IPC partnership with American Diabetes Association celebrated at IGSA convention
SUN VALLEY, ID — The Idaho potato industry received a lift earlier this year when the American Diabetes Association added Idaho potatoes to its Better Choices for Life program, essentially clearing the way for those afflicted with diabetes to include potatoes in their meal planning.
While the partnership between the Idaho Potato Commission and the ADA was announced earlier this year, it was celebrated at the recent Idaho Grower Shipper Association convention, held here Aug. 29-Sept. 1. Notably, Idaho potatoes are the first fresh vegetable item to be included in the program.
Shelly Goodchild, vice president/West for the ADA, was on hand to address IGSA convention attendees during a special workshop about the partnership. She said the Better Choices for Life program uses the ADA’s evidence-based guidelines and perspective to help consumers make informed choices about the products they purchase, and the designation indicates that Idaho potatoes have met the nutritional threshold to be included.
“It’s not an easy process,” Goodchild said of receiving approval to be included in the Better Choices for Life program. “We carefully evaluate eligible products against ADA standards. It is important to note that this is not meant to be an endorsement or a lead generation program. But Idaho potatoes can now carry the ADA Better Choices for Life seal on packaging.”
The evaluation process takes into account how foods fit the Diabetes Plate Method, which was introduced by the ADA to help those living with diabetes and prediabetes prepare healthy meals that can help manage blood glucose levels.
Under the Diabetes Plate Method, individuals follow a four-step process when building their meal:
• Step 1: Fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables that are low in carbohydrates.
• Step 2: Fill one-quarter of the plate with lean protein, such as fish, chicken, lean beef, soy products or cheese.
• Step 3: Fill one-quarter of the plate with carbohydrate foods, such as potatoes, grains, beans or legumes.
• Step 4: Drink water or another zero-calorie beverage.
Goodchild noted that every 23 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes, and that one in two Americans is living with diabetes or prediabetes.
“Each year, hundreds of thousands of people search our website (diabetes.org) with the question, ‘What can I eat?’” she said.
Jamey Higham, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said that inclusion of Idaho potatoes in the Better Choices for Life program will go a long way toward reversing misperceptions about potatoes being unhealthy for diabetics.
“While we are the lead, this will be good for all potatoes, not just Idaho,” he said. “During the Atkins Diet craze, people were told that potatoes are the devil, and ever since we have been fighting the battle for potatoes to be considered a healthy food. This partnership helps so much.”
Photo: Shelly Goodchild, vice president/West for the American Diabetes Association, with Jamey Higham, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission.