With all the prepackaged and processed food we eat, much of what is actually in our food has become a mystery to most people. But for people with diabetes, that lack of information is extremely dangerous.
Many people with diabetes know to avoid large amounts of sugar, but according to HOPES nurse practitioner Jane Addington, there are still plenty of pitfalls for the diabetic, namely starches.
“Since it’s not sweet they don’t think it turns to sugar,” Addington said. “But as soon as it hits your saliva, it turns right to sugar.”
To help diabetics manage their health and diet better, HOPES has started using a simple meal-planning tool called “The Plate Method.” It doesn’t involve any calorie count or weighing anything, just a 9-inch plate.
Three is the magic number
The plan divides the plate into three sections: half the plate is reserved for vegetables and fruit, a quarter of the plate for starch and the last quarter for protein.
Whole grain starch that contains lots of health fiber such as oatmeal, brown rice and yams is encouraged. Low-fat proteins like eggs, natural peanut butter (many big brand peanut butter has lots of fat and sugar), fish, and lean beef are also healthy.
People with diabetes are given a lot of medication to manage their condition, and may have to deal with the pain and discomfort of injecting insulin to help control the disease. But Addington said with the proper diet, many can get off some of those medications.
If left unchecked, diabetes can destroy your eyesight, heart, kidneys, and nerves. Untreated diabetes can even be fatal.
People with diabetes can still eat the food that they like and even their favorite food, but they have to make those foods part of a balanced diet. Remember, eat plenty of fruits and veggies, exercise moderately, cut down on sodas and sugary foods and eat moderately portioned meals that are evenly spaced throughout the day.
For more information about diabetes, go to diabetes.org to learn about prevention, living with the disease, food and fitness. You can also view these tools in Spanish: mi planificador de plato, planifiquemos su comida, y ¿Què Puedo Comer?