“It’s as if you left one window open in your house and had a hurricane, and the water came in and damaged everything,” said Gutman. “But if your kids came into the house, wet from the pool, you wouldn’t have to work so hard to clean it out.”
As for meals, the American Diabetes Association recommends drawing an imaginary line on your plate, dividing it in two, and then dividing one of the halves again so that you have three sections. The largest section of the plate should be devoted to non-starchy vegetables. Then, one quarter can go to starches, such as multi-grained breads. Finally, lean meats, eggs or dairy products can fill the last quarter.
Alejandra Cordovez, a registered dietician at the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute, said the greatest challenge with Hispanic patients is increasing the non-starchy vegetable consumption.
“The Hispanic diet has high portions of refined carbohydrates with low fiber, like white rice, buñelos, Cuban bread, arepas,” she said. “People ask me if they can have rice. Yes, but you cannot have three cups of rice, two cups of beans, yucca, malanga and platanitos and some meat.” What worries is Cordovez is that many Hispanic parents children are not introducing their children to vegetables. Some of her patients are obese 9-year-olds.
“I’m trying to get them to eat a serving of veggies but the parents tell me, ‘Oh, I try to make him eat vegetables but he won’t.’ Then I ask the parent: ‘Do you eat the vegetables?’” she said.
Too often, she said, the answer is no.
After her diagnosis, Barreiros began to experiment with vegetables in the kitchen — and actually enjoyed some of them. In fact, she’s even introduced her parents and grandmother to some of these new foods.
“They never even knew what zucchini and squash was until I made some chili with those vegetables,” Barreiros recalled, laughing. “They’re like, ‘What’s this green and yellow thing?’ I had to show them. They’d seen them in the store but never tried them.”