Yesterday, the American Diabetes Association published a new set of nutrition recommendations for how to manage diabetes. Every few years, we gather a group of experts to review new research that has been published and to modify our nutrition recommendations based on the new research.
What does it mean for you?
The biggest emphasis of the new guidelines is to follow an eating plan that works for you. Something you can follow and fits into your individual preferences, cultural or religious beliefs, traditions and whether you are trying to lose weight or keep from gaining weight. Research shows that there are many ways to manage diabetes from a lower carbohydrate to a Mediterranean style of eating. There is not one way of eating that works for everyone and finding something that suits your lifestyle is important.
Regardless of what type of eating plan you want to follow, put your focus on eating nutrient-dense whole foods. What is a nutrient dense whole food? It is food that is not processed or has as little processing as possible. Nutrient dense whole foods are those that do not have added salt, sugar or fat and naturally contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber. An example is comparing steel cut oats and a sugary cereal. Both foods are grain products. The steel cut oatmeal is less processed and better for you than the sugary cereal. Nutrient dense, whole foods give you more of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals, fiber) and less of the bad (added sugar and salt).
Here are some specific tips from the new recommendations to keep in mind when you plan your next meal:
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Avoid regular soda, sweet tea, fruit punch and sports or energy drinks. Stick to healthy drinks like water and low calorie, sugar free drinks instead.
- When you eat carbohydrates, make it count!
- Choose foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy instead of sweets and processed snack foods.
- Avoid prepackaged foods with added sugar, salt and fat if you can.
- Canned vegetables and fruit can cost less and keep longer on the shelf. You can drain off the liquid to get rid of most of the added sugar and salt.
- Serve up smaller portions and fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
- Use the Create Your Plate method to help keep portions small.
- Include healthy fats.
- Include mono and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
- Include foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids like fish, walnuts, flax and tofu.
- Get your nutrients from eating whole foods instead of taking supplements.
- Spice up your foods without salt by using herbs and spices to add flavor.
For more information on healthful living, shopping tips and recipes, visit diabetes.org/recipes and sign up for Recipes for Healthy Living.