variety of healthy food

June 28, 2015

Manage Your Diabetes with a Healthy Diet

Eat Healthy

For people living with diabetes or who are at risk for diabetes, meal planning is a simple way to keep blood sugar levels in check and manage the condition. 

“The most successful way to manage your diabetes is to take proactive steps to control what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat with meal planning,” says Zale Hisashima, dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Straub Medical Center. 

Following a carbohydrate-controlled, low-fat and balanced meal plan will help keep your blood-sugar level in your target range.

 A balanced meal plan will help keep blood-sugar levels in your target range.

Here are some proactive steps you can take to control your diet:

Watch serving sizes

Meal plans reduce the risk of overeating. Once you become familiar with the appropriate serving size for different foods, you will know how much to portion at each meal.

Eat from all the food groups

Think variety. This will prevent you from getting bored with your meals and provide the necessary nutrients your body needs. 

Learn about carbohydrates, fats and protein

Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar the most. They are found in starches (e.g., rice, bread, pasta and corn), fruit, milk/yogurt and sweets.

Fats contain the most calories, which can affect weight. Certain fats can also increase your risk of heart disease. High-fat foods include prime cuts of meat, whole milk, cheese, avocado, nuts, fried foods and desserts.

Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. Lean protein is best, and can be found in fish, egg whites, tofu, quinoa and skinless chicken. 

Reduce liquid sugars

Soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks make it difficult for blood sugar to stay in a healthy range. Cutting liquid sugar and opting for water is best.

Choose healthier fats

Unsaturated fats (e.g., avocado, nuts and olive oil) help decrease heart disease risk but should still be used sparingly since they also contain a lot of calories. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats (prime cuts of meat, whole milk, cheese, pastries and creamy dressings like ranch and bleu cheese).  

Timing your meals

When it comes to controlling blood sugar, proper timing of meals and snacks is important. Meal plans can vary from several small meals spaced throughout the day, to three meals a day with snacks (as needed). Skipping meals can cause blood sugar to rise or fall outside of target ranges. 

Work with a dietitian or diabetes educator to develop a diabetes meal plan that’s right for you.