Diabetes has become a growing problem in the United States, especially with the senior population. On average, type 2 Diabetes is diagnosed around 53 years of age, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. While the CDC estimates that over 29 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, only 21 million have been diagnosed. Another 8.1 million people are living with prediabetes, with higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough for an official diabetes diagnosis.
Considering that almost 10 percent of the American population is either living with or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it’s important to open a discussion about how to manage your diabetes through diet and exercise changes. Exercising moderately 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week--which can include taking brisk walks--can have a huge impact on your diabetes risk. And while the hardest part of diabetes management might be your diet, finding diabetes recipes and creating special menus every day can significantly reduce the negative side effects of the disease.
Going On A Diabetes Diet
For many people, changing their diet can be the biggest challenge when they are diagnosed with diabetes. But with a little bit of planning and some support from friends and family, you’ll find that going on a diabetes diet isn’t as difficult as you think.
Here are some tips to help you better plan your new diabetes menu:
- You don’t have to quit sugar. You do have to limit your sugar intake though. You can still indulge in dessert everyday, however, that also means that you can’t be snacking on sugary foods throughout the day.
- Read nutrition labels. Pay attention to the labels on food to look for hidden sugars. Typically “healthy” foods like yogurt, soup, and tomato sauce can have high sugar content and cause your blood sugar to spike.
- Size matters. Portion size, that is. Paying attention to portion sizes is essential for the success of a diabetes diet. Portion control will also enable you to keep eating the foods you love--like carbs and sweets--as long as you practice moderation.
- Eat the rainbow. Add colorful fruits and veggies to your diabetes menu for a full spectrum of nutritional benefits. Adding in a combination of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats with your fruits and veggies at every meal is the best way to guarantee keeping your diabetes under control.
What’s On The Diabetes Diet?
So, what are some specific foods and diabetes recipes that you can enjoy on a diabetes diet? HelpGuide.org has some great recommendations for you to consider as you build your menu:
Eat Healthy Fats. This includes raw nuts, olive oil, fish oil, flax seeds, whole milk dairy and avocados. Most foods that are marketed as “Low Fat” are often high in sugar because the manufacturers remove the fat and add sugar for taste. Be wary of any food marked as “Low Fat,” and pay attention to the nutrition labels here.
Incorporate Lots of Fruits and Veggies. We talked about “eating the rainbow” above and there are major benefits associated with adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet when you have diabetes. Aside from the essential vitamins and minerals that fruits and veggies provide, they also are great snack alternatives to chips and sweets, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
High-Fiber and Whole Grains. Foods that are high in fiber, like certain cereals, oatmeal, Brussels Sprouts and acorn squash, are not only helpful for reducing your health risks from diabetes, but can also aid in digestion. Whole grain breads, pasta and cereals are more nutrient-dense than their white counterparts and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are good for your body.
Choose High-Quality Proteins. Choosing to add lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, to your diabetes diet can have a big impact on your health. You can also add beans, cheeses, eggs, milk and yogurt as additional sources of protein.
There are additional benefits of certain superfoods for diabetics, like nuts, avocado, apples and chocolate that you can add to your daily diabetes menu.
Dangers of Mismanaged Diabetes
Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, or prediabetes, making a conscious choice to not alter your diet and exercise routine can have grave consequences. On the extreme end of the spectrum, you can lose limbs, and on the minor end, you can experience diabetic fainting spells.
Even if you have your diabetes under control, you never know when you might suffer from diabetic shock or fainting spells, which can lead to more severe accidental injuries. Medical Guardian with fall detection will be there to help you when you fall, so you’ll always have a safety net should you need it.