By: Josefina Girón, RDN, LDN
What is Diabetes:
Diabetes is diagnosed when your pancreas can't make insulin, or the insulin doesn't work in the body like it should. Therefore, when there isn’t enough insulin to cover the glucose, that leftover glucose or sugar gets trapped in your blood which causes your blood sugar level to rise. There are various ways to balance our blood sugars and that is through the way we eat, our lifestyle habits and, when necessary, medication.
Below are a few nutrition tips.
Tip 1: Portion Control Equals Glucose Control
This is the Diabetes Plate Method – you may be familiar with the USDA MyPlate – which is very similar.
This is an easy way to get all the nutrients you need, and still enjoy the foods you love WITHOUT going overboard.
First, fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, or squash varieties.
Second, fill 1/4 of your plate with lean plant or animal-based protein foods like chicken, fish, eggs, or tofu. Add lean proteins which are beneficial for heart health as they are low in saturated fat. Protein does not impact blood sugar and it helps slow down digestion and rise in glucose.
Finally, fill 1/4 of your plate with carbohydrate-based foods. This includes items like grains, starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, fruit, yogurt, and milk.
Tip 2: Choose Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source. The body converts these sugar molecules into glucose, which it uses for energy to get through the day. There are two types of carbohydrates simple and complex.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are a more stable source of energy than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are present in foods such as bread and pasta. Simple carbohydrates are in foods such as table sugar and syrups.
Complex carbohydrates contain longer chains of sugar molecules than simple carbohydrates. As complex carbohydrates have longer chains, they take longer to break down and provide more lasting energy in the body than simple carbohydrates.
Both types of carbohydrates are often present in many foods. In addition to providing energy via glucose, these foods have many other properties that are important for health.
Some simple carbohydrates are found naturally in healthful foods, such as milk, milk products, and whole fruits, that contain a variety of necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. These are good options. But some simple carbohydrates are also present in foods with low nutritional value, such as sugary drinks, baked goods, ice cream, candy, etc.
These are the one we want to eat in moderation because they will have an immediate impact on blood sugar level.
Tip 3: Read the food label
The Nutrition Facts panel and the ingredients list can help guide you to better glucose control and better heart health. First, you want to see what the serving size is, all the information on the label is based on the serving size. If you eat more, that means you will be getting more calories, carbohydrates, etc. than what is listed.
Next is Total carbohydrates: on average the goal is and 45-60 grams per meal, but everyone is different so talk with a registered dietitian to see what your specific needs are. Under total carbs you will also see Fiber and Added Sugars. For fiber, aim for 2-3 grams per serving. For added sugar - our goal is to keep this as low as possible.
Finally, you have Protein, it helps you stay full so include it in every meal and snack. Aim for 10gms in your snacks and 20 grams for meals.
These tips are great for everyone with and without Diabetes. Happy American Diabetes Month!
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For more information on all of these tips, visit www.giantfood.com/nutrition and sign up for a FREE class. Stay well!
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About Josefina Girón :
Josefina Girón is a Registered Dietitian (RD), Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN), and holds a certificate in child and adolescent weight management. Texas born and Florida raised, she received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Florida International University. Josefina makes nutrition accessible for our Spanish-speaking customers through classes, consults, and store tours. She is passionate about helping others live their best healthy life by meeting them where they are and empowering them to make healthy eating a fun part of their lives! She is driven to live new experiences and is ready to try different foods, travel, run a race, or go on a hike.
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