7 Smart Food Choices for Diabetics
One of the best ways to manage pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes is through a healthy diet. This means being mindful of carbohydrate intake, eating smaller meals regularly and choosing nutrient-dense food.
Knowing and understanding what food to eat can make a huge difference in managing and perhaps even reversing Type 2 Diabetes or preventing prediabetes from turning to Type 2.
Eating the right foods when you have diabetes isn’t always easy. Food labels can be confusing, restaurants and grocery stores offer lots of temptations, and a busy schedule often drives you to choose what’s easy versus what’s healthy.
I personally try not to label foods good or bad. Otherwise, I will crave ‘bad’ foods more. Here are my 7 Smart Food Choices that help me as I manage Type 2 Diabetes.
1. Focus on “Super Foods” and eat a Variety of Foods
- Beans, which provide protein, fiber, magnesium and potassium
- Dark, green, leafy vegetables (spinach, collards, kale) in unlimited quantities, with multiple vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber
- Citrus fruit, with vitamin C and soluble fiber, including grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes
- Sweet potatoes, full of vitamin A and fiber
- Berries, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber
- Tomatoes, with vitamins C and E, plus iron
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon
- Whole grains, full of magnesium, chromium, omega-3 fatty acids and folate
- Nuts (but only an ounce, to keep calories down), containing lots of fiber and magnesium — plus, they’re good for hunger management
- Fat-free milk and yogurt, packed with calcium and often fortified with vitamin D
2. Measure Your Portions
The amount you eat is critical to managing your overall blood sugar. Ideally, you’ll want to use a measuring cup or a kitchen scale. If you need to eyeball it, a meat portion is about the size of your palm or a computer mouse. A golf ball is about one ounce of food; your fist is roughly one cup.
3. Mind Your Carbs
Carbohydrates give you energy, but they also raise your blood sugar higher and faster than other kinds of food. You can enjoy a meal without having your blood sugar go out of control by minding your carb intake.
Some simple ways to reduce carbs in your diet and manage your blood sugar include:
- Use oil for cooking vs. shortening or stick butter.
- Choose whole grain (spelt, etc.) pasta vs. regular pasta.
- Select fresh, lean meat vs. processed meat.
- Use low-fat dairy vs. whole-milk products.
- Choose fruit vs. fruit juice.
- Drink plenty of water.
4. Choose Wisely at When Dining Out
When eating a meal at a restaurant, choose meats that are baked, broiled or grilled (not fried). Ask for sauces and salad dressing on the side. Request a to-go box up front, and when your meal comes, put half of it in the container for another meal. You also can ask for a child’s portion to help you limit food quantity. Avoid free dessert nights, big buffets and breakfast bars. If you go to a salad bar, select items that grow in the garden. Just say no if a waiter offers a free bread basket, chips or crackers.
5. Control Impulse Buying at the Supermarket
It’s best not to shop when you’re hungry. Avoid the cookie and chip aisles. If you stick to the outer edges of the store, you’ll find mostly fresh veggies and meats. Avoid buying meals in a bag, although it’s fine to purchase some frozen items that cater to healthy eating.
6. Limit Sweets
Here are some easy tips to help control your sweet tooth:
- Ask for extra spoons and forks, and split your dessert with others.
- Eat sweets that are sugar-free or make some at home that use natural sweeteners such as dates.
- Always ask for the smallest serving size or children’s size.
7. Plan Ahead
If you know you’re going to be out for several hours, pack your snacks, lunch or dinner. Resist the urge to stop at a fast food place because it’s convenient.
Last words – Look for specials on fruit and meat, it’s affordable to eat fresh foods.