November is National Diabetes Month! It’s a time when awareness and light is shed on the impact that type 2 diabetes has on millions of Americans. In Texas only, 2,694,402 people have been diagnosed with diabetes and roughly 621,00 fellow Texans may have diabetes but do not know it. Managing diabetes may be challenging but these next tips will show you how to make eating a little less stressful.
Creating a balanced plate
Balanced eating is the number one goal when managing diabetes. This means that your diet should mainly come from the five food groups: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins low-fat/fat-free dairy products. Legumes like beans, lentils and peas fall under both vegetable and protein sources, and are extremely nutritious. Lastly, limiting foods that are ultra-processed, those that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium, will help you maintain your diabetes but also may help you meet your weight loss goals if necessary.
Understanding which foods have carbs/carb counting/carb exchanges.
It is possible to enjoy all foods and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Understanding what foods contain carbohydrates, and how many carbs you should have at each meal helps you fix your plate accordingly. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred source of energy, and it includes the starch list (breads, cereals, grains, starchy vegetables, crackers, beans, peas, and lentils), the fruit list, and milk and milk substitutes. Other types of foods that contain carbohydrates are sweets, desserts, sugar beverages, alcohol and combination foods like casseroles.
Planning your meals
Taking the time to plan ahead makes your life easier and keeps you in line to reach your goals. Eating about the same amount of food (especially carbs), making sure you have a good breakfast, or having your meals every 4-5 hours will help you keep your sugar levels at a normal range. Additionally, including snacks in between your meals can help if you know you won’t be eating a hearty meal within the adequate time frame. No matter the time you choose for your meals, spreading your meals and snacks throughout the day will keep you feeling well-regulated.
Having diabetes does not mean that you need to cut out all of the foods that you love. The main ingredients for successfully managing your diabetes are eating whole foods, understanding which foods have carbohydrates and the amount of carbohydrates in each food, portion sizes and planning your meals ahead of time. For more information talk to your local nutrition expert, a registered dietitian nutritionist.