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Healthy eating with diabetes

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Eating well with diabetes simply means following a nutritious meal plan that will help you control your blood sugar. Rather than thinking of it as restrictive, a diabetes diet is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and cholesterol, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact, an eating plan for someone with diabetes is healthy for everyone. Your meal plan should not be a strict menu but will teach you how to make good decisions about the foods you should eat every day. Your doctor may suggest you see a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to guide you on changes to your diet that will help to control your blood sugar, lipids and weight. Your meal plan should include:

• Healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils and low fat dairy products

• Fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, as well as beans, peas and lentils

• Heart-healthy fish can be a good alternative to high-fat meats. For example, cod, tuna and halibut have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than meat or poultry. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which promote heart health. Avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury such as swordfish

• ‘Good’ fats such as avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives and canola, olive and peanut oil can help lower your cholesterol. Eat them sparingly, however, as all fats are high in calories
Be careful with alcohol. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially on an empty stomach, can lower your blood sugar level dangerously.

Next week: Counting carbohydrates

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