5 Surprising Facts about Diabetes

A few years ago Meal Garden had the pleasure of exhibiting at The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) Toronto Expo. In case you aren’t familiar, the CDA supports those affected by diabetes by providing information, diabetes research, education, service, and advocacy (read more here). It was a truly inspiring evening, with wonderful guest speakers, and insightful conversations with those affected by diabetes who are actively and courageously seeking assistance as it relates to managing their diet.

Photo by Pedro Zucchet

Photo by Pedro Zucchet

Needless to say, the team here at Meal Garden is confident and excited to assist in achieving this goal once and for all!

Our Founder, Vlad Chernenko.

Our Founder, Vlad Chernenko.

Our Marketing Director, Kiki Athanassoulias.

Our Marketing Director, Kiki Athanassoulias.

With that said, there were certainly new learnings that I personally gained from attending, and I’d like to share my top 5 insights from the CDA Toronto Expo here with you now....

1. A HUGE 1/3rd of the entire Canadian population is currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes - that’s 11 million people! In fact, if you calculate it out, someone in Canada is diagnosed with diabetes every 3 minutes. On top of that, we must also consider that many people go undiagnosed, and are living with this disease without even knowing it.

While this was certainly a daunting reality check, it also drove home the message that those living with pre-diabetes need to take action today. That’s where a healthy diet comes in, and is often the most important factor in getting your blood sugar levels under control. Thus, while the numbers are certainly surprisingly and needless to say bleak, there is still lots of room for hope and improvement in the quality of life for those living with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Amongst all the sad realities, it was still exciting to think about the possibilities for the life-changing improvements that a revolutionary tool like Meal Garden can enable these folks to make for themselves.

2. A brain on sugar is a lot like a brain on cocaine. Research shows that cocaine is linked to a surge of excess dopamine, and a similar effect has been found in sugar (read more here). After explicitly showing us two MRI scans - one of a brain on cocaine, the other of a brain on sugar (hint: they are remarkably similar) - Ali Zentner (MD) made it clear that while cutting back on sugar is certainly recommended - it is NOT an easy task. After all, you might be able to stop yourself from eating, but stopping yourself from actually craving and obsessing over something is a whole other ball game.

That’s why Dr. Zentner uses the metaphor of “an endless war” to describe healthy eating, and that “we all need to find the healthy warrior in ourselves” - more of that discussion to come...

3. Pasta is NOT the devil. Pasta often gets stereotyped as the perfect example of a food you simply CANNOT eat as a diabetic - but that simply isn’t true! In fact, Alexandra Jenkins (PhD) informed us that pasta is actually better than bread when it comes to its GI score - a fact that surprises many. What that doesn’t mean is that you can eat it by the bucketful - which we’re often tempted to do...it’s just so darn delicious! Instead, you must still diligently consider portion size. Below is a great recipe already in Meal Garden from the Canadian Diabetes Association, which proves pasta doesn’t have to mean “unhealthy” - even for diabetics!

4. Jar salads are not only hip, they are also fully backed by famous Nutritional Researchers with PhDs - believe it! Indeed, Dr. Alexandra Jenkins devoted an entire slide in her presentation featuring these helpful (& of course healthy) take-to-work lunch "hacks"...and I’m so glad she did! Pack the “heavy stuff” (i.e. dressing, protein, etc.) on the bottom, and then top with veggies...use your judgement for layering strategically. Essentially, you’ll want the “soggy” stuff towards the end...as to not wilt your fresh green leaves. Here are a few of my personal favourite jar salad recipes in Meal Garden…


5. The secret to eating healthy - for the long-term? According to Dr. Ali Zentner, the answer is autonomy. Let me explain…

For the most part, we all basically know the “what” when it comes to eating healthy: eat more fruits and vegetables, less saturated fats, less processed and sugary foods, etc. What we struggle with is the how. How do you get started? Furthermore, once you do (if you do), how do you stay motivated?

Well folks, it’s time to think outside the box.

You gain motivation when you feel in charge, and the same thing goes for healthy eating. Thus, now is as good a time as ever to think of YOUR OWN one autonomous goal when it comes to healthy eating.

Go ahead. First, close your eyes and picture why you want to eat healthier - you need a “why” to inspire and find your “how”. From there, pick a goal - any goal…

  • Cutting down on sugar

  • Adding an extra salad in every week

  • Swapping toast with butter for toast with avocado

The possibilities are endless - the important thing is that it’s YOUR decision. If we credit ourselves for our abilities, we’re inspired to continue. So pick what works for YOU, and when you accomplish it, be proud of yourself - that will only feed more accomplishment (no pun intended!).

At the end of the day, healthy eating is GRIT. Believe in yourself, and remember that even famous MD Ali Zentner acknowledges “meal planning takes practice”. Find what works for you and keep at it!

Here at Meal Garden, we’re all about a personalized and balanced approach to healthy eating. We are “demystifying” nutritious living by making it easy to understand what’s “healthy” and what’s “not so healthy”, so YOU can make your own autonomous decisions on your own - the way it should be!

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