Have you ever wondered, “What can I eat?”
You’re not alone! For many people, choosing foods is one of the most challenging aspects of managing diabetes. Let the American Diabetes Association® be your source of up-to-date information on nutrition. March is National Nutrition Month®— the perfect time to find delicious ways to eat well.
So, where should you start?
The most important step is finding a healthful meal plan that works for you. People often ask which diet is best for people with diabetes. But it is the position of the Association that there is no “one-size-fits-all” eating pattern. Many options can be helpful for managing diabetes, whether your choice is Mediterranean style, low fat, lower carbohydrate, vegetarian or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
The next step?
Fill your grocery cart and your plate with “nutrient-dense” foods. Nutrient-dense foods are some of the best choices you can make: nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and starchy vegetables, nonfat or low-fat dairy and healthy fats. These foods provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber for fewer calories.
Remember that it’s easy to choose nutrient-dense foods in the right portion sizes when you Create Your Plate. Fill half of it with nonstarchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and tomatoes. The other half is for your protein and starches.
Also keep in mind that the federal government’s new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars and saturated fats and reducing sodium intake. This recommendation is based on scientific evidence and is important for all Americans, including people with diabetes.
Satisfy your flavor cravings with these tips:
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Skip regular soda, fruit punch, sports drinks, sweet tea and other sugary drinks.
- Drink water, unsweetened coffee or tea, sparkling water or other zero-calorie drinks.
Limit saturated fats by replacing them with small amounts of healthy fats. (Healthy fats are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease your risk for heart disease.)
- Cook with liquid vegetable oils instead of butter, shortening or lard.
- Choose avocado, nuts, seeds or olives instead of cheese.
- Use trans-fat-free spreads instead of butter.
Consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. (Your health care provider may recommend even less if you have high blood pressure.)
- Shop for lower-sodium versions if you buy canned foods, salad dressings, frozen dinners, deli meats and other processed foods. Drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans before adding them to your meals.
- Cook with less salt and more herbs and spices, such as chili powder, cilantro, parsley, basil, curry powder, ginger or thyme. Brighten up flavors with vinegar, garlic or fresh lemon or lime juice.
For more information on healthful eating, cooking tips and recipes, visit diabetes.org/recipes and sign up for Recipes for Healthy Living.