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How to Eat Right When You Have Diabetes

To have diabetes doesn’t mean you won’t ever have cake in your life again. It doesn’t also mean “bye bye, sugar”. But still the diagnose brings some changes in your every day life, and first of all, big changes in your diet. It will be easier for you not to think of your sickness, as the reason of those changes. Try to think as one of my friends with type 2 diabetes thinks: that your state has changed, as if you are becoming a married person, or move to another city with totally different cuisine, or just becoming a breastfeeding mom that needs to follow some rules in her diet. Those rules are not so limited and boring…

Rules, rules, rules?

I may surprise you, but healthy diet for people who have diabetes is actually a healthy diet for each person who cares about his or her body and wants to live a long healthy life. This diet really means that you won’t be allowed to eat certain food, but those forbidden food are not useful, sometimes even more dangerous for health of general person and needs to be excluded any way. Let’s think of it as of additional motivation to get rid of junk food. So, if there are any rules in it, there are only three:

  1. Balance you food groups
  2. Mind your portion size
  3. Use your energy you get from eating
Balance your food groups

Fats, protein and carbs in food you eat should be balanced, as it is the background of a healthy diet.

Fat gives your body energy that is needed for functioning of different processes. You need fats as your car needs fuel. In analogy with your car your body needs a certain ‘rates’ of fats, as there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats in food you can choose.

  • ‘Bad’ fats (saturated and trans fats) can make you gain weight, which in its turn is very bad for your heart. So, minimize the content of butter (especially margarine), mayonnaise (fat free are better for you), chips, fried food, hot dogs and meats with fat on them (take away the fat before cooking). Do not eat the chicken skin
  • ‘Good’ fats (unsaturated) are advisable for you: avocados, olives, nuts, olive oil
  • Do not use solid fats, palm and coconut oils  for cooking, instead of it choose other liquid oils –olive and corn (sunflower in low quantities)
  • Whole milk, cream and sausages also contain fats you need to limit
  • Dairy products: 1% fat milk, low fat cheese and fat-free yogurt are better

Your body needs fats, just make sure you consume the right amount of them (and not more), as they are very high in calories.

Protein gives your body the source for building bones and muscles. You need protein for your body as the bricks are needed to build the house. The right content of protein is essential for feeling full after having healthy meal.

  • Minimize the skin and extra fat from meat you cook
  • Natural peanut butter, fish (at least 2 times a week), eggs, beef are very good for you
  • Choose soy products and non-fat dairy products

Carbs are wonderful source of energy for your body, though the group of food that can raise your blood glucose levels, which is risky for you having diabetes. Carbs need to be in our diet for keeping the balance in food (they are essential for many processes in our body), you can not just exclude them from your meal. So, it is very important to consume the right amount of carbs in your every day diet.

  • Minimize the content of white bread and rice in your meals
  • Choose more whole grain foods (brown rice and bread, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, cereals)
  • Eat more dried peas (when cooked, of course) and vegetables (of every color), especially non-starchy: carrots, spinach and broccoli
  • Eat more fresh fruit (better organic) of various color
  • Potatoes, pastas, corn and diary products (the kind that was mentioned above) are also very good for your diet
  • Sugar: cakes, cookies, candies, bars, desserts, full-fat ice cream must be extremely limited. As for the drinks, minimize sweetened drinks, fruit punch and regular soda. Forget about cola and other similar drinks. Just drink water! Be very careful with all ending in ‘-ose’ (like dextrose) and ‘-ol’ (like manitol) and limit products and drinks with its content
  • Sweeteners are fine, they generally do not dangerously raise glucose levels
  • Alcohol: wise and moderate alcohol consumption (as your doctor advises you) with your meal can be fine with you, as it won’t raise or low your blood glucose levels (though be very careful and ask your doctor about most happened situations when you have a little bit of drink). Mind, that medications you take should not be mixed with alcohol (ask your doctor about timing)

Mind your portion size

Knowing the fact that every day you need to consume fats, proteins and carbohydrates is not all. The right amount of every group of food – this is the key to healthy diet. Here we face the necessity of right portion size, as one of the method in controlling your blood glucose levels.

  • The best number of meals for you is 4 to 6 times a day (it doesn’t mean you eat more, it means you spit the amount of food along the day in order to have several meals that are less in calories). If it is not possible for you, try to have your meals at least every 6 hours
  • Have a glass of water before your meals or one apple (especially if you are very hungry)
  • Try to eat fresh fruits and vegetable, boiled, steam or bake food, as it fills you to a greater extend and gives you more vitamins and minerals, so the body gets all its need and does not demand more
  • Divide you plate in two halves, fill one with vegetable and the other one equally with meat/fish (one quarter) and potatoes/pasta/rice/etc (the other quarter). This is a general rule for one meal

Use your energy you get from eating

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Eating according to your individual plant where all mentioned tips are followed is the most important step toward your good health (in controlling your diabetes). One more important step is to burn more calories than you eat. This will also help you to control your weight.

  • Have some physical activity at least 15 minutes each day
  • Let your doctor help you to find the best suitable way of burning your calories with the help of physical activity (and the right time for it, in order to balance time of meals before and after the exercises)

As you see, those ‘rules’ are not so hard to follow. They are as much advisable for every person as to those having diabetes. Hope you will still be able to enjoy your meal and live your life!

Valentyna Ant.

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