Staying Healthy While Traveling with Prediabetes

cropped-20140803-210352-758327041.jpgIf you have prediabetes, hopefully you are familiar with strategies to lower your blood glucose and avoid the progression to diabetes down the road. Making the right food choices and exercising regularly to keep blood glucose levels within normal range are key strategies for staying healthy. These lifestyle choices should be practiced during your daily routine at home, but can also be easily incorporated into your plans while traveling. It can be tempting to savor new foods and indulge on sweet treats when you’re away. However, you should strive to keep up the healthy lifestyle choices you keep at home. If you have questions regarding your diet while traveling, meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) prior to your departure to gain more knowledge on foods and physical activity that can keep your blood glucose within normal range. If you check your blood glucose at home and are still working on getting it into a healthy range, bring your glucometer with you so you can stay on track when you travel.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during your travels:

  • Avoid sugary drinks. Drinking sweetened beverages is a quick way for blood glucose levels to rise. Avoid sodas, juices, and sugary coffee beverages. Instead, enjoy water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea or coffee.
  • For breakfast, skip the sugary cereals and baked goods. Try some oatmeal or yogurt with fresh fruit, or egg whites on whole grain toast. Bring some packets of plain oatmeal with you and a bag of nuts or energy bars, such as KIND, so you have healthy choices readily available.
  • Make sure you eat balanced meals when going out for lunch or dinner. Fill half of your plate with fruit or vegetables, and include whole grains and lean protein, such as tofu, beans, grilled fish, veggie burgers, or chicken.
  • Eat every three to five hours to keep your blood glucose level steady. Have a meal or snack which includes a carbohydrate rich in fiber, such as fruit or whole grain crackers, paired with a healthy protein,  like nuts or hummus.
  • For dessert, try to order fresh fruit or some plain yogurt and fruit. If you order something very sweet, try to keep your portions smaller.
  • Keep up your exercise. A great and easy way to do this while traveling is to walk to some of your nearby destinations. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking per day.
  • Be smart about your snacks. Do not just grab the most convenient snacks; choose them wisely! Between meals, enjoy a fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, rice cakes, or some mixed nuts. Stock up on some of these snacks before you leave home, so you always have a healthy snack on hand.
  • Do your research. If you are traveling abroad and want to try some of the traditional foods in your locale, do some research online to check ingredients or ask your waiter. If a dish is rich, order it as an appetizer or share with your dining partner. For the most part, try to stick with grilled fish, seafood, chicken or vegetarian proteins, such as tofu and beans. Enjoy salads and vegetables dishes. Have fun on your trip!

Helpful Travel Apps

For U.S. travel:

  1. Eat Well Eat Out-find healthy dining options in your locale complete with nutrition information. Developed with The American Diabetes Association.
  2. Food Tripping-healthy food establishments located wherever you are traveling
  3. FitTravel Guru-plan your trip and workouts with one app

Traveling abroad:

  1. EatWell EU-the Europe healthy food travel guide
  2. EatAway-fully customizable diet translator for most diet restrictions

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012.). She is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Special thanks to the fabulous writing contributions of nutrition intern, Anita Renwick. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.

Healthy Eating Tips for Memorial Day and Beyond

happy-memorial-day-from-briggs-freeman-sothebys-international-realty-1With Memorial Day kicking off this weekend, summer is officially here. So I thought it would be wise to offer some advice on how to eat well at the endless array of BBQs destined to mark your calendar during the upcoming summer months. These gatherings are a great way to get together with friends and family, enjoy the weather, relax, and just enjoy life in general. You will typically be faced with a smorgasbord of food options, so trust that you can still get your fill and also feel good about what you are eating. Here are a few tips for you to take to your next gathering.

On the grill: Plant-based proteins are always the better choice. If available, enjoy a grilled veggie burger, portobello mushroom or veggie dog. If plant-based options aren’t on the menu, choose lean proteins such as fish or chicken . But, let’s be honest! Low fat options at your typical gathering (unless it’s your casa) are often slim. Most likely it will be hamburgers and traditional hot dogs. Remember– you don’t have to try everything just because it’s there. Select what you really like. Enjoy it and aim to just have one serving. You can always make a delicious meal from grilled vegetables (if they are available) and salad.

