Saturday, March 31, 2012

Donuts, Dietician and Peer Support Meetings

I am a co-facilitator of a peer support group at my local Stroke Recovery Association. We usually have about 7 to 10 people meet one afternoon a month in order to discuss issues related to living life after a stroke. It is great to share and so nice to talk to other people who have had similar experiences.

We usually have a  snack time. In fact it is amazing how often we share food at the stroke association functions. Last month I picked up a pack of mini chocolate covered donuts and they were met with a great deal of enthusiasm. Maybe a bit too much.  Many stroke survivors have dietary restrictions that they should be careful about. I realize that several of my members are diabetics. Others should be watching their cholesterol and just about everyone is supposed to be watching their salt intake. A few survivors have to watch for foods with potential drug interactions. Other people, like me, really should be working on reaching a healthy weight. As I watched the donuts disappear it occurred to me that I was acting as an enabler! I wanted treats and this seemed like the perfect excuse for me to indulge --- and I was taking my group down with me!

I was assigned a dietician as part of my rehab team when I first got sick, and I still see her about every 4 to 6 weeks. (I still have a lot of food and weight issues) I talked to her about this little revelation and it led to a really interesting discussion about group dynamics, snacking and healthy choices. One issue is the possibility that group members might actually be hungry. Did they eat lunch? How are their insulin levels? What is my responsibility in all this?  We talked about how occasional treats are not a bad thing and it is normal to have special foods once in a while. The important part is quantity and frequency. Once a month is not a big deal, but at the same time it is an opportunity to share a healthy snack.

My dietician and I brainstormed about some easy, inexpensive snack foods that might be good choices for the average stroke survivors diet. I came up with a few poor choices such as cheese and crackers.  I thought it would be good because it is higher in protein but it is too high in calories and too high in cholesterol and possibly sodium. I already knew the Girl Guide cookies I am supposed to be selling were not going to make the list this time, no matter how yummy they are and good the cause is.

Healthy veggie wraps were one suggestion. The idea of cheese in them was again discouraged but we discussed using some lower fat cheeses that are now on the market.  Turkey sandwiches prepared with multi grain bread and cut in quarters would be good too. Fruit with a light cream cheese or perhaps a yogurt based dip sound pretty healthy and delicious. There are some yummy and good for you muffins available at the store and she has some recipes for some healthy muffins that I will get from her next time I see her.

We had a meeting this past week and this time I brought bagels cut in smaller pieces and I provided a spread choice of light cream cheese or hummus. It certainly wasn’t donut type enthusiasm, but a few people really seemed to like trying the hummus for the first time.  Next month I think it is going to be healthy muffins or banana bread. All I have to do is work up some energy for baking!

Does anybody have other suggestions for coffee break or snack treats for a group? I would be very interested in potluck suggestions too.


Humpty Dumpty said...

That is a tough question, Linda. You know I like all those bad-for-you snacks, too! Even my banana bread recipe has sour cream and a lot of sugar in it. The hummus was a good idea. It could go with a whole wheat cracker as well as the bagels. One other consideration with the wraps is the cheese. Even a low-fat cream cheese might affect anyone with an intolerance to lactose.. The turkey wrap with lettuce and a bit of olive oil mayo or Dijon mustard sounds like a good choice. This subject could use a bit more research. If I think of anything else, I will let you know. :)

barbpolan said...

Fruit is a good pick - although you already know that - even for those with diabetes. Melons - cantaloupe and honeydew - and strawberries have a a particularly low carb to volume ratio. Between 1 and 1.5 cups per 15 grams (one serving of carbs). Blueberries are about the worst.

Popcorn, NO butter or salt. Again, it's amazing how much popcorn you can eat in one serving. Celery with hummus - pick one w/o too much fat - is one of my favorites.

My daughter has Type 1 diabetes, so it was particularly important to know about snacks when she was a kid.

Potluck is tough, although vegan choices are likely to be good - no cheese/eggs/etc.

P.S. NO ONE should eat donuts!

Glynis said...

Hi Linda

For the family get-togethers I go to, I usually do the fresh veggies and low-cal salad dressing. However, small groups for coffee are a little different sometimes. How about the yogurt covered pretzels? Just a thought.

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