How to Manage Diabetes with Your Diet
Managing your blood sugar or glucose levels well can make a huge impact for individuals living with diabetes. Combined with regular exercise and diabetes medication, a healthy diet can maintain blood sugar levels at a stable position so your life can doesn’t have to take a backseat to this chronic illness.
Follow these 3 basic dietary steps below to improve your diet and be in greater control over your glucose levels. You’ll not only notice a better ability to keep your blood sugar levels steady, but also increased energy and improved well-being.
Decrease Fats, Sodium and Sugar
Individuals with diabetes will be better able to control their symptoms by limiting their intake of foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and trans fat. Start by limiting the amount of salt used to top your dinner and other meals, as well as salty and sugary snack foods.
Added sugars can be found in a large majority of processed foods that, while convenient for meals or snacking, can get your glucose levels out of check. Begin managing your sugar intake by choosing to drink water instead of soda, juice, sports drinks and other flavored drinks. Be careful when drinking alcohol also, limiting yourself to 1-2 drinks a day with an accompanying meal so that your blood sugar level isn’t in danger of dropping too low.
Several snacks and mass-produced bakery desserts like store-bought donuts and cookies have high levels of trans fat, as do many frozen meals and some margarines. Saturated fat can be found in meat with large amounts of fat and some dairy products like butter. When you can, avoid relying on frozen meals with a quick, home-cooked meal in its place. Try cooking with oils instead of heavy butters and margarines, trimming off and draining any fat.
Increase Healthy Carbs
Not all carbs are alike. Since carbohydrates become glucose, it’s recommended to have a healthy dose of carbs each day, but especially ones with less added sugar. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat/nonfat milk all have those natural carbohydrates without large amounts (or any) added sugar.
Make sure your meal plan includes these carbs! For diabetics who take insulin, try counting your carbohydrate intake to determine how much insulin you need to take.
Plan Meals with Healthy Alternatives
Eliminating sugary, salty and fatty foods from your diet completely may be difficult at first. Ask your friends and family to help you take little steps to replace certain items with healthier choices. For instance, switch out white bread or rice with whole grain options instead. Or replace salty popcorn, chips and processed cookies with healthy snacks like nuts or carrots and hummus.
The key here is to design a weekly meal plan with well-balanced portions of healthy vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy. Eating too much in one food group over another isn’t going to be good for your body, so include foods from each group in your meals. A good portion size to begin with is half a plate with low-starch vegetables and fruit, then splitting the remaining half of the plate with a protein and whole grains.
Beginning Your Diabetic Diet
Be in better control of your glucose levels by starting today to change diet habits in favor of healthier options. Assess where you currently stand and what diet challenges you face when it comes to managing your blood sugar.
For that extra push towards a healthier lifestyle, meet with our family practice doctors to discuss a diet and meal plan that will help manage your diabetes well. Callahan Clinic helps patients with diabetes in the St. George area to make lifestyle and diet changes that will improve symptoms dramatically. Work with us to maintain your blood sugar levels and live a more fulfilling life. Schedule a consultation appointment with our family clinic today!