If you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may need some help adjusting your grocery list. By working with a dietitian, you can find foods that are healthy for you and taste good, too. However, to get you started on the right nutritional path, here are some points to keep in mind the next time you go grocery shopping.
Focus on fiber. It is recommended that adults should consume about 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day from a variety of sources such as legumes, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. But be careful, if you increase your fiber intake too quickly, it can actually cause constipation. Instead, gradually introduce fiber-rich foods into your diet, and remember to drink plenty of water.
Eye some olive oil. This heart-healthy oil is excellent for salads and sautéing vegetables, but be sure to use it in moderation because it is high in calories, warns Elizabeth Staum, nutrition educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Just a small amount of the rich, nutty oil will add flavor to an otherwise light meal, and it is significantly healthier than butter.
Check out seafood. Coldwater fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut are rich in Omega 3 fats, which some people believe are capable of reducing inflammation. Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3’s may also promote a healthier cardiovascular system. Seafood is also an excellent choice for people with diabetes because it is lower in saturated fat.
Pick the right carbohydrates. Carbs are necessary for energy, so don’t cut them out of your diet—just make smarter choices about the ones you consume. Unprocessed, unrefined carbs such as whole oats, whole-wheat pasta, and beans are the way to go. Be sure to pair them with lean protein and vegetables for a nutritionally balanced meal. Work with your doctor and dietitian to determine how many carbohydrates you can consume each day.
Consider protein. Almonds are an excellent source of protein and make a great snack when you’re looking for something crunchy (just make sure they’re unsalted). In addition to their protein benefits, almonds leave you feeling much more satiated than a bag of chips, and they don’t wreak havoc on your blood glucose. According to Staum, the key component is portion control–a handful of almonds equals one serving, and is probably all you need. Other protein all-stars include lean meats, low-fat cheeses, and wild fish (such as salmon). Adults should aim for 45-60 grams of protein each day.
The Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at Desert Regional Medical Center provides a variety of diabetes self-management education programs. For more information about classes, individual training, and community programs such as Just A Start, please call (760) 323.6881.