"We want people to know that these days, there's not a one size fits all approach to healthy eating." - Tami Ross, RD
Shireen: Tami Ross is a nationally recognized registered dietician, Diabetes Care and Education specialists, author, spokesperson, blogger and consultant with over 25 years experience in diabetes care and education. She was named Diabetes Educator of the Year a few years and served as a 2013, President of the American Association of diabetes educators, Tammy has co authored 11 books, including the bestseller “What do I eat out now?” in its third edition. Welcome.
Tami: Oh, I'm glad to be here. We're gonna have a good chat today.
Shireen: I am looking forward to it. Tami, let me tell you. And you know, I just read the bio. So the bar has been set way high right now. So
Tami: Oh, my goodness. Thank you, though.
Shireen: Absolutely, absolutely. So with that, Tami jumping right in, what led you to a career as a dietitian as a whole and then more specifically, a dietitian with a focus on working with individuals with prediabetes and diabetes?
Tami: You know, that's kind of an interesting question. I've always had an interest in the culinary asset, have you come from a family of gray cooks, my mom and grandmother's though cook with a pinch of this, you know, a handful of that. And so there's always been that focus on food and particularly healthy eating, Mom always made sure we got our veggies at night. And out of that really piqued my interest in healthy eating and nutrition when I was in college. So initially, I was on the med and was going to come with colleges, and a family physician in the chat introduced me to dietetics. And long story short, here I am. And so I changed courses, chain pathways, you know, kind of mid course there and went into dietetics. And interestingly, my primary focus now is diabetes and pre diabetes, that was one of my most disliked topics in college, I just thought it was so confusing. And you know, then it really, I thought a lot about and I thought, well, if it's confusing for me, for those folks living with and managing this every hour, every day, I just have such great admiration for them. And so what was once really a challenge to me, it really became my passion. So every rear choice that I've had has had diabetes and pre diabetes as an asset. So here we are.
Shireen: As a practicing dietitian, and certified Diabetes Care and Education specialists, what is your general approach to chronic illness management and nutrition?
Tami: Oh, that's an interesting question. You know, as I think about really my focal area of diabetes and prediabetes, the number one question that people ask research shows when they're diagnosed with diabetes is what do I eat now? And that's really where the title came for my book, what do I now that's kind of a guide, but working with diabetes and prediabetes. And I really love the concept of food as medicine. I've seen firsthand the impact of food choices can have, I think, to my grandmother, when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol, seeing how modifications that she made, and what she ate, rather, really went on to help her liver health. And I think about a patient that I saw just this last week, we thought she couldn't eat whole grains, she has diabetes. And so one of her favorite things was whole grain toast with avocado, mashed on it, and she had not been eating that. But once she started shedding her blood sugar, she saw, hey, you know, I have power to manage what I eat. And it can make a big difference. And she learned that she could eat foods that she didn't think she could. So that concept of food is medicine is just really powerful. And as we think about folks that are living with diabetes, you may have heard of the Diabetes Prevention Program. It's a national program, and really focuses on the lifestyle asset and how making small changes in what you eat and in physical activity can help turn that block, so to speak, and prevent or delay that conversion to type two diabetes. And so, you know, I love that culinary aspect and the power of food as medicine, so to speak, in the way that it can have.
Shireen: We're actually, Yumlish,, were one of the approved providers of the Diabetes Prevention Program. So we are both learning something.
Tami: Oh, I did not know that. Well, hey, Yes, we are. So think about just all of the folks that have crossed my path over the years. And you know, what principles and beliefs have really been impactful? I think, first of all, it's important to acknowledge that managing diabetes, it can be overwhelming and what, what the research shows is it takes 143 minutes a day to participate in managing diabetes. And what you eat is activity taking medicines, monitoring, that's two and a half hours a day. And so it can be overwhelming. And I think, also, it's important as we think about what are we going to recommend really looking at what evidence says and all of my publications are evidence based. It's the latest science, it's not just what I think. And so with that one of the words and symbols is that healthy eating should be sure what we want that to be a pleasurable part of life, you know, our culture, our traditions, our foods, our family, and upbringing, all of that really impacts what we need and so that you really shouldn't cut out it's unless it's necessary, for instance, maybe cutting back on salt to help manage pressure, so maintaining that pleasure of eating and I want people to know as well that healthy eating does not have to be extensive. In fact, one of my books that we may touch on it a little bit later is diabetes meals on $7 a day or less. And so with that, it doesn't have to be expensive. And we want people to know that these days, there's not a one size fits all approach to healthy eating. I remember Gosh, years ago, everybody was told no concentrated sweet If you found that your blood sugar was high, or you need to eat an 1800 calorie diet, and what we know now is there's a lot of options. And I think we're going to talk a little bit later about some of the eating patterns that can help manage diabetes and be diabetes. But we want people to know that small changes, they add up over time, just really encouraging people to take it one meal one day, one week at a time because it can be overwhelming. So think about overhauling you know, maybe what you eat. A great example is if you just make a slot, small slot with salad dressings, if you slot three tablespoons of vinegar add in place, every new version, ranch or blue cheese saves 100 calories, you do that several days a week, you say, you know, four or 500 calories. And so that adds up over time. So just think about small slots in maintaining that pleasure in eating. Those are so important.
