Struggling With Sugar Cravings

By Jenny Fowler, First Mile Care DPP Coach

Feeling in control of your food choices is an important step along the road to healthy living. But when it comes to sugar, many of us struggle with temptation or even addiction despite our best efforts to control the craving.

As a certified holistic nutrition consultant and wellness coach, I help participants in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) determine strategies to control unhealthy eating habits that can lead to prediabetes. One of the most challenging is sugar consumption. I led a discussion on dealing with sugar cravings as part of the First Mile Care “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinar series.

It’s important to get a handle on sugar cravings to maintain stable energy throughout your day, to help balance blood sugar, and to aid in weight control. Oftentimes, you feel sugar cravings when your blood sugar is imbalanced. If your blood sugar is too low, your body wants a quick fix to bring the sugar back to a more stable level. You may make poor food choices to satisfy that sugar craving, food choices which can negatively affect your weight.

The main reasons for sugar cravings fall into three buckets:

  • Nutrition: Are you getting enough of the three macronutrients each day?  The amino acids in protein build the brain chemicals that stop sugar cravings. What about unrefined carbohydrates, your body’s preferred source of fuel? Do you eat the right amount of healthy fat, which helps keep your blood sugar stable?
  • Habits: Are you craving sugar because you habitually have something sweet as part of a routine or at a certain time of the day? Are you eating regularly (every 3-5 hours) throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable?
  • Emotions and Location: Are you craving sugar simply because you can see or smell something sweet in physical proximity? Or just know that there are doughnuts in the cupboard and ice cream in the freezer? Or are you under stress, which can cause your blood sugar to peak and crater, throwing your body into a red alert?

When you feel a sugar craving, think about WHY you are experiencing it. It may be because your meal planning doesn’t address the right balance of the three macronutrients. Or you’re in the habit of eating cookies with an afternoon cup of tea. Or you’re experiencing a lot of stress at work.

Once you can figure out your trigger(s) for craving sugar, it’s easier to address those cravings. Instead of just trying to deny your body what it wants, find an alternative activity or substitute routine. In a different webinar, I provided tips on calming activities that can reduce stress and help avoid nervous eating. Oftentimes, if there is not a physical reason for the craving, it will pass if you distract yourself with another activity. 

Of course, if there is a physical reason, make sure you have some tasty but healthy snacks available so you don’t reach for the chocolate. Or perhaps you need to eat the three macronutrients more often, more regularly, in smaller amounts, to avoid the blood sugar highs and lows that lead to sugar cravings. The important thing is to give your body regular, healthy fuel to keep your blood sugar fairly balanced and avoid big swings and crashes. 

Watch my webinar video below for more ideas on how to gain control of your sugar cravings. It does get easier!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!


Everyday Health: TIPPI Type 2 Diabetes

First Mile Care DPP coaches share their tips for preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes with Everyday Health. Read all the tips on TIPPI >

 

“Exercise reduces the risk of chronic illness, provides weight control, enhances mental health, strengthens bones and muscles, and improves longevity and mental acuity. Be patient and don’t give up, making movement a priority takes practice!”

“I recommend keeping fitness fun. Find a movement you enjoy (such as walking, swimming, gardening – anything that gets you off the couch and moving) and find a friend to exercise with for 30 minutes every day.”

– First Mile Care Coach Shavon LeBlanc

 

“Maintain a food log to track how you feel after pre-workout meals.”

“Try to eat 2-3 hours prior to exercising, or else eat easily digestible, simple carbs and a smaller portion of protein.”

“If you use protein powders before a workout, educate yourself on reading labels. Note sugars as well as chemicals or dyes.”

– First Mile Care Coach Kathy Gregory

 

“I recommend making your workouts enjoyable to avoid losing motivation. Make a plan and schedule time for yourself to workout. Within the first month, you should notice improvements in your mood and see visible results in as little as a few weeks!”

– First Mile Care Coach Sandra Huskey

 

“Try keeping a list of your top stress-relieving activities somewhere visible, like a fridge or a mirror, so you’ll see the list the next time you go to open the freezer door!”

