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    The Basics of a Healthy Diabetes Diet

    If you have diabetes, the right foods can be an ally in your fight to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

    Talk to your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a diabetes educator about how to keep track of how many carbs you eat. That can affect your blood sugar. They may recommend that you use the glycemic index. It ranks how different foods raise your blood sugar. The higher the index, the more it raises your levels.

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    Also, try these tips:

    Choose colorful foods. That's an easy way to be sure you eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and lean protein.

    Watch your calories. Your age, gender, and activity level affect how many you need to eat to gain, lose, or maintain your weight.

    Go for fiber. You can get it from foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts. If you have type 2 diabetes, a high-fiber diet can improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

    It’s always best to get fiber from food, but supplements can also help you get the daily fiber you need. Examples include psyllium and methylcellulose.

    Increase your fiber slowly. Otherwise, you may have gas and cramping. It’s also important to drink more liquids.

    How Much Can You Eat?

    Check the serving sizes on nutrition labels. Servings may be smaller than you think. Eat only the amount of food in your diabetes meal plan. Extra calories lead to extra fat and pounds.

    Don't skip meals, though. Eat them, and snacks, at regular times every day.

    What Is the TLC Diet for Diabetes?

    If you also have high cholesterol, your doctor probably will recommend something called the TLC (therapeutic lifestyle changes) plan.

    The goal is to lower your cholesterol level, drop extra weight, and get more active. That helps prevent heart disease, which is more common when you have diabetes.

    On the TLC diet, you will:

    • Limit fat to 25%-35% of your total daily calories.
    • Get no more than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fat, 10% or less from polyunsaturated fats, and up to 20% from monounsaturated fats (like plant oils or nuts).
    • Keep carbs to 50%-60% of your daily calories.
    • Aim for 20-30 grams of fiber each day.
    • Allow 15%-20% of your daily calories for protein.
    • Cap cholesterol at 200 milligrams per day.

    You'll also need to get more exercise and keep up with your medical treatment.

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