Diabetes and its precursor is a major problem, both in the United States and across the globe. In 2015, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that nearly 50 percent of adults living in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition marked by higher than normal blood glucose levels that are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reports that the global prevalence of diabetes figures to rise from 8 percent in 2011 to 10 percent by 2030.
Preventing diabetes should be a priority for men, women and children, but management must take precedence for the millions of people who have already been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, making healthy food choices is an essential step in preventing or managing diabetes. Making those choices can be difficult for those people who have never before paid much attention to their diets, but the AHA offers the following advice to people dealing with prediabetes or diabetes.
· Limit foods that may worsen your condition. Some foods, including fiber-rich whole grains and fish like salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, can help people with prediabetes or diabetes. But many more foods must be limited, if not largely ignored. Limit your consumption of sweets and added sugars, which can be found in soda, candy, cakes, and jellies. It’s also good to limit your sodium intake and resist fatty meats like beef and pork.
· Document your eating habits. The AHA recommends that people with prediabetes or diabetes maintain a food log to see how certain foods affect their blood glucose levels. Within 60 to 90 minutes of eating, check your blood glucose levels to see how your body reacts to the foods you eat. As your food log becomes more extensive, you will begin to see which foods match up well with your body and which foods you may want to avoid.
· Plan your meals. Hectic schedules have derailed many a healthy lifestyle, but people who have been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes do not have the luxury of straying from healthy diets. Plan your meals in advance so your eating schedule is not erratic and your diet includes the right foods, and not just the most convenient foods. Bring lunch and a healthy snack to work with you each day rather than relying on fast food or other potentially unhealthy options in the vicinity of your office.
· Embrace alternative ingredients. Upon being diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, many people assume they must abandon their favorite foods. But that’s not necessarily true. Many dishes can be prepared with alternative ingredients that are diabetes-friendly. In fact, the AHA has compiled a collection of diabetes-friendly recipes that can be accessed by visiting www.heart.org.
A prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis requires change, but these conditions can be managed without negatively affecting patients’ quality of life.