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Taking control of diabetes begins with making healthy food choices a lifestyle

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By Joan Martin

Taking Control of Your Diabetes class will begin Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. This class is appropriate for anyone with Type 2 diabetes. You will taste healthy food and learn how to prepare it. You may be surprised to learn that you don’t need “special” food. Sugar-free foods are not the solution to healthy eating.

Your blood sugar is affected by the type of foods you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. When you make healthy food choices you feel good every day, manage your weight, prevent your blood sugar from going too high or too low and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other problems caused by diabetes.

Healthy eating is not different for someone with diabetes than for those who don’t have diabetes. You don’t have to give up all the foods you enjoy or eat boring, tasteless food. Those days are long gone.

Healthy eating means that you eat the right amount of whole grain foods, vegetables, fruits, low fat or fat-free dairy foods, lean cuts of meat, fish or poultry and beans every day. You probably will cut back on sodium and eat smaller portions of food, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re starving.

You may need to gradually decrease the amount you eat so you don’t binge eat to make up the difference. Try using a smaller plate and fill half of it with non-starchy vegetables, add three to four ounces of lean protein and one serving of carbohydrate food.

Eat carbohydrates for snacks. Choose liquid oils like olive oil and canola when cooking, and decrease the use of solid fats like margarine and butter.

Make it easier to eat healthy by having fruits and vegetables ready to eat at home or at work.

Eat smaller meals and eat more often. Don’t let yourself get really hungry.

Snacking is healthy. Forget about three square meals a day and nothing else.

Keep track of what you eat. Using a smaller plate really helps.

Ignore the food critics in your family. You can eat almost everything, depending on how much of it you eat and how much you are willing to exercise.

Counting carbs is one technique discussed in Taking Control of Your Diabetes. It’s easier than some other methods to help you gain control of your blood sugar and weight.

First, know what foods contain countable carbohydrates, such as grains, dried beans, fruit and juice, starchy vegetables, milk and yogurt, sweets and most snack foods. Examples of one serving of carbohydrate foods include a small piece of fruit, a slice of bread, one-third cup of rice or pasta, a quarter cup of a large baked potato, and two small cookies.

Can you eat more than one serving? Of course, just be mindful that you ate more than one serving. For example, if your goal is to eat 11 servings of carbs per day, then you could eat three servings of pasta (total of 1 cup cooked pasta) for dinner and one slice of bread along with vegetables, which might include a salad. That would total four carb servings for one meal.

Most people want to eat more than one third cup of spaghetti at a time. However, 1 cup may look like a lot less than what you are used to seeing on your plate. Remember that 1 cup of pasta is still three servings of carbs.

Know what foods are considered “free.”

These foods are not counted toward the carbohydrate total such as sugar-free drinks, 1 cup raw non-starchy vegetables. Foods are considered free that contain less than 5 grams of carbs per serving.