Following a diet for diabetes may be a challenge at first but there are simple ways to improve your eating. Sara O’Leary, registered dietitian at Landmark Health, recommends five steps to stabilize your blood sugar today.
Five Things You Can Do Today
- Eat more oatmeal and berries. Start your day with steel cut or rolled oats and berries, the best fruit for diabetics. Try adding cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, ground flax seeds or walnuts for extra flavor and texture.
- Get enough movement throughout the day. Move for five to ten minutes after each meal, such as walking, strength training, dancing or chair exercises.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit. Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables and fruit at every meal. For better blood sugar control, eat your fruit with a meal instead of on its own.
- Eat beans. Try to eat half a cup of beans, lentils or peas at every meal. Make sure to cook and rinse your beans thoroughly. Beans are key to stabilizing blood sugar levels! High in fiber, beans help slow digestion and stabilize blood sugars. Think of it as another type of medication ― without side effects.
- Limit certain foods. Limit chicken, fish, pork, beef, dairy and eggs to no more than three servings per week (or remove completely). Limit refined carbohydrates such as sugar, sweet treats, soda, sweetened cereal, white bread, white rice, white pasta and white crackers.
Improvement in Blood Sugar Levels
O’Leary says, “Many diabetic patients who follow these five steps see their blood sugar change dramatically within just two weeks. Cutting out refined carbohydrates has many benefits such as improved mood and blood sugar levels. Replacing sugar cereal with oatmeal and berries for breakfast or eating fruit instead of a cookie can make a big difference.”
Building a Healthy Plate
People with diabetes don’t need to miss out on meals with family or friends. “Diabetic patients can enjoy meals with their family and loved ones by building a plate with healthy proportions,” O’Leary says.
O’Leary recommends filling half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like a salad, tomatoes and cucumbers, asparagus or broccoli. Fill a quarter of the plate with starchy vegetables or whole grains such as half an ear of corn, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta or rice. Add protein such as beans, fish or chicken to the last quarter of the plate. Garnish the plate with healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds or olives.
As you remove processed and refined foods, fill your plate with a variety of non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruit. Focus on all the wonderful foods you can enjoy as part of your healthy diet.
Download the teaching sheet below for more tips on creating a healthy diet.