Condiments: Go easy with the mayo, creamy dressings and cheese you consume. For a healthier alternative, try a couple slices of creamy avocado. Bulk up your burger or sandwich with as much lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles as you desire.

Sides: Go heavy on the salsas and fresh vegetable options; go lighter with the mayonnaise-based sides, such as macaroni salad and dips. Don’t overdo the chips, as they are empty calories that won’t fill you up. Opt for crackers, pretzels or even baked chips and aim for one handful. If raw vegetables are being served, indulge in them. They are always the BEST choice!

watermelonDesserts: Limit to one (very) small portion if it’s a decadent dessert. If there is fresh fruit, that’s– hands-down– the better choice!

What to bring: A watermelon (everyone will love this!), vinegar-based coleslaw, salsa, hummus, raw vegetable tray, chickpea salad, salad with fresh nuts and berries with vinaigrette or fresh fruit salad (this is my personal favorite!). While these are all healthier options, if it tastes good, people will eat it.

Above all else, enjoy your time with your friends and family. Enjoy summer!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the The 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy eating for optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy meals on the table. She is the author of the “The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad,” (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed “The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy,” (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. For more info, contact Lisa via email or visit here.

Five Healthy Eating Tips For National Nutrition Month

NNM2016_salad3 700x550_2March is National Nutrition Month and it’s a great time to put healthy eating into place. Spring is right around the corner which is a time of plants perking up from the soil and flowers budding. And warmer weather is on the way. What a great time to start making healthier food choices and to spend time truly appreciating the flavor of delicious food. Making better food choices can impact your lisfe in so many positive ways. Here are five simple tips to help you “savor the flavor” and make healthful eating part of your life.

  1.  Take small bites. Focus on the flavor and texture of what you are eating.
  2.  Chew slowly. Let the food sit on your tongue so you can truly taste it. Count to at least 20 before you swallow. You may find that when you feel the first sign of fullness, there is still food left on your plate. If dining at home, put your leftovers in the fridge and enjoy it tomorrow. If eating out, have the food wrapped up and savor it the next day in your brown-bag lunch.
  3. Make your food taste better. Instead of microwaving or steaming your vegetables, sauté or roast them with a little olive oil, chopped garlic, and a pinch of salt. Try different herbs and spices when cooking to enhance flavors and boost the nutrition power of your meal. Try cinnamon or ginger sprinkled on fresh cut-up fruit. Or turmeric and rosemary on grilled tofu and chicken.
  4. Pull up a chair and sit down at the table. Taking the time to sit and enjoy your meal will help you to become a “mindful eater”which can help you eat less and manage your weight. Plus, you’ll be reducing your risk for many chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer, when you eat less.
  5. Add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Visit your local farmers’ market or grocery store and purchase some produce you’ve never tried. Cut up fruit and add it to your salads, cereal, and yogurt. Roast an array of vegetables and have them as your meal, side dish, or add to salads.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the The 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy eating for optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy meals on the table. She is also the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. For more info, contact Lisa via email or visit here.

 

Six Healthy Eating Strategies For Holiday Parties

 

Family celebrating Christmas at home and eating together delicious sweets, cookies and desserts, top view

The month of December is a time to celebrate your accomplishments of 2016, welcome the winter weather, and observe the holidays festivities,  all while enjoying the sparking lights around town. Unfortunately for many, it is also a time where healthy eating is thrown to the wind and a balanced diet is replaced with an overloaded plate of decadent meals and desserts. While “treating yourself” every now and then is perfectly fine, there is likely some room for improvement in, at least most people’s, December diets. Below are some tips and tricks to make this holiday party season your healthiest!

