How To Achieve A Healthier Happy New Year!

What can you do to ensure that 2018 will be a truly happy year?

If there is anything that everyone undoubtedly wants in their life, it is that often elusive feeling of happiness. Famously, a high-profile engineer called Mo Gawdat has even come up with a kind of algorithm for happiness in his book Solve for Happy.

“Happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between the way you view the events in your life minus your expectations about how life should behave. Which means that if you perceive the events as equal to or greater than your expectations, you’re happy — or at least not unhappy,” writes Gawdat.

He spends more than 300 pages aiming to explain the basis for this algorithm and his philosophy of happiness. But there is, of course, no miracle recipe that all of us can follow to feel that glow of joy 24/7.

In this article, we do not tell you how to reach Nirvana. Instead, we look at the small things that most of us can reasonably achieve in the New Year so that we may improve our mental and physical well-being.

Here are some steps that you can take starting right now to boost your quality of life. The rest is up to you, so mind that you keep your New Year’s resolutions!

1. Be more active

This year, many studies have focused on the role of physical exercise not only in keeping us fit, but also in improving other aspects of our physical and mental health.

A study conducted earlier this year by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada, found that women’s perception of their own bodies improves after they exercise. The effect appears to be immediate and doesn’t depend on mood or actual state of fitness after exercising.

Furthermore, numerous recent studies have shown that exercise can counteract and prevent depression, which affects 40 million adults in the United States every year.

As little as 1 hour of exercise each week, regardless of intensity, can keep mood disorders at bay, found researchers from Australia’s Black Dog Institute.

And, if you’re struggling to keep up the motivation to go out for a jog or ride your bike, then there’s a simple fix: just focus on doing the kind of exercise that makes you happy.

“[A]ny movement is better than nothing,” explains Michelle Segar, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, so we should stop feeling guilty about not reaching a set target or not exercising at a certain intensity.

What’s really important is to find the fitness routine that suits us best so we can follow it more easily.

And, while we’re considering what new sports or activities we could take up in the New Year to boost our happiness levels, why not try something off the trodden path? Bouldering has been found to alleviate symptoms of depression, such as low moods, fatigue, and a lack of concentration.

Why not try yoga and meditation?

Speaking of mindfulness, practices such as yoga and meditation have been found to boost the quality of life and increase our sense of well-being.

 Why not give yoga a try in 2018? It’s been suggested to improve resilience and boost happiness.

Various recent studies have suggested that yoga is effective in tackling depression and that it helps to lower anxiety and stress levels. These effects, the researchers found, can last for up to 4 months after participation in a yoga program.

According to a study from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, both yoga and meditation can improve psychological and physiological resistance to stress factors.

This, the authors note, may mean not only that the mental health of people who practice yoga and meditation is not easily affected by negative events, but also that their immune system is better prepared to handle emergencies.

Another study reports that yoga and meditation may even play a role in how our brain contributes to the process of gene expression.

“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed,” asserts lead researcher Ivana Buric.

2. Get enough sleep

Much research published in 2017 has focused on the prominent role played by a good night’s sleep in our mental and physical health. Sleep, we now know, is important in memory consolidation, fear learning, and keeping our brain well-rested so that we can react appropriately to events during the day.

Don’t underestimate the impact that sleep can have on your well-being.

 

Since people affected by insomnia are twice as likely as their peers to develop depression, it comes as no surprise that a good night’s sleep should be a priority in our search for happiness and wellness.

Ensuring that we are well rested can make our level of contentment peak, says a study that was conducted by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. The authors of the paper compare this happiness boost with winning the lottery.

They say, “[The benefits of a good night’s sleep] are […] comparable with the average improvement in well-being (1.4-point reduction) shown by [lottery winners in the U.K.] 2 years after a medium-sized (£1000–£120000 in 1998 money) lottery win.”

Aside from the practical things you can do to minimize the possibility of disrupted sleep — such as avoiding looking at a bright screen before bedtime — researchers report that mindset is important.

A study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, suggests that people who have a clear life purpose do actually sleep better at night.

So, as you draft your New Year’s resolutions, why not take a step back and consider what your main goals in life are, and how you can achieve them?

3. Settle for a happy diet

This may come as no surprise, but what you eat does influence your mood. Research published in PLOS Online earlier this year argued that eating a fruit- and veggie-happy diet may improve mental health within 2 weeks.

The study authors found that adding more servings of fruits and vegetables to our usual intake could make us feel more motivated and boost our energy levels.

systematic review of multiple studies that investigated the link between diet and mental health concluded that a Mediterranean-style diet consisting mainly of fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains could prevent depression.

However, a study published only this month argues that what we should eat to make us happy will largely depend