By: Laurie Edwards for Diabetes1
If you have diabetes, what you eat is one of the most important considerations in your life. Eating the right kinds of foods – and the proper amounts, too – is essential for keeping weight down, maintaining stable blood sugars, and reducing the risk of long-term complications. Luckily, with a little bit of knowledge and preparation, keeping up a healthy nutrition plan isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem.
Fill Up on This
When it comes to meal planning, fresh is best – think lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. When selecting vegetables, try to hit as many colors of the rainbow as possible (peppers, carrots, squash, and tomatoes are some examples). Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and green beans that are low in starch and high in fiber are ideal choices.
If you are sautéing your vegetables for flavor, choose liquid oils, which are lower in trans fats than solids like butter. In moderation, monounsaturated fats like olive, canola and peanut oil are better choices.
The amount of protein you eat in a day will be individually determined by your healthcare team. Chicken and fish are low-fat options as long as you remove the skin, and soy is another wonderful source of protein that is low in fat and cholesterol. When you want to include meat in your menu, an easy tip to remember is to focus on the word “loin” in meats, like pork loin and sirloin. These lean cuts are lower in fat.
Including beans and lentils in your diet – from soups and stews to sauces and salads – is a great way to get your protein without consuming unnecessary saturated fat.
Choosing low-fat or no-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese is a smart way to get calcium without extra calories and fat.
Healthy Ways to Eat Starches
The amount of carbohydrate you eat depends on many factors, including your weight, physical activity, and other medical conditions; this amount will be determined by your healthcare team. However, the type of starch you eat is just as important as how much, since many processed and refined simple starches are high in sugar. While fruits and vegetables are important complex carbohydrates, you should also consider grains like cereal, oats, and whole grain breads that are high in fiber. Replace white rice with brown for stir-fry dishes and sides, and whole wheat pasta is a good alternative when you want Italian cuisine.
By the Numbers
Portion control is also important. So how much is a typical serving of vegetables, protein, and starches?
Vegetables and fruit: for vegetables like cooked carrots or green beans, half a cup is about right. For lettuces and spinach, one full cup constitutes a serving. For fruit, a small apple, half a cup of fruit juice or one half of a larger fruit like grapefruit equals one serving. A starchier fruit like a banana would equal two servings.
Dairy: a cup or single-serving container of low-fat yogurt or a cup of skim milk is an easy way to remember what one serving is.
Protein: the standard rule for meats and protein is to consume a serving that is about the size of a deck of cards. Technically, this amounts to three ounces per serving.
Starch: a single slice of bread, a small potato, one half a cup of cereal or a six-inch tortilla are all equal to one serving of starch.
Take Action (sidebar)
Consult with your physician and a registered dietitian to help you come up with a balanced meal plan that meets your specific dietary needs and is still flavorful and interesting
To keep your proteins lean and healthy, cook them by grilling, broiling, roasting, or stir-frying them
Cooking with vinegar, lemon juice, salsa and herbs add lots of flavor and little fat
For desserts and sweets, look for low-sugar or sugar-free options, like puddings, popsicles or specially-prepared cookies and baked goods
Links of interest:
Count Carbs or Count Sugar at ADC
Trans Fats at ADC