Diabetes Nutrition: The Top 5 Tips
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Why is nutrition important?
As you learn to live with diabetes, you will realize that the food choices you make are one of the most important tools you have to help you manage your condition. Making the right food choices for you can help you:
There’s no single “diabetes diet” for you to follow, so it’s up to you to watch the types and amounts of foods you eat every day. The good news: you don’t need to feel “restricted” … there are plenty of healthy food choices out there, and plenty of different ways to keep your blood glucose under control with the right food options.
Tip 1: Plan ahead
- Take a few minutes at the start of your week to plan your meals. It can start with a few simple questions, like “What nights will I be eating at home and when do I need to eat out?” or “What do I intend to eat for breakfast each morning?” Think of it as starting a trip by buying a map, or getting a good set of directions for where you’re going.
- Always take a list when you go grocery shopping. Shopping with a list will help you stick to your meal plan, and avoid those unnecessary “impulse buys” in the grocery store. Not only will it help you eat healthier … it can save you money, too.
- Make a daily plan for meal timing. Eating meals at regular times is the best way to help make sure your blood glucose stays under control throughout your day. So it’s important to schedule your day around those regular mealtimes. And for days when you know you won’t be able to eat lunch or dinner at your regular time … you can plan to bring along some healthy snacks.
Tip 2: Max out the veggies!
Did your mom always tell you to “eat all your veggies” when you were growing up? Well, she was right … eating veggies is a good way to get lots of vitamins and minerals without maxing out on calories.
Veggies can be your friends when you’re living with diabetes. Keep some of these tips in mind:
Tip 3: Fight those fats
Fatty foods may be tempting, but many of them are dangerous … a high-fat diet is bad for your heart health.
You should learn which fats are harmful for you, and which are not. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats (like red meats, chicken and full-fat dairy products) and trans fats (foods cooked in partially-hydrogenated oils). But eating foods that are rich in unsaturated fats or omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout, tuna, walnuts or sunflower seeds) can actually improve your heart health.
There are plenty of ways you can learn to reduce the levels of harmful fat in your diet:
Tip 4: Watch your serving sizes
We live in a society where “super-sizing” has become the norm, both in restaurants and in grocery stores. But just because ‘bigger’ options are out there, doesn’t mean you have to choose them. Watching your portion sizes is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not eating too many calories, fat and salt.
In the grocery store, try to choose the smallest size you can find, especially when buying snacks. Healthy snacks are better choices, but if you do give in to your “junk food” cravings once in a while, mini-sized chocolate bars and half-sized bags of chips are at least better options than full-sized ones.
At home, let your plate be your guide. If you think of a plate as a kind of map, think of filling ¼ of the plate with a protein choice (chicken or fish), ¼ of the plate with a starch (rice, pasta, couscous, corn or potatoes) and the remaining ½ with vegetables. Remember, choosing a smaller plate (a luncheon size rather than a dinner plate) is a good way to watch your calories. And stick to just ONE plate … don’t go for seconds!
In a restaurant, try going topless. No, no, not you … your food. Don’t add cheese atop your burger, as that can add a lot of calories. And try having it without the top bun, or without a bun at all. The extra bread can add carbs and drive up your blood glucose levels.
Tip 5: Count your carbs
Carbohydrates (or “carbs”) are found in many of the foods you eat, including grains and starches (breads, rice, pasta), fruits and some vegetables (potatoes), legumes, milk, and many prepared foods. For people with diabetes, carbs are important to watch, because the body breaks them down into glucose, which can raise your blood glucose levels.
A good general carbohydrate target is no more than 45-60 grams or carbs per meal, but that number will vary from person to person.
And remember, not all carbohydrate-rich foods are the same. You should get to know the Glycemic Index (GI), a tool that helps you choose foods that are less likely to raise your blood glucose (100% whole grain breads, barley, beans) and avoid the ones that may raise it more (white bread, short-grain rice, French fries). You can learn more about the Glycemic Index here: www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/the-glycemic-index
In order to help watch your carbs, you’ll need to:
- New Accu-Chek Aviva
- Mulberry Zuccarin Max™
- equateTM/MC Diabetic Meal Replacement
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
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