Managing diabetes through nutrition

Diabetes is a fact of life for millions. According to figures from the American Diabetes Association, more than 17 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 16 million of them have type 2 (formerly known as adult onset diabetes).

Diabetes can cause health problems throughout the body, but those who have type 2 can do a lot about improving their own health by keeping a careful watch on their nutrition.

People with diabetes can live long, healthy lives if they take good care of themselves – particularly by controlling blood glucose levels through good nutrition.

The first step in making good food choices is understanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines, which were developed by nutrition experts. The goal of establishing these guidelines is to help people understand how their eating habits can affect their health.

These simple “ABC” guidelines can help everyone improve their health, whether or not they have diabetes:

Aim for fitness by reaching a healthy weight and being physically active each day.

Build a healthy base by following the Pyramid guide food choices. Each day eat a variety of grains (especially whole grains) and a variety of fruits and vegetables, and keep foods safe.

Choose a sensible diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat. Limit intake of sugars and salts, and drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

Within these basic guidelines, the keys to controlling diabetes are: making wise food choices, exercising and taking prescribed medication as recommended by a health professional.

People with diabetes also must monitor their blood glucose levels regularly and make adjustments when needed. Blood glucose levels can be controlled by: reducing intake of starches and sugars, controlling portion sizes, increasing exercise and monitoring blood glucose levels. Monitoring blood glucose levels can help people with diabetes reduce their complications affecting eyes, nerves and kidneys.