Healthy Eating with Diabetes
Making changes in the way you eat can be difficult. Learn about small steps for healthy eating to help you manage your weight.
For more information, visit https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
For people living with diabetes and for those trying to prevent Type 2 Diabetes healthy eating is important for controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It’s also really critical for losing and maintaining a healthy weight.
When you have diabetes, your family members can eat the same food that you’re eating and benefit from it because they are at higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes themselves.
Maintaining a healthy weight for a person living with diabetes is critical to manage blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and to prevent complications such as heart disease and stroke. A target blood sugar range for a person living with diabetes would be 70 to 130 before meals and 180 two hours after a meal.
But the best thing is to check with your healthcare team about a target range that’s good for
you. For a person who is trying to control their blood sugars, carbohydrates that they eat have the biggest impact on the blood sugar. So knowing how many carbs you’re eating helps you keep your blood sugar in a good range. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products — more places than you expect. A dietician can really help you count carbohydrates and find the foods that contain them.
Since so many foods contain carbohydrates and you’re trying to get the number down to a level that helps your blood sugar, a dietician will help you balance all of that.
Eating a healthier diet actually makes you feel much better in addition to having better blood sugars. For a person living with diabetes or trying to prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy
weight, these foods can really help: lean sources of protein like chicken or fish; whole grain foods — crackers, cereal; vegetables, especially those that grow above the ground and the kind you put in
salads; eating whole fruits in place of drinking juices and using low-fat and non-fat dairy products like milk and yogurt.
If making big changes in the way you eat seems overwhelming, think about small steps and try to find a quick win.
One thing you can do to help you control your portions is you eat using a nine-inch plate. If you divide that plate in half and fill it with vegetables and fruits that leaves you room on the other half for a quarter of the plate to be meat, probably about the size of a deck of cards or three ounces and a quarter of the plate to be starch, grains, or potatoes or bread. Try to eat your meals and snacks at the same time each day and that way you won’t get too hungry at any one time which could lead to overeating.
Take time when you’re eating. Chew your food slowly and enjoy it. Give your brain a chance to know that your stomach is full.
When it comes to seasoning your food use herbs and spices. Leave the salt and butter on the side.
Make a list when you go shopping and stick with it. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry because
that can lead you to some poor choices. Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out. This will help you control your portions and avoid overeating like you would in a restaurant.
When you’re cooking at home, wrap up and put away your leftovers promptly. This way you won’t be tempted to go back for seconds. And think about stir-fries; they’re a great way for you to boost your vegetables and cut back on meat, plus they actually make very good leftovers.
People fall off-track all the time when they try and eat a healthier diet. It’s normal. Don’t get upset about it. Just try to get back on-track soon after you fall off so you don’t get totally derailed.
It’s normal to get discouraged periodically. Think about talking to a dietician. They can help you tailor these diet recommendations to fit your needs and come up with a plan that’s easier for you to follow. For a person living with diabetes there are no special foods you need to buy.
There are no foods you need to avoid entirely. With portion control and meal planning, even
with diabetes, you can really enjoy eating.