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The registered dietitians from Catholic Health's Diabetes Management Program have 5 tips for those preparing a Diabetes-friendly meal. Incorporate these strategies into daily meal planning to help manage blood sugar levels and promote healthy weight loss.

1. Control Portion Sizes To Control Both Calories And Carbohydrate Intake.

  • Incorporate 3-ounces of lean meat, or approximately the size of your palm, or 1/4 of a standard 9-inch plate.
  • A serving of cooked starchy vegetables, legumes, whole grain pasta or brown rice is about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, or the size of a tennis ball, or 1/4 of a standard 9-inch plate.
  • A serving of raw leafy greens is about 1 cup, fitting into both hands cupped together; a serving of cooked non-starchy vegetables is 1/2 cup, this fits into one cupped hand
  • Collaboratively, fill 1/2 your plate with non-starchy vegetables and/or leafy greens, 1/4 with a lean protein source, and 1/4 with a whole grain, legume, or starchy vegetable
  • A serving of whole fruit is approximately the size of a baseball.
  • Choose healthy fats in 1-ounce servings, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
    • Cheese should be consumed in 1-ounce servings, roughly the size of six dice
    • Oils, or butter, are 1 teaspoon per serving.

2. Select Whole Grains.

  • Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran and germ. They retain most of their nutrients after cooking, including fiber and protein, which are great for improved digestion and keeping you satisfied and fuller longer.
  • Refined grains start as whole grains, but are processed for finer texture and longer shelf-life. During this process, the bran and germ are removed, resulting in the removal of dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. These “processed” grains will not keep your blood sugar steady, which means you will be hungry again soon after eating.
  • Examples of whole grains:
    • Barley
    • Brown rice
    • Buckwheat
    • Bulgur (Cracked wheat)
    • Millet
    • Oatmeal
    • Fresh Corn and Popcorn
    • Whole-wheat bread, pasta, or crackers
    • Wild rice
  • Check the product label for the word "whole," and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list.

3. Include Protein-rich Foods.

  • Incorporating protein with every meal or snack also helps regulate blood sugar.
  • Protein takes longer to be converted to glucose; thereby, discouraging high blood sugar spikes.
  • Opt for lean proteins to help manage calories.
  • Examples of lean protein:
    • Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
    • Cottage Cheese
    • Eggs
    • Tofu
    • Skinless Poultry
    • Fish
  • When eating red meat or pork cut away all the visible fat and look for leaner cuts of ground meat or turkey whenever possible.

4. Exercise Restraint with Condiments, Sauces, and Gravies. 

  • Condiments and sauces add flavor to food, but do not forget to factor them into carbohydrate and calorie allowances.
  •  Carefully measure condiments, sauces and gravies. Read labels for accurate serving size and carbohydrate counts.
  • Use salt-free herbs and spices to flavor food. Some examples include, garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, paprika, low-salt Mrs. Dash flavor combos.
  • Use dry or fresh herbs. Citrus flavors, like fresh lemon and lime, as well as vinegars, such as balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, can flavor food with little added calories or sugar.

5. Make Smart Choices When Selecting A Beverage.

  • Water is simply the best hydration choice. Mix this up by choosing unsweetened teas or flavor with mint and/or fresh berries.
  • When drinking milk, choose nonfat or skim milk.
  • Avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, or sweet tea. They can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!
    • One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is equivalent to the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar
    • One 8-ounce cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate. This is equivalent to the same amount of carbohydrate in 7.5 teaspoons of sugar.
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