You can turn the tide.
You have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Your mind is racing with questions, thoughts, ideas. Moreover, you’re wondering: What next? You know you need to change your diet and lifestyle, but aren’t sure how to go about it. You may think that once you have been diagnosed you need to change your lifestyle overnight. But you’re only human and need time to adapt. There’s no immediate cure-all for your condition, but you can turn the tide.
After your diagnosis, there’s a transition period. How could there not be? You’re in the care of your health team, possibly taking new medication, and trying to balance a healthy exercise/diet on top of all you might have going on in your day-to-day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, read on to help you find balance throughout your diabetes journey.
YOUR PERSONAL DIET
To help turn your health around, rather than settling unrealistic nutritional goals, try to follow a diet that you know you can stick to. You need to commit to something you’re comfortable with.
Let’s do a quick exercise (no, not physical, that’s for next time). Imagine yourself at the grocery store, food shopping. Below, there’s a list of foods recommended for individuals living with type 2 diabetes. Feel free to pick what you want and meet me — your friendly neighborhood regular person (I’m not a physician or other healthcare provider, after all) — at the checkout.
* Strawberries * Blueberries * Blackberries * Raspberries * Bananas * Cherries
* Apples * Peaches * Apricots * Oranges * Pears * Kiwi * Grapes * Dragon Fruit
* Watermelon * Cantaloupe * Avocado * Honeydew
* Cucumbers * Brussel Sprouts * Carrots * Onions * Spinach * Asparagus * Broccoli * Eggplant * Peppers * Beets * Celery
* Whole Wheat * Rye * Chicken * Flounder * Tuna * Duck * Pheasant * Lox * Salmon * Beef
* Low-fat milk * Cottage Cheese * Eggs * Yogurt * Ricotta * Brie * Feta * Cheddar
* Almonds * Peanuts * Peanut Butter * Trail Mix * Popcorn * Low-fat Ice Cream * Pecans * Sesame Seeds * Pumpkin Seeds * Whole-grain Crackers
Find everything okay? These are the types of foods you should be on the lookout for — section by section — to kickstart your diet. Notice that there were some snacks. You can be as conservative as you want to be with your diet. After all, it is your choice, and there is room for your own personal preferences. If you feel inclined to purchase any other snack item that wasn’t listed here, feel free. But bear in mind that the items listed here should take priority for a healthier diet.
Also, these suggestions never replace your healthcare provider’s advice, so remember to check in frequently with your provider. Now that you have an idea of the types of foods you should buy to kickstart your diet, let’s break it down meal by meal.
It’s the most important meal of the day. Here’s where you can play around with some of the fruits. As you start your transition diet, it’s important to get a full, balanced breakfast. Oatmeal topped with fruit, a smoothie on the side, and half a slice of bacon act as a perfect starter meal for your diet. Bacon is only used in this example (check with your provider) as a way to help the transition process. You can replace it with anything you’d normally have for breakfast.
Instead of transitioning and potentially giving up on the diet to indulge later on, allow yourself to have some of what you want. In time, this should make it easier to cut those foods out of your diet entirely. Of course, you can get creative with your new diet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be oatmeal and smoothies every morning. An egg-white omelette with onions, peppers and spinach sprinkled with walnuts serves just as well.
Naturally, you’ll want to stay away from sweetened coffee and carb-heavy breakfast meals. Should you want to include a cream cheese bagel early in your diet, feel free, but remember to employ portion control. Perhaps only eat half a bagel or buy the thinnest bagel and use a low-fat spread. Understand your options and use whatever you may be in the mood for on a given day.
Most people would probably think “sandwich” when they think of a typical lunch. If you were to have a sandwich, it’s recommended that you use whole-grain or even rye bread. Similar to the half slice of bacon mentioned earlier, this kind of meal is designed to wean you off of your normal diet towards a new one. If the sandwich doesn’t satisfy, try a salad, dressing and croutons. Try to stick to a fat-free/lower calorie salad dressing if you decide to dress the salad. Over time, try replacing the dressing and croutons with grilled chicken. Sprinkle in walnuts or almonds for extra flavor. Experiment with tuna — perhaps make a tuna salad or sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Here’s where you can go all out with your diet/new grocery purchases. Vegetables, meat and nuts are all fair game for your dinner. Beef fajitas, chicken chili, stir-fry, sweet potato, etc.
All of these dishes can enter your diet long-term or you can start making them as soon as you start your new diet, depending on preference. However, if you want to start your diet off with some comfort food, here’s a basic dish. Steak, beef, or a chicken cutlet can act as you main course. Have a vegetable on the side: Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Green Beans, anything of the nature. Meals that call for vegetables and meat/protein should be your primary goal. Soup, particularly clam chowder (not the creamy version) or chicken vegetable, can act as proper meals too.
Most people get that sudden hunger pang throughout the day. It’s that snack impulse screaming in the back of your mind. There’s a way to satiate that need while adhering to your diet, however. Typically, people either cut snacks out of their diet outright or adapt their diet to snacks with small meals in between. Either approach can work for you if you practice portion control and understand what you’re snacking on.
Trail mix and nuts can serve as a nice substitute as nuts provide plenty of protein. Failing that, or if you happen to be allergic to nuts, having fruits and whole-grain crackers on hand can satisfy that need as well. Granted, crackers can be carb-heavy, so practice extra portion control caution when snacking on them.
Low-calorie and low-fat desserts are fairly common. You can find them in almost any supermarket or restaurant. Low-fat ice cream is a nice transition snack, but it likely won’t suit you in the long term. Trail mix and other nuts should take priority with time.
Dieting can be tricky. With so many resources at your disposal, thanks to the internet there are so many diets and methods to try out. Bear in mind that this diet isn’t a cure-all, as previously stated. No diet is, really. You need to pick what works best for you and that’s what this plan is. It’s centered on the foods you want in the order you want them. Your choice, your health. Because that’s the best way to take charge of your life.