Healthy Eating Challenges
The foods you eat are a part of your history and culture—and your tastes are part of what make you unique. When you make lifestyle changes to help manage diabetes, remember that you can still eat many foods that you love.
Meals can often be made healthier to help balance your blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes-related health problems.
Changing the way you eat is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you prepare for the obstacles that may get in your way, you are less likely to be discouraged.
A few general tips and suggestions from the American Diabetes Association (ADA)
Focus on 1 or 2 changes at a time. Eating regularly and balancing the amount of carbohydrates you eat during the day should come first. Then you might try to cut down on the amount of fat you eat. After that, check your portion sizes. Next, try to use less salt. Small steps. Once you’ve made those changes a routine part of your meal plan, you will likely be feeling proud of yourself and be ready to move on to more changes.
Get support from others
Healthy eating is good for everyone, not just people who are living with diabetes. It can be helpful to ask your family or others you live with to eat better with you. When everyone is following a healthy meal plan, you can support each other.
If you slip, get back on track
If you go off your plan, get back on track as quickly as you can with more determination. Talk to your diabetes care team if you are concerned about sticking to your meal plan.
Pat yourself on the back
When your new meal plan is going well, you should be proud of your progress. You may notice some weight loss, a boost in energy, and even blood sugar levels moving into your target range.
The more you see results from healthy eating, the more you’ll want to continue.
Overcoming other healthy eating challenges
It’s important to be prepared for anything that could keep you from finding the meal plan that works for you. Here are some suggestions for overcoming some of the eating challenges you may face:
- You can save money by adding whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables to your plan instead of food labeled "low fat." Also, cut down on meats, processed or prepared foods, and sugary or salty snacks—not just for your health, but also because they often cost more
- You can eat smaller portions of the foods you love or swap ingredients with a low-fat substitute. Discover what you’re able to create
- Make a plan when you’re going to be eating away from home. You may need to eat a snack before you leave home. If you take insulin, you may need to adjust the time of your injections. Look for healthy menu options. Or ask for a substitute. Share a meal with a friend to help you get the right portion size
- After eating healthier foods for a while, you may start to like them. You may start to choose healthier foods because you actually prefer them, especially once you see how much better you feel on your new meal plan
- You might not have to completely cut certain foods from your meal plan. But you may need to adjust how much you eat them based on their effect on your blood sugar. So if you love home-baked cookies, for example, speak with your diabetes educator or dietitian. He or she may be able to give you ideas on how to work this treat into your meal plan
- Remember the goals of a healthy meal plan:
• Keeping your blood sugar within your goal range
• Managing your weight
• Reducing your risk of diabetes-related health problems
- Meal planning is very different from a diet. Dieting is short-term. Meal planning is a way of life with a long-term goal—managing your diabetes