Neal Shanblatt, MD

Diabetes Diet

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Control your high blood sugar with diet and exercise.

A proper diet and regular exercise can help you control your diabetes.   A well-balanced, high fiber, low-fat, low-sugar diet is recommended.  If you are on diabetes medications, do not skip meals.  You need to eat regularly to avoid the risk of low blood sugar.

Many people with diabetes need to lose weight.   To start losing weight, you will need to reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories.   Reduce you portion size, avoid second helpings, and cut out high fat, high sugar, and high calorie foods.

Exercise regularly - start slowly, but aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise 5-7 days  of the week.  The best exercise is one that you enjoy doing and can fit into your schedule.

Educate yourself.  Read food nutrition labels and know what you are eating.  Some "low-fat" foods are still high in sugar and calories.

Limit fat intake to less than 25% of total calories (less than 50 grams of fat for an 1800 calorie diet).    Especially important is to minimize trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and saturated fats.   These are most commonly found in meat and dairy products, fried foods, and baked goods like cakes, cookies, and pies. Go "meatless" (vegetarian) most days of the week.  Avoid solid fats like butter, lard, margarine and vegetable shortening, and avoid tropical oils like coconut and palm.   When cooking with oils, choose healthier alternatives like canola, corn, safflower, or olive.

Limit salt intake  to less than 2000mg of sodium daily, especially if you have high blood pressure or swollen legs.   Don't add salt at the table, and avoid foods that taste salty.  Read labels to see what foods are high in sodium, but especially avoid salty snack foods, canned foods, processed foods, soups, and cured meats.  Look for sodium-free or low-sodium alternatives.

Increase fiber intake.  Look for a high fiber breakfast cereal and other whole grain products.  Vegetables, beans,  and short-grain brown rice are good sources of fiber.

Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses daily).

Limit cholesterol intake to less than 200mg daily, especially if you have a high cholesterol level. Cholesterol is found in all animal products like meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, and eggs.

Eat less of these foods:

Alcohol

Juice, soda, and  sports drinks like Gatorade

Oil, fat, butter, margarine

Fried and greasy foods,  French fries, "fast foods"

Whole milk and dairy products

Eggs

Sweets, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves

Honey, corn syrup

Fatty meats, beef, ribs, bacon, sausage

Mayonnaise, salad dressing, peanut butter

Try some of these alternatives:

High fiber cereal like "Kashi"

Non-fat milk

Vegetarian meat substitutes like "Morningstar Farms Low Fat Veggie Patties"

Egg whites or "Egg Beaters"  instead of whole eggs

Non-fat low-calorie salad dressing

Skinless chicken breast  (one serving is 2-3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards)

salmon or tuna, baked or broiled (one serving is 2-3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards)

"Butter Buds" or "Smart Squeeze"  butter substitutes

Diet soda or other diet drinks like "Crystal Light"

Low fat snacks like air-popped popcorn, salt-free pretzels, low-fat graham crackers, low-fat yogurt, sugar-free gum or candy, baked tortilla chips.