Eating Healthy with Diabetes
You don’t have to sacrifice your target blood sugar levels to enjoy some of your favorite foods. Here’s how to eat healthy with #diabetes, whether you’re cooking at home, or eating in a restaurant.
Carbohydrates and your blood sugar
Carbohydrates are sugars. They break down in the body creating glucose, a main source of energy. Counting the carbs you eat at every meal and pairing them with the correct dosage of insulin can keep your blood sugar level closer to normal range.1 It also allows you to eat a wider variety of foods. In fact, your diet can accommodate any food in moderation, so you don’t have to give up the food you love.
Many foods are on the good-for-you list, but these are extra healthy for people with diabetes, because they have lower in glycemic index or net carbs and help stabilize your blood sugar.2
- Beans give you plenty of fiber in only ½ a cup, the same amount of protein in 28 grams of meat. Plus, they’re a good source of magnesium and potassium.
- Dark, green, leafy vegetables give you a powerful dose of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals with hardly any calories or carbs.
- Citrus fruits are known for their generous amounts of vitamin C and fiber.
- Sweet potatoes give you more healthy fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin A than white potatoes.
- Berries are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins
- Tomatoes, like citrus, are an amazing, low-carb source of vitamins C and E and iron.
- Salmon, or any fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can lower your triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. This is one of those “good fats.”
- Whole grains have all the folate, omega-3s, magnesium, chromium, fiber and potassium that white bread loses in processing.
- Raw nuts are quite possibly the perfect snack, since they’re full of healthy fats and fiber.
- Fat-free dairy is an important source of vitamin D. Plain, unsweetened yogurt, in particular, has the added benefit of probiotic bacteria which keeps your intestines healthy and helps your immune system.
Even if you’re an old pro at counting carbs, it’s worth a reminder to take portion sizes into account. If you’re cooking at home, using a food scale and measuring cups can save you a lot of worry. This way, you’ll know exactly how many carbs you’re eating, instead of approximately how many. Over the course of a day, these little inaccuracies can really throw off your carb count.
If you don’t have a scale or measuring cup handy, here are some fairly accurate approximations.
- 1 serving of meat should be 85 grams, about the size of a deck of cards
- 1 cup or 225 grams is about the size of a small fist
- Cup one of your hands to approximate half a cup or 115 grams.
- The tip of your thumb, from the first knuckle up, is about 5 ml.
When at a restaurant
- At an all-you-can-eat buffet, start with salad or veggies, and then save your 2nd trip for a small meat and carb.
- Split an entrée or dessert with someone else.
- Get an appetizer or a salad (dressing on the side) instead of an entrée.
- Get a take-home box at the beginning of the meal and save half of your dinner for later.
If you’re looking for some technical help, the Calorie Counter Pro app takes the mystery out of counting carbs. With more than 475,000 foods in the database, just scan a bar code or do a search, and the app tells you exactly what you’re eating, whether you’re buying it at the supermarket or sitting at a restaurant. You’ll also get access to the My Net Diary community, and registered dietitians. It’s available for iPhone/iPad and Android users.
How your blood glucose meter helps
By monitoring your blood sugar yourself, you can make changes to what you are about to eat or how much insulin to dose. Several Accu-Chek products like the Accu-Chek Aviva Expert meter, the Accu-Chek Combo insulin pump, or the
Accu-Chek Connect system have built-in bolus advice, calculating your insulin dose based on your latest blood test result and the number of carbs you’re about to eat. Technology like this allows you to enjoy your meal without worrying about the math. Over time, you may find that you create healthier and more manageable habits, stay on target, and reduce your risk of developing other health problems later.
Helpful Hints for Portion Control
- 1 serving of meat should be 3 oz., about the size of a deck of cards
- 1 cup or 8 oz. is about the size of a small fist
- Cup one of your hands to approximate half a cup or 4 oz.
- The tip of your thumb, from the first knuckle up, is about 1 teaspoon or 5 ml.
1International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes education module 2.2b, 2011: Nutrition Part 2 Recommendations. Available at: http://www.idf.org/education/resources/modules-2011/download Accessed June 30, 2015.
2 American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Superfoods. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/diabetes-superfoods.html Accessed June 30, 2015.