Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's NOT the Carrots!

I've been practicing medicine for nearly two decades now, and I find it fascinating to see some of the persistent myths in medicine- most of which pertain to food/calories/weight loss. I find that people get very caught up in looking at specifics, and miss the big picture entirely. The classic example of this is CARROTS.

Many of my diabetic patients tell me that they are careful to avoid CARROTS, because they have such a high glycemic index. The same is true for fruits ("don't worry, Dr. Grimes, I KNOW not to eat bananas or apples!") Seriously? I believe with all my heart that everyone SHOULD know deep down that carrots and fruits are HEALTHY choices. Diabetic or not, these foods should be part of your healthy diet. Okay, yes, if eaten alone, carrots can transiently raise your blood sugar, but if you have adult onset diabetes, it is WEIGHT LOSS that will ultimately improve your blood sugars. I have yet to meet a SINGLE person who is overweight from eating too many fruits and vegetables. It simply does not happen.

If you are overweight, please take an honest look at what you are eating. In fact, write it down- all of it- for a few days. Perhaps the daily Starbucks muffin & latte have a little something to do with your extra calories...And while lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers are all healthy, low calorie choices, adding tons of croutons, sunflower seeds, cheese and a generous amount of ranch dressing take a healthy salad and push the calories too high to help with a weight loss plan.

Carrots are a wonderful source of nutrition. They are packed with provitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K. Carrots satisfy the need to crunch and work beautifully to scoop up hummus as an afternoon snack.

BOTTOM LINE: Recognize that no one is UNHEALTHY from eating too many fruits and vegetables. Ramp up these foods, limit processed "junk", and talk to a registered dietitian if you want to get serious about improving your diet!

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