Dietary Swaps to Prevent Diabetes
A healthy diet can help prevent type 2 diabetes. These tips can help you reduce your risk.
Diabetes can be a complicated illness to manage. People with type 2 diabetes need to regularly check their blood sugar, keep up with doctor visits, make lifestyle changes and sometimes take medication. There’s no doubt about it: preventing type 2 diabetes is easier than treating it.
If you don’t have diabetes yet, now is the time to take action. Here’s how to reduce your risk of the disease:
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Even losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, that would be 10 to 20 pounds.
- Get regular exercise. Being physically active for 150 minutes each week (which can break down to 30 minutes, 5 days a week) can lower your risk. Check with your doctor first though before you start an exercise program.
- Make healthy food choices. Focus your diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low-fat and nonfat dairy products. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
- If your doctor says you have pre-diabetes, find out how frequently you need to go in for follow-up, and ask your doctor if anything in addition to lifestyle changes might be needed in your case.
What to eat
Figuring out what to eat and what to avoid can be tricky. This handy table can help:
|Eat more||Eat fewer|
|Foods made with 100 percent whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.||Sweetened drinks, like regular soda, sugary coffee drinks and juice (unless it’s 100 percent fruit juice).|
|Dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and brussels sprouts.||Foods high in sodium such as canned soups, canned vegetables, pickles and deli meats.|
|Orange veggies including carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.||Foods high in fats like fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, chips, and whole-milk dairy products.|
|Beans, peas and lentils. Black beans or chickpeas are a great protein source to add to salads.||Desserts such as cakes, cookies, candy and full-fat ice cream.|
|Fish. Aim for two to three servings of fish (not fried) each week.||Meals away from home. Restaurant fare often has more sodium, fat and calories than homemade meals.|
Other nutrition tips
These savvy eating strategies can also help you have good nutrition and lower your diabetes risk:
- Lighten up recipes. Use lighter versions of sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressing when cooking. Use nonfat, plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Try unsweetened applesauce instead of oil in baked goods. Forgo vegetable oil and use olive oil or canola oil.
- Use herbs for flavor. Try fresh basil, rosemary, oregano or thyme instead of salt.
- Keep your portions in check. Note the serving size on a nutrition facts label of a food or beverage may not be the whole box or beverage. Be mindful of portions. Eating off a salad plate instead of a dinner plate can help.
- Wait before you get more food. Still hungry after your meal? Wait a bit before you go back for seconds. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full. Eating more slowly may also help.
- Snack on fresh fruits and veggies. Add in nonfat yogurt or a few nuts to help curb your appetite.
- Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages pack a lot of calories without a nutritional punch. If you choose to drink, men should drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day and women should limit themselves to one. Choose light beers and steer clear of mixed drinks.