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Fight diabetes: Home cooking can help

man cooking healthy meal Are you looking for some inspiration to be healthier, manage your weight and avoid diabetes? Then look no further than your own kitchen! When you prepare meals at home, you’re in control — you choose ingredients and portion size, and decide how your food is cooked. If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower blood glucose levels and reduce your risks for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Not sure where to start? Here are some basics to get you going.

A small recent study supported past research suggesting that certain cooking techniques may be better than others at reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes in people with obesity. Researchers say that boiling, steaming, braising and poaching seem better than dry-heat methods, such as roasting, sauteing, frying, grilling or baking.

According to scientists, dry-heat cooking methods cause foods to release AGEs, or advanced glycation end products, which can contribute to insulin resistance and increase type 2 diabetes risk. Participants who stayed on a low-AGE diet for a year had less inflammation and lower insulin resistance than their counterparts who didn’t change their way of cooking, and even lost a little weight.

Start slowly: Try braising or poaching techniques a few times a week (see the recipe for “Braised cod with leeks”). Add more fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in AGEs.

Knowing how much to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat. If you’d like to eat smaller portions, but you’re unsure about amounts, check nutrition labels for serving sizes. Using tools like a food scale, measuring cups and spoons can help you keep track. Here are some easy-to-remember examples of serving sizes:

  • ½ cup of cooked rice = ice cream scooper
  • 1 ½ ounces of cheese = four dice
  • 3 ounces of meat or fish = deck of cards
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter = pingpong ball

Have fun experimenting with new foods and cooking techniques. Want to learn more? Consider attending one of our periodic cooking classes that are offered as part of our series of free Community Health Programs.