Diabetes diet foundation
At our Aging Well discussion group, the topic of a diet for diabetes or heart and kidney issues was mentioned and inspired this post. While some problems do require very specific diets or solutions, a baseline for just about any healthy diet is eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits every day.
Why? Fresh vegetables and fruits are the foundation of a healthy diet and successful weight loss. Most processed foods, sweets and non-diet sodas contain a lot of calories in just a small portion. Vegetables and fruits are the opposite — they have lots of bulk and few calories. However, because fruit contains natural sugars, which can increase your blood sugar, try to eat more vegetables than fruit.
Here are some tips for incorporating more plant foods into your diet:
- Be selective. Eat only those vegetables and fruits that you like, but don’t be afraid to explore different types and varieties. You may be surprised by their appealing tastes and textures.
- Make them No. 1. Vegetables should take up the largest portion of your dinner plate, with fruits trailing close behind. Eat these foods first, rather than reserving them for the end of the meal.
- Consider them a priority. When planning meals, think of dishes that contain vegetables or fruits as the centerpiece and build the rest of your meal around them.
- Mix it up. Try both raw and cooked vegetables. Lightly cook, steam or roast vegetables for a softer texture. Sprinkle them with herbs for flavor.
- Use them as grab-and-go foods. When you’re in a hurry, have ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits on hand. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits that require little preparation, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, bananas and grapes.
- Think toppings. Add bananas, strawberries or other fruit to cereal or yogurt.
- Go for fresh. Dried fruit and fruit juice are higher in calories than fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit. Dried fruits and fruits juices can significantly increase your calorie intake.
- Explore. Visit local farmers markets if you do so and be COVID-safe. The freshness and variety may encourage you to try new kinds of produce. It's easy to stroll past veggies and other plants that are unusual or that you don't normally eat. Each time you go to a market or store, write the name of a vegetable or other plant down and go home to research how it can be eaten. You can return next time and buy it, along with any other ingredients you may need to prepare it.
- Innovate. Find ways to incorporate vegetables with other foods or into existing recipes. Add them to soups, casseroles and pizzas, and pile them onto sandwiches.
- Pack ’em. When traveling, snack on ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits.
For a comprehensive strategy, tips and plan for eating well with diabetes, consider The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet book.