You have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or your doctor told you that you were at risk to develop it. Now what? You need to learn about the different types of foods you are eating. How they are affecting your body and how they may be helping or causing your diabetes. It’s time to make a lifestyle change as to not only reverse your diabetes, but start living a happier, healthier life with more energy!
If you are not sure what happens to the body when you have diabetes, be sure to check out the Living with Diabetes post. It breaks down exactly what happens when you eat certain foods and how diabetics are unable to process foods the same way as non-diabetics. Basically, the goal is to eat sustainable foods that won’t give you a crazy high sugar spike followed by a sugar crash that leaves you feeling nauseated and tired. What we are putting into our bodies to fuel them is affecting how our bodies are functioning.
What Can You Eat As a Diabetic?
This is the biggest question that newly diagnosed diabetics have. No, you do not have to starve yourself. You will still be able to eat real food, and not feel hungry. You will, however, need to change your daily habits and what your “normal” dinners look like. I am not trying to be harsh, but what you have been doing, is clearly not working. It is time for a change.
You should be eating at least a half of a cup of fresh vegetables with every meal. Which vegetables you chose can also affect your blood sugars. As a rule of thumb, try to get a variety of colors on your plate when it comes to vegetables. Choose lean cuts of meat over fatty ones. The higher the fat content is in the meat you select, the more cholesterol there is. Limit the amount of carbohydrates you consume and switch to whole grains instead of white grains.
Avoid processed foods and stick with whole foods that you can definitively tell what they are made from. This is where reading the nutrition labels comes in and if you can, find foods that have the least amount of ingredients possible. Eat out less and prepare more meals at home. Eating out is not only hard on the budget, it is also hard on your waistline. Most type 2 diabetics are already overweight and to reverse this disease, you will need to shed a few pounds.
Below I have compiled the top 5 things you need to start including in your diet to reverse your diabetes. Of course, there are many things you need to start eliminating completely as well to change this disease. This is a small but powerful list to get you started.
1. Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are full of fiber and a great source of antioxidants. Did I mention they are low in carbs? You should start incorporating a leafy green (there are many to try) into your daily diet wherever possible. I am not saying that you have to eat a salad 3 times a day for the rest of your life. There are so many creative, delicious ways to incorporate these veggies without feeling like you are eating rabbit food. I personally like to add them into soups, omelets, and sauteed on top of a pork chop.
2. Fresh Fish
The best fish option for diabetics are those that are naturally high in fats such as salmon. But… I know there are many people out there who have a strong dislike for salmon. So, I wanted to let you know that fish and seafood in general (when prepared properly) are low in carbs and high in protein. In the upper Midwest, we have a lot of lakes for fishing. (Minnesota is known to be the land of 10,000 lakes.) It is not always budget conscious to have fresh salmon flown in from the coast.
It can still be healthy to eat the fish you have literally in your own backyard. The key is how it is prepared. Please don’t fool yourself and think that deep fried, smothered in butter, and then dipped in tartar sauce is going to be good for you. Instead, try baking or broiling the fish instead of pan frying and then season it with a fresh squeeze of lemon. On taco nights, we substitute a white fish or shrimp (depending on what is on sale that week) and no longer use the typical ground beef as the base. Instead of using a flour tortilla shell, we construct them into lettuce wraps. It becomes a fun “build your own” night that everyone can enjoy!
The incredible, edible egg. There are countless egg recipes. With so many different ways to prepare them, it can be the main course of the meal or it can be used as a topping. Eggs are low in carbs and high in protein and will keep you feeling full without the roller coaster ride for your blood sugar. Omelets are a quick easy meal and a great way to incorporate those veggies you need. Another favorite way to enjoy an egg is to use it as a topping to a quinoa bowl. I usually mix in whatever veggies I have in the fridge and top it off with a few slices of avocados and a soft yolk egg. When you mix it all together, the egg yolk makes the dish creamy and delicious without being the star of the plate.
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts… whatever your favorite nut is. They are delicious and full of fiber but low in carbs. If you like a good crunchy snack, make sure your pantry is always stocked with at least one of your favorite nuts. Let’s be honest, late-night cravings happen and we need to be prepared! Did you know that tree nuts have been known to lower your risk of heart disease? Many diabetics are over-weight which puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Be aware that they are also high in calories so like everything good in the world, enjoy them in moderation.
This one may seem a bit strange to some people and I know you’ve heard it before but, “YOU NEED TO DRINK MORE WATER”. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated! That number should surprise and shock you. Our bodies need water to function and they need enough of it to function properly. I know what you’re going to say, “I don’t like plain water”. Okay, let’s find a way that you do enjoy drinking it. You can add fruit to your water like lemons, limes or even strawberries for added natural flavor. You can add vegetables like cucumber or celery and infuse them for a couple of hours or overnight. These infused waters not only have nutritional value, but they will quench your thirst and hydrate you.
You will need to eliminate drinking sugary sports drinks and sodas. Aside from the fact these have no nutritional value, they will send your blood sugars soaring only to be followed by a crash later on. As you start to make this lifestyle change and eliminate processed sugar and sweeteners, you will find that you crave sugar less. Yes, I am serious! This means that even the most dedicated diet coke drinker, will eventually reach for a more health-conscious option.
Are You Ready to Reverse Your Diabetes?
Diet change is not the only tool needed to reverse your diabetes. You will also need to start moving your body on a regular basis. Yes, I am talking about good old-fashioned exercise. You will need to find an exercise routine that is suitable for you (not necessarily what Nancy down the street is doing). Find something that you enjoy doing that will be sustainable and become a part of your new lifestyle. If you hate doing something, what are the chances you will continue to do it 4-5 times a week? Not likely. None of what we are talking about today is a quick, short term fix. To reverse your diabetes, you need to make lifestyle changes that last a lifetime.
At Twin Oaks Health, we have helped diabetics just like you reverse their disease. They no longer need expensive medications or the countless painful finger pokes to check their blood sugars. It is possible to reverse this disease and we are here to help you do just that. It will not be easy, but our proven system will guide you along the way. From meal planning to exercise routines, to navigating special occasions like holidays, our team is here to mentor you and answer any questions you have along the way. To find out more about reversing your diabetes, get started here.