Creating good lifelong eating habits is essential for all. It’s even more important for people living with diabetes. Food is important for managing diabetes and reducing complications such as stroke and heart attack. Knowing the right steps to take to improve your diet can be challenging. Not every diet will work for everyone. That’s why it’s important to find out what works for you!
A good diet will help you manage blood glucose levels, maintain a healthy body weight, and healthy levels of cholesterol and carbohydrates. In each one of these steps, there are key takeaways everyone can use to start achieving a healthy lifestyle. Follow these five steps to start your journey towards healthy eating.
1. Meal planning
Taking time to plan your meals is a great first step towards reaching your healthy eating goals. Weekly meal planning will not only help you shop for the right foods and encourage you to cook at home, but it will curb impulse buying and save you money. While grocery shopping or ordering groceries online, don’t forget to check the labels of the food you are buying. Add fruits and vegetables to your list, and look for foods containing whole grains and high protein. To get started with meal planning, download these Diabetes Menu Plan templates.
2. Portion control
Knowing the right amount of food you should eat is important to maintaining a balanced diet for overall diabetes management. Watching your food portions can help with weight management, regulating your blood sugar and glucose levels while reducing your risks of other diabetes related complications. Canada’s Food Guide recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and combining protein with a whole grain option. Don’t forget to check your blood sugar levels one to two hours after eating to know how your body is responding to the foods you ate.
3. Watch your sweet and salty foods
When those late-night cravings hit, it may be tempting to reach for something sweet or salty. Instead, look for healthy snack alternatives that are low in sodium or have no added sugar. Try a whole grain packed snack or even a plain Greek yogurt and fruit with no added sugar.
4. Mindful eating
When we eat, we may rush through a meal. Mindful eating suggests you eat slowly and take your time to enjoy your food. It allows you to engage your senses while eating (e.g., tastes, flavours, textures), helps prevent overeating and teaches you to listen to your body to know when you are full.
5. Work with a Registered Dietitian
A Registered Dietitian is an excellent resource for learning more about developing a food plan that fits your lifestyle to better reach your healthy eating goals. A Dietitian is there to offer advice on the best foods to fit your diet and work with you to create a personalized nutrition plan. To find a Canadian Dietitian that’s right for you, visit Find a Dietitian.
For more information on making healthy food choices for better diabetes management, visit UHN’s Sun Life Diabetes College Health eUniversity.