Diet & Nutrition
The primary goal when you are diabetic is to keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible. This may help alleviate many of the long-term risks associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, nerve, kidney, and eye damage. Diet plays a significant role in your blood glucose level but many newly diagnosed diabetics are unsure of where to begin.
What should you do when evaluating your diet? Focus on building healthy eating habits!
- Eat regularly. For many people with diabetes, this should consist of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and possibly some planned snacks throughout the day. Consult your physician or a dietitian to find out what will work best for you.
- Make healthy eating choices. Foods like beans and whole grains may help control hunger and lower blood cholesterol levels. You should strive to eat more servings of whole grain, high fiber foods each day. You can also add fiber to some of your favorite recipes by substituting oats or brown rice for some of the meat in recipes like meatloaf or meatballs, and casseroles.
- Reduce the amount of fat in your food. This will help protect your heart from heart disease. Foods such as butter, margarine, and some meat have high fat levels. Drink reduced-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. Use fat-free sour cream instead of regular, spice things up with some herbs for extra flavor.
- Include more vegetables and fresh fruit in your meals. Use these for more nutritious snacks instead of candy or cookies. While fruit and vegetables can be a source of carbohydrates, their nutritional benefits are undeniable.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is an important meal for everyone - especially for people with diabetes. Try to consume a healthy balanced meal in the morning such as a hearty bowl of oatmeal, fruit and yogurt. A good breakfast will help get your day started off right!
- If you are overweight, lose some weight. Even a small reduction in weight can have a major impact on reducing your blood glucose level. Do things in small steps. For example, if you decide to start eating more fruits and vegetables every day, make sure you can maintain before deciding on another goal.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Consult a dietitian. Not all people with diabetes have the same nutritional needs. If you do not currently see a registered dietitian, you should find one. They can help you understand the effects different foods will have on your body. They can also help you plan the most effective diet for your particular needs. You can look for a registered dietitian in your area by going to: www.eatright.org.
- Know how much is too much. It is sometimes not what we eat, but how much we eat that gets us into trouble. If large portions are a problem for you, drag out the measuring cups and spoons! They will help bring your portions to an appropriate size.
- Use common sense. The most important thing to keep in mind when beginning a diabetic diet is to use common sense. While it isn’t a good idea to gorge on cake and cookies, does that mean you can never eat these foods again? Absolutely not! But if you do eat them, you must make allowances elsewhere in your diet to compensate for those extra carbohydrates and calories. If you do splurge every once in a while, you might also try taking a walk in the evening to burn off some of those unwanted calories.