8 Diabetes Diet Tips
A nutritious, balanced diet is key for managing diabetes well. These tips can help you keep your blood sugar in check and appetite satisfied.
Carla, who has diabetes, was at a friend's birthday celebration. When she was offered cake, she politely declined. She didn't even want to risk one bite. The buttercream frosting looked delicious, but Carla fretted that it would wreak havoc on her blood sugar.
Having a healthy diabetes diet is not about depriving yourself. If your diabetes is well managed, no foods are "off limits." If Carla's blood sugar was under control and she planned ahead, she likely could have had a taste of cake.
A balancing act The key to good nutrition is balance. People with diabetes have to be extra mindful in watching what, when and how much they eat because it affects blood sugar levels. Good nutrition, along with medications and exercise, leads to better blood sugar control. This reduces your chance of dangerous medical conditions, like heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.
Tips for success These diet tips can help you keep your blood sugar in check and appetite satisfied:
Enlist help. A registered dietitian is a valuable resource for people with diabetes. So much so that the American Diabetes Association suggests that all people with diabetes or pre-diabetes seek nutritional counseling. You'll have diabetes for life, so understanding how foods affect your blood sugar is a must. Together you'll create a healthy eating plan based on your needs and preferences. You'll also have follow-up visits to make sure your new diet plan is working. Fill up on staples. Your diet should mainly consist of these foods: Fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and vegetables of all colors because they deliver different nutrients. Fruit may even satisfy your sweet tooth. Opt for non-starchy veggies more often, such as spinach, broccoli and carrots. Whole grain carbohydrates. Whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Go for brown rice, oatmeal or barley. Lean protein. Fish, skinless chicken and turkey, and occasionally lean cuts of beef and pork are your best bets. Nonfat and low-fat dairy. Try skim milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese. Know what to limit. Stay away from foods high in saturated fats (such as butter), trans fats (such as margarine), sodium (often found in processed foods like soups and chips), added sugars (for example, candy) and alcoholic drinks. Learn how to indulge. You don't have to ban sweets all together. If your blood sugar is under control, small treats are probably OK once in a while. Desserts are mostly made of carbohydrates. To make room for sweets, eliminate an equal amount of carbs from your meal (your dietitian can show you how to count carbs.) For example, eat less brown rice during dinner if you want a cookie for a special occasion after your meal. Go light. Many foods have nonfat, low-fat, lower sugar or less sodium versions. A lighter alternative will sometimes save you calories. Read the label to be sure. Often, the lighter food still tastes as good as the original. Use lighter versions of milk, sour cream, cheese and peanut butter when cooking, too. Stick to a routine. Eat the same amount of food at the same time each day. This will help keep blood sugar levels stable. Never skip meals. Stock healthy snacks in your office, car or purse so you don't have to resort to junk food if hunger strikes Control portions. Eating too much, even of healthy foods, can cause weight gain and blood sugar problems. Eat slower, use small plates and put utensils down between bites. You'll be able to notice when you're full well before you overeat. Divide your plate. This handy trick will ensure that your meal is well balanced and complete:. Divide your plate in half. Fill half of it with non-starchy vegetables like asparagus or leafy greens. Divide the empty side of the plate in half again. Fill one section with carbohydrates such as whole-wheat pasta or a baked potato. Fill the remaining section with lean protein like grilled salmon, baked chicken or a poached egg. Add a piece of fruit to the side, such as an apple or an orange. Have a glass of nonfat or low-fat milk along with your meal.