It’s Diabetes Awareness Month! Despite medical advances, the disease continues to be a major health concern across the country. Over 25 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
But if you’re not among them you might be asking: What does “awareness” mean for me?
Potentially, quite a bit, so pay attention!
Diabetes is an endocrine disease. There are two types, Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes is when the pancreas lacks the ability to create insulin; the hormone released in response to rising sugar levels in the blood. Type II diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant, which can cause frequent, high blood glucose levels. If you are concerned at all that you might have either one, a blood test can easily tell you where you stand.
You may not have diabetes, but it might run in your family. What healthy eating choices should you make to help ensure you keep the disease at bay? The good news is there are many basic, easy nutrition principles that apply to all of us, diabetes or not, that can help us improve our health and wellness.
Principle 1: Eat breakfast every day. If you are not taking a medication that prohibits you from doing so, consume breakfast within the first hour of waking up every day. Weekends too!
Principle 2: Eat every four to five hours. Skipping meals will always be a bad idea. Your body is looking for nourishment every few hours to maintain good energy levels, regardless if you are diabetic or not. If you will be stuck going longer than four to five hours without a meal, throw in a healthy snack.
Principle 3: Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables are water dense, full of fiber and light in calories. They help us feel full and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Mix up your plate with different colors and take advantage of what’s in season.
Principle 4: Choose complex carbohydrates. These foods possess a high fiber content and little to no added sugars. Make half of your grains whole to maximize nutrient intake.
Principle 5: Avoid empty calories. If you are on a healthy meal plan to help control diabetes or you are eating right to manage your weight, empty calories can be saboteurs! Some carbonated beverages can contribute over 200 calories a bottle (most of which is just added sugars). Be smart with choices and choose foods that will positively contribute to your diet.
Remember: Nutrition pertains to everyone, so make smart food choices. They will dramatically affect your health, especially if you have (or may be genetically predisposed to) diabetes-a disease directly influenced by the foods you eat.
Until next time,