Eat Right, Bite By Bite
What really is a nutrient? It’s a word we use a lot, but what does it actually mean beyond “healthy?” A nutrient is an element found in food that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. Maintenance of life! Sounds important, and doubly so for those living with diabetes. That’s because eating a nutrient-filled diet is a crucial element of a successful diabetes management plan.
Read on to take the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ nutrition quiz and learn about creating a diabetes diet.
Healthy Eating Habits: Fact or Fiction?
1. A healthy eating style includes a limited number of foods.
FICTION: A variety of nutritious foods from all of the food groups can make up a healthy eating style. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.
2. Vegetable oils are an appropriate substitute for solid fats.
FACT: Solid fats have higher amounts of saturated fat and/or trans fats, which may increase the risk of heart disease. In comparison, oils provide more unsaturated fats, which are healthier.
3. Physical activity must be done for at least 10 minutes for it to be considered beneficial as a form of exercise.
FICTION: Although there are additional health benefits with increased physical activity, all activity counts so make a goal to move more throughout the day. For more information, check out the Move Your Way website at: https://health.gov/moveyourway/.
4. Portion sizes and serving sizes are the same things.
FICTION: A portion an amount you choose to eat or drink; whereas a serving size is used as a reference for what counts as a serving from one of the MyPlate food groups or the amount indicated on a Nutrition Facts label.
5. It is recommended that calories from added sugars be limited to less than 10% of calories per day.
FACT: Include healthier choices from the MyPlate food groups in place of foods and drinks with added sugars to better meet your nutrient needs.
6. At least half the grains are eaten daily should be whole grains.
FACT: Due to the health benefits associated with whole grains, it is recommended that at least half of the daily recommended servings be from whole grain sources. An example would be substituting brown rice in place of white rice.
7. One cup of calcium-fortified soymilk is considered one cup from the Dairy Group.
FACT: Calcium-fortified soymilk is an option in the Dairy Group for people who choose not to consume milk, such as vegans.
8. Meals that include seafood are recommended weekly.
FACT: Fish and seafood provide important nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. Choose varieties that are lower in mercury, such as salmon and cod. “Advice about Eating Fish” is available for young children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For more information, visit https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
9. Most Americans get enough dietary fiber on a daily basis.
FICTION: It is estimated that most people in the U.S. only consume half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber daily. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
10. Everyone needs the same number of calories, which is 2,000 calories per day.
FICTION: Although 2,000 calories per day can be found on the Nutrition Facts label and on menus, this is only used for general advice. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to create a MyPlate Plan, which includes food group targets based on your individual calorie needs or meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist for personalized nutrition guidance.
Building A Nutritious Diabetes Diet
A healthy diet for someone with diabetes will look similar to any other nutritious diet. You should focus on eating a balanced variety of foods while avoiding large portions of unhealthy items. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes (or want to create a prediabetes diet), there are a few other things you’ll need to consider.
Choosing carbohydrates can be one of the most challenging parts of planning a diabetes diet. While you need to include carbs in your diet, the wrong sources of carbs can throw blood glucose levels out of balance. Fortunately, the high fiber content of whole grains makes them ideal for people with diabetes.
Fruits and vegetables are also nutritious parts of a diabetes diet since they are usually high in fiber. Because fruits are sweeter than veggies, it’s a good idea to focus on fruits that are naturally high in fiber, like berries. Meanwhile, raw and cooked fresh vegetables, greens (including spinach and kale), and steamed frozen vegetables are all delicious, filling and nutritious. Just be careful around salt-heavy canned and cooked vegetables!
Selecting diabetes-friendly protein sources is less complicated – feel free to eat lean meat, poultry, and fish. That said, these aren’t the only proteins you should eat. Add plant-based protein sources like beans to your diet, too – they come with nutrients and fiber you won’t get from animal products.
These are some examples of foods you can eat, but what foods should you steer clear of? Like anyone else, people who have diabetes shouldn’t binge on fats, oils, fast foods and sweets – these foods can cause weight gain, making diabetes harder to manage. Processed grains can have significant adverse effects on diabetes management, as well.
Make Diabetes Management Easier With Supplies From ADS
By following these tips and talking to your healthcare team, eating a balanced diet doesn’t have to be challenging. Hopefully, this article has given you an opportunity to learn more about nutrition, no matter what month it is!
Along with making changes to your diet, another effective way to improve your diabetes management strategy is to order supplies from ADS. We offer fast, reliable shipping for all kinds of diabetes supplies, including CGM systems, insulin, and diabetes testing supplies – get started today!
If you have any questions regarding your nutritional needs and diabetes health management, please contact our Certified Diabetes Educators for helpful diabetes health tips, recipes and nutritional advice. To locate an RDN in your area, visit www.eatright.org. To contact our CDE, visit our CDE page and fill out the contact form to discuss anything related to managing your diabetes.
©2019 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Medical Review by: Halle Elbling, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator