Proper nutrition is key to managing diabetes

No matter what your stage of diabetes – a long time history, newly diagnosed, “borderline” or just taking preventative measures due to a strong family history, the following nutrition tips can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Medications, whether oral or injected, will keep blood sugar close to the recommended normal range, but a healthy diet and exercise can have a greater impact on lowering the risk factors associated with this often devastating disease.

Balance your meals – The combination of protein and fat along with high fiber carbohydrate at each meal is the perfect way to obtain all the essential nutrients while causing only gentle peaks and drops in blood sugar. An all-carbohydrate meal will raise blood sugars too fast, causing a rapid drop and possibly hypoglycemia.

Keep a list of healthy, easy to prepare meals – By keeping a card index or file of balanced meals your meal planning becomes effortless. In turn, you will be more likely to stay on track and not be tempted by fast foods or, worse yet, skip meals. We have recipes for favorite foods made healthy.

Learn those carbohydrate foods – Counting carbohydrates is very important if you have diabetes. The carbohydrate in food makes your blood sugar levels go up. By keeping track of how many carbohydrates you eat and setting a limit, you can keep your blood sugar levels in your target range. The right amount of carbohydrates varies from person to person, but a good starting point is 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal. You and your doctor should determine a specific number in your meal plan. We have some tools to help. Use our carbohydrate pyramid and food label breakdown to understand how carb counting works.

Do not skip meals – By leaving greater than four to five hours between meals or snacks, blood sugar begins to drop. Diabetes medications are often dosed based on regular, planned food intake. Meal skipping only leads to overeating or worse, hypoglycemia.

Stay hydrated – We all need adequate fluid. Choose only sugar-free beverages. Water is actually the best for hydration and keeping the kidneys healthy. We recommend 48 to 64 ounces of water a day. Have a beverage with you at all times.

Follow your meal plan – A registered dietitian can help you plan a diet to suit your lifestyle and your specific tastes. There are no foods a person with diabetes can’t have. You just have to enjoy some in moderation.