  1. When you arrive, take a lap or two around the spread of food before picking up a plate and loading it up. When you are ready, fill 1/2 of your plate with things you really want (and don’t usually get to eat), and the other half with salad and/or vegetables.
  1. To avoid going crazy on one extreme, whether gorging on treats or trying to 100% omit them all night, allow yourself to enjoy a couple small desserts. Let this be your indulgence, and savor it slowly to enjoy it and make it last longer. By practicing this mindfulness, you can enjoy the treats even more and save plenty of calories.
  1. Fill up on fiber-rich foods first, so you have less room later for the gravy-covered meats and dense desserts. Look for fruits and vegetables, or bring a platter of either to guarantee you have these options. Plus, the fiber in fruits and vegetables will also help fill you up with the “good stuff.” Sorry, mystery holiday loaf, there’s no room for you this year!
  1. Go easy on the alcoholic beverages. Not only do they add on the calories, they can lower your blood sugar (thus making you hungry) and cause you to overindulge on more food. So try to limit the drinks to one or two. Have a glass of wine, spritzer or a martini. Steer clear of the sugary drinks.
  1. Stay standing while mingling at the party – by avoiding the couch, you will be burning more calories while strengthening your muscles. It’s also harder to continuously nibble on food while standing and moving around.
  1. If you have health- or weight-related New Years resolutions brewing in your mind, write them down now and practice them before the holiday season is in full swing. You’ll avoid packing on the holiday pounds, plus you’ll feel more motivated come 2016, knowing this was your healthiest holiday season yet!
  1. Be MINDFUL. Remember that you are in complete control of everything you eat and drink. Remind yourself of that as much as you need.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 The Outstanding Dietitian Of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy plant-based eating and optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs. She is also the author of the e-book The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed  The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment and diabetes for teens and adults. Contact Lisa at eatwellrd@yahoo.com or visit here. Special thanks to Samantha Marks, Dietetic intern, for her contributions to this post.

How To Eat Well In An Indian Restaurant

Indian meal VeraswamyWalk into an Asian Indian restaurant and the rich aroma will warmly welcome you in. The mingling of exotic spices such as curry, cardamom, clove and turmeric propels Indian food into a unique and distinctive flavor unlike any other. The rich bouquet of this cuisine permeates the delicious dishes resulting in a wonderful culinary experience you won’t forget. If you’ve had the pleasure to enjoy Indian food, you know what I mean. If you have not had the pleasure, you are truly missing out on a real treat. Don’t be afraid to try this cuisine because you don’t fare well with spicy food. Simply ask for your food to be prepared “not spicy.” Unlike many ethnic cusines, Indian food can be ordered to the degree of spiciness you prefer. So definitely put this cuisine on your bucket list and GO!

Below you will find an overview of a standard Indian menu along with how this cuisine can fit into a variety of diets.

Overview of an Indian Restaurant Menu

Appetizers
Onion bhajia:  A mixture of gramflour, onions, fresh coriander and cumin deep fried.

Aloo channa poori: Spicy chickpeas & potato served with tamarind chutney & a poori.

Samosa: Vegetable or spiced minced lamb deep fried pastry parcels

Prawn Poori: King prawns in a light sauce served wth a poori

Haryali tikka: Chicken marinated in green herbs and hot spices cooked in the tandoor.

Sheekh kebab: Lean minced lamb spiced with green chillies and onions grilled in the tandoor.

Chicken Saslick: /Chicken breast pieces cooked with peppers & onions in the tandoor

Mains Dishes

Murgh Tikka Masala:  Chargrilled chicken marinated in fresh ginger & garlic then simmered in a sauce of tomatoes, butter and cream

Murgh Jalfrezi: Chicken breast pieces stir fried in special hot spices, with onions, tomatoes, green & red peppers

Murgh Korma: Chicken in a mild cream, coconut & cashew sauce

Murgh Chilli Masala: Chicken in a tomato sauce with ginger, garlic & shredded fresh green chillies

Nilgiri Murgh: Tender Chicken pieces cooked in fresh coriander, mint, garlic & ginger sauce

