Healthy Eating Tips from an Einstein Diabetes Educator
For the estimated 30.3 million people currently living with diabetes in the U.S., there are many decisions that they are faced with on a daily basis. These decisions affect blood sugar (glucose) management. Blood sugars fluctuate throughout the day based on medications, activity, stress and of course food intake! Solving such challenges, such as what time to take medicine, what time to eat, and when to exercise, can be a daunting task.
The timing of meals and snacks does matter when trying to manage blood sugars and weight. Spacing out your meals every four to five hours, with a focus on balancing the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat, can be beneficial in keeping blood sugars more consistent throughout the day. Snacks can be part of a healthy diet but it is often recommended that if you must snack, do so deliberately because most of the time snacking opens the door too wide for overeating.
Many studies have supported the benefits of weight loss for people with diabetes. Even a small weight loss (5% to 7% of body weight) can help the body use its own insulin more efficiently, therefore improving blood sugar management. Weight loss is more dependent on total calories consumed in a day, rather than timing of meals. Choosing foods that increase satiety or “fullness” is important. These choices may make it easier to overcome urges to overeat later in the day.
Healthy eating for people with diabetes does not mean giving up all foods you like. Here are some tips to help manage your blood sugars and weight.
Carbohydrates have the most impact on raising blood sugars after meals (as compared with protein and fat). High fiber choices are often more slowly digested and not as likely to cause post meal spikes.
Choose more high fiber carbohydrates sources, 100 percent whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. Strategies for increasing vegetables:
- Fill half plate with vegetables
- Include salad with lunch
- Have raw vegetables as snacks
- Enjoy steamed, roasted or grilled vegetables with dinner
Include lean protein sources with meals. Lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey and fish can assist with satiety (fullness) and have little impact on post-meal blood sugar levels.
Recommended cooking techniques: baking, broiling, grilling or poaching.
If you want to include more plant-based protein sources, consider nuts, legumes (beans) and tofu.
The type and amount of fat you consume matters. Fat provide double the calories as carbohydrate and protein, so increased fat intake can lead to increased pounds gained.
Fat also flavors food and has little impact on post-meal blood sugar levels.
Tips: Measure fats-1 tbsp.=120 calories
Choose heart-healthy fats that don’t raise blood cholesterol levels. Choices include extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, avocado. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.
A Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator can assist people with Diabetes set up an individualized meal plan. Gutman Diabetes Institute offers an Accredited Diabetes Self- Management Education and Support program for people with diabetes. Contact # 215-456-6839.
Jacki Dwyer, RDN, MS, CDE is a Registered Dietitian/Diabetes Educator at Einstein Healthcare Network’s Gutman Diabetes Institute.