What are some tips for healthy eating if I have diabetes?

Dietary advice should be tailored to each individual, but general guidelines for diabetes management include the following recommendations:
  • Carbohydrates: Monitoring your carbohydrates is a key part of diabetes nutrition therapy and glucose control. Aim to get about 50 percent-60 percent of your total calories from carbohydrates, and opt for mostly complex carbs such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. They lead to a slow release of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Protein: Aim to get 15 percent-20 percent of your calories from protein.
  • Fat: Dietary fat should make up less than 30 percent of your daily calories. Unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados, etc.) are good for you and can help you meet your diabetes goals, but saturated fats (butter, cream, beef, etc.) should be limited to less than 10 percent of total calories. And trans fats (check food labels) should be avoided.
  • Fiber: Fiber recommendations for people with diabetes are the same as those for the general population. Aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber a day from a variety of sources (whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes).
Do the following to eat healthy:
  • 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.
Here are nine easy tips for healthy eating that may lead to better diabetes control and health. Each takes just 10 minutes or less.
  1. Use pre-portion snacks and treats. At the beginning of the week or right when you get home from shopping, divvy up sensible servings of crackers into a dozen baggies. Package nuts, cookies and other snacks the same way.
  2. Make a carb-counting cheat sheet. Jot down about 25 of the carbohydrate-containing foods you eat frequently. Use an online database to find the carb grams in those foods (in the portions that you eat most often). This can help you get an accurate look at your carb intake.
  3. Mix a bean salad. Whip up a bean salad that you can enjoy with lunch or dinner. It can be as simple as draining and rinsing canned beans and mixing them with diced tomato, onion and avocado. Beans are high in protein, folate, potassium and magnesium, which makes them great for the heart. They’re also high in both soluble and insoluble fibers, which can either promote blood sugar control or improve insulin function.
  4. Slow down and savor your meal. Taking a few extra minutes to really experience your meal can make eating more satisfying and help you avoid overeating. Turn off the TV and sit at the table. Taste each bite, and notice the colors, textures and aromas. Try to eat in peace a few times per week.
  5. Quench thirst without adding calories. Get creative with a pitcher of water. Add lemon and oranges slices or cucumber and mint or berries.
  6. Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast is associated with healthier cholesterol levels, better insulin sensitivity and greater intake of several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, vitamin C and iron. Try to balance the intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
  7. Get some greens Low-calorie, low-carb yet filling salad greens take the edge off your appetite and can help you eat less.
  8. Review your food record. Don't just write down your food intake. Reviewing it weekly or even daily will help you identify your dietary weaknesses. If you see that you lack any food group, set a goal to eat at least one additional serving of that food group item every day or week. If you eat too much meat or starch at dinner, promise to avoid those second helpings.
  9. Brown-bag it. It takes minutes to pack up leftovers from dinner or stock your work fridge with the fixings you need for a week’s worth of lunches. Bring whole grain breads and wraps, sandwich meats, fruit, yogurt and chopped veggies.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Eating a healthy diet is hard for everyone, but making proper food choices is even more important for those living with diabetes. Here are six tips that will help you on your way to adopting the right eating habits.
  1. Variety is the spice of life. Eat a variety of foods within and among the basic food groups while you stay within your calorie needs. Make your calories count! Choose foods packed with vitamins and minerals. Don’t use up your calories on foods with added fats and sugars.
  2. Take control of your calories. Control the number of calories you eat in order to reach or remain at a healthy body weight. Aim always for a healthy body weight. To achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, eat only the calories you will burn every day. If your weight is creeping up, shave off calories by choosing healthier foods -- and burn more calories with physical activity.
  3. Fortify yourself. Increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products you eat each day. These foods provide essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning properly. Choose more of these healthy low-fat foods to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
  4. Be picky about your fats. Choose fats wisely for good health. Keep the amount of saturated fat and trans fat you eat low. Choose healthier fats and oils -- those with mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These include nuts, olive oil and canola oil.
  5. Be careful about carbs. Choose carbohydrates wisely for good health. Get about half the calories you eat every day from healthy carbohydrates. This means whole grains, legumes, dried beans, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. Eat fewer processed foods and fewer foods made with added sugars and fats.
  6. Hold the salt. Choose and prepare foods with little salt. Limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day by eating fewer processed and prepared foods and not seasoning with salt when you cook and eat. Did you know that just 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium?
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.