Eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, but for patients who suffer from type 2 diabetes it may determine their overall health and disease management. However, grocery shopping, following a tight budget, buying nutritious food and avoiding the temptation of consuming sugar, is not an easy task. In response to this, a health educator at Texas A&M is providing advice about grocery shopping for diabetics.
Claudia Perkins, RD, who is a health educator at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center defined four tips about buying food that were published in an article entitled “Shopping with diabetes: 4 things to keep in mind while at the grocery store,” on the website of the institution. Despite the fact that nutrition is particularly relevant for the management of diabetes, the advice may be helpful for anyone willing to have a healthy life.
The first recommendation is for patients to plan their grocery shopping prior to going to the supermarket in order to maximize health and minimize costs. A weekly meal plan with several vegetables may help patients stay healthy and keep to a budget. “You can make meals using items that are on sale at your local store and seasonal products,” Perkins said, noting that healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, and options such as promotions or coupons may also help.
Paying attention to nutrition labels is another key tip, since “some products can be tricky and contain multiple servings; and within those smaller servings, there might be multiple carbohydrate choices,” she said. A woman with diabetes should consume on average three to four carbohydrate choices per meal, the equivalent to 45 to 60 grams, and a man four to five, or 60 to 75 grams.
The health educator explained that looking closely at nutrition labels may help patients understand if a food fits the recommended amount of carbs, keeping in mind that one carbohydrate choice is 15 grams per serving. Diabetics should avoid the consumption of food with added sugars, as well as consume an amount lower or not far from 300 milligrams of sodium per serving. The same is true for meals already prepared, as patients should pay attention to serving sizes to control the consumption of carbs and calories.
The third tip is for diabetics to choose lean meats, low fat and high fiber foods, including round or sirloin beef, fish, chicken and pork. In addition, Perkins believes it is important to remember that the recommended amount of protein per meal is three to four ounces. The consumption of dairy products should be limited to low or nonfat milk and yogurts, with the same attention to servings and carbohydrates. Whole grain breads, cereals, rice and pastas should be 100% whole grain or whole wheat.
In addition, the last recommendation advises patients to completely avoid the snack aisle. “Snack foods contain excessive amounts of sodium, carbohydrates and fat,” she said. Highly processed snacks may ruin a nutritional plan. Muffins, croissants, granola, vegetables in cream sauce and lunchmeats are also not recommended.
“Ultimately, the most important thing is to pay attention to nutrition labels and serving sizes. By watching the foods you buy and eat, you can control your blood sugars, but you can’t always rely on diabetic-friendly and so-called healthy labels telling you what to buy,” added Perkins.
A healthy diet can be crucial for the management of type 2 diabetes, especially since the disease is related to obesity. For the past years there has been a gradual increase in the rates of both diabetes and obesity, with another investigator, Jennifer E. Below, PhD, from the University of Texas Health Science Center, recently presenting results on the interrelations between the two diseases, leading to new insights and new approaches to study the genetics of these diseases.