Saagwala Gosht: Lamb cooked with garlic, ginger, onions & spinach

Garlic Chilli Prawns: King Prawns in a chilli & garlic sauce with spring onions

Goan Fish Curry: Tilapia fish curry cooked in a hot spicy coconut cream sauce

Karai Paneer: Juicy chunks of paneer in a tomato, onion & green chilli sauce with green herbs

Tarka Daal: Lentils tempered with onions & spices

Daal Makhani: Black lentils simmered slowly with kidney beans & cream

Biryanis: An elaborate dish of rice with spiced lamb, chicken or vegetables with nuts & sultanas, sprinkled with saffron. Served with yogurt or vegetable sauce. May be made with either chicken, lamb or vegetable.

Sides
Channa Masala: Chickpeas with ginger, garlic & spices

Saag Paneer: Paneer (similar to large curd cottage cheese) with finely shredded spinach

Aloo Ki Subz: Potatoes in an onion & tomato sauce with cumin

Brinjal Aloo: Eggplant and potatoes with cumin & fennel seeds

Rice & Breads
Naan: Traditional leavened bread baked with refined flour, eggs and milk.

Garlic naan:  Traditional leavened bread baked with refined flour, eggs, garlic and milk.

Peshauri Naan: Stuffed with ground almonds, cashews & coconut

Tandoori Roti: Light unleavened bread

Paratha: Layered flat bread made with whole wheat flour and butter.

Pilau Rice: Basmati rice seasoned with cloved, cinnamon, mace & cardamoms

Saffron Rice: Basmati rice flavored with saffron

Meal Suggestions For Your Special Diet

  1. Diabetes-Friendly Dishes: Limit your intake of rice to one cup or less. One cup of rice is 45 grams (or 3 exchanges) of carbohydrate. Try the daal, which is made from lentils and is high in fiber. The vegetable, fish and chicken dishes are all great choices. If you order bread, limit to one or two small servings.
  2. Heart-Healthy Dishes: Choose any of the vegetable, chicken or fish dishes. Ask for your entree to be made without cream or ghee.
  3. Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly Dishes: Choose any of the vegetable dishes if you are vegetarian. For those who are vegan, request that your vegetable dish be made with out ghee, cream or cheese (paneer). Chana masala and daal are terrific dishes for plant-based eaters. It’s so easy in an Indian restaurant!
  4. Gluten-Free: Most dishes are gluten-free. Avoid the naan, paratha, roti and other breads and desserts made with wheat flour.

Five Tips for Eating Well in an Indian Restaurant

  1. Limit the rice to one cup or less at your meal.

2. Ask that your food be cooked without ghee (clarified butter) to reduce calories and saturated    fat.

3. Enjoy a variety of vegetable dishes for healthy fiber and enhanced satiety.

4. Have a soothing cup of tea for dessert. If you desire something sweet, share it with your companions.

5. As long as you go easy on the rice and bread, Indian cuisine is quite healthy. Enjoy!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 The Outstanding Dietitian Of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the author of the e-book The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed book The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa is a nutrition specialist in weight management, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. She is in private practice with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Contact Lisa at eatwellrd@yahoo.com or visit here.

 

How to Eat Well in a Persian Restaurant

Chicken Kebabs and RiceIf you have never had the pleasure to enjoy a meal in an Iranian or Persian restaurant, you should add it to your bucket list and  make a plan to go without delay. If you’ve experienced this cuisine, you’ll never forget the wonderful flavors and fragrances that permeate this delectable food. Persian food includes a wide variety of vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, rice dishes and combinations of herbs and spices that are unique to this cuisine, including cinnamon, sumac, saffron, and cumin.  Many of the foods are grilled, making it a healthy  choice for most. Like other Middle Eastern countries, the food of Persia has been influenced by its’ neighbors and conquered regions at various stages throughout its’ history. Thus there has been shared culinary influences to and from Turkish, Mesopotamian, Levantine, Greek and Central Asian cuisines, with smaller touches from Russian cuisine. Persians love their rice, so you will also see a vareity of rice dishes available to accompany the main course. The rice with sweet and sour cherries ( Abdalo Polo) is a MUST. You shoould definitely not miss this fabulous dish!

