Diabetes Nutrition TipsLast updated: Nov 01, 2013
In addition to the more than 25.8 million US children and adults who have diabetes, 79 million people in the United States have blood sugar levels that are too high — a condition known as prediabetes.1 Figures such as these suggest the need for healthy nutrition habits to help reduce prediabetes, help prevent diabetes, and better control blood sugar levels in people who already have diabetes.
If your blood sugar is too high, if you have diabetes, or if you would like to practice healthy dietary habits:
- Balance Beverages
Instead of sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, drink water flavored with a slice of lime or lemon, herbal tea, or unflavored sparkling water. Twelve ounces of sweetened beverages (fruit drinks, soda) can contain a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar. Some research shows that diet and sugar-free drinks also can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes even though they contain no calories2
- Count Carbohydrates
Ask your doctor or certified diabetes educator to tell you how many carbohydrates you should have for your snacks and meals. Use food labels to count carbohydrates. Keep a list of low-carbohydrate foods such as cucumber, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, canned salmon or tuna, lo-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and edamame handy so that you can quickly make healthy choices
- Focus on Fiber
Eating fiber improves digestion. In addition, replacing high-carbohydrate foods with those that are high in fiber and low in carbohydrate means having fewer carbohydrates to increase your blood sugar levels.1Make sure your daily snacks and meals include foods with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, with a goal of 25 grams to 30 grams of total fiber each day. To help reach your goal, add legumes to salads and soups, choose high-fiber breakfast cereals, and eat the skins of sweet potatoes
- Mind Your Mouthfuls
If you're like most people, you eat when you're bored, tired, sad, anxious, because an ad reminds you of a favorite food, or out of habit. Before you eat, stop, take 5 deep breaths, and ask yourself why you are eating. If you’re not hungry, take a quick walk, call a friend, work on a craft you enjoy, or take a short nap
- Pack in Protein
Eating protein in a snack or at a meal can help you feel more full and satisfied than if you eat carbohydrates. For breakfast, stir 2 tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese or peanut butter into your oatmeal or have high-protein plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries for breakfast. Include 3 ounces to 5 ounces of sliced turkey, chicken breast, water-packed tuna, tofu, or pork tenderloin with lunch and dinner. Add nut butter, 1 ounce of nuts or seeds, or 1 ounce of cheese to snacks
- Plot Portions
Use small plates, bowls, and glasses to help limit your portions and control your blood sugar levels and weight. Cook fewer starches such as potatoes and rice and replace them with a green vegetable at dinner. Order small servings of food at a restaurant or split an entrée
- Shake Off Sugar
In all its forms, including molasses, honey, beet sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and turbinado, sugar raises blood sugar levels. Using less, with a goal of using very little, of all types of sugars can help you better control your blood sugar and manage your weight3
- Schedule Snacks and Meals
Creating and sticking with an eating schedule can help keep you from getting overly hungry and overeating. If you find yourself snacking as soon as you walk through door in the evening, plan a low-carbohydrate, high-protein afternoon snack to help curb your hunger
- Streamline With Substitutions
Fill half of your lunch plate and half your dinner plate with vegetables that are low in carbohydrates. Add a salad, serve 2 different vegetables, or enjoy a vegetable-packed soup as a first course. Eating more vegetables can help you feel satisfied as well as provide the vitamins and minerals you need for good health
"If you have diabetes or prediabetes," says Summit Medical Group registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Margaret Eckler, "you should take your medication as prescribed, regularly monitor your blood sugar levels, and get regular foot, eye, and dental exams to protect your health."4 Ms. Eckler adds, "Getting plenty of sleep and exercise and limiting stress also can help protect your health."4,5
Summit Medical Group is certified
by the American Diabetes Association.
1. Diabetes Statistics. American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/. Accessed November 1, 2013.
2. Physical Activity is Important. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/physical-activity-is-important.html. Accessed November 1, 2013.
3. Managing Stress and Diabetes http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/managing-stress-and-diabetes.html. Accessed November 1, 2013.
4. Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, Tasali E, Van Cauter, E. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. J App Physiol. 2005. 99:5;2009-1029.
5. AADE 7 Self-Care Behaviors. http://www.diabeteseducator.org/ProfessionalResources/AADE7/. Accessed November 1, 2013.