Eating well to maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
It can seem hard to make healthy food choices, particularly if you are on a budget and short on time. But there are some simple steps you can take to help you and your family eat healthier. Choose 2 or 3 of these suggestions to start today. Then come back another day and try a few more.
Build a Healthier Plate
- Use a grocery list when shopping for food to help you choose more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Buy leaner meats (such as chicken, turkey and lean cuts of pork or beef such as sirloin or round roast) and lower fat dairy products (like low-fat or skim milk and yogurt).
- Buy whole grain breads and cereals.
- Save money by buying less soda, sweets and chips or other snack foods.
- Remember that special "dietetic" or "diabetic" foods often cost extra money and may not be much healthier than simply following the suggestions given here.
- Set aside some time to plan your weekly meals. You might want to start with just a few days. It may seem like a hassle at first, but having a plan (and writing your grocery list with it in mind) can save you time, stress and a lot of extra trips to the store.
- Stock your pantry with plenty of healthy basics, including brown rice, whole grain pasta, crackers and cereals.
- Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are usually healthier than canned or frozen, but it is better to have canned or frozen fruits or vegetables than none at all!
- When you run out, put the items on your grocery list so you'll always have them on hand.
- Shop only from your grocery list.
- Avoid aisles that contain foods high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals such as candy, cookies, chips and sodas. Also avoid buying items promoted at the front of the store, on the "end-cap" displays at the end of each aisle, or at the cash register. These foods are usually low in nutrition.
- Never shop when you are hungry and might be tempted by a less healthy food.
- To cut down on the sodium in canned vegetables, drain and rinse them before heating in fresh water. You can do the same to cut down on added sugar in canned fruits or better yet, buy them packed in juice (not syrup).
- Try starting meals with a salad or a broth or tomato- based soup with lots of vegetables. This helps you eat more good-for-you veggies while filling you up before you get to the higher fat and calorie courses.
- Make healthy snack foods easy to find in your kitchen. For example, when you get home from work or school, put some fresh carrots, grapes or pretzels out on the counter instead of a bag of chips.
- In restaurants, ask if meats can be grilled rather than fried, and request sauces and dressings on the side. Remember to choose fruit, salad or other vegetables as side items, rather than French fries. Order a salad or soup to start and then share an entrée. Save money, and lots of calories, by skipping dessert.
Learn more about your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.