Dishes You Will Likely See On A Persian Menu

Appetizers
Kashk-Bademjan: Cooked eggplant in homeade tomato sauce topped with yogurt
Mirza Ghasemi: Mashed grilled eggplant with tomato, garlic & egg
Dolmeh: Grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs
Humus: Crushed chickpeas, tahini paste & seasoning
Babaganoosh: Baked eggplant with tahini paste, garlic & seasoning
Sambuseh: Crispy fried dumplings stuffed with chickpeas & herbs; served with spicy chutney
Stuffed Pepper: Green pepper stuffed with ground lamb, rice & herbs, slowly simmering with light tomato sauce
Salad Olovieh: Chicken & potato salad with eggs, green peas & carrots

Kebobs
Vegetarian Kebob: An assortment of grilled vegetables served with humus                                      Fish Kebob: Usually salmo,n char-grilled with spices                                                                              Chicken Shish Kebob: cubes of marinated boneless chicken;char-grilled                                             Jujeh Kebob: Pieces of bone in Cornish hen in lemon saffron marinade; char-grilled
Koobideh Kebob: Skewers of chopped beef; char-grilled
Beef Shish Kebob: Cubes of Angus beef lightly marinated & char-grilled
Lamb Shish Kebob: Cubes of marinated boneless baby lamb; char-grilled

Accompaniments
Mast Khiar: Homemade yogurt mixed with cucumbers& mint
Mast Esfenaj: Homemade yogurt mixed with sautéed spinach & garlic
Panir Sabzi: Fresh basil, tarragon, mint, radish, scallions & feta cheese
Torshi: A traditional Persian mix of chopped pickled vegetables                                            Mediterranean Chopped Salad: Usually includes chopped tomato, cucumber, green pepper, parsley, lemon and olive oil.

Tips for Eating  Well in a Persian Restaurant

It’s easy to make good choices in a Persian restaurant as the entrees all tend to be grilled.

  1. Portions tend to be large, so sharing is ideal. The platters of rice tend to be quite big, so it’s wise to order just one plate or rice for two to four people.
  2. A good way to start the meal is with a plate of the various dips. This will provide you a taste of many flavors, all to be enjoyed with the delicious pita bread.
  3. For dessert, share one serving of baklava or ask for fresh fruit.
  4. Try mint tea to accompany your meal as a healthy alternative to soda or alcohol.

Tips For Various Health Issues

If you are trying to lose weight: Opt for grilled vegetable, fish or chicken kebab. Ask for extra vegetables in place of the rice. Or share one plate of rice with the table. As all portions are usually large, consider sharing your main course if you are also having an appetizer.

If you have heart disease or high cholesterol: Choose the vegetable or fish kebab as these are the lowest in saturated fat. If they have salmon, that’s an excellent choice.  For an appetizer, the humus, babaganoosh or salad would all be ideal. The yogurt is made from whole milk, so it will be high in saturated fat. Share with the table if you would like to try it.

If you are vegetarian or vegan: Choose the vegetable kebab as your main dish. There are many side dishes that are vegetarian and/or vegan. If you are vegan, try the humus or babaganoosh. Most salads are also vegan. You can always ask for the cheese to be deleted. For vegetarians, there are many yogurt dips to also partake. These pair well with the delicious pita bread on the table.

If you have prediabetes or diabetes: All of the kebabs are good choices. To lower the glycemic index of the meal, ask for vegetables in place of the rice. When it comes to dessert, if you desire something sweet, ask for fresh fruit. Mint tea is a great way to end the meal. It also promotes healthy digestion.

Favorite Persian Restaurants in NYC

Just in case you’re planning a trip to NYC in the near future, here are our fave picks. Enjoy!

