The American Diabetes Association says 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, have diabetes. In addition, another 41 million have “pre-diabetes.”
Of those Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes, most have type 2 diabetes, which results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin).
Diet is an important component of managing, as well as preventing, diabetes. Now that we’re on the brink of summer, barbecues, picnics and family reunions are being planned. But how can you eat healthy when faced with a buffet table? Here are some simple rules to remember – and the whole family benefits from these tips, not just those concerned about diabetes:
- Choose high-fiber, low-fat dishes, including beans, peas and lentils, dark green vegetables or whole grain food such as brown rice or couscous.
- Leave room for fish. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in tuna and salmon, can help ward off type 2 diabetes. In fact, the 2002 American Diabetes Association’s evidence-based nutrition principles recommend that people with diabetes include two to three servings of seafood per week as part of a healthy diet.
- Avoid dishes prepared with sour cream and butter. If you’re making a sandwich, use mustard or salsa instead of mayonnaise.
- If it’s available, opt for salad dressing prepared with olive oil and vinegar.
- Skip the pies, cakes and cookies and pick the fruit. Fruit is a terrific source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and has zero fat. Everyone, including people with diabetes, should eat two to four servings of fruit per day.
- Try to eat by example —Eat healthy foods when eating near friends and families. Temptation is often hard to resist if “bad” foods are within reach.
- Don’t play “food cop.” If a friend or family member eats something he or she shouldn’t, avoid being judgmental and overanalyzing every bite. And remember to be encouraging and supportive when he or she is following a healthy diet.
If you have questions regarding diabetes or diets appropriate for diabetics, please consult your physician.
Sources: National Diabetes Education Program, Harvard School of Public Health, American Diabetes Association, Recipe Land
For healthy seafood recipes, visit the Mermaid’s Recipe Treasure Chest.