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Choosing what to eat can be made simpler: the best basic meal plan for diabetes is a well-rounded diet full of nutritious foods. If you have diabetes, a healthy eating plan for you is not that different from a healthy eating plan for people without diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) follow the dietary guidelines recommended for the general public — that is, a diet centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (peas and beans), and low-fat dairy products.
Since weight control is so important with diabetes, the best foods for you may also be part of a plan that helps you lose or maintain your weight. Work with your doctor or dietitian to come up with a plan based the foods you like and your lifestyle choices.
You know eating right is important for managing your diabetes. But grocery store aisles filled with expensive “diabetes” foods may leave you wondering if you can stick to your diet without breaking the bank. Never fear—you can make food choices that are smart for your health and your wallet. Here’s how:
1. Plan ahead. Take a few minutes each week to plan your daily menu. If you’ve made a diabetes meal plan with a dietitian or diabetes educator, use it. Otherwise, aim for a healthy balance of nutrients: 40 to 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent from protein, and 30 percent or less from fat. Check off the basic ingredients you already have, then make a grocery list full of items you need from the store.2. Organize your trip. Try to shop at the same familiar market. Order your shopping list by aisle. Keep in mind that the healthiest foods—fresh produce, dairy, and poultry—tend to be placed around the perimeter, so spend more time there than in the center aisles. Shop when the store is less crowded and never go when you’re hungry.3. When it comes to meat, think lean. Look for boneless pieces and cuts with less visible fat. Not only will you avoid having to trim fat off, you also won’t have to pay for it if it’s priced by the pound.4. Stock up on basics. Keep your pantry full of staples used in many recipes—vinegars, mustards, oils, frozen vegetables, tomato sauce, and seasonings, for example. Look for coupons and specials and buy these items then. One rule of thumb: Have enough on hand to prepare three easy, healthy meals for you and your family.5. Don’t pay for packaging. Avoid individually packed yogurts, snacks, and cereals. Buy the larger container and separate into servings on your own at home.6. Skip the fancy diabetes or diet foods. These specially marked or marketed foods usually aren’t better for you in terms of calories, carbohydrates, and fat, according to the American Diabetes Association. And they definitely cost more than fresh, whole foods.
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