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5 Ways To Improve Your Nutrition If You Have Diabetes

People who have diabetes (or are at risk) must manage their nutrition to stabilize their blood sugars and prevent loss of limbs. Without proper nutritional management, the consequences for people with diabetes can be dire. Healthy habits and nutrition can greatly improve the health, lifestyle, and outlook of someone with diabetes.

1. Apply Basic Nutrition Principles to your Meals.

While aspects of nutrition can polarize certain food advocates, much of the basic information about what is best for our bodies is well known. For example, high-quality unprocessed foods, like oranges, wild-caught salmon, and leafy greens, generally give us more lasting energy and help our bodies heal better and faster than highly processed and fast foods.

By putting high-quality foods in our bodies, we can expect higher quality results and help our bodies keep our blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol in our target range. Eating high-quality food can also help us to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and keep our levels in better shape. Choosing to stick to nutritional basics, like eating more unprocessed foods, can be a huge factor in how we feel on a day to day basis.

2. Reduce Your Risks by Improving Glycemic Control

Whether you are trying to reduce your risk of diabetes or improve your glycemic control and blood lipids, developing healthy nutritional habits is vital. Eating vegetables along with legumes, whole grains, lean protein, fruit, and healthy fats, such as nuts and olives, is a fantastic healthy habit to start.

Watching your alcohol consumption also helps. Alcohol converts to sugar within our bodies making (even the alcoholic beverages with no added sugar) “high in sugar” in the long run. Consider cutting out alcohol or reducing your consumption of it to better your healthy lifestyle.

Eliminate “added sugar” in beverages. Many beverages, such as soda or coffee drinks, have large amounts of sugar that should be avoided as much as possible. Consider drinking “zero-calorie beverages,” like water with a slice of lemon or unsweetened iced green tea.

Reducing refined grains (like white bread or rice), highly processed meats, and sugary beverages can better balance your energy levels and can help to lower the risks that come with having diabetes.

3. Try New Foods

Having diabetes or any type of chronic health problem can feel very limiting in what you can eat safely. Don’t fret! There are many delicious and healthy options when it comes to food.

Here are a few ideas to make eating and cooking easier, healthier, and still very delicious:

  • Toss bright greens, seasoned chicken, and a rainbow of vegetables (picture carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, and purple cabbage) into a salad with olive oil, vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy a convenient meal of roasted chicken or broiled fish with green beans and almonds, adding sliced fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Swap out refined grains for healthier whole grains and enjoy whole grain bread and pasta in this manner.
  • Take advantage of the natural sweetness of fruits and try using them in new ways such as chopping up berries then topping them with whipped cream for a delicious dessert.
  • Replace butter, cream, shortening, or margarine for healthier olive oils or ghee when cooking.
  • Focus on heart-healthy options like nuts, fish, and avocados.

If you’re new to cooking, don’t overcomplicate it.  Identify a few basic, go-to meals that feature simple ingredients you really love to eat. Start by preparing one, then add more as you gain confidence. Learning to cook without recipes—or starting with a handful of healthy favorites—can be a great way to reduce stress.

4. Implement Healthy Habits

Habits are key to improving your overall health. Everybody has a rough day now and then that leads to eating too much, eating the wrong things, missing a workout, etc. However, healthy habits can ensure that your overall lifestyle choices are healthy and beneficial to you.

A few healthy habits to try:

  • Track your food intake in a food diary or app. (Aim for at least two weeks of records to give yourself a more accurate look at your average diet.) Consider marking how you felt each day to see how different foods might affect your energy and mood.
  • Journal about your food choices and the emotions that surround these choices. Do you tend to eat emotionally or after certain stressors?
  • Meet with a qualified nutritionist regularly to monitor and improve your quality of life.
  • Move every day! Try walking 30-60 minutes daily for maximum benefit.
  • Create a supportive network from trusted loved ones who want the best for you. Find a friend who will keep you accountable, go to the gym with you, or simply be there for you when things get rough.
  • Have regular appointments with your doctor. Be honest about your lifestyle choices and work with your doctor to keep improving your health.

5. Aim for Better, Not Perfect

Lastly, remember that you are not perfect. Nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes or has rough days or weeks. Keep working to create healthy, nutritional habits in your life. If you feel you’ve gotten off track, start again immediately and remind yourself that by just pushing forward with your healthy habits you will already be on a path that is better off than when you started. Remember to aim to become 1% better every day. Remind yourself that you are worth so much. You can do this!

At the end of the day, everything is about continuing to improve steadily. Keep looking for more ways to make healthy food swaps, add in exercise, and reflect on your lifestyle and how you feel.

Studies show that one out of every three adults over the age of 50 who has diabetes is likely to develop Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).  If you are diabetic and feel you may have the signs and symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), please contact us today to schedule an endovascular consultation.

Learn more about vascular health, prevention, and care for Peripheral Artery Disease.

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