Diabetes poses a challenge in maintaining stable blood sugar levels, which is crucial to prevent health complications. Managing your diabetes effectively requires a thoughtful approach to your diet and overall lifestyle. In this blog post, we'll delve into strategies for eating well with diabetes, ensuring you can lead a healthy life. The American Diabetes Association suggests several tips for adopting a healthier lifestyle that we'll explore further.

In this Diabetic Me article, you will learn more about:

  • Crafting a balanced diet tailored to managing diabetes.
  • Understanding the impact of portion sizes on your blood sugar.
  • The significance of regular exercise in diabetes management.
  • Suggestions for diabetic-friendly snacks that satisfy without spiking your blood sugar.
  • 1. Keep Your Diet Balanced

    To keep your diet balanced, it's important to know what foods are high in carbohydrates and sugars so that you avoid them. There's no one-size-fits-all diabetic diet , as everyone's nutritional needs will be different based on factors like activity level, weight goals, and medication. The diabetic diet is a balanced diet that is low in fat, moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit, says Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. Eat a variety of foods from all food groups, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains.

    Some great tips to keep your diet balanced:

    • Try to eat smaller meals and snacks every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar levels steady.
    • Focus on low glycemic index foods like non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, and nuts.
    • Avoid high sugar or carbohydrate dense foods like donuts, cakes and pastries because they can lead to a spike in your blood sugars which is not good for you.
    • Limit fats from animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and cheese (meaning choose lean cuts);

    A dietitian can also provide personalized advice on how to maintain a healthy diabetic diet tailored to your individual needs, lifestyle, and preferences. Working with a registered dietitian is a good way to get an eating plan customized for you,

    2. Learn Portion Control and Carb Counting

    Portion control and carbohydrate counting are essential for managing blood sugar levels. It's better to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks throughout the day rather than large portions at one time. The Diabetes UK recommends using your hand as a portion guide - a serving of carbs like rice or pasta should be about the size of your clenched fist, while protein portions like meat or fish should be palm-sized. Learning to read nutrition labels and count carbs can also help you stay within your target range.

    Eyeballing portion sizes for foods like pasta, rice, and potatoes can be tricky. The American Diabetes Association suggests using everyday objects as visual guides, like a baseball or tennis ball for a single serving of fruit, two cupped handfuls for a portion of pasta or rice, and a computer mouse for the right amount of peanut butter or salad dressing. Low-carb pasta alternatives can also help limit carb intake.

    Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are low glycemic index foods that are high in fiber, helping to keep blood glucose levels stable. On the other hand, foods high in refined carbs and added sugars like donuts, cakes, cookies, sugary drinks, and sweets can cause blood sugar spikes and should be limited.

    3. Stay Active with Regular Exercise

    Regular physical activity is crucial for managing diabetes. It's recommended to aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling at least 5 days per week. Exercise helps control weight, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces stress, and boosts overall health. Even light activities like gardening or housework can make a difference when accumulated throughout the day.

    Eat healthy foods, exercising regularly and keep stress under control while following your doctor's instructions closely.

    4. Drink More Water

    The perks of increasing your water intake are vast and can significantly impact your health in positive ways. Here are a few practical tips: consider drinking a glass of water before reaching for a snack, as sometimes thirst is confused with hunger.

    Also, incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals since they're high in water content. For individuals with diabetes, staying well-hydrated is particularly beneficial as it aids in maintaining stable glucose levels, contributing to better diabetes management.

    5. Eat Healthy Snacks

    One of the hardest parts, for me, is to cut back on (unhealthy) snacks . I find myself snacking a lot because it is quick and easy to do when you are on the go. If you have diabetes, snacks should be healthy like fruits and vegetables with no added sugars or preservatives.

    Looking for diabetic-friendly snacks that are both delicious and good for your health? Here are some easy and tasty options to keep your blood sugar in check:

    • Mixed Nuts: Choose varieties with less than six grams of sugar per serving. Nuts are nutritious, satisfying, and help manage hunger.
    • Fruit: Fresh fruit is always a great snack choice. Opt for berries, apples, or any fruit low on the glycemic index for a sweet treat.
    • Veggies and Hummus: Crunchy vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli paired with hummus make for a nutrient-rich snack. Hummus, especially when homemade or vegan, is a healthy source of protein and fiber.
    • Apple Slices with Peanut Butter: This classic combo offers a mix of sweet and savory. The fiber in the apple and the protein in peanut butter help keep you full longer.
    • Celery Sticks with Almond Butter: Like peanut butter, almond butter on celery provides a satisfying crunch with the added benefit of healthy fats. Plus, it’s known to help lower blood pressure over time.
    • Healthy Snack Bars: Look for bars specifically formulated for diabetics. These are usually low in sugar and high in fiber, making them a convenient on-the-go option.
    • Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate: If you’re a chocolate lover, sugar-free dark chocolate bars are a great option. They satisfy those chocolate cravings without spiking your blood sugar levels.

    Remember, moderation is key, even with healthy snacks. Always check serving sizes and sugar content to ensure they fit within your dietary needs. And as always, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or dietitian to tailor your diet to your specific health goals.

    Conclusion

    Keeping your diet balanced and taking care of yourself can be challenging, but it is worth the effort. Managing diabetes requires a lot of time in order to stay healthy and reduce risks for complications like kidney disease or cardiovascular issues. By following some simple tips you will not only feel better but also start living longer! 

    Sources

    At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

    1. Mayo Clinic Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan
    2. Diabetes UK You and Your Food Groups
    3. Diabetes UK 10 tips for healthy eating with diabetes

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    About the Author

    Ely Fornoville

    Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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