Shireen: What are some simple health tenants you feel are helpful for someone with diabetes?
Tami: So I think it comes down to three core things to think about what you buy, when you buy it, and where you buy it. So those are three really important principles. So when you think about what you bought, I always encourage people start with planning a few meals, it doesn't have to be complicated. Think about foods that your family enjoys, maybe you know foods that are part of your tradition, your culture, and how can you land on meals that takes about five to 10 minutes, maybe you can do that while you're sitting in traffic these days. But from that you can then create a shopping list. And I always encourage you, you know, a goal without a plan is just a wish. And so from that simple meal plan, you can read a shopping list, which is going to help you get to the grocery quicker, and it can help prevent impulse buys and keep you focused. What the science shows us is that every to every minute rather that we're in the grocery we send to dollar. So if we can get in and out that's gonna save us money. If you have a list, it's going to get you from impulse eyes, which really is just in five or $10 a week on impulse items. Gosh, that's 260 $520 a year. So those are a couple things to consider. But in terms of what you're buying, I'm a big fan of looking for items that are on sale and kind of knowing what the sales cycles are at your grocery I know where the one that I go to frequently they often put things on sale on Sunday morning and so I'll sometimes go meat is often you know meat seafood or the big ticket items so I'll go and see what specials they have and my biggest bargain was they had lean lamb chops on sale and I got $80 wherever $16. So you know I think it's just a great illustration brought it home you know package. Just a great illustration of how knowing when the sale signs are can, can lead to big savings and then with fruits and vegetables we talked a lot about trying to get more non starchy vegetables if they don't affect blood sugar as much as say the stock version does but looking for what's what's in season. Do you think about tomatoes, winter tomatoes versus summer tomatoes when the summer they're going to be cheaper, they're going to taste better and have, have a better nutrient profile. And so buying what's in season and I'm also a big fan of offing for lead in Perth produce You know, there's now produce delivery services where they will show you the misfit so to see you can really use those in salads and soups and casseroles they don't have a really beautiful and so that can that can help as well. And a couple of other just kind of general tips are, you know, store loyalty programs and save you did you bonds I know several people that still give you bonds or use digital versions. And then lastly, store brands or generic ones and say 15 to 30%, one of my favorites is marinera that's a storebrand. And it tastes exactly like fresh, homemade marinara 30% less than the name brand version. So gosh, I can't give you lots of tips. But then when we think about where you buy and when you buy, buying at maybe warehouse labs to start out thinking about even places like dollar stores, there was an article that was published a few years that it showed how two people could eat $39 for a week shopping at $1 trees. So where are you, buy and then the time or when you buy? I always encourage people to do their shopping when they're not tired. So maybe that's in the morning or on a weekend morning and when you're not hungry because then everything looks good. So what, when and where you buy can, can really help with savings.
Shireen: Your book Diabetes Meals on $7 a Day or Less. It addresses this misconception that eating healthy needs to be expensive. What are the best tips for someone who has diabetes who's trying to eat healthy? How can they really eat on a budget?
Tami: I think the first thing we want to mention is getting familiar with where carbohydrate comes from, what foods have carbohydrate because your blood sugars will pretty much directly follow the amount of carbohydrate that you eat so with diabetes or prediabetes where we're trying to manage blood sugars and heat them and range, that's a big after. And so carbs, you know just at a basic level we find those fruits and starchy vegetables, we find them in grains and dairy foods, and of course sweet treats. And then non starchy vegetables, things like our here at some broccoli, green beans, that kind of thing they have a little bit. So getting familiar with carbs and then when it comes to your meat really choosing lean proteins is something that we talk a lot about trying to fit fish in twice a week and the evidence is clear that as heart healthy omega three fish fats are good for us. And I encourage my patients to think about plant based proteins and how they can do it. Maybe beans and or soy based protein, because those are going to be, you know, heart healthy as well and then figuring out auratus, oftentimes, people say I get hungry deer in the morning. And so thinking about what are some good sources of protein at rabbits, you know, a boiled egg is simple. If you're a yogurt fan, you may want to switch to Greek yogurt, or Icelandic yogurt, they're naturally higher in protein, lower in carbohydrate. And so I'm really choosing lean proteins. And then with that, switching to the healthy fats, and what those are, are the plant based fat. So they're typically liquid at room temperature, versus the solid fats like butter, or cream cheese and how I explain it to my patients, as you know, these healthy landais liquid that I can kind of blow through us. But if you think about the solid ads, if you were to melt those and pour them down in your kitchen sink, they're going to clog up your drain. And so likewise, they do the same in our body. And, you know, the other area that the book talks a lot about is fiber. And it doesn't have to be difficult, but just with a few intentional choices, using or including a half a cup of raspberries, or a medium pair at lunch, and a cup of maybe beans at dinner, get to your 28 grams of fiber a day, which is about you know what we as women need so that gives you just a little glimpse of a few of the tips in this book. Now companion people are loaded with easy, doable tips that are not copyrighted. So it really translates to science and devices.
