Eating doesn’t have to be boring.
It’s all about finding the right balance that works for you.
When you’re managing diabetes, your eating plan is a powerful tool. But eating healthy can feel boring and dull, right? Well, it doesn't have to because there are tons of things you can do to add flavor to your daily routine—including healthy twists on your favorite foods.
So, don’t give up. The one key to feeling your best lies in the food you eat—so start working with a dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or your loved ones to make an eating plan today. Be sure to include foods you like and don’t be afraid to try something new, no matter how green and leafy it might be.
Most importantly, remember that eating well—and adding activity to your daily routine (moving more)—are important ways you can manage diabetes. Pay attention to what you eat and this can become a fight you can win. And we’re here to help you every step of the way.
You’re part of the club
As you work on eating healthier, remember that you’re never alone. You’re always surrounded by people who care and who might struggle with some of the same things you do. Share your nutrition challenges with others—talk about them openly. Not only will this help you clear your head, but by hearing from others, you can sharpen your resolve to stay on target with your diet.
Ask people how they deal with keeping a healthy diet at parties and weddings. Ask them how they eat healthy on vacations. And always ask for tips and tricks, because for every healthy eater in the world, there’s someone who knows a hack.
Most of all, don’t let how you manage your diabetes isolate you. Share your feelings as openly as you can. Talk about your emotions. Chances are someone nearby is dealing with something similar.
Ugh. What about carbs?
Carbs are tricky for everybody. But knowing how much and what type of carbs you can have in your diet is important for managing diabetes—because the balance between how much insulin is in your body and the carbohydrates makes a huge difference in your blood sugar levels.
There are three main types of carbohydrates in food—starches, sugar and fiber. As you’ll see on the nutrition labels for the food you buy, the term “total carbohydrate” refers to all three of these types. And as you begin counting carbohydrates, you’ll want to stay away from food that has high carbs and instead choose a more balanced nutrient mix of carbs, protein, and fat.
Foods high in starch include:
- Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, lima beans and potatoes
- Dried beans, lentils and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and split peas
- Grains like oats, barley and rice (The majority of grain products in the US are made from wheat flour. These include pasta, bread and crackers, but the variety is expanding to include other grains as well.)
As for sugar, there are two main types:
- Naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk or fruit
- Added sugars such as those added during processing such as fruit canned in heavy syrup or sugar added in to a cookie
On the nutrition facts label, the number of sugar grams includes both added and natural sugars.
And as for fiber ...
Remember that it comes from plant-based foods, so there’s no fiber in milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish. Healthy adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day.
Good sources of dietary fiber include:
- Beans and legumes like black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chick peas, white beans, and lentils
- Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (like apples and beans) and those with edible seeds (like berries)
- Nuts—try different kinds. Peanuts, walnuts, and almonds are a good source of fiber and healthy fat, but watch portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount.
- Whole grains such as:
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole grain cereals, specifically those with three grams of dietary fiber or more per serving, including those made from whole wheat, wheat bran, and oats