On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Diabetic Strategies for Healthy Snacks

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am a driver for a corporate CEO. He is 55 and an insulin-using diabetic. Driving him around all day I know that he often misses meals. I find him raiding the snack area in the car and want to make sure there are healthy items for him to choose from. Would fresh fruit help, and what pre-packaged snacks would be best to have? -- R.D., Santa Clara, California

DEAR R.D.: Healthful snack foods for a diabetic don't differ that much from those recommended for others. You should aim for nutrient-dense, great-tasting foods that can serve either as a bite between meals or a meal substitute. The key for a diabetic, especially one who takes insulin, is that there needs to be some idea of what is in the food so that the insulin dose can be adjusted accordingly.

Good suggestions for snacks would include fresh fruits, as you suggest, together with an assortment of nuts, seeds, pretzels and dried fruits. Keep a log of what you add and when so that you can track preferences and maintain freshness. Pre-packaged snacks containing these foods would add a measure of convenience, but I would advise you to stay away from overly sugared snack products; check the ingredient list. Asking for fruit and nut preferences could help you locate good-fit products, or you could even assemble a trail mix custom-made for your CEO (label it with his name/company and you will likely have a hit on your hands). Always have water available.

If there is a refrigerator in the car, consider stocking your CEO's favorite water, some different yogurts or fruit/vegetable juices. I would also stock a selection of meal replacement bars. Find ones that provide balanced nutrients to help fill in for any missed meals. If you tend to drive regular routes, have a list of locations that have healthful foods ready-to-go.

In all cases you should have a sheet that contains a nutrient breakdown of the various foods. You can get these from the labels, from books or online sites, such as nutritiondata.self.com. I think your CEO is fortunate to have you in the driver's seat.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Is there any truth to the concern that antiperspirants cause breast cancer, indeed that they are the leading cause? Could you shed some light on this, and if so, could you also recommend a suitable alternative? -- B.B., San Jose, California

DEAR B.B.: This is not a food or nutrition-related issue, but I think it is important to squash these types of rumors. There is no evidence that antiperspirants cause breast cancer. About the closest thing to it is the fact that it is not recommended that women use certain antiperspirants or skin lotions, creams or ointments prior to having a mammogram. The thought here is that the metal salts in these products might interfere with a proper reading. There are evidence-based sites to check out suspicious stories, one being snopes.com.

Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.