Shireen: You have a best selling guidebook, What Do I Eat Now? And what do I cook now is convenient cookbooks that are practical guides to diabetes nutrition. And also for our listeners here today, we do have a special treat. So stick around to the end, there may not be a giveaway. But coming back to the books, what are some simple tips for eating healthy are those with diabetes?
Tami: Yeah, that's a really great point. So I was talking about the protein perspective of Icelandic in Greek yogurt, but any of the yogurts and have added sugar from breed from sweeteners. And so really a great way whether it's yogurt or another food that you're looking at, check out the label. And what you want to look at is to see are there added sugars, there'll be noted there and look at the total carbohydrates and see what that is. And kind of a good bet. Something that I do at home is just by the unsub, labored unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and then you can add some fresh cherries to that if you walnuts on top gives you your healthy fat. And it, a sorry, so that's a really good point. I'm glad you brought that up.
Shireen: Again. You mentioned with the yogurt I wanted to so hopefully now because jokers can have hidden sugars, right, I'd love for you to touch on that.
Tami: Yeah. So you know, kind of an easy way to think about how do I… Where should my plate and what do I put on it with my favorite foods, it's a simple four step method. And so you divide your plate in half, and you're gonna fill half of it with a non-starchy vegetables. And so that may be things, you know, like a sort of fresh salsa, for instance, or salad greens and 1/4 of the bite, and I have your protein foods. And so that might be things like lane board or chicken or dish. And then the other fourth of the plate is the carbohydrates. And so that's something we really think about a lot with, particularly mini cultural foods, beans, rice, smallies, tortillas, those type of things are all going to fit into that carbohydrate portion, that's what's going to raise your blood sugar. And so what I would encourage people is whatever your favorite foods are, you know, I'm in Kentucky. And so we have our favorite foods here too. But you really want to think about and get familiar and build your awareness about how much carbohydrate are in those. And again, you probably don't have to cut all those out. But maybe it's a little bit different than you would eat before. And then that fourth step of worsening your plate is really looking at, we want to try to have a calorie free beverage. So I know some of my friends from Colombia. They like fruit based beverages. And so again, thinking about getting familiar with what is the carbohydrate? Are there slots that you've made to help keep that carbohydrate in your range?
Shireen: Yes, ma'am. And so with that another question that I have for you on this is when you're looking at sort of cultural foods specifically, and can you speak to some cultural foods and how that fits in with sort of this diabetes diet?
Tami: Are there particular foods you were thinking about culturally?
Shireen: No, I just just generally trying to get an idea, didn't have a specific food in mind, you know at Yumlish, we do a lot of work specifically within Latino population and even within that specific looking at Mexican food, but I didn't for the question. They didn't have a specific design in mind. And so without me, we're toward the end of the episode. At this point. I'd love for our listeners to learn more about how they can learn more about your work, connect with you on social media. Would love to learn more about that.
Tami: Sure. So I'm on Instagram, you can find me on Facebook and Facebook. It's what do I eat now. So that's related to my book by the same name also on LinkedIn, Twitter at Tammy Ross rd, and then my website which we're working on, so it's under construction for a little bit of an overhaul, but Tammy Ross rd.com and so What Do I Eat Now? And What Do I Cook Now are the two companion books and Diabetes Meals on $7 a Day or Less as the other.
Shireen: So we are doing a giveaway to me. So which book are we giving away today?
Tami: What do you want to give away?
Shireen: So what do you think about the What do I eat now? And then the companion? What do I have to do that?
Tami: Yeah, We have to do that!
Shireen: Yeah, yeah. All right, look, there we go ask and there we go. So we will be having both of those. What do I eat now a guide to eating well with diabetes or prediabetes in this edition, and then what do I cook now recipes and actual labor people, diabetes, both of them, written here by Tammy Ross. So we will be doing that giveaway, buying that giveaway, head over to our social media, where at Yumlish underscore on Instagram, at Yumlish on Facebook. Find us there, enter in that giveaway to get both email. And so with that, Tim, you want to thank you so very much for your time, here with us on the podcast today.
Tami: I enjoyed it!
Shireen: Thank you.
Tami: Have a good weekend!
Shireen: Yeah, yes, absolutely.