WESTFIELD-As more friends and families gather together to enjoy each other’s company – especially during the summer – creating a healthy eating plan benefits everyone, according to Jennifer Giffune, RDN.
“Heart healthy eating is good for everyone, regardless of diabetes status,” said Giffune, a licensed nutritionist and registered dietitian, who facilitates “Diabetes Dialogue” on cable Channel 15 and 89.5 FM WSKB radio on the third Wednesday of the month.
Giffune’s segment is featured during Westfield Council on Aging executive director Tina Gorman’s regularly scheduled “Wake Up Wednesday” show.
Participants may call the studio during the program at (413) 642-9039 or ask questions in advance via a voicemail to Gorman at (413) 562-6435 or an email to [email protected]
This month’s show on June 16 at 7:05 a.m. on Channel 15 will delve into Omega 3 rich foods, non-meat sources of protein, herbs and spices, soluble fiber, and foods rich in sterols/stanols.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,” said Giffune. “The higher your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), the greater your risk for a heart attack or stroke.”
Giffune noted that “all people” are at risk of heart disease.
“Thankfully, we know that consistently making healthy food choices and exercising on a regular basis can have a positive impact on lowering that risk,” she said.
Giffune added that learning about sources of heart healthy fats, and understanding how much to eat, will be a benefit to everyone.
“The earlier you institute healthy habits, the greater your chances to stave off and/or avoid disease,” she said.
Giffune will explore how lean meats such as chicken, turkey and non-meat proteins such as tofu and hamburger alternatives like the “Impossible Burger” are “great ways” to lower saturated fat at a picnic or gathering.
“Saturated fat is the type of fat that raises your cholesterol,” she said. “Adding grilled veggies brushed with a heart healthy fat such as olive oil is a good lifestyle change.”
Giffune said her presentation will also explain how meals can be complemented with whole grains including brown rice and whole wheat bread products.
“It’s okay to have a small dessert,” she said, adding, “try splitting one with someone or just go for something healthier like a fruit salad.”
While Giffune’s monthly program centers on diabetes awareness, she encourages all area residents to visit websites including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association for healthy recipes for family meals and every day eating.
“The eating plan for managing diabetes is a balanced healthy eating plan that focuses on lean protein, heart healthy fat, high fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables,” she said. “It is a plan that also recommends low-fat dairy, low sodium, adequate hydration and portion control.”
Giffune added that having a plan encourages weight loss to a healthy body weight and then weight maintenance.
“So, it is a healthy eating plan for most people whether they have diabetes or not,” she said.
For area residents who do not have access to Channel 15, Giffune’s presentation can be viewed by visiting www.cityofwestfield.org, and under “Community,” click on Community Access TV, CH 15 Live Stream.