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Healthy Eating Tips to Prevent Diabetes

By Griffin Hospital on 11/2/2015

Numbers on the rise.

The number of individuals in the U.S. diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, yet many cases are preventable with healthy lifestyle changes.

Even if you’ve already developed diabetes, it’s not too late to make positive changes. Taking steps to prevent and control diabetes doesn’t mean having to give up on sweets entirely; it means eating a balanced – and still delicious - diet that will also boost your energy and improve your mood.

Risk factors.

The biggest risk factor for developing diabetes is being overweight, but it’s more than just what the scale says. You really need to watch where the weight is gained. People who are “apple” shaped (carrying weight around your midsection) are at higher risk than those that are “pear” shaped (carrying weight in the hips and thighs). Sugary foods are more likely to turn you into an “apple” by adding weight around your abdomen.

Tips for lowering your risk.

Here are a few tips to help you eat right and make lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of diabetes.

  • Avoid processed or packaged foods like baked goods, canned soups, frozen dinners, sugary desserts, and packaged cereal. Instead, opt for oats, beans, fat-free and low-sugar yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Eat whole fresh fruit instead of fruit juice. Squeezing fruit releases more sugar so a whole orange has a less sugar than a glass of orange juice.
  • Hold the bread (or rice or pasta) if you want dessert. Eating sweets at a meal adds extra carbohydrates, so it’s best to cut back on the other carb-containing foods at the same meal.
  • Reduce how much soft drinks, soda and juice you drink. A recent study found that for each 12 oz. serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage you drink a day, your risk for diabetes increases by about 15 percent. If you miss your carbonated kick, try sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime or a splash of fruit juice. Caffeine fans should also reduce the amount of creamers and sweeteners they add to tea and coffee drinks.
  • Sweeten foods yourself. Buy unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, or unflavored oatmeal, and add sweetener (or fruit) yourself. You’re likely to add far less sugar than the manufacturer.
  • Check labels and opt for low sugar products. Also, use fresh or frozen ingredients instead of canned goods. Be especially aware of the sugar content of cereals and sugary drinks.
  • Choose fat wisely. The best fats are unsaturated fats, which come from plant and fish sources and are liquid at room temperature. Primary sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Also focus on omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health. Good sources include salmon, tuna and flaxseeds.
  • When you eat dessert, savor each bite. Instead of mindlessly eating your way through a bag of cookies or a piece of cake, make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures. You’ll enjoy it more, plus you’re less likely to overeat.

Learn more at Griffin Hospital

Griffin Hospital offers a free monthly Diabetes Education & Support Group to help individuals with diabetes and their caregivers learn how to prevent diabetes and reduce its side effects as well as encouragement from those living with diabetes. Click here for more information or call Certified Diabetes Educator Mary Swansiger, BSN, MPH, at 203-732-1137.

The Live Well Diabetes Self-Management Workshop is also offered at Griffin on a regular basis. This free, six-week program empowering individuals diagnosed with diabetes to take control of the health condition and get control of their lives. Sessions focus on several topics for those with diabetes, including what to eat, foot care, low and high blood sugar, sick day guidelines, tips for dealing with stress, and how to set small and achievable goals. Click here to learn about upcoming workshops or call Mary Swansiger at 203-732-1137.

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