Revagh

Persepolis

Colbeh

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures, and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.

How to Eat Well in a Greek Restaurant

Greek_SaladWhether eating at a taverna in Santorini or enjoying a delicious Greek meal in your locale, this healthy plant-laden Mediterranean cuisine is a pleasure you must experience for yourself. Heavy on foods grown from the earth: lucious red tomatoes, freshly picked and pungent oregano and thyme, shiny and firm purple eggplants and fragrant olive oil. Salty, tangy Feta cheese sliced atop bowls of Greek salad. This is the food of Gods. This is Greek food. Visit a Greek restaurant and the variety of dishes offered is mind-boggling. Greeks love to cook and it shows! There are so many fabulous dishes to try, but if you aren’t familiar with traditional Greek food, you may be unsure of what to request. Whether you just want a traditional dish, such as Spanikopita, or have special dietary needs, such as vegetarian, diabetes, or high cholesterol, you can find something healthy and quite tasty . So let’s visit a Greek menu and give you some ideas for your next visit to either Greece or your local Greek restaurant. Opa!

Overview of Traditional Greek Menu Fare

Greek cuisine includes a wide variety of vegetable dishes, grilled fish and meats. The Greek diet makes wide use of olive oil, lemon juice, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread (they love pita bread!), wine, fish, and various meats, including lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork. Also important are olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt.  Some dishes use phyllo pastry. Greeks also love their lemon potatoes and rice. Greek desserts are characterized by the wide use of nuts and honey. If you choose wisely, it’s quite easy to have both a delicious and healthy meal.

Heart-Healthy Meals:  Grilled Octopus, Grilled Fish, Grilled Vegetables, Garides with Feta cheese (large grilled shrimp cooked en casserole with Feta), Greek Salad, Horiatiki Salad, Horta (Dandelion greens sauté with olive oil and garlic).  If you have a history of heart disease, go easy on the red meat and cheeses. Enjoy more vegetable and grilled fish meals.

Diabetes-Friendly Meals: Dishes rich in vegetables and seafood should be at the top of this list. Greek salad, Vegetable Mousakka, grilled Octupus and fish. Poultry and lean meats. Pay attention to portions of rice and potatoes. Limit to I cup of starchy vegetable or grain per meal. If you want dessert, share with the table and have just a couple bites. Go for a walk after your meal to help lower you blood glucose.

Vegan and Vegetarian Fare:  Gigante beans (vegan) known as Butter beans in the States, Spanikopita—traditional spinach and Feta pie baked in phyllo dough (vegetarian–contains butter and Feta cheese), Lentil soup, Meze Platter (vegetarian–includes tzaziki (yogurt and cucumber). To make it vegan, request extra hummus in place of the yogurt. Vegetarian Mousakka is a delicious vegetarian dish consisting of vegetables cooked en casserole topped with a Bechamel sauce.

Five Tips for Eating Well in a Greek Restaurant

  1. Avoid fried foods, such as fried calamari and fried fish. Choose grilled or broiled fish and meats.
  2. Start the meal with a Meze platter ( a tasting plate of various dips, usually including, but not limited to, hummous, babaganoush, taramasolata (caviar with yogurt dip) and tzatziki (cucumber with garlic and yogurt), or a Greek salad (romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber, grape leaves, olives and Feta cheese) or Horiatiki salad (a Greek salad sans lettuce).  A Meze platter can also be a meal for one person or have it along with a Greek salad for a party of two.
  3. If you are vegetarian or vegan, the protein- and fiber-packed Gigante beans (traditionally cooked in a rich tomto sauce) can serve as a dinner meal, paired with a Greek salad (sans the cheese if vegan) or a vegetable side.
  4. Baklava, a delicious pastry of phyllo dough, nuts, and honey is a mainstay of many Greek restaurants. It’s delicious, but quite rich. So order just one for the table.
  5. Portions can be large. Ask for a take-away box and bring half the meal home. Makes for an easy lunch or dinner the next day.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures, and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.