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Celebrate National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month. It’s important for everyone, whether you have diabetes or not, to have a healthy, well-balanced diet. Think of diet as a lifestyle, or a manner of living. It’s ideal to fuel your body with nutrient dense foods so you feel better physically and mentally.
Here are some of my favorite nutrition tips:
Choose a day during the week when you have a little more time. I find it easier to cook dinner if I don’t have to go to the grocery store right after work. If you get your groceries in advance, it makes cooking a lot more fun and a lot less tiring. On the nights that you cook, make a little bit extra so you have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Do you find that you’re eating the same meal week after week? I encourage my patients to choose lean proteins such as chicken breast and fish, and high-fiber carbohydrates such as quinoa, beans, lentils, and peas. Mix it up and experiment with different herbs and spices as they can really make food taste differently. I suggest reading recipes to get new ideas. The American Diabetes Association has great tips: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/recipes/
Fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. It also adds variety to your diet. For me, nothing says spring more than asparagus. It tastes differently if it’s roasted, steamed, or sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.
Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Start with the produce section. Choose fresh fruit, fresh and frozen vegetables, whole grains, fresh lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Don’t go to store hungry! Have a snack or a meal beforehand so you don’t buy things that aren’t on your list.
When you’re at home, put your food on a smaller plate. A portion of poultry or meat should be about 3 ounces, which is the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm. A portion of fish is about 6 ounces, which is the size of a checkbook or your whole hand. Even though tuna, salmon, chicken breast, turkey breast, tofu, and pork tenderloin are lean proteins, if you eat too much of them you’re getting too many calories. Keep this in mind when buying fruit, too! Choose small pieces over the larger ones.
Cookies, cakes, donuts, and pastries have a lot of calories, sugar, and saturated fat and trans fat, which are the bad fats. If you have diabetes, limit sweets to once or twice per week.
Avoid Fried Foods.
I would tell anyone this, diabetes or not. Fried foods have too many calories, carbohydrates, and bad fats. Choose baked, broiled, or grilled instead. Again, herbs and spices are your friends! Add these to starches, proteins and vegetables for lots of flavor.