2. Get to know your carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
What you may not realize is that all foods – from baked apples to baked ziti – break down into a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Carbohydrates: All carbohydrates are not created equal, so the glycemic index (GI) is frequently used to rate carbohydrates. Foods with a high GI rating – like plain white bread and soda crackers – will raise your blood sugar level much faster than foods with a low GI rating – like whole grain breads, yams and legumes. For people living with diabetes, it's especially important to consume low GI foods that won't send blood sugar levels soaring.
When setting meal plans and grocery shopping, try to select foods that are close to their natural state – like raw fruits and vegetables, converted and parboiled rice, and whole grain breads and cereals. To learn more about the glycemic index, visit the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Proteins: Your body needs proteins to build and maintain tissue. The good news is that meat, fish, shellfish, poultry and other proteins don't have a significant impact on blood sugar levels. But they do contain calories. Studies have shows a link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, even moderate weight loss can be beneficial to one's health. Losing one kilogram a year has been shown to increase life expectancy by three to four months.1
Fat: Like proteins, fats will not significantly impact blood sugar levels, and they are necessary for the healthy functioning of your vital organs. But all types of fats contain a great number of calories. Not surprisingly, fats contain more calories than proteins and carbohydrates. So, it's important to limit your consumption of fats. You should also pay close attention to the types of fats you eat.
- Look for products low in saturated and trans fats, like low-fat dairy products and lean cuts of meat.
- Go easy on butter, margarine, oil and salad dressing.
- Use low-fat cooking methods, like steaming, grilling and roasting.
- Steer clear of anything labeled "hydrogenated."
Controlling the types and amount of fat you eat can help control your weight and make it easier for you to manage your diabetes.
Source: 1. Diabetes and Obesity: Time to Act, International Diabetes Federation, 2004.