3 Rules for Eating Well with Diabetes
If you have diabetes, it can be confusing to know which foods to eat. Are all carbohydrates bad for you, or is it just sugar? Do you need to count your carbs? Is fruit OK or not? All the different headlines on “good” and “bad” foods are enough to drive a person crazy.
So take a deep breath and remember this: The best meal plan for diabetes is a well-rounded diet full of nutritious foods. Follow these three guidelines:
1. Make your grains whole grains
Foods with carbohydrates, such as bread, can raise your blood sugar levels as your body breaks down the food. But not all carbs are bad. Some raise your blood sugar more or faster than others. In general, the less processed that a food is, the less impact it will have on your blood sugar. Whole grains are a great example of a less-processed source of carbs.
In addition, whole grains have fiber and other important nutrients. Look for foods that say “100 percent whole grains” on the label or list whole-grain ingredients, such as whole wheat flour, as the first ingredient. Whole grains contain the germ and bran of the grain. This is where the grain’s nutrients and fiber come from. Oatmeal, popcorn, and brown or wild rice are also types of whole grains.
2. Swap salt for herbs and spices
People with diabetes have an elevated risk for stroke and heart disease. One of the simplest ways to lower your risk: limit how much salt you eat.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, sodium intake was linked to health problems in people with type 2 diabetes. People who ate the most sodium had a higher risk for cardiovascular disease compared to people who consumed the least sodium.
Your move: Flavor foods with spices instead of salt. Cinnamon, for example, has been shown to improve fasting blood glucose levels.
3. Load up on fruits and vegetables
Produce is packed with nutrition and is high in fiber. Every day, you should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Watch your starchy vegetables, though: These include potatoes, squash, and corn. They’re high in vitamins and minerals, but they also tend to be high in carbohydrates. Fill about one-quarter of your plate with starchy foods at every meal and half with fruits and vegetables. When you do have fruit, choose fresh or frozen. Fruit juices often have added sugars.
See, eating with diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick with a well-rounded, no-nonsense diet to improve your health the simple way.
Work with Your Doctor
Your doctor can help you develop a healthy eating plan. He or she may also suggest that you see a registered dietitian. Before your visit, print out our free tipsheet. It’s full of things you can do to make the most of your next doctor appointment and get your questions answered.
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