“Practice calming activities (such as reading, being in nature, talking to a friend, music, coloring or physical activity) to reduce stress.”

– First Mile Care Coach Jenny Fowler

 

“Adopt a “growth mindset.” In her 2007 book, ‘Mindset, The New Psychology of Success’, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D explains that a “fixed mindset” focuses on failure while a “growth mindset” looks at failure as an opportunity for improvement. Having a “growth mindset” helps you achieve the goals you set for yourself in your diabetes prevention program action plan and empowers you to keep making progress towards sustainable habit changes to reverse diabetes.”

– First Mile Care Coach Bibilola Ladipo-Ajayi


How Health2047 nurtures innovation on medicine’s biggest challenges

To date, Health2047 has helped launch nine new companies. Some of the ideas came from within Health2047 and other ideas were ones people brought to the company. Health2047 was able to help provide expertise and help find capital to help fund the projects.

One example is First Mile Care, a company that has rethought chronic care management. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Diabetes Prevention Program has been shown to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 58%. But expanding on the idea to reach more people has proved a challenge. First Mile Care is scaling up the prevention platform that includes a physician prescribing the program and conducting the program in the patient’s community. Cohen said the company is now entering a growth phase.

Learn more from the American Medical Association >


Having Fun With Hydration — It’s More Than Just Water

By Sandra Huskey, First Mile Care DPP Coach

When you hear “hydration” you immediately think “water,” right?  Your body is about 60% to 70% water. Water aids digestion, keeps your blood moving, helps your kidneys and bowels work, provides saliva, and regulates body temperature, among other critical functions. It energizes your muscles and joints and reduces fine lines in your face. It wards away headaches and fatigue and keeps you alert. It also helps you to control calorie intake and your weight, because water helps to fill you up.

But hydration goes beyond just drinking water. If you eat fruits and vegetables that are full of water, they make you feel fuller for longer. As part of the ongoing series of “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinars offered by First Mile Care, I shared my tips for making hydration fun and looked at how to jazz up your water intake and make healthy smoothies.

In the clinically-proven National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), coaches emphasize that you need to be mindful of everything that goes into your body — and that includes all liquids. First Mile Care DPP coaches recommend that you keep a food journal to track your intake. We teach DPP participants to read food and nutrition labels carefully as the ingredients of what you eat and drink go towards your calorie, carbohydrate, sugar, fiber and other nutrient counts.

Water, water, everywhere

How much water should you drink? That varies based on your body size and how much you’re exercising and perspiring. In the summer months in Texas where I live, you’re going to want to increase your hydration to a bare minimum of 64 ounces if you’re exercising, but you could aim for 80 ounces.  My tip is to keep full glasses of water around the house, or for some folks, it’s drinking from big containers where they can easily measure their intake.

The important thing about water is to know your sources and look at the labels, as all water is not created equal. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Tap water. Check what minerals your municipality adds to it.
  • Mineral water. It varies by the source, and naturally has different nutrients in it.
  • Bottled water. Some may come from a particular spring, but some come from a water municipality, and even “purified” water may have calcium, chloride, magnesium salts and other additives.
  • Sparkling water. The added carbon dioxide gives it the bubbles. Most sparkling waters like Lacroix are flavored, so check the label for the additives.
  • Club soda or seltzer water. The bartender’s favorite, probably because it has a bit of saltiness, although it’s basically just like sparkling water.
  • Tonic water. Consider it a soda drink and not a water, as it has a lot of added sugar and sodium as well as quinine, which can increase heart rhythm.
  • Sports drinks. Check the additives, as Gatorade, for example, has a lot of added sugar.

You’ll be more inclined to increase your water consumption if it has a pleasant taste. Luckily, it’s easier to turn boring water into a flavored beverage than for Cinderella to turn into a princess. Consider infusing a jug or glass of water with herbs like basil or mint, or lemon or lime quarters, or cucumber slices.

