Diabetes is a serious health issue and a growing health concern, it affects more than 34.2 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tackling diabetes or any chronic disease for that matter needs lifestyle changes, which can be tough. Yet, even slight changes can make a huge difference. If you’re diabetic and trying to make changes to your diet, there’s good news! The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that there is no “perfect diabetic diet,” so you have plenty of options to choose from and incorporate into your lifestyle!
Healthy Foods to Consider if you Have Diabetes
To instigate your journey, try adding some of these foods to your meal plan. This list includes some foods that are recommended by the ADA, Mayo Clinic, and other reliable sources.
Whole grains holds a variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and Vitamin B, says the ADA. And also a good source of fiber and a good carb to include to your meal. It is healthier to incorporate whole grains instead of the less healthy carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, white potatoes, and flour tortillas, which can be made with enriched flour, lots of sugar, and processed grains.
Berries are a sweet snack and are loaded with antioxidants, that can help prevent cell damage, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries individually have their own health benefits. Berries are a healthier to eat in moderation compared to bananas, pineapple, and watermelon, which are high in sugar content.
The ADA mentions beans as a “diabetes superfood” since one half cup of beans holds the same amount of protein you can get from one ounce of meat, but it doesn’t come with the saturated fat that meat has. The ADA advises, If you’re using canned beans, drain the juice and rinsing the beans to get rid of the added salt.
Mayo Clinic recommends including heart-healthy fish into your diet at least twice a week. Fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, that could help prevent heart disease. But, Mayo Clinic warns to avoid fried fish and those with high levels of mercury, such as mackerel.
The ADA also recommends this type of fruit because it provides Vitamin B, fiber, potassium, and folate — which is good for healthy cells and red blood cell formation, according to Mayo Clinic. Since citrus fruits are on the sweet side as well, be sure to eat them in moderation.
According to the ADA, some nuts and seeds are a good source of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These include walnuts and flaxseeds. Paired with fruits, nuts can help curb hunger during snack time.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale other greens like broccoli are good for any healthy diet, and they’re easy to include into meals as a side dish, or to be cooked with the main course.
The Diabetes Plate Method
The Plate Method is a simple, visual way of balancing your meal and keeping your portions in control. In summary, you divide your plate into 2 halves, with one-half further divided into quarters.
- Fill up half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage.
- One quarter for starchy vegetables or healthy carbs such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or whole grains.
- Then remaining quarter of the plate is filled with a protein such as lean meats, fish, or other protein sources.
It’s important to take care of your health, but don’t get overwhelmed. Making simple changes over time can have a huge impact in the long run. Take your time to experiment with new dishes and find a healthy diet that works best for you.