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Eating Healthy, Eating Out

How to learn about healthy eating

One of the biggest challenges diabetics face is healthy eating. Whether one is new to diabetes or has lived with it for some time, healthy eating can be difficult. It can be a little easier when eating at home and preparing our own meals, but what about when we attend family gatherings or eat out at a restaurant?

There is a lot of information out there about healthy eating for those who live with diabetes. It seems that information is often changing because as we better understand the human body and diabetes more specifically, guidelines for healthy eating have changed. You may want to consider taking a diabetes educational program and/or seeing a Registered Dietician. You can get a referral from your doctor to see a Registered Dietician or to attend a program through a local healthcare system; both WellSpan and UPMC offer Diabetes Self-Management Programs. York County Area Agency On Aging also offers a free Diabetes Self-Management Program for those 60 years of age or older, for both the older adult living with pre-diabetes or diabetes and their caregiver. YMCA of the Roses offers a Diabetes Prevention Program for those 18 years of age or older. A referral is not needed for the programs offered by York County Area Agency On Aging or YMCA of the Roses. Check out the Resources part of our website for more information on these programs.

The self-management programs and meeting with a Registered Dietician will give you information to better understand what a healthy meal looks like for a diabetic, to help keep their blood sugar within a healthy range. It should make eating out or eating at a gathering easier, but there is an additional visual tool you can use. The Diabetes Association of America has designed the Diabetes Plate Method.

The Diabetes Plate Method

The Diabetes Plate Method breaks down a plate into sections to help you visualize what types of food you should have for a healthy meal and in what proportions. The Diabetes Plate Method starts with a plate no more than 9 inches in diameter, the distance from one side of the plate to the other. The plate is then divided in half, with one half further divided into 2 halves. One half of the plate should have non-starchy/low calorie vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, leafy greens, celery, mushrooms, etc. On the other side of the plate, half of plate (1/4 of the total plate) should have carbohydrate foods while the other half (1/4 of the total plate) has protein foods. Carbohydrate foods include foods like fruits, yogurt, starchy vegetables, whole grain rice, whole grain bread, beans, etc. The protein foods include foods like chicken, eggs, salmon, lobster, lean beef products, nuts, cheese, beans, tofu, etc. You should also have a glass of water or a calorie-free beverage.
There is no specific diet for those who live with diabetes. There are guidelines to help keep blood sugar within a healthy range, to prevent short-term and long-term complications from high blood sugar. Those who live with diabetes can eat any food, but some foods need to be eaten in moderation. Those who live with diabetes also need to watch what other foods they eat with foods higher in carbohydrates. Being able to visualize the Diabetes Plate as you order a meal at a restaurant or fill your plate at a gathering can help make sure you are choosing a healthy meal for a healthy blood sugar level.

You can visit https://www.diabetesfoodhub.org/articles/what-is-the-diabetes-plate-method.html for more information about the Diabetes Plate Method.

Have you eaten a little more than you should have? Recently released research shows that taking a 2—5 minute walk after a meal helps to reduce blood sugar: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20220809/short-walks-after-meals-cut-diabetes-heart-risk-study.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Megan Craley is the Health & Wellness Coordinator for York County Area Agency On Aging. She is a leader for Living Well With Diabetes, a diabetes self-management program, offered by York County Area Agency On Aging. She is also a member of the Diabetes Coalition of York County.

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