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Healthy Foods for Healthy Numbers

posted Dec 3, 2018, 11:09 AM by Tracy Ducker, MS, RDN

When you have diabetes or prediabetes, knowing what to eat can be challenging. However, what you eat can greatly improve your blood glucose numbers and your quality of life. By using the American Diabetes Association’s diabetes plate, you can plan a variety of healthy meals. Whether you have diabetes or not, it is always important to think about portion sizes, the 9" diabetes plate helps you keep portions under control, but it is still a good idea to become familiar with the recommended portion sizes for the foods you eat. 

Let's break the plate down. 

Protein foods make up 1/4 of the plate. Protein foods are needed for building and repairing muscles and cells. Animal based proteins contain little or no carbohydrates so are a good choice. Beans and lentils contain carbohydrates, but are also a good source of protein and fiber. Aim for 2-3 servings of plant based proteins a week.

Grains and Starchy Foods can and should be part of well balanced, healthy meal plan for those with diabetes. The key to choosing these foods is choosing high quality whole grains and starchy foodsHigh quality carbohydrates are low in sugar and contain fiber.  Fiber will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates so glucose levels won’t rise as quickly. Whole grains, beans/lentils, steel-cut or rolled oatmeal, quinoa, barley, bulgur, sweet potatoes, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables are all good high quality carb choices.

Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and fat, and have important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, C, K, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants. Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables.

Fruit and Dairy or Dairy alternatives are both are carbohydrates but they contain important nutrients and it is recommended to have 2 servings of fruit daily and depending on your age 2-3 servings of dairy or an alternative. Dairy foods contain calcium and, if fortified, vitamin D. 

Choose water or low sugar beverages and enjoy sweets occasionally. They will take the place of healthier carbohydrates, but if planned properly you can enjoy a small piece of pie or birthday cake. 

The American Diabetes Association website has a lot of information related to meal planning, exercise, diabetes medications, and support. Click on