November is National Diabetes Month, a month dedicated to the disease which affects the more than 34 million Americans living with diabetes, whether diagnosed or not.
In all forms of diabetes (type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes), the body’s ability to make or use insulin properly is affected. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas and it helps your cells store and use energy from food. If you have diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood but is not transported to the cells. So your body is not getting the energy it needs. Plus, high levels of glucose circulate throughout the body, damaging cells along the way. Diabetes increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and can lead to kidney, eye and nerve damage.
The good news? Diabetes is manageable. While changing eating habits can be difficult, eating the right foods – consistent fiber and carbohydrates with every meal – can make a huge difference in blood sugar management. The goal is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels through diet, appropriate medications, and physical activity.
Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for people with diabetes and prediabetes.
– Eat a variety of foods. Choose foods from each food group every day and don’t be afraid to try new foods.
– Make half your plate of fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain fiber, vitamins and minerals and can satisfy your sweet tooth. Include more non-starchy vegetables, including leafy greens, asparagus, carrots, and broccoli each day. Also, choose whole fruit more often and juice less often.
– Choose healthy carbohydrates. Increase the amount of fiber you eat by eating at least half of all grains as whole grain foods each day. Counting carbs is a way to plan what you can eat and how much you can eat at meals and snacks to help keep blood sugar levels near normal.
– Limit foods and drinks high in added sugars.
– Eat less fat. Choose lean meats, poultry and fish as much as possible. Bake, broil, roast, broil, boil or steam food instead of frying it. Also choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Try to eat less saturated fat and focus on healthy fat sources like salmon, avocados, olive and canola oil, nuts and seeds.
– Focus on fiber. Eating foods high in fiber can help prevent blood sugar from rising too quickly after eating. Good sources of fiber include beans, buckwheat, whole wheat breads and grains, brown rice, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.
– Avoid skipping meals. It’s best to eat every three to four hours when you’re awake, and try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates for meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day. Skipping meals can make you hungrier, crankier, and unable to concentrate. It can also lead to overeating at the next meal.
– Watch the portions. One of the keys to good blood sugar control is watching how much you eat. You don’t need to cut out foods high in carbohydrates, but it’s important to eat a balance of them evenly distributed throughout the day. Check food labels and pay attention to portion sizes and carbohydrate content.
– Maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight, even a few pounds, can make a big difference in helping lower blood sugar.
Questions and answers
Q: Should I drink eight glasses of water a day?
A: Although eight glasses is an easy number to follow, the recommendations for how much water you need per day have changed and are now based on individual lifestyles. The amount of water we need depends on our size, body composition and activity level, as well as the temperature and humidity of the environment. If you exercise often, live in a hot climate, or are pregnant, you will need to drink more water than you would otherwise. Check the color of your urine (it should be light in color) and ask yourself if you are thirsty. These are good determinants of your hydration level. The first signs of dehydration include fatigue, headache, and dark urine. Chronic dehydration can lead to decreased alertness and the ability to concentrate.
When you’re not eating turkey or thinking about fixing it, here’s an easy recipe for those busy days that provides a good source of vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It’s from Hy-Vee Seasons magazine.
SALMON AND BROCCOLINI IN HONEY-WALNUT CRUST
Non-stick cooking spray
4 servings of skinless salmon fillet (4 to 6 ounces)
Fine sea salt
1 cup of chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of honey
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces of broccolini tips, trimmed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly spray large rimmed skillet with cooking spray. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place the salmon in the center of the dish. Tuck under the thin edges of the salmon, if necessary. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Combine the nuts, mustard, honey, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the salmon. Toss the broccolini and bell pepper pieces with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Divide the vegetables around the salmon in the pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 425-degree oven until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145 F and the vegetables are tender and crunchy. Garnish with additional thyme if desired. For 4.
Per serving: 580 calories; 30 grams of protein; 18 grams of carbohydrates; 44 grams of fat (6 grams saturated); 60 milligrams of cholesterol; 4 grams of fiber; 12 grams of sugar (9 grams added); 210 milligrams of sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To learn more about Charlyn Fargo and read articles from other Creators writers and designers, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: cataline to Pixabay