By John A. Ruibal, Prowers Medical Center Dietitian
When you get the news that you have diabetes it can be very stressful. You might wonder, ‘What can I eat? Do I have to give up all the foods I enjoy? Do I have to stay on my diet?’ These are all valid concerns and sometimes can seem overwhelming. The stricter you follow your prescribed diet the better you will be able to control your blood sugars. Here are few simple principles to follow as you start to change your eating and lifestyle habits.
- Space your meals and snacks out, but be sure not to skip meals. This will require a bit of planning, especially if you are going to work, traveling, or you have other obligations.
- Concentrate on including a generous portion of non-starchy vegetables—think leafy greens and vegetables high in water content, like cucumbers and tomatoes.
- Cut back on simple starches or carbohydrates. These are your sugary foods, including pop, candy, cookies, ice cream, pies and cakes. If you occasionally eat these foods make sure to eat or drink them with your meal. Avoid having that cake, candy or pop as a snack a few hours after a meal.
- Walk, run, bicycle, swim or engage in other physical activity on most days. Start with 10 minutes a day and build up to 60 minutes a day over the next 6 months. I highly recommend taking a walk after meals as this helps with blood sugar control and weight control.
- If you are over your ideal weight, a little weight loss will have a big effect on controlling your blood sugar. A 5% – 10% weight loss will have a dramatic effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and insulin resistance. Think baby steps. Your ideal weight is the ultimate goal but those first few pounds are a great first step.
- Read labels to cut down on simple sugars. Watch out for terms like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, pure cane sugar, and sugar.
- Try to use low fat cooking methods. Cut back on frying foods. Use techniques like baking, steaming, broiling, boiling or grilling.
- When attending parties, ask to bring a dish. You can prepare foods that fit your eating plan so that you can enjoy eating with no guilt.
- Have foods and snacks available so that you are not tempted to eat restricted foods. A few healthy choice frozen dinners are good for those nights you do not feel like cooking.
- Remember, this is a lifestyle change that you have to follow for the long haul. Small changes make a big difference and will make you feel better. Once you are following these simple guidelines and your body is used to your new changes, you will be able to tell when you ate the wrong things.
These are very simple guidelines and do not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider. Follow their directions, but partner with them. Taking small steps will help you gain confidence and soon you will be in full stride with your new lifestyle of eating better and exercising more.