One of the most commonly misunderstood lifestyle changes among diabetics is their diet. Myths abound claiming they need to cut out sugar and carbs completely; yet, keeping your type 2 diabetes under control doesn’t have to involve depriving yourself of your favorite foods. In fact, living well with diabetes can be as simple as eating a balanced diet and developing exercise habits.
Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, Florida, has witnessed seniors manage their diabetes through healthy living habits she would recommend for any health-focused person. “Experts tell us that there is no true ‘diabetic diet,’” Clanton explains. “Watching what you eat every day, balancing out carbohydrates, sugars and fats throughout your meals and making smart choices at the dining table is the best way to keep your diabetes under control. Combine a balanced diet with the benefits of exercise and weight loss, and you don’t have to worry about diabetes controlling you anymore.”
Benefits of Balance – And Paying Attention!
In reality, those with diabetes don’t have to give up their favorites dishes all together. The key to successful diabetic meals, as Clanton says, is balance. According to the article “Diabetic Diet: Food Tips to Prevent, Control and Reverse Diabetes,” by Maya W. Paul, Jeanne Segal, PhD, Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith, MA, “A diabetes diet is simply a healthy eating plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat and added sugar, and moderate in calories. It is a healthy diet for anyone! The only difference is that you need to pay more attention to some of your food choices – most notably the carbohydrates you eat.”
Although carbs, fats and sugar are commonly deemed “bad” by diet trends, your body actually needs these types of foods to stay well. If you’re careful about your food choices and practice moderation, it is possible to enjoy what you eat and still keep your diabetes in check.
Let’s take a closer look at carbs, fats and sugar:
- Carbohydrates – While carbs have a big impact on blood sugar, you don’t have to avoid them completely. Experts encourage the consumption of high-fiber complex carbs, rather than the highly refined carbs found in white bread and rice, soda and packaged foods. Carbs that are high in fiber are known as slow-release carbs because your body digests them more slowly, thus keeping your blood sugar level down and preventing the production of too much insulin. Slow-release carbs also help you feel full longer and provide long-lasting energy.
To add more slow-release carbs to your diet, try switching out white rice and pasta for brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. Trade white potatoes for sweet potatoes or yams, white bread for whole grain, corn for peas or leafy greens, and sugary cereals for low-sugar bran flakes.
- Fats – Just as with carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. When you’re trying to control your diabetes, it’s important to avoid unhealthy trans fats (also called partially hydrogenated oils). These are man-made oils that help keep food from spoiling, but our bodies don’t know how to process them and end up storing them as fat.
The best type of fats to reach for is unsaturated fats found in nuts, olive oil or avocados. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially good for brain and heart health, as they fight inflammation. Good sources include salmon, tuna and flaxseeds. Healthy fats also help to slow down digestion and keep blood sugar from spiking.
- Sugar – It’s okay to have a sugary treat now and then if you’re conscientious about what else you eat. For example, if you plan on having dessert, cut back on carbs somewhere else in the meal to keep your diet balanced. Decrease you sugar intake by avoiding sodas, juice and pre-packaged snacks. Reduce the amount of sugar you use in recipes and find alternatives for treating your sweet tooth (e.g., blend frozen bananas as a substitute for ice cream, adding healthy toppings like peanut butter, fruit or dark chocolate chips).
Making Moves to Manage Diabetes
Exercise is another important tool for keeping your diabetes under control. Physical activity lowers your blood sugar levels by increasing your insulin sensitivity so your cells are better able to use any insulin in your body to take up sugar during and after you exercise. Additionally, the contraction of your muscles during activity stimulates a mechanism that takes up sugar and uses it for energy, regardless of insulin.
When exercising or using physical activity to control diabetes, keep these tips in mind:
- Become familiar with how your blood sugar level responds to exercise and adjust your work outs accordingly.
- Schedule your workout at the best time of day to coordinate with your meals and medications. Keep a steady routine.
- Stay hydrated and always be prepared for a drop in blood sugar by keeping a snack handy and wearing a medical ID bracelet.
- Exercise can include any physical activity, even light walking or housework. Thirty minutes of increased heart rate and breathing each day is helpful for controlling your weight and keeping your body healthy.
A Signature Experience for Total Well-Being
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, seniors have the opportunities and support they need to reach their wellness goals. Says Clanton, “From delicious and nutritious dining options in our Tuscan Kitchen to exercise classes, our community is well-equipped to meet the varying needs of our residents. Those working to keep their diabetes under control often keep meal and work out journals and discuss dietary options with our friendly chefs. Whatever we can do to help seniors live their best days, we’re happy to do!”
If you would like to learn more about the lifestyle options and support available at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, contact us today.
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.