As a dietitian, a large majority of my practice has been focused on helping people who have higher blood sugar, but at the same time carry a risk of heart disease. When you have this relationship (which, news flash, most adults do) our first knee jerk reaction might be, well let’s go low carb. And the short answer is “yes, that is a solution”. But in practice, this can be a struggle to find the balance where we are eating less carbs, or sugars, but not too much unhealthy fat. Because let’s be honest; if it doesn’t have carbs, it has protein and fat. And I am not vilifying protein or even fat. We are learning more and more that the right kinds of protein and fat can be great, even in higher amounts than we once thought. And yes, even for those that might want to lose some extra weight by eating a more balanced diet. But a lot of the proteins that show up in the American diet are not the most conducive to health. Animal proteins almost always carry a burden of saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation in the body. And inflammation and excess fat in the blood are the leading causes of heart disease.
Well, my favorite solution is to lean in heavily to vegetable products that contain fats, oils, and proteins that fight inflammation with healthy omega 3 fatty acids and contain added fiber to help trap excess fat that we eat. What this looks like in practice is a good half of whatever you are eating, meal or snack, should be vegetable or low carb fruit. Things like greens, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, avocado, berries, nuts and seeds. And when sugars or carbs do show up- try to make them whole grains or fruits that contain lots of fiber, like apples. This will help to balance the remainder of your meal which should be a ¼ to a 1/3 lean protein items. Excess fats can be absorbed by insoluble fiber and eliminated, and the absorption of carbohydrates can be slowed by the mix with protein and fat, regardless of source, a win win. Splitting things up this way helps your food to complement and balance itself, with each component helping to offset the negative aspects of another.
If you feel you need some help organizing your meals and snacks this way, connecting with a RD is a great resource to share tools, tips, and tricks to personalize this meal pattern to your preferences and life!