Living healthy with diabetes requires simple changes in what you eat and an increase in your activity level. Period. We commonly set lofty goals to make changes but if we don’t have specific steps to follow, we set ourselves up for failure.
In the July/August 2011 issue of Nutrition Action, I was pleased to see a summary of action-specific tips to help steer you in the direction of healthy living. I have grouped them into three areas: what you can do while food shopping, what you can do at home and what you can do when you go out to eat.
Here are some of the useful nuggets that I have gleaned for you to incorporate into your day.
• For healthy food shopping, this is the perfect season to purchase fresh produce at our local farmer markets. If fresh is not possible, frozen fruits and vegetables retain the largest amount of vitamins/minerals. Read nutrition labels to avoid added salt. You will be amazed at the products in which you will find it.
Try a new vegetable every week. About half of Americans’ vegetables consist of iceberg lettuce, potatoes, onions and canned tomatoes, so there definitely is room to be adventuresome!
Buy sliced fruit, ready to eat. It will be more cost-effective than a bag of chips and better for you. Choose fruit or vegetables for snacks. You will add fiber and nutrition without pain.
Plan to eat fish twice a week, preferable a fatty fish like salmon or trout, which contain healthy omega-3 fats for your heart health.
• At home, fill half of your plate with fruits or vegetables. A serving is one piece of fruit, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw vegetables. Use small bowls that hold a 1/2-cup serving to help you control individual servings.
Unless you have a medical contradiction to limit fluid intake, drink two cups of water before each meal. We think we are hungry when really we are dehydrated and our body is craving water. Consuming calorie-free water will replenish that fluid and also help to curb your appetite. A win-win on both counts!
To encourage activity, buy and wear a pedometer. Aim for 10,000 steps a day — about 5 miles of walking.
You can accumulate those steps throughout the day and set a goal to increase your total steps every day.
Place your treadmill or exercise equipment in front of the TV. Make a deal with yourself that TV time is only when you are exercising.
If you are doing repetitions with weights, a good benchmark for the correct weight is to be able to do at least eight repetitions but no more than 12. If you can do more than 12, you need to switch to a heavier weight, which means you are stronger!
• When you are eating out, request that the breadbasket stay in the kitchen. Pizza can be enjoyed but ask for thin crust with less cheese and additional vegetables in place of the meat. In place of potatoes or pasta, request additional vegetables or a side salad. For salads, ask for the dressing on the side so you can choose the amount on the salad.
You still can enjoy a coffee drink but request nonfat milk and pass on the whipped cream. Ask to have half of your meal packed in a to-go container before it is brought out so you still can be a member of the clean plate club without guilt. With all of these suggestions, you will be able to incorporate minor changes painlessly into your eating and activity habits for a cumulative positive impact on your health. Talk to you in October.
Susan Sorensen is a registered nurse who does diabetes education in the community and can be reached at www.starladydiabetes.com.
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