Satisfying smoothies

You can jazz up your water, but sometimes you want something a little more satisfying. For example, I drink smoothies as a snack or to replace electrolytes and lost fluids after a run or other physical activity. And it’s easy to make your own delicious, healthy smoothies! Here are a few of my basic ingredients.

  • Base: plain yogurt, coconut water, low-fat milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk
  • Protein: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, pistachio butter
  • Fiber: flaxseed, flax meal, chia seed or even veggies such as spinach
  • Consistency: banana (it has sugar), or a healthy fat like avocado or sweet potato (but remember they are still fats!)
  • Flavor: cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa, ginger, turmeric, vanilla
  • Sweetener: go natural with honey or fruit like blueberries, which are lower in sugar than dates

If you’re just starting out with homemade smoothies, you might want to limit yourself to only a few key ingredients. For example, yogurt, coconut water, peanut butter, and one flavoring.

The good thing about homemade smoothies versus purchased ones is that every ingredient is under your control. Anything you put in it will go towards your nutritional and calorie counts, so always check the labels for the amounts of sugar, sodium, protein and fiber. For example, coconut water has sugar, but it’s natural sugar and the calories are lower than in other drinks. Almond Breeze milk is unsweetened so has no sugar. Yogurt with fruit is higher in sugar and calories, which is why I recommend plain yogurt so you can add your own flavors and better track your nutritional intake.

Watch my webinar video below to learn more of my tips for making hydration fun!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!


28 Nutritionists & Health Enthusiasts Reveal the #1 Healthiest Food in the World (and Why)

First Mile Care DPP Coach Jenny Fowler shares her opinion on the #1 healthiest food.

“While I’d love to say that there is one magic food that we all could eat every day to keep us in optimal health, I can’t…”

Yes, kale is chock full of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium. The açaí berry is loaded with antioxidants. Wild salmon is one of the highest sources of omega-3s. But to say that there is 1 food in the whole world that is healthier than all others? It’s just not possible; you need all of these nutrients. And that’s a good thing, because variety in food is not only healthier for us, but it tastes better, too!

So what to do? Eat a variety of cruciferous vegetables (of which kale is one) to help your liver detox, enjoy a variety of berries for their antioxidants, and have some wild fish or hemp, chia, and flax seeds to get your dose of omega-3s. Enjoy the variety of foods the world has to offer to reap the benefits of a variety of nutrients.

Read more on Incredible Edibles >


Resources for Healthy Eating in National Nutrition Month

By Juliana Ronn, First Mile Care Director of Operations

March is National Nutrition Month! It offers an opportunity to revisit some useful articles and information sources with tips for eating well — and healthily.

Good nutrition is a major component of the clinically-proven National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offered by First Mile Care. Our program enables personalized support and guidance at the community level, giving participants access to the coaching, tools, and resources they need to live healthier lives and reverse or prevent chronic health conditions like prediabetes. Approximately 88 million Americans over age 18 have prediabetes, but 84% of them aren’t aware of it.

The DPP was designed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help people make more informed choices and lasting changes in their lives. While modest weight loss (about 5%) and modest activity (150 minutes per week) are core goals of the program, the DPP also focuses on nutrition and healthy eating, not dieting. The goal is to create realistic eating habits that you can stick with for the long-term, not just short-term meal plans. Participants learn to eat healthier without giving up the foods they love, even when eating out. Small changes, like awareness of portion sizes, can make a big difference.

Here are a “baker’s dozen” of links to articles about nutrition and healthy eating on the First Mile Care blog, in our “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinar series, and in other online resources to help you on your journey to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a robust website with advice on nutrition choices and links to a wealth of resources related to healthy eating, including MyPlate, the USDA food group guide.

2. Coach Irazema Garcia offers her advice on the First Mile Care blog on how to plan and prepare a menu of healthy meals without feeling overwhelmed.

3. The HuffPost has a useful section on food that recently quoted Coach Jenny Fowler in an article about how to avoid confusing serving and portion sizes of many popular foods.

4. Coach Kathy Gregory discusses on Thrive Global how important good nutrition is to your workout performance and results.

