Program Director of 'Ekahi Health, Robert Walker and Chef Paul Onishi joined Tesia Worley this American Diabetes Month.

Q: As we near the end of American Diabetes Month and with the holidays approaching, what can we do to remain healthy?

A: Currently in Hawaii, more than 154,000 people have diabetes and another 460,000 have prediabetes. While it's the seventh leading cause of death in the islands, it is considered the strongest risk factor for heart disease, the state's leading cause of death.

'Ekahi Health recently launched an effort to combat diabetes in Hawaii – which is 'EkahiWellness, a diabetes care management program. We teach our participants about the benefits of a plant-based diet. It's a key component of both our diabetes and heart disease reversal programs. A plant-based diet is naturally low in both fat and refined carbohydrates. These are real foods in their most natural form and are not processed. Some of these real foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, egg whites, tofu, beans, legumes and soy.

These plant-based ingredients, along with regular exercise and stress management are scientifically proven to promote weight loss and prevent, reduce or even reverse the effect of heart disease and diabetes.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about 'EkahiWellness and how this program works?

A: 'EkahiWellCare is the first of its kind diabetes care management program in Hawaii. Patients have access to a customized diabetes education, stress management, exercise, meal plans and more all under one roof. A special team helps them to evaluate their medical history, medications and provide adjustments. Patients will also work with a dietitian to discuss their diet and make recommendations on how they can improve it.

Q: What are some tips for healthy eating?

A: Portions are important. You can still incorporate food you enjoy eating but be sure to follow consistent portion sizes. Understanding nutrition labels and making sure your serving is the same size as what's printed on the label. When eating carbohydrates, always eat them with protein and/or a non-starchy vegetable help balance blood sugars. For example, sweet potato with beats, tofu and vegetarian meats. High levels of whole grain bread, pasta and cereal can increase blood sugar and triglycerides and prevent weight loss. Choose options such as brown rice, rolled oats, and sweet/baked potato. 

Q: Chef Paul Onishi is a graduate of 'Ekahi's heart disease reversal program. Can you tell us a little bit about what you learned and how you're sharing that knowledge with the community?

A:  have been involved in the food and beverage industry for 50 years and recently received my certification as a vegan chef / instructor.

In February 2019, I completed one year of healthy living on my own after graduating from the program. My mission now is to veganize my own world. A lot of local favorites like laulau and loco moco wasn't part of my diet and now I'm able to recreate this from new technology. Because of my culinary background and training, I have been very blessed to have renewed passion for the preparation of food and would like very much to extend this passion to others who are struggling to live with a plant-based diet.

I'm doing hands-on cooking demos at Down to Earth and at other locations where people can learn how to prepare vegan foods. Some of the dishes that I have recently demonstrated include meatless loco moco, barbeque pulled pork, vegan chocolate almond pudding with whipped cream, and others. All of the dishes are made with no animal products and with low fat cooking methods.

Chef Paul Onishi brought one of his favorites dishes tofu poke, using: tofu, two types of onions, tomatoes, Sea Asparagus and Bragg Liquid Aminos.

For other healthy recipe ideas visit www.ekahihealth.com.