“You have diabetes,” said Yvette Escribano-Sanabria’s doctor, looking up from her chart. “It’s advanced and you need medication right away.” Yvette wrinkled her brow, confused. Despite a long family history of diabetes — and 236 pounds on her 5’3″ frame — she’d never been warned about her sugar before. Now, she suddenly needed drugs? Panic rose in her chest, and the Florida grandmother shook her head no. “Once my relatives started with pills, they got so much sicker,” she said. “There must be a way I can try to get better on my own.” The doctor gave her a skeptical look. She felt a shiver of fear…
Soon after, Yvette sat in her car, staring at her belly. She’d read the bigger it got, the worse things were inside the body. And it was so large, she needed seat-belt extenders. But every diet was a struggle, and eventually she’d snap and hit multiple drive-thrus. Why am I like this? she wondered. Even as a kid, she’d been obsessed with junk food. Maybe it’s just how I am. And yet…she desperately wanted more quality years with her grandchildren, Mario and Gigi. I’ ll go to a different doctor for a second opinion, she decided.
How can nuts be important on a diet?
“Let’s get you on a low-glycemic eating plan and see how you do,” the new doctor said. “We can hold off on medication for now.” Yvette felt a f lood of relief. Staff dietitian Cheryl further explained: “The idea is to choose foods that bring blood sugar down and keep it steady.” That would give Yvette’s body a chance to heal the damage causing her diabetes. Plus, her levels of belly-fat hormones would drop, helping release spare pounds stressing her system. “The key is to limit yourself to one serving of carb-rich food per sitting and make it a high-fiber choice like whole grains or fruit. Then always balance it out with protein, veggies and a little healthy fat.” Yvette nodded, glancing at a list of recommended foods like cheese, lean meat, berries, beans, greens.
The dietitian continued: “If a craving hits, try having nuts. They’re good at balancing sugar. They also help eliminate cravings.” Oh, I love nuts, Yvette thought. They put a free app on her phone to track her portions. “And, Yvette,” said Cheryl, “be kind to yourself. Progress is more important than perfection.”
The next day, Yvette started off with eggs, whole-wheat toast and avocado. Lunch was soup, Greek yogurt, and fruit. Midday, when she’d normally grab chips, she did what Cheryl suggested: She sipped water and had pistachios. These are salty and crunchy, and I don’t have to feel guilty about eating them! she thought. She was shockingly full until dinner, which was chicken, green beans, and mashed cauliflower. As Yvette headed to bed, she was pleased. Can I keep it up? she worried.
What kind of results can you expect?
One pound became two, then five, then 10. Yvette experimented with healthy foods, finding more and more options that were delicious and satisfying. To her surprise, many included nuts: Salads with chicken and walnuts, apples with nut butter, crackers made from almond flour. “You’re doing great!” said Cheryl at a follow-up appointment.
“I feel great,” marveled Yvette, who’d started gentle yoga classes. “I’m energized, clearheaded and I finally don’t think about food all the time.” Cheryl said all were side effects of better blood sugar.
Sure enough, Yvette’s blood work kept improving, her belly flattening more than ever. So when progress on the scale slowed, she stayed positive. Some weeks, I only lose a quarter pound, but I still lose inches from my waist, she realized.
Over about eight months, Yvette traded her size 24s for size 10s. “I no longer have to worry about what will fit over my belly and can wear much cooler clothes in the Florida heat,” she says. “And I feel like I get to dress younger at age 65 than I did 20 years ago!” Yvette, who is semi-retired, even created the “Polished After Sixty” YouTube channel. Today, she says her diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are all gone for good. So are 78 extra pounds. “For most of my life, I only worried about making my outside look better. When I started to focus on my well-being, everything changed,” she says. “It took many years for me to figure it all out—but was it ever worth the wait!”
How do nuts speed off spare pounds?
Yvette says nuts turbocharged her weight loss — and science backs her up! In a recent study, folks on a healthy diet lost a whopping four times more weight if they were given nuts to enjoy daily. Nuts also doubled the speed of their ab-fat burn. A few key reasons for these wow results:
Belly blocking: Nuts’ good fat causes a valve at the end of the stomach to tightly constrict, according to Dr. Oz. Food must then slowly push through, keeping your belly full for hours longer than usual.
Cravings eraser: Scientists using brain scans discovered that an area of the brain that suppresses hunger and cravings literally “lights up” after we eat nuts, per Harvard’s Christos Mantzoros, MD, PhD. He says the research could lead to the development of new anti-obesity drugs.
Blood-sugar magic: A UCLA study found that nut eaters are 50 percent less likely to have diabetes. Credit goes in part to nuts’ powerful ability to boost certain good bacteria in our gut that optimize blood sugar. Bonus: As sugar drops, hormone levels shift in a way that “unlocks” ab fat and allows it to be incinerated. Of course, everybody is different. Yvette shed about 10 pounds a month — other nut lovers report losing up to 16.5 pounds a week!
How can you incorporate nuts into your diet?
To eat like Yvette, stick to healthy portions of unprocessed foods and limit fruit and whole grains to one serving per sitting. The fun way to boost results: Make nuts your go-to snack in your diet and add them to meals. A free tracking app like MyFitnessPal can help keep calories and carb intake moderate. As always, get your doctor’s okay to try any new diet.
BREAKFAST: Toast almond-flour bread; add avocado and an egg prepared any style.
LUNCH: Top a big salad with cooked chicken, walnuts, blue cheese, any fruit you like, and olive-oil vinaigrette.
DINNER: Sauté chopped nuts and herbs in olive oil; serve over fish with veggies and optional serving of beans.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.