Tips for controlling your blood sugar during National Nutrition Month

GEHA | March 19, 2019

diabetes
Making informed food choices can help control your blood sugar.

More than 30 million Americans live with diabetes. That’s nearly 10% of the population. Many more are unaware that they are at high risk for developing diabetes. Do you know where you stand?

March is National Nutrition Month. The purpose is to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Because so many Americans are affected by diabetes, National Nutrition Month is a good time to review healthy eating habits.

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (the most common type) if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing the disease. Over time, diabetes can also cause problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes, teeth and feet.

Diabetes symptoms include going to the bathroom frequently, being unusually thirsty, losing weight, feeling tired, irritability, blurred vision, frequent illness or infection, and poor circulation in your feet or hands. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

An A1C test measures a person’s average blood glucose range over the past three months. Average glucose, also called blood sugar, is 7%. Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high.

Managing diabetes means maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Along with medication and physical activity, this also requires developing healthy eating habits:

  • Eat a variety of foods from each food group every day.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Include more non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, asparagus, carrots and broccoli, and more whole fruit than juice.
  • Choose whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread.
  • Limit foods that are high in added sugar.
  • Eat less fat. Choose lean meats, poultry and fish. Bake, broil, roast, grill, boil, or steam foods instead of frying. Also choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • Cut the salt. Use more pepper and herbs for seasoning. 
  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Watch portion sizes and read food labels. 

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by making diet changes and being active. These steps also lower your risk for diabetes complications. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you develop an eating plan to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet.


Sources:
“Eating Right with diabetes.” www.eatright.org, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, February 2019.
“National Nutrition Month.” www.eatright.org, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2019.
“Understanding Diabetes.” www.eatright.org, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 14 November 2018.
“What is Diabetes?” www.niddk.nih.gov, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 18 July 2017.