1. No special foods needed
If you have diabetes, you don’t require special foods or have to eat separate meals from your family and friends. In fact, wise food choices for those with diabetes go hand-in-hand with healthy eating guidelines for everyone.
2. Choose slowly digested carbohydrates
While you may think your eating plan is all about eliminating sugar, it’s really about selecting the right carbohydrates. Instead consider the glycemic index (GI) of a food. It ranks food on how quickly the carbohydrate enters the bloodstream compared to a rapidly absorbed one – such as sugar or white bread.
Refined grain products such as bagels and pretzels, sugary confections and white potatoes all have a high GI. If you do select these options, go for small portions only.
3. Keep sugar-containing beverages to a minimum
Sugar-containing soft drinks and fruit juices can send blood glucose readings soaring. Instead, try flavouring water with lemon or lime or a splash of fruit juice.
4. Don’t skip meals
Eating nutritious choices every three to four hours helps to maintain more level blood glucose readings and also helps you avoid being ravenous and overeating.
5. Go for colourful fruits and vegetables
Colourful produce supplies a range of antioxidants, compounds which are needed in higher amounts in people with diabetes.
6. Select healthy fats
Read food labels and steer clear of those containing trans fats. Rather than using solid fats, go for healthy selections such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil and nut oils.
7. Go for whole grains and other fibre-rich choices such as dried peas and beans
Fibre-rich foods are linked to better blood glucose control but if you’re not a fan, make the switch slowly and over time, your taste buds will adapt.
8. Redesign your dinner plate
Instead of large servings of meat or pasta, fill half your plate with vegetables and the other two quarters with starch and a lean protein like trimmed lean meat, skinless poultry or fish.
9. Aim for and maintain a healthy weight
Carrying extra weight, especially around your mid-section, can lead to higher blood sugar readings. If you do need to shed some pounds, go for a slow and steady weight loss.
10. Practise portion control
Oversized portions, even when the fare is healthy, can lead to an excess of calories and difficulty with weight management.
Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian in private practice and author of The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide (Viking Canada). Visit rosieschwartz.com for more.