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Diabetes & Diet: A Balancing Act
As we age, the risk for type 2 diabetes increases. Whether you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or want to minimize risks of developing diabetes, what we eat is key! Diet is a critical component in avoiding or delaying complications from diabetes. There is no one meal plan that fits all, but there are basic dietary guidelines that can apply to everyone.
Making Healthier Choices at Meal Time
Choosing what, how much and when to eat are the basics! With a little planning blood sugar can be improved. To get started try the “plate method” for your meals. Use a 9-inch plate, place a line down the middle of the plate, then on one side draw another line so there are t
hree sections on the plate.
- Fill the largest section of the plate with plenty of colorful vegetables.
- One of the smaller sections should be whole grains. Select grains with plenty of fiber to avoid spikes in blood sugar.
- The last section is for lean protein such as fish, poultry, pork tenderloin and flank steak. Have fish more often, strive for 6-9 ounces a week.
Maintain Blood Sugar with Smart Snacks
Have small snacks between meals to maintain blood sugar and to provide an energy boost! Balance carbohydrates with protein. Here are some smart sensible snacks:
- Plain nonfat yogurt with berries
- Lowfat string cheese with a small apple
- Tuna with whole grain crackers
- Nonfat milk with high fiber cereal
Keep portions in check and try to have snacks approximately 2-3 hours after meals.
Other Tips to Keep Diabetes in Check
- Monitor portions: eating too much of even healthful foods can lead to weight gain, working against diabetes.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy body weight: balance calories from food with activity.
- Physical activity and a healthy body weight will help lower blood sugar.
- Use moderate amounts of oil (canola and olive); fat is high in calories a little goes a long way.
- Check the nutrition label for starches and grains, 1 serving should only have 15 grams of carbohydrates and 3-5 grams of fiber.
- Limit processed meats including cold cuts and hot dogs.
- Have water instead of juices and sugary beverages.
- Get your vitamin D level checked to ensure it is adequate.
Try these superfoods, they have a lower glycemic index, provide key nutrients and may have other health benefits!
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: may improve insulin sensitivity, low in calories and packed with nutrients!
- Tomatoes: an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber and the phytonutrient lycopene.
- Fish: provides vital Omega-3 fats.
- Legumes: high in fiber and potassium. One serving = ½ cup and is equal to a grain & protein.
- Fat Free Milk & Plain Yogurt: rich in calcium and vitamin D, if fortified. Vitamin D may help boost cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
- Berries: excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, with strawberries providing vitamin C. One serving = ¾ cup. Be sure to pair fruit with protein.
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