7 Healthy Meal Tips for Type 2 Diabetes
The right diet can keep blood sugar levels in check, while the wrong foods can lead to dangerous complications. Learn tips and tricks for eating with diabetes.
1. Understand Your Carbohydrate Needs and Proper Portion Sizes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backs up Gorin’s advice that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but notes that on average, people with diabetes should get about 45 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, with the rest coming from lean protein, such as chicken without the skin, fatty fish like salmon, and plant-based protein like tofu; and heart-healthy fats, such as those you get from vegetables, nuts, and fish.
2. Know Which Foods Should Be Staples in Your Diabetes Diet
Kathy Honick, RN, CDCES, a diabetes educator at Mercy Diabetes and Nutrition Center in Washington, Missouri, provides additional details about what you should keep in your pantry and refrigerator:
Fruits and vegetables are usually good choices, but enjoy fruit in moderation. Your healthcare team can tell you what “in moderation” means for you.
Nonstarchy vegetables are a good choice. These include spinach, carrots, broccoli, and green beans. Eat whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-wheat pasta.
Include legumes like lentils, kidney, or pinto beans in your meal plans. Choose fish over meat two to three times a week.
For meat, choose lean pork or beef, or chicken or turkey with the skin removed. Dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk) is important, but go for nonfat versions, even for ice cream.
3. Limit or Eliminate Certain Foods From Your Diet Avoid junk food.
This fare tends to be high in saturated fat and sodium, notes past research. If a food is high in carbohydrates (looking at you, french fries), that’s all the more reason to avoid it or enjoy it in moderation and infrequently.
Sodas are chock-full of sugar, as are fruit punches and other sugar-sweetened drinks. For example, a 12-ounce container of fruit punch contains a whopping 42 g of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Diet soda may be acceptable, though some research, including a study published in March 2014 in the American Journal of Nutrition, has noted that in people without diabetes diet soda may be associated with higher caloric intake and thus weight gain. However, researchers relied on self-reported data and more studies are needed. Your best bet is plain or sparkling water without sugar added, Honick says.
Sugary snacks, including cookies, cakes, and ice cream, fill you up with empty calories, she says. Choose healthier snack options, such as nonstarchy bell peppers with hummus, instead.
4. Use Diabetes-Friendly Cooking Methods When Preparing Your Food
When trying to follow a healthy diet, how you cook your food makes a big difference in the end product.
Bake or broil instead of frying to reduce fat. Use extra-virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil, because olive oil confers more heart benefits, notes the Mayo Clinic. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease than the general population, per the American Heart Association.
Completely avoid trans fats (found in some processed foods and foods cooked in oil, though they’re being phased out, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and limiting saturated fats (found in meats and whole milk) to less than 20 g per day, if possible.
Limit sodium to 2,000 to 2,400 g per day, unless you’re on a sodium-restricted diet. In that case, you should follow your doctor’s recommendations. Choose fresh or frozen foods, or canned foods with no salt.
5. Limit Ordering Takeout, and Take These Precautions
Home-cooked meals are preferable to takeout orders, because you have total control over portions and ingredients
6. Fresh Food Is Fantastic, But So Are Packaged Options
There are few yummier — or healthier — simple pleasures than choosing fresh fare from your garden, a farmers market, or a roadside stand. But if these aren’t options for you, you can enjoy nutritional food that is canned, frozen, or dried.
7. Consider Exercising After Eating Your Healthy Meal
As you enjoy healthy meals at home, take time to consider what you’ll do once you get up from the table.
Author Credits : Sheryl Huggins Salomon
Medically reviewed by: Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES