If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you already know that there’s a lot to learn about managing your condition. A healthy diet is essential, and learning to eat right can be overwhelming. But it’s not impossible. Use these tips, along with advice from your physician and registered dietitian to eat more of the foods that will keep you strong and healthy.
Use a Smartphone App
Your registered dietitian will probably tell you that counting carbohydrates is important if you are diabetic. You can keep a notepad and pen in your bag, but you can go paper-free with an easy smartphone app. Fooducate makes one specifically for people with diabetes. You can download the Diabetes Nutrition & Diet Tracker for Android or iPhone.
Know the difference between a serving and a portion
A “serving” of food is the recommended amount of food that you should eat in a single sitting. You’ll find this number listed on the Nutrition Facts Label of the packaged foods that you buy. A “portion” of food is the amount that you actually consume. In order to track your food intake properly and to manage your weight, make sure that your portion size always matches the recommended serving size.
Find foods that are naturally low in Carbohydrates
Eating a low-carb diet is a good idea for weight and blood-sugar control, but sometimes manufacturers lower the carb content of food by adding fake sugars and other processed ingredients. To keep your calorie and carbohydrate intake in control, eat more foods that are naturally low in carbs like meat and fresh veggies. If you choose a low-carb version of a higher carb food, be sure to check the label for what replaced those carbs.
Enjoy dessert on special occasions
The American Diabetes Association recommends that you don’t avoid sweets altogether, but rather save them for a special occasion. That means on a daily basis you might choose a small serving of fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. Then, on special occasions, enjoy a single serving of cake, pie, or sweet treat. Try our recipe for Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Fresh Berries.
Be a sugar sleuth
Checking the ingredients list of your food choices is a good idea, but finding the sweetener isn’t always easy. You might see names like agave nectar, honey, or maltose and those are actually names for sugar. Use this list compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health to learn alternate names for sugar.
Plan your meals
You’ll have an easier time keeping your blood sugar under control if you spread your food intake into three meals and two to three snacks each day. Take one day each week to plan meals and snacks. Create a shopping list and stock your refrigerator with the foods you need so that you are never left combing the aisles of a convenience store searching for healthy options.
One of the fastest ways to elevate your blood sugar is to drink a sugary beverage. Even healthy-sounding drinks can have this effect. Sweetened teas, juice and fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, and flavored coffees often contain more sugar than you need. Of course, you can opt for artificially sweetened beverages as an alternative, but some experts believe that chemical sweeteners increase cravings for sweets. The best alternative? Plain water flavored with fresh herbs, berries, or cucumber.
Choose non-starchy vegetables
Fresh vegetables are a great way to get vitamins, minerals and healthy fiber, but the American Diabetes Association recommends that you choose non-starchy varieties to keep your carbohydrate intake lower. These veggies include spinach, carrots, broccoli, green beans, and other varieties. Prepare them simply with our recipe for Mixed Vegetable Shish Kebabs.
Be wary of white
If you are diabetic, whole grains are your friends. Look for the words “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” on the label of the foods you buy. Some foods may contain the words “wheat” or “multigrain” but those foods may not necessarily contain whole grains. In general, white foods like white bread, white rice and white pasta are not whole-grain foods.
Learn to cook
The best way to control the carbohydrate content of your food is to make it yourself. Invest in a cooking class or buy a diabetes friendly cookbook. Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking provides day to day advice along with a meal planning guide, cooking tips and of course, lots of healthy recipes.
Remember that your best source of information about eating a healthy diabetes diet is your registered dietitian. Ask questions, gather tips and stay connected to your nutrition expert to live a healthier life with diabetes.