Diabetes and the Importance of Nutrition

Have you ever felt lost or confused when it comes to which foods to consume when living diabetes? Well, you are not alone! It’s totally normal to feel like every food group is off limits when you are dealing with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease characterized by higher than normal levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Our pancreas is the organ that creates the hormone insulin, and our bodies use insulin to lower our blood sugar. For patients with Type 2 diabetes, unfortunately, their bodies do not use insulin properly or don’t produce enough, otherwise referred to as “insulin resistance.” Glucose is produced by the body from the foods you eat, mainly carbohydrates. So, what you eat plays an important role in managing your diabetes.

When it comes to our diet there are 3 major nutrients we need, also known as the “macronutrients.” These macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are essential as an energy source and include sugar, starch, and fiber. As a category of energy nutrients, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) are your body’s main fuel sources.

• Starches are found in bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils.
• Natural sugars are in fruits, milk, and vegetables.
• Added sugars are found in desserts, sweetened beverages, and candy.
• Fiber is in all plant foods— vegetables, fruits, and beans. A fiber-rich diet may help to control the rise of blood glucose after eating and helps us stay fuller longer.

Many people with diabetes fear carbohydrates and have been told to avoid them, however, the key is to choose the right type and the right amount. Schedule a visit with one of the dietitians here at Eagles Landing Endocrinology to see how many carbs you should include at your meals!

Protein:
Protein is used by the body for building, repairing and maintaining tissues. It helps us build lean muscle and it keeps our body fuller for a longer period of time.

• Protein is found in animal sources, such as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and is present in other sources such as nuts and legumes.
• Most people need 20-30 grams of protein per meal.

Fats:
Not all fats are created equal. The differences among fats are all about their chemistry – they are either unsaturated or saturated. Fats reserve energy, slow down digestion, provide essential fatty acids, and carry fat-soluble vitamins. Dietary fats also help keep hair and skin healthy, insulates the body, protects organs and fills fat cells.

• Monounsaturated fat sources are avocados, nuts, nut butters, olive oil, and canola oil. These fats contribute to our “good” cholesterol, which is the HDL.
• Polyunsaturated fats are foods like salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
• Saturated fats are bacon, butter, cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. These fats contribute to our “bad” cholesterol, which is the LDL. So, it’s best to limit our intake of these types of fats.

The balanced plate method is a great way to promote optimal blood sugar control and to ensure you are getting all vital nutrients at each meal!

We know how stressful it can be when it comes to nutrition and diabetes, but that’s why we’re here – to provide the best options possible and create a customized meal plan to give you optimal health. Come visit us at Eagles Landing Endocrinology and let us make living with diabetes easier for you.

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