5. Yes, the DPP lets you bake desserts and other goodies in a healthy way — just follow Coach Sandra Huskey’s advice. 

6. Have you ever wondered if it’s OK to eat the same foods, day after day? Eat This, Not That! interviewed Coach Jenny Fowler on getting the right blend of stability and variety in your diet.

7. Everyday Health is a blog that is full of consumer-friendly health and wellness content.

8. Coach Irazema Garcia’s recipe for cauliflower makes it a healthy yet still-delicious side dish.

9. Well+Good is a popular lifestyle blog with a lot of tips on healthy eating, including comments from Coach Kathy Gregory on coping with grocery-store shortages.

10. Coach Jenny Fowler provides advice for eating “smart” at holiday meals and other gatherings focused on food. 

11. Keeping a food journal is a useful way to discover how eating habits are connected to your moods, says Coach Karalyn Cass.

12. Learn about the link between your eating habits and mental health in this article on Incredible Edibles that includes Coach Kathy Gregory among the experts offering advice.

13. The Wall Street Journal talks about foods that can help fight stress, anxiety, and depression, while Coach Jenny Fowler offers tips on the First Mile Care blog for breaking the link between stress and eating.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!


Total Health: Karl Ronn of First Mile Care On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing

First Mile CEO Karl Ronn shares tips on how we can optimize our mental, physical, emotional, & spiritual wellbeing.

“The CDC-backed Diabetes Prevention Program works. The problem is that the DPP isn’t yet reaching millions of people. Everyone wants to tackle these problems digitally because that’s the new technology. At First Mile Care, we are embracing the opposite. We said, let’s be hyper-local, with an in-person, face-to-face program in every ZIP code. Embrace the complexity and find a solution. We are proving that our platform can do that.”

Read more via Authority Magazine >


Mind(set) Over Matter

First Mile Care DPP Coach Bibilola Ladipo-Ajayi shares the importance of the right mindset to achieve health goals. She explains that we are all vulnerable and often succumb to unhealthy thought patterns, which can impact our ability to make the small, sustainable habit changes that result in a healthier lifestyle. Read more on Thrive Global >


10 Foods With Serving Sizes That Are Way Smaller Than You Thought

First Mile Care DPP Coach Jenny Fowler gives tips on serving sizes. She says that eating more than one serving of any given food on occasion isn’t something to worry about, as long as you’re doing it mindfully and considering your dietary needs.

“Let’s clarify that a serving is what is stated on the package, while a portion is how much you actually eat. It’s not bad to eat more than a serving, as long as you are aware that you are doing so.” Read more from HuffPost >


Mind(set) Over Matter

By Bibilola Ladipo-Ajayi, First Mile Care DPP Coach

The Cambridge dictionary defines the phrase “mind over matter” as “the power of the mind to control and influence the body and the physical world generally.” As part of the First Mile Care ongoing series on “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinars, I highlighted the impact that your mindset has on your ability to make the small behavioral changes that can reduce or reverse your prediabetes status over time.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) curriculum covers a variety of healthy practices such as healthy eating, meal planning, and fitness. It also highlights the importance of stress management and mindfulness. Having a “growth mindset” helps you achieve the goals you set for yourself in your DPP action plan and empowers you to keep making progress towards sustainable habit changes.

We are all vulnerable and often succumb to unhealthy thought patterns. It’s important to recognize which specific ones you are at risk for, because consistent negative thought patterns can lead to a destructive mindset. Some common unhealthy thought patterns include: all-or-nothing thinking; overgeneralization; disqualifying the positive and downplaying accomplishments; jumping to conclusions; and magnification or minimization of positive or negative traits. Others include labeling and mislabeling behaviors (which can become self-fulfilling prophecies); personalization (when everything is your fault or responsibility); and mental filters (when you focus on negative things and filter out positives).

Being of two mind(set)s

Your mindset has a big impact on your success in life — career, relationships, and health goals. Stanford University psychology professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D, is a leading researcher of mindset and its connection to motivation and success. In her best-selling 2007 book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, she explores the two main mindsets linked to human potential: fixed and growth mindsets.

