich
  • 1 glass of low fat milk + boiled egg
  • 1 cup berries + ¼ cup cottage cheese

What can be used as a salt substitute, besides just artificial salt?

There are many herbs and spices that can help enhance the flavor of foods. These documents provide some specific ideas about spice/herb blends that you can make at home and try in place of salt: Herbs & Spices Instead of Salt; Salt-free_Seasoning

Here are a couple of a great resources for learning more about what herbs you might like and what to do with them: Herbs 101 ; Glossary of Spices . There are also some great salt-free blends that satisfy the palate without the salty taste, such as Chinese Five Spice, any Mrs. Dash, or Salt Free McCormick “In a Pinch” flavors.

The idea is to get your taste buds to begin to adapt and appreciate other flavors. Once you cut back on salt, you will be better able to taste the foods themselves, and previously “under-salted” foods will taste way too salty.

I’m on blood thinners and was told I shouldn’t have greens. What should I substitute?

I’m not sure what type of condition would limit extra virgin olive oil. I usually just remind people to consume a small amount, such as 1 teaspoon per serving. Other lower-fat/lower-calorie options would be using cooking spray and adding water, low sodium chicken broth, or dry white wine in cooking instead of oil. Oil spray misters (found at any kitchen supply store or online) can also be very helpful to use small amounts of oil in place of the more chemical versions of cooking spray.

I can’t have extra virgin olive oil – what should I use instead?

I’m not sure what type of condition would limit extra virgin olive oil. I usually just remind people to consume a small amount, such as 1 teaspoon per serving. Other lower-fat/lower-calorie options would be using cooking spray and adding water, low sodium chicken broth, or dry white wine in cooking instead of oil. Oil spray misters (found at any kitchen supply store or online) can also be very helpful to use small amounts of oil in place of the more chemical versions of cooking spray.

What type of diet should I follow for diabetes? Gluten-intolerance? Colitis?

These are very specific recommendations that are crucial to be individualized to each person, according to their condition and lifestyle factors. Most insurance companies and Medicare cover at least 3 visits per year to see a Registered Dietitian to design specific meal plans and lifestyle goals with these individuals.

Here are some resources:

Rush University Prevention Center

Search the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to find a Registered Dietitian in your area

Also, there are recommendations from national organizations regarding these conditions:

American Diabetes Association

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America

Celiac Disease Foundation

How and why would I blanch vegetables?

Here is a great link that describes the “why” and the “how” of blanching.

Is coffee bad for us or is it the cream we put in it? How much cream is too much? What alternatives should we consider?

No, coffee is not bad for us. There has actually been some great health benefits of coffee discovered!

And yes, mainly WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR COFFEE IS THE PROBLEM…The best option for coffee is non-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk – the vanilla gives it a good taste/texture. Try this in a non-fat latte for a creamier taste. Searching for something that tastes exactly like your cream and sugar cup of Joe will likely not do you any favors. Instead, train your taste buds to appreciate different flavors. Experiment with ground cinnamon, vanilla, or even a splash of vanilla extract.

Is there really a difference in bottled water versus tap water? And spring vs. distilled, and purified?

A couple of good resources to address this question:

Tap vs. Bottled Water

Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping it Safe

What can you tell me about “skinny fat” versus weight management?

Does “Skinny Fat” mean that a person can be visually thin, but have high body fat, which can present health risks? If so; then yes, this is true. Weight management is a very broad topic. In general, the best advice I can give to people who want to lose weight is to do 3 things listed below – these are the things that work for the folks in the National Weight Control Registry; these are individuals who have been successful with losing weight and keeping it off! Diets don’t work. Change your behavior for good!

  1. Eat 3 cups of vegetables daily. Not only are vegetables so healthy for us, b/c they are closest to the way that God made them; they are also great in helping us to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. If you are eating 3 cups of veggies each day, you will stay full and satisfied, which means you will be less likely to have cravings for sweets and other unhealthy foods. You will also be less likely to let yourself get too hungry and make poor food choices, which leads you to feel tired and sluggish. No fun!
  2. Keep a food diary. Changing your dietary habits starts with awareness. Don’t try to change everything at once, pick 1-2 things to work on and when you’ve mastered those things, then move onto 1-2 more things.
  3. Move for at least 30 minutes most days. This doesn’t have to mean changing your clothes, going to the gym, and sweating until you pass out. The #1 exercise for weight loss is walking. You can also build up to 30 minutes. Get to work 10 min early & walk briskly outside or around your building, save 10 min on your lunch & do the same, stay 10min after work and do the same. Or, do a full 30min if you have a longer lunch break or after dinner around your neighborhood.

Support is important! If you’d like more support and guidance with your weight loss goals, contact the Rush Prevention Center; where providers specialize in weight management behavioral treatments.

What can a person with bone on bone arthritis in the knees do to ease pain when walking?

Try to reduce the amount of force your knee has to bear by making sure your shoes are newer with good cushion, walk on softer surfaces like an all-weather track or dirt path/track and consider wearing an elastic or neoprene knee sleeve to provide knee support.