Diet, diet, diet. If diabetics had a dollar for every time they heard that word, they’d probably have quite the impressive piggy bank. It’s true; your diet is really important when it comes to managing your disease. The problem with “eat healthy,” however, is that it’s not specific enough. Insulin + carbs= a match made in heaven; less fat is always key; shed some poundage.
The equations and solutions are always the same, but these generic tips don’t take into account that every patient is an individual with unique needs.
Nutrition plans that are part of any treatment should be tailor-made to fit each individual– there’s no one-size-fits-all diet; otherwise, everyone would be completely healthy, I’d be out of the job, and you wouldn’t be here reading this blog. Because I can’t diagnose your specific needs through a website (you’ll need a consultation for that), I’ve gathered a list of three major mistakes I see patients make far too often. Follow these tips, and you’ll at least be able to avoid these trends, which experts warn lead to malnourishment, obesity, and disease.
1. Forgetting Fiber Is Your Friend
Whether you’re following generic advice or going at it alone (I don’t recommend either), just remember that you should be getting enough fiber in your diet. Fiber is the part of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds that we can digest. Our digestive tracts can’t break down fiber, so the fiber is used to feed the healthy microbes living in the colon and pull toxins out of our bodies. This ultimately helps us produce nutrients and support our brain function, immune system, and more.
Many Americans don’t consume enough fiber to keep their pipes working regularly and efficiently, so it’s important to note that the minimum amount of fiber you should consume is 14 grams per 1000 calories.
But don’t just do the bare minimum. Consuming more fiber means that you have a lower risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases based in inflammation.
Here’s a snapshot of fiber content in regular foods: one cup of oats, lentils, or split peas all have at least 14g of fiber, and one ounce of chia seeds have over 10g. Easy enough, right?
2. Filling Empty?
The term “empty calories” is pretty common, but do you know what it really means? Let’s break it down. A calorie is a measure of energy, and on average, most adults consume around 2000 calories each day. But going for just calories isn’t going to cut it. Your body, in addition to sufficient energy, needs enough vitamins and minerals to keep functioning optimally. So, “empty calories” refers to food that has a ton of energy but very little nutritional value.
You know what’s coming next…
Yes, this is the part where I tell you to kick processed foods to the curb.
Processed foods are usually stripped of their nutrients and, to replace the good stuff, are filled with refined sugars and fats. You can easily avoid processed foods by avoiding foods that come in boxes, bags, and cans. It may mean that you’re in your kitchen for a little longer than you’d like to be, but would you rather spend time meal prepping or trying to find ways to battle a disease?
My patients have definitely found that meal prep is the better answer to this question, and when they switch to eating whole foods, many of them have lost weight and felt better overall.
3. Avoiding Antioxidants
As I said previously, whole foods are really going to help you get the most out of your health, and fruits and vegetables are extremely vital to diabetics. Diabetes is related to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, meaning that your body is making more free radicals that it can control due to high blood sugar and related complications. If you’re going to fight this oxidative stress, you’ll need to eat more antioxidants. You can find this in plants like berries, grapes, leafy greens, orange vegetables, whole grains, and even tea leaves.
Don’t Just Stop There…
Of course, holding onto three relatively more specific tips will do you some good, but if you really want to improve your health and battle diabetes, it’s best to go to a professional who can help you develop an optimized, specific plan that will get you back on the road to total-body health. My clinic uses the most recent and cutting-edge research and testing available to pinpoint the imbalances in your body and come up with a treatment plan to fit your needs– not to address the disease. You’re an individual, and it’s time your nutrition plan treats you like one.