If you're one of the nearly 24 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes, you know your body has difficulty using or producing insulin. What can you do to manage the disease? We asked Jill Crandall, MD, professor of clinical medicine and director of the diabetesclinical trials unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, to debunk some myths and help you learn to live well.
Carbohydrates raise blood sugar faster than proteins or fats. They also have the biggest effect on your blood sugar. Fiber, protein, and fat can curb the rise in blood sugar after a meal.
So aim for variety. Eat a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to manage your blood sugar better and stay full longer. But make sure to choose quality carbohydrates and smart fats, such as:
Healthy carbs: Vegetables, beans, whole grains, and fruit
Smart fats: Fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, extra virgin olive oil, and canola oil
Check your blood sugar after meals. Look for patterns between what you eat and drink and your blood sugar levels after. You also may want to track how many grams or servings of carbohydrates you eat with each meal and try to keep it about the same from meal to meal. This can also help you take charge of your blood sugar.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet when you have diabetes doesn't mean you can't eat foods that taste good. In the sample menu and recipes below, the meals have a good balance of protein and fat and a great source of fiber. You can plug them into your diet -- in the right portion sizes -- along with the other fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, or fats in your plan.
Don’t forget to watch salt, too. That's part of healthy eating with diabetes. Eating less salt has been shown to help prevent and treat high blood pressure. Read labels and choose foods that are low in sodium.
Sample Daily Menu Options
Here's how you might work in a high-fiber carbohydrate along with some lean protein and "good" fat.
Whole-grain cereal (hot or cold) with fruit
Whole-grain bread, English muffin, or bagel
Whole-grain waffles or pancakes with fruit
Lean protein (low in saturated fat):
A higher omega-3 egg blended with 2 egg whites for an egg dish. Add vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, or tomatoes.
Low-fat milk or soy milk for your cereal or as a beverage
Part skim-milk cheese added to your omelet
Low-fat or nonfat yogurt with fruit or cereal, or in a smoothie