The Holidays are filled with cheer in the form of parties, people, and food. Although the food part is something to look forward to all year, it would not exactly qualify as healthy. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to. Recent research shows that when diabetics (type 2, corresponding to a low metabolic rate) eat vegetables before they eat a carbohydrate, their health improves a lot more over two years than when trying to eat healthy . Vegetables with pizza or other carby garbage might not sound as healthy as “healthy eating” but it is easier and therefore more sustainable, making it (in the end) better. Focusing on one thing is the best for most people (compared to focusing on many things) as long as that one thing really packs a punch. And vegetables do. Not only are vegetables healthy on their own because of all the nutrients in them, but they slow down digestion so that the entire meal is healthier as well. When digested calories enter the bloodstream slower, our lean tissues have more time to absorb and use those calories, so less of what we eat goes to body fat and disease risk. Vegetables eaten with pizza or other carbs literally make those carbs healthier because those carbs end up digesting slower. Imagine fixing one part in your car and this automatically fixed other parts as well. Or if fixing one problem in your life automatically fixed many others. Those types of fixes are profound, paying massive dividends. So much so that it makes little sense to focus on the other things compared to focusing on the one thing. Vegetables are like that.
Other recent research has shown that the equivalent of three large servings of vegetables per day has a significant impact on reducing body fat, waist circumference, and blood sugar . Other research shows that blood-sugar fluctuations are reduced by one-third by having some vegetables before you eat carbohydrates as opposed to after , meaning that one-third of carbohydrates empty from the stomach in just ten or fifteen minutes. It is amazing that the carbs we eat in our modern food environment digest so fast, but it is nice to know we have vegetables to slow them down. If we did not have vegetables to slow the digestion process, the only remaining option would be to restrict our eating. Restriction and deprivation do not qualify as happy Holiday eating. So that is not a sustainable way to have a great time over and over again. Instead, this year for the Holidays, start each meal with vegetables and then enjoy yourself. That way, you won’t have to have the same New Year’s resolution year after year after year, and you don’t have to restrict or deprive. Here’s to happy eating, especially during this season. Happy Holidays!
1. “A simple meal plan of ‘eating vegetables before carbohydrate’ was more effective for achieving glycemic control than an exchange–based meal plan in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes” by S. Imai et al., Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 20 2011 161
2. “Effects of total and green vegetable intakes on glycated hemoglobin A1c and triglycerides in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus” by K. Takahashi et al., Geriatr Gerontol Int 12 2012 50
3. “Eating vegetables before carbohydrates improves postprandial glucose excursions” by S. Imai et al., Diabet Med 30 2013 370