Indianapolis Edition

Local Nutrition Authors Share Diabetes Prevention Tips

“The Boiled Frog Syndrome” has affected many Americans, according to Wendell Fowler, author of the “Eat Right Now” book series and Saturday morning cooking teacher on WISH-TV.

“The story goes that the frog is in a pot of water sitting over the stove,” says Fowler. “Over time, the water temperature increases little by little as it heats and the frog adjusts. Eventually, the water is boiling and it’s too late for the frog. We are the frogs when eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), as over time, processed food and high sugary meals manifest disease.”

Both Fowler and Dawn Parker, health coach and cookbook author of The Healthy Chocoholic, are on a mission to spread the healthy ways of living for preventing diseases like diabetes through nutrition and lifestyle practices.

They share prevention tips, favorite restaurants, and the science and history contributing to diabetes.

The History

When the Industrial Revolution unfolded, advances in technology caused food to start being manufactured in a new way, in which Fowler calls “dead food.” The chemical-based processing of foods including white bread products breaking down as simple carbohydrates are directly linked to the increase rates of Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, the craze of “fat-free” products in the 80’s and 90’s correlated to an increase in sugar and carbohydrates in the diet, as many products used these cheap fillers to make foods taste good.

As cities continued to grow, a new challenge presented itself: Food deserts, areas of cities without walking access to fresh produce and quality markets, resulting in more consumption of packaged food full of sugar.

The high-glycemic-and-carbohydrate- rich meals in packaged foods have contributed to the rise of Type 2 diabetes.

The Rollercoaster Science of Blood Sugar Balance

Parker teaches her clients the connection of food cravings, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance with eating high-glycemic meals.

“Our bodies like to stay in a narrow range for healthy blood sugar,ˮ (see more on page 14) says Parker. “When we go above range from too much sugar, we get a boost in energy and it feels good temporarily. As the glucose leaves our bloodstream, glucose levels may fall too low, causing us to crash, feel irritable and moody. That’s when the cravings happen for more sugar and carbohydrates. If we give our bodies more sugar, the process will happen again like a roller coaster of highs and lows, which over time can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.”

The Do’s and Don’ts in Diets

Parker believes in starting with a breakfast made with healthy fats, clean protein and fiber from vegetables. Most breakfasts are made up of simple carbs like muffins, cereals, and toast with jam. She suggests cooking eggs and serving with sautéed vegetables for blood sugar balance.

She shares her favorite breakfast protein smoothies in her cookbook, which includes the use of nuts and seeds like chia and flax.

Fowler suggests drinking kombucha instead of soda. The bubbly fermentation gives off a carbonated sipping experience and is filled with gut-boosting probiotics. Sparkling water, with several varieties and flavors available in cans, helping re-create the feeling of holding a soda.

“Sugar is like throwing grass on the fire,” says Fowler, who prefers using stevia for sweetener, a sugar-free herb, or raw honey.

Healthy Dining Options

Ezra’s Enlightened Café, in Broad Ripple, offers a low-glycemic smoothie called The Health-Nut as well as the “pure” juice which contains greens, ginger, and celery rather than sweetened with apples and tropical fruits.

Parker’s favorites are The Loft at Traders Point Creamery in Northwest Indy and Napolese. For those looking to eat a stricter diet while enjoying dinner out with a friend or family who may not have the same dietary concerns, Napolese provides both traditional pizza and salads with local produce and organic meats.

Fowler personally enjoys heading downtown to the City Market for Three Carrots’ Southwestern Salad. A second location is opening in Fountain Square this winter.

Lifestyle Upgrades

"Genes load the gun, but diet and lifestyle pull the trigger,” says Fowler. He believes that gene expression can be turned on and off by stress-reducing lifestyle choices.

“My tip is simple: follow the breath,” he says. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Practices (see page 12; community spotlight) offer techniques for connecting with breath to decrease stress.

For Parker, exercise is of high importance from reducing metabolic diseases like diabetes, as she is a certified Beach Body Coach.

“I am often sitting at my job, as most people are,” says Parker. “I find ways to move throughout the day in addition to my exercise time such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and pacing around while on the phone instead of sitting. I encourage my clients to do the same.”

Healing a Sugar Overload

If the previous day involved a little too much birthday cake, Fowler recommends drinking an eight-ounce glass of water squeezed with lemon first thing in the morning to help alkalinize the body. He adds in a half teaspoon of baking soda which acts as a base chemical, helping to balance out the body’s pH if it has become too acidic from sugar.

Another option he suggests is to drink a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water. This is said to slow down the absorption of sugar, creating less insulin spikes.

For more healthy tips, information and recipes, both Fowler’s and Parker’s blogs share a plethora of resources.

The Eat Right Now book series as well as information on Fowler’s cooking show on WISH-TV are found at ChefWendell.com.

For Parker’s blog and information on her cookbook The Healthy Chocoholic: Over 60 Healthy Chocolate Recipes Free of Gluten & Dairy, visit DawnJParker.com.

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