Dining for Diabetes
November is American Diabetes Month, a time when communities and organizations join forces to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control.
While the diagnosis of diabetes is often overwhelming, it is important to remember that diabetes is a disease that can be managed and controlled through good health care, balanced eating, exercise and compliance with your doctor’s instructions. When diabetes is not managed properly, however, the following complications can arise:
- Nerve damage that can lead to pain in the extremities, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, amputation, and other nerve problems
- Coronary heart disease, which often leads to heart attack or stroke
- Vision impairment or blindness
- Kidney damage and/or failure
The good news about diabetes is that it is controllable! Eating a balanced diet is key to keeping blood sugar within healthy ranges. If you are diabetic, it is important that you meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) or a registered dietitian (RD) to get individualized recommendations for your diabetes meal plan. Here are some guidelines that are great for all diabetics to keep in mind this time of year.
5 Ways to Eat Right for Diabetes during the Holidays and Year-Round
1. Choose heart-healthy fats and oils.
Diabetics are prone to developing heart disease, so avoiding saturated and trans fats is important to keeping arteries healthy and cholesterol levels within normal ranges. Choosing healthful monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil can help lower heart-damaging LDL cholesterol levels.
2. Eat more vegetables.
Diabetic or not, everyone should eat more vegetables! A good rule of thumb for selecting foods at mealtime is to fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies. Non-starchy veggies include broccoli, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, onions, and peppers. These veggies can be fresh, canned or frozen – as long as they are bright, colorful and not cooked in unhealthful fats and excessive salt.
3. Avoid added sugars.
Simple sugars, such as table sugar, honey, candies and sweets make blood sugar levels climb high in a short amount of time. It’s best for diabetics to limit added sugars and sweets and maintain a balanced diet to help keep blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Every once in a while, though, it is okay to have some sweet treats — as long as you control your portion size and make smarter choices. Murray® Sugar Free® cookies are a great cookie option for diabetics.
4. Drink more water.
Drinking calorie-free, sugar-free water frequently throughout the day ensures that you will stay hydrated and helps you feel full — so you can resist the urge to snack on foods that may not be appropriate for your diabetes meal plan. Drinking water also displaces sugary, high-calorie beverages such as sweet tea, sodas, and juices that spike blood sugar to very high levels. Keep a bottle of water with you while working, running errands, shopping, and working out.
5. Track your blood sugar levels.
Checking your blood sugar levels routinely is the best way to know whether your current treatment and diet plan is effective at managing your diabetes. And keeping records of your blood sugar levels helps you track your levels and identify trends that could be useful in making further medical and lifestyle changes to improve your diabetes control.
Testing needs can vary person to person. You and your doctor should discuss a testing plan that will be best for you, one that shows the “before and after” effects of food on blood sugar. A pre-meal glucose test can help guide decisions about food and insulin for the coming meal, while an after-meal glucose test (also called "post-prandial") tells how your meal impacted your blood sugar, and whether your body had the right amount of insulin to cover the food you ate. If you keep records of your blood sugar results in addition to a meal log, it will be easier for you and your doctor to decide if your eating habits are helping you properly manage your diabetes.
If you have more questions about diabetes and healthy eating, email firstname.lastname@example.org.