Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body processes blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone that aids in the regulation of blood sugar. The body’s inability to produce or properly respond to this hormone results in either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The presence of diabetes has the potential to cause a variety of ailments such as vision and hearing loss, nerve damage in the feet and legs, and gum, kidney, and heart disease.
Along with exercise and, in some cases, medication, a well-balanced diet is a crucial factor when managing life with diabetes. The following dietary guidelines are recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
Eat well-timed snacks.
Eating healthy snacks every 3-4 hours is a great way to help your body regulate blood sugar. Some healthy snack options might be peanut better crackers, cottage cheese, or yogurt topped with granola!
Stick to complex carbs.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and provide your body more even levels of energy and blood sugar throughout the day. If you are living with diabetes, it is recommended that 45% of your daily diet be comprised of complex carbohydrates. Brown rice, oatmeal, and air-popped popcorn are all great choices when trying to hit your daily carb goal!
Avoid alcohol and other highly processed or refined foods.
Foods such as snack cakes and chips are considered simple carbohydrates. Eating these foods can lead to spikes in blood sugar and unsustainable energy levels.
Try out the diabetes plate method.
According to this method, half of a 9” plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables, lean protein should take up one quarter of the plate, and grains/starches should make up the final quarter of the plate. It is important to remember that these food groups do not have to be in neat sections on the plate. Combine all three sections to make soups, salads, or even a healthy version of pizza!
When cultivating your ideal diet for managing diabetes, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Factors such as weight, age, medications, and activity level have an influence on what each person’s diet should look like. Make sure to talk to your doctor about the number of macro- and micronutrients that are best suited for your diet.