Whether you’re struggling with diabetes, working to manage your diagnosis or trying to prevent chronic illness in the future, it’s no secret that your diet can play a large role in your overall health. With such a long list of health complications—increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness—preventing diabetes or using your diet to manage risk factors is enormously important.
However, since there’s a lot of conflicting health advice out there, we thought we’d break it down into a simple list of top diet tips you can start making today to help you prevent or manage your diabetes.
Reduce your trans-fat intake
These artery-clogging fats are so dangerous that the FDA called for a ban on them just last year. Trans-fats are most commonly found in baked goods made with shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oils, so limit your intake of these treats (or bake alternatives!) as much as possible.
Opt for plant proteins over animal proteins
Meat certainly can be part of a healthy diet, but reducing the amount of animal proteins you eat in favor of eating more plant proteins—like beans and nuts—can help you lose weight and lower your risk of heart disease. If you do eat meat, opt for lean poultry and fish.
Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates
There are “good carbs” and “bad carbs” and you’ll have more success preventing or managing diabetes if you follow a diet that emphasizes carbohydrates like oatmeal, beans and vegetables over refined carbs like white bread, flour, pasta and rice.
Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
So many diet tips recommend cutting out foods, but often one of the healthiest ways to change your eating habits is by adding more of the good stuff. By increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, you can fill up on foods that are good for your body instead of wanting to reach for those that aren’t.
Embrace diabetes superfoods
You’ve probably heard the term “superfood” applied to everything from kale to acai berries, but, thanks to the American Diabetes Association, we also have a list of superfoods specific to people with diabetes. Check out the list of foods and add a few to your shopping cart on your next grocery store trip.
Cut back on portions
If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds is one of the best things you can do for preventing or managing your diabetes. Often, one of the first changes that needs to be made to accomplish weight loss is cutting back on portions. Be mindful of serving sizes and eat more foods that are high in fiber and protein to keep yourself fuller, longer.
A diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes can easily feel like an overwhelming health crisis. However, while you absolutely need to take your diagnosis seriously, it is manageable with the right diet and health care plan.