Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about what you can eat as a diabetic. After being diagnosed with diabetes, you should get diabetes education. Besides taking your medications as described, one of the first things you are more likely instructed on is what you can and cannot eat. So much stress is placed on what you cannot eat, and if you had a diet mostly consisting of those food items, you’d be left a bit lost on whats left for you to eat.
For diabetics, the best rule of thumb is to stay away from foods that are heavily processed and sugar-heavy. This much is fairly common knowledge, especially among the diabetic community.
This means you should not load up on things like cereal, fries, sweets, white bread, soda, and more. For many people, though, some of these items are major parts of their diets, unhealthy as they may be.
This makes adjusting to diabetes really difficult for those people, because on top of the new lifestyle changes of exercise and keeping track of blood sugar levels, they now have to completely change their eating habits.
Foods that are safe for diabetics are not as hard to come by as they may seem at first. One great option is certain fruits and vegetables. These two food groups have a ton of variety, so you’re sure to find at least one thing that you like among them.
However, be sure you’re getting the right kinds of fruits and veggies. You want your fruits and vegetables to be fresh, ideally. This doesn’t mean that they have to have been picked within the last 24 hours, but just dont get anything canned or processed with heavy syrup.
Also, don’t assume that things are okay for diabetics just because they contain fruit. Things like fruit punch, juice, and jellies are all very poor choices for a diabetic because they contain high levels of sugar.
The other food group that will be your main source of food as a diabetic will be grains. Many of us are already familiar with this category in the form of foods like rice, bread, and more.
Much like fruit, not all grains are healthy for diabetics. Try to stay away from white, or processed grains. You instead want products that are whole grain, like brown rice, whole grain bread, and oatmeal.
These two food groups alone give you a pretty decent selection of options to work with. In the morning, you might be able to have oatmeal with berries for breakfast. In the afternoon, you could have a sandwich made from whole wheat bread, some meat, and some vegetables, and in the evening for dinner, some brown rice and vegetables.
The 16 Best Foods to Eat to Control Diabetes:
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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