She explains that a fixed mindset leads to a defeatist attitude focused on failure and making excuses for lack of success. A person with a fixed mindset believes that skills are innate, something we are born with, and as such, learning new skills is of no value and impossible. A person with a fixed mindset often avoids challenges and rejects any kind of feedback that may suggest there is room for improvement. They also compare themselves with other people, feel threatened by the success of others, and are less likely to celebrate or collaborate with people. This kind of static mindset keeps a person in a cycle of defeat, focused on reproducing only what they already know. The outcome is a life of barrenness and the inability to evolve or grow.

On the other hand, Dweck describes the growth mindset as one that focuses on developing skills through hard work and effort. Although people may be born with certain talents, skills can be acquired and refined. This mindset emphasizes the value of investing effort and therefore encourages feedback, because it is viewed as an opportunity to learn and improve. A person with a growth mindset embraces challenges and celebrates personal achievements and those of others. Failure and mistakes are not viewed as evidence of lack of intelligence, but instead as stepping-stones on a path to growth and the stretching of existing abilities.

Developing a growth mindset

One detrimental way that a negative mindset impacts living a healthy lifestyle is expressed when people feel stuck with regards to achieving their health goals. At certain stages in life, which could often be age-related, it is so easy to believe that nothing new or good can happen, especially if you have struggled with significant health challenges. You can become vulnerable to unhealthy thought patterns like “I’ll never lose weight now, so what’s the point of trying?” or “It’s too late to learn to play tennis/golf/swim/ski.” An accumulation of these unhealthy thoughts could translate into unhealthy behaviors and lead you farther away from achieving your health goals.

So how do you develop a growth mindset and take practical steps to achieve your health goals? I am glad you asked. These steps below (in no particular order) are worth a try.

  1. Renew your mind. A Google search on “brain plasticity” explains how scientific research proves that your brain is wired to grow and learn regardless of your age. Get curious about the world around you and study. It might motivate you to explore and discover new things!
  2. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections. Practice self-awareness which helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and growth areas. There is no need to criticize yourself for not being perfect; no one is perfect. Self-awareness is a gift that you can give to yourself and the people around you.
  3. View challenges as opportunities. Recognize that mistakes and failure can be an opportunity for improvement rather than a reflection on you as an imperfect or inadequate person. Use them wisely.
  4. Pick your tribe. It is important to surround yourself with like-minded people. Be intentional about who has access to your mind space. In addition, the books you read, the shows you watch (news, social media), and the music you listen to, all impact what kind of mindset you nurture, so choose wisely.
  5. Change your vocabulary. Use the words “I’m learning” to do something rather than “I’m failing.” Use “yet” more often, as in saying, “I haven’t done it yet” or “I haven’t been successful yet.”
  6. Value process over results. Try to focus more on the journey and all the discoveries you can make during the process, and not on the destination alone. This can also help you hone your skills in being more present.
  7. Be realistic about time and effort. You most likely will not master everything or achieve your goals all at once or immediately. Be patient with yourself and the process of learning or starting something new.
  8. Cultivate grit. Don’t get overwhelmed by aiming for perfection. Aim for continuous excellence and let your measure of success be that you are better than you were yesterday. You walked more steps today than yesterday, or tracked your meals for three days straight versus just two days.
  9. Make new goals. Set new goals or refine existing goals. When you accomplish one goal, push yourself to go higher and do better. Keep moving forward!
  10. Cultivate a sense of purpose. Desire to leave a legacy that influences others to achieve their goals as you achieve yours. Even without speaking, you are a person of influence to your coworkers, friends, and family, whether you believe it or not.
  11. Take ownership of your attitude. As you develop a growth mindset and recognize the life-changing benefits, be proud of it, celebrate it, and go on to Inspire others.

Listen to the recording of my presentation to learn more about how you can improve your mindset to help you on your road to a healthier (and more satisfactory) lifestyle.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!