The statistics are staggering: More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and one-quarter of them don’t know they have it. Another 84 million are pre-diabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are above normal, just not high enough—yet—to have Type 2 diabetes. By 2020, one in five adults is expected to have Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body cannot use insulin properly.
Here’s the good news: You can halt the progression of Type 2 diabetes by adopting some healthy lifestyle habits. At the top of the list is eating a healthy diet. What you eat can go a long way toward preventing and managing diabetes.
In a nutshell, a healthy diet is one that is low in fats and calories and rich in nutrients. This means plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Choose Good Food
Most grocery stores sell plenty of salty, sugary, high-fat food. It’s best to make your food choices not from the inside aisles of the store, where the processed food is, but from the aisles on the periphery that contain fresh produce, fish, lean meat, and whole grain and dairy products. Make a shopping list ahead of time and try not to go to the store when you’re hungry!
Control How Much You Eat
- When eating, use the “plate method”: one half of your plate should hold non-starchy vegetables, one quarter of it should have a whole grain or starchy vegetable, such as potatoes, and one quarter should be a lean protein. Your plate should not be more than one inch deep.
- Meat servings should be roughly the size of a deck of cards.
- Read the serving size listed on food labels so you know how many calories you are eating.
- Try to eat three meals a day so you don’t get too hungry and overindulge.
- Eat slowly so your brain has time to register that your stomach is full before you’ve overeaten.
- When eating in a restaurant that serves large portions, ask your server to bring a to-go container so you can box up part of your meal before you start eating.
More Food for Thought
- Avoiding frying as much as possible.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Limit alcoholic beverages to one a day: a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
- Eat fruit for dessert.
- If you decide to eat a sugary dessert, share it with someone.
The beauty of eating to control diabetes is that you’ll be eating delicious food in a manner that is healthy for anyone, even those at low risk for the disease. Bon appetit!
For more information on managing your diabetes-related conditions click here.