Whether someone is new to diabetes, struggling with pre-diabetic symptoms, or aiming to avoid the disease before it happens, establishing and maintaining a healthy diet plan can at times prove a challenge. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with lifestyle and environmental factors and is known as “adult-onset diabetes” and dietary choices play a huge role in either advancing or hindering this disease process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or pre-diabetes,” the CDC continues, “Diabetes is a serious disease that can often be managed through physical activity, diet, and the appropriate use of insulin and other medications to control blood sugar levels” (CDC, 2017). These following tips for managing diabetes through the diet may assist in increasing the quality of life for one currently dealing with the disease or for the individual trying to avoid the diagnosis. 

1. Assess Current Situation & Seek Support 

 Before beginning any diet changes, the first step is to assess the situation by asking some simple questions: How am I doing? What do I need to change? Am I willing to make changes for my health’s sake? After doing some honest self-evaluating, the next step is to open up the pantry and analyze the food products available. What does my current diet look like? Are there plenty of healthy options available… vegetables, beans, and legumes? Seek support through family members or a medical professional. Having someone involved with the new lifestyle goal may assist in motivation and invite some much-needed encouragement. 

2. Research Recommended (and avoidable) Foods 

According to Michael Dansinger, MD, “Carbohydrates raise blood sugar faster than proteins or fats. They also have the biggest effect on your blood sugar. Fiber, protein, and fat can curb the rise in blood sugar after a meal. So aim for variety. Eat a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to manage your blood sugar better and stay full longer”, Dansinger continues, “But make sure to choose quality carbohydrates and smart fats” (Dansinger, 2017). Examples of healthy carbohydrates include, 

Beans 
• Whole grains 
• Brown rice 
Berries 
Fruit 

Smart fats include, 

• Avocado 
• Olives 
• Nuts 
• Seeds 
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

 There are also specific foods medical experts recommend avoiding. These include sugary beverages (sodas, sweet drinks, and concentrated fruit juices), white bread or pasta, dairy and animal products, fried foods, packaged snacks (chips, butter popcorn, salty pretzels or crackers), and sweets with added sugar (cakes, cookies, and pies). 

 3. Experiment with Supplemental Ingredients 

 Instead of completely cutting out desirable food products, creating healthier supplements may help with the transition to healthier eating habits. For example, if someone enjoys using a significant amount of sour cream in their cooking or as a tasty topping, replacing typical sour cream with a simple cashew sour cream recipe may help cure this craving: 

Cashew Sour Cream 

1 ½ Cup raw cashews, soaked 
½ Cup water 
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ Teaspoon sea salt 
 ¼ Teaspoon 
Dijon mustard (Optional) 

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  For variety, stir in 1 teaspoon of chives to finished sour cream.

There are many other natural foods which make excellent supplemental ingredients.  Using black beans in place of burger is an excellent choice for a delicious and nutritious meal. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is another useful replacement for many meat-based entrees. Also, instead of putting butter on your popcorn, add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of yeast flakes for a tasty and healthy snack. 

4. Create a Dietary Plan 

Establishing a plan will assist in following through with dietary changes more easily. Write down the new plan. Include a detailed list of the expected changes and what food items you plan to implement. The American Heart Association makes the following statement: “When grocery shopping, plan ahead for the week and always bring a list – and a full stomach” (American Heart Association, 2015). Going to the store hungry can result in purchasing unhealthy, packaged options or unnecessary food items. Committing to the new diet plan will be much easier when the stomach is already satisfied prior to entering the grocery store. It may be helpful to begin the new menu with some simple changes. Maybe this could be simply putting some extra vegetables on your plate or putting a handful of spinach into your casserole or soup mix. The brand-new dietary plan should be individualized and original. 

5. Implement the Changes 

Implementation is the biggest step! Everything aforementioned will come together during this phase. The pantry should be supplied with a variety of healthy food alternatives. Your diet-plan notebook should be crowded with notes, self-motivational tips, and new recipe or menu ideas. During implementation, it is important for an individual diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to closely monitor the changes occurring in the body. Dansinger writes, “Check your blood sugar after meals. Look for patterns between what you eat and drink and your blood sugar levels after. You may want to track how many grams or servings of carbohydrates you eat with each meal and try to keep it about the same from meal to meal. This can also help you take charge of your blood sugar” (Dansinger, 2017). Note: Always consult your medical provider if you are currently taking medication or on a medical treatment plan for diabetes. 

6. Evaluate and Make Adjustments as Needed 

Remember, dietary adaptations do not occur overnight. In fact, it is the process of a lifetime. When the process is still unfamiliar, it is important to make frequent evaluations and keep vigilant regarding the changes being made. Find some amusing ways to hold yourself accountable to the dietary goals. The American Heart Association also recommends counseling with a professional registered dietitian for helpful and individualized advice. With more than 100 million U.S. adults struggling with diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is more critical than ever to initiate positive lifestyle changes towards a healthier and higher quality of life. Harmony House Foods has a wide variety of dried vegetables, beans, and legumes available as well as freeze-dried fruits and textured vegetable protein. Knowing how to use these ingredients properly is key to creating the best, healthy and tasty meals. Please feel free to contact us regarding any product questions you may have. Also, we would love to hear your success stories! 

References:

American Heart Association. (2015, August 31). The Diabetic Diet. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from AHA: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/prevention--treatment-of-diabetes/the-diabetic-diet 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, July 18). New CDC Report: More than 100 Million Americans have Diabetes or Prediabetes. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html 

Michael Dansinger, M. (2017, February 13). Healthy Eating With Diabetes: Your Menu Plan. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/head2toe-15/diabetes-meal-plan