Living with diabetes will have a definite impact on your diet. The condition calls for a dietary plan that accounts both for your restrictions and for those foods that are most beneficial to your health. With diabetes, you not only need to watch what you eat but you also need to be highly conscious of when and how often you eat as well. The way you approach your nutrition and the discipline you demonstrate in keeping with your diet could have a substantial impact on your long-term health with diabetes.
Have a Plan
First things first. You need a meal plan. There are a lot of different ways to monitor the impact that your dietary intake is having on your body.
Among them, Diabetes.org recommends carb counting or keeping a glycemic index. Diabetes.org explains that with the glycemic index, the goal is to assess the impact of carb-containing foods on your blood sugar as they compare to “standard reference foods.”
Whatever strategy you use to track your meals, you’ll need to pay close attention to your blood glucose level, your blood pressure and your cholesterol. It’s also important with diabetes that you develop and keep a well-regulated eating schedule. It’s up to you to make sure your blood sugar levels are safe, which requires a consistent meal and snacking schedule.
You’ll also need to coordinate your diet with any medications or insulin treatments that are part of your disease management strategy.
What To Avoid
Dietary restrictions are a critical part of diabetes management. Because diabetes increases your risk of stroke and heart disease, you need to avoid foods that contribute to clogged arteries, obesity and high cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic advises that there are certain foods you should simply plan to cut out of your diet.
Among them, foods that are high in saturated fats are especially to be avoided. This includes dairy products that are high in fat and certain meats like hot dogs, sausage and bacon. You should also significantly reduce your consumption of beef.
You will also have to learn to live without foods that contain trans fats. This means that most processed and packaged snack foods that are high in salt and sugar must be eliminated from your diet. In fact, you’ll want to pay close attention to the sodium level in everything you eat. The Mayo Clinic advises no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day.
What To Eat
WebMD says that your best bet is to load up on fruits and vegetables. All carbohydrates break down into your blood glucose. This means that choosing the right carbs is a key to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Spend a lot of time in the fresh produce section of your grocery store and you should see positive results.
The same is true for legumes like beans, peas and lentils, as well as certain whole grains. These foods are distinct for their richness in healthy dietary fibers. According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber is an important ingredient to controlling your blood sugar levels and reducing your risk of heart disease.
You should also incorporate fish into your diet whenever possible. This is a good alternative source of protein to meats that are high in fat. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and bluefish, all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, help to promote heart health by reducing triglycerides in the blood stream.
As you adjust your diet, it’s also important to mix it up. Try new recipes and keep an open mind. The more fun you have with your diet, the easier it is to keep.