3 Simple Habits for Diabetes Control: Nutrition

Dealing with diabetes can be a huge task, but by taking small steps toward simple healthy habits, you can achieve lasting control.

Let’s take a look at three key areas of health – nutrition, exercise and behavior – and habits in each of these areas that can help you have better blood glucose control and a better quality of life.

It is common knowledge that healthy eating not only prevents chronic diseases such as diabetes, but can also control them. But what does healthy eating mean for a person with diabetes? In a nutshell, it means being mindful of what one eats, drinks and enjoys. Here are 3 healthy habits to start practicing today:

Carb Control

All carbohydrate will cause your blood glucose level to rise.  When blood glucose rises too high or falls too low, it is not within the healthy range that we want it to be in. How can you change this pattern? By practicing carb control.

Following a carb-controlled meal plan simply means eating the same amount of carbohydrate at every meal. This will keep your blood glucose from falling too low. It is also important to watch what you eat with carbohydrates because this will affect how high your blood glucose will rise. For example, if a person with type 2 diabetes eats a banana, his or her blood glucose will most likely rise and fall very quickly. However, if the same person eats half a banana with 12 almonds, his blood glucose will rise much more slowly.

If your blood glucose increases slowly, then insulin will also increase slowly. Gentle increases and decreases in blood glucose lead to a milder rise and fall of insulin, which can ultimately improve insulin resistance and diabetes control.

Rethink your Drink

It is important to keep tabs not only on what you eat, but also on what you drink; beverages can be a major source of carbohydrate. Juice and soda are common culprits for high blood glucose because they are packed with a lot of sugar in a small serving. One serving of juice is 4 ounces, or half a cup. Soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks have similar portion sizes and are also loaded with sugar.

It is best to make water your go-to beverage. When you have diabetes, it is very important to stay well hydrated; when your body is running low on water, your blood glucose goes up. This is because less water leads to less fluid in the blood stream, and then blood glucose becomes more concentrated.

Eat a Treat

One of the hardest but most important habits to learn is eating in moderation. Depriving yourself is not a behavior that leads to lasting change. Mindful eating, or enjoying food and the eating experience, can greatly impact a person’s health.

Enjoying foods that you love is an important part of mindful eating, as long as it’s done in moderation. Identify the portion size of a food that you consider to be a treat. Since most treats are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, it is best to eat them as part of a meal. So, the next step would be to choose a meal to savor this treat with. But remember, the current state of your blood glucose control will affect how often you can enjoy this treat. If you have poor control, it would be best to enjoy the treat one time per week. If you have good blood glucose control,  you might even be able to enjoy a treat daily.

Healthy eating for diabetes does not have to be boring, hard, or impossible to manage. By striving towards these simple healthy eating habits, you can achieve lasting changes that promote better blood glucose control.


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Cassandra Vanderwall, MS, RD, CDE, CD, CPT has a BS degree in Food and Nutrition – Dietetics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Rush University Medical Center, and took her MS in Clinical Nutrition at Rush University. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can check out her blog at or follow her on Twitter (RD_in_the_City).

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 3 Simple Habits for Diabetes Control: Exercise | CDIABETES.COM
  2. Top Tips for Diabetes Food Choices That Won’t Break the Bank | CDIABETES.COM

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