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Diabetes Do’s and Don’ts

Did you know that every 17 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes? By 2050 an estimated one in three Americans will have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. November is American Diabetes Month. This is a critical time for us to get involved personally and in our communities to the fight against this terrible disease.

You or someone you know may have diabetes or prediabetes. Here are some simple eating tips you should never do and things you should do to manage or prevent diabetes.

Do:

  1. Be mindful of what you eat. Life is hectic and sadly, we don’t take time out to really pay attention to our day-to-day eating routine. We follow old habits that may require a few tweaks. Take a moment to stop and watch what you eat and purposefully avoid the many distractions like watching TV, working on the computer or talking on the phone while eating. You might be surprised at how much more you enjoy your food when you’re actually paying attention to it!
  2. Balance your meals with lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbs. Strive to eat from at least three food groups at every meal. This is a great way to capture a wider variety of healthy foods in your diet. For example, combine about three ounces of grilled tilapia with a small scoop of brown rice (the size of a baseball) and one cup of mixed veggies tossed lightly in olive oil. Serve this up with a green salad drizzled with one to two tablespoonfuls (the size of your thumb) of light dressing. Enjoy a cup of berries for dessert. That’s a great meal!
  3. Plan ahead meals and snacks. At first, it might take a bit longer to go through the grocery store and fill your cart with healthy staples. Once you develop a smart shopping system, your trips will take half the time. Plan out what you and your family will eat for the week, and follow a simple routine that works for you.

Don’t:

  1. Miss meals. Commit to eating throughout the day. Spread out your calories and carbs for the best blood sugar control. It is optimal to eat every three to four hours to include at least three meals and a snack. This will improve your blood sugars and boost your metabolism. Remember to plan ahead, so when life gets hectic, you have already mapped out what you intend to eat.
  2. Make starches the main course. High fiber starches and whole grains are excellent source of carbs, but all in the right proportion. Start by selecting these types of carbs and make them a side dish on your plate. They should literally take up ¼ of your plate. One cup equals the size of a baseball, so aim for a portion that size or smaller. Fill the rest of your plate with volumes of non-starchy veggies and a small serving of protein. Remember your meals should contain at least three food groups—that makes for a perfect plate!
  3. Get frustrated with healthy eating. When you are working on anything new, such as a work or home project, it may be daunting at first. But, you find that it eases up over time as you accomplish smaller steps towards the end goal. The same is true with working on your healthy eating habits—they take time and work. There’s no magic bullet, but once you’ve made some progress, things do get easier! My patients will even say, “I thought this was going to be so hard, but it’s actually easier than I ever imagined.” It is worth the investment!

This November, take a moment to think about how you can help yourself or those you love who may have diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes is highly preventable and manageable. As little as a five to ten percent weight loss can significantly improve your blood sugars and reduce your risk of getting diabetes by 58 percent! Take the first steps and stay in charge of your health!

For more information or to see a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at the Cooper Clinic, call 972-560-2655.

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