“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

Special Blog Post By: Alex Navarro, Nutrition Education Coordinator, San Mateo County

Many of Second Harvest Food Bank’s clients suffer from diet-related conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. This dilemma often leads them to make the tough decision of either paying their monthly bills or buying healthy, nutritionally adequate foods for themselves and their families.

To help address this issue, Second Harvest partnered with Samaritan House Clinics and opened up the first Food Pharmacy in California  – where diabetic patients from the clinic can fill their “prescription” for wholesome, nutritious food.

Clinic patients receive a “prescription” voucher for the food pharmacy which is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice, protein items like cheese, canned salmon, tofu, chicken, peanut butter and eggs.

As a nutrition educator, I believe that healthy eating paired with nutrition education is a cornerstone for managing diet-related conditions, and for the prevention of further complications. An important part of my work is to make sure patients know how to prepare the foods they receive, and to understand the health benefits of these meals. Creating a balanced meal is easy with food from the Food Pharmacy, as we provide the right type of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.

Here are some eating patterns for the prevention and treatment of Type2 Diabetes (be sure to check the links!):

PLATE METHOD : Provides a practical visual aid to select and create healthy meals in acceptable food portions without measuring.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): Rich in vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. Low in red meats, sugar, and sodium.

MEDITERRANEAN STYLE  : High consumption of minimally processed plant-based foods; olive oil is the main source of fat. Low consumption of red meats.

VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN : Wholefoods, plant-based without all animal-derived products; vegetarian diet can include eggs or dairy products.

Regardless what eating pattern you choose, remember to practice mindful eating; eat with attention and awareness. This practice can help you gain control over what, how much, and even why you eat. It also helps you identify habits that you can change. Over time, even small changes in the way you prepare, serve, or consume your meals can lead to big improvements in blood sugar management and diabetes control.

So, what’s on your plate?

***Catch up on our past Nutrition Newbie posts.