After you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you might be worried that you’ll have to eliminate all the foods you enjoy from your diet. But living with diabetes doesn’t have to mean living in deprivation and constantly feeling hungry. It’s still possible to take pleasure from eating a healthy, balanced diet that will also increase your energy and boost your mood.
The first step in proper diabetes management is learning how to take control of your condition. Healthy lifestyle changes are important to help you lose some excess weight; studies have shown that losing just 5-10% of your total weight can help lower your blood sugar. This is especially true for those who have a lot of excess weight around their waists, because this type of fat is most closely linked to diabetes and insulin resistance. Adding daily exercise to your routine is very important (for everyone, not just those with diabetes!), but the foods you choose can have an even bigger impact on weight loss.
Knowing What Types of Food for Diabetes You Can Enjoy Daily
One of the biggest myths about food for diabetes is that you need to completely avoid any kind of sugar at all costs. In actuality, you can enjoy your favorite treats by planning ahead and incorporating them into your meal plans. Your dietary needs are virtually the same as the rest of the world. Eating nutritious foods that are low in fat and added sugar is important for everyone.
Choosing the best food for diabetics isn’t that difficult at all, as long as you are making informed selections. Here are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Cut the sugar. As we already mentioned, it’s still possible to enjoy some sweet treats when you have diabetes. The key is knowing how much sugar is contained in the foods you’re choosing, and this can be tricky due to the fact that food manufacturers tend to disguise the word “sugar” in a variety of ways. Read the labels of some of your favorite products; added sugar can appear on the labels as “high-fructose corn syrup,” “maltose,” “dextrose” and many other varieties. If you’d like to add a sweet dessert to your meals once in a while, just make sure to plan for it by cutting out some of the other carbs in your meal to lower the sugar levels.
- Know your carbs. Carbohydrates have a bigger impact on your blood sugar than fats or proteins, so being smart about the types of carbs you add to your diet is vital. Look for foods that are “whole grain.” A whole grain includes the bran, germ and endosperm or starchy part of the grain, and white flours are usually refined, meaning they only include that starchy part of the grain. Whole grain products include whole wheat bread, tortillas and pastas, as well as brown rice, quinoa, popcorn and much more. When choosing your grains, look for these whole wheats over the refined or enriched wheat products.
- Be smart about fats. The best fats to choose are unsaturated, which come from plant and fish sources. Avoid damaging saturated fats found in dairy and red meat, and trans fats which are added to foods to help make them less likely to spoil. It’s easy to add more unsaturated fats to your diet by cooking with olive oil instead of butter, eating more fish or skinless chicken, and snacking on nuts and seeds.
Another good tip to finding the best foods for diabetes and managing your diet is to keep a daily food journal. This way, you’ll be able to see what choices you are making and where some adjustments need to be made.