The expression “We are what we eat,” might seem like a cliché remark to some but if you are one out of 34.2 million Americans suffering from diabetes, this statement is of particular importance to you. Since type 2 diabetes is a nutrition-related disease, controlling your blood sugar through medications and insulin is only effective when you follow a healthy diet.
Why Is Nutrition So Important in Managing Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease which requires long-term treatment. When neglected, it can lead to multiple complications, including but not limited to:
- Eye disease
- Skin infections
- Heart disease
- Nerve problems
- Tooth decay
- Foot problems
Nutritional Recommendations for Diabetes
Navigating the complexities of a diabetes-tailored diet can be daunting, but these few tips may help you lay the foundation for long-term healthy habits.
Eat regularly to prevent your blood glucose levels from going haywire. Avoid fasting. Consider adopting a diet wherein you eat five small meals approximately three to four hours apart.
Choose products with a low glycemic index. These foods consist of complex carbohydrates and plenty of fiber, so they don’t cause a spike in blood glucose. Low GI foods include whole grain breads and pastas, oatmeal, most vegetables and certain fruits (citrus and berries).
Avoid alcohol. Beer and mixed drinks are high in sugar and calories and can elevate your blood glucose to dangerous levels.
Eat balanced meals. Make sure your meals consist of lean protein, low GI carbohydrates, a small amount of healthy fats and plenty of vegetables. Balancing your food plate prevents undesirable blood glucose fluctuations.
Cut back on salt. Limit your daily dose of salt to 2,300 milligrams. Experiment with sodium-free dried spices and herbs.
Hydrate. Drink plenty of water. Apart from being a wonderful substitute for sweet beverages, water helps you stay hydrated and removes toxic waste from your body.
Diabetes-Friendly Foods to Eat
There are plenty of healthy and delicious options to choose from while following a diabetes diet. Here is a list of key foods that will help you maintain a healthy weight and blood glucose level:
- Lean protein, such as boneless and skinless chicken, turkey, tofu and tilapia
- Fatty fish, such as salmon (eaten in moderation due to high fat content)
- Nonfat or low-fat diary, such as milk and plain yogurt
- Whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa
- Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, green beans and asparagus
- Low-glycemic fruits, like grapefruits, oranges and berries
- Healthy fats, such as nut butters and avocado
Worst Foods for Managing Diabetes
Conversely, certain foods can destabilize your sugar levels and cause unhealthy weight gain. Limiting or eliminating these foods can help you stay healthy:
- Added sugar
- Soda and juice
- Jams, jellies and syrups
- Baked goods
- White bread, rice and pasta
- Canned soups and microwaveable meals (both are high in sodium)
- Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, corn and squash
- Dried and high-glycemic fruits, like bananas, grapes and pineapple
Best Diet Plans for Managing Diabetes
As you comb through the internet and various literature, you might find yourself overwhelmed and confused by the number of diets that promise health and happiness. Keep in mind, many of these fad diets focus on quick and unsustainable results and can be detrimental to managing diabetes. Living with a chronic disease requires long-term commitment and a balanced approach to eating healthy.
Many people living with type 2 diabetes find success with the Mediterranean diet which is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, poultry and fish.
Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, rich in lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, can not only help you maintain healthy sugar levels but also reduce hypertension, reducing your risk of heart disease.
Get Help Managing Your Type 2 Diabetes with a Personal Diet Plan from Georgia Nutritionists at Optimum Health Rehab
Our team at Optimum Health Rehab understands the challenges of living with a chronic illness, like diabetes. Knowing that a healthy and balanced diet is key to your sustained health, we take great measures to create a personalized plan tailored to your specific likes, needs and injury.
Call us at 678-714-3053 to schedule an appointment with a nutrition therapist and learn how to better manage type 2 diabetes through simple, nutritious and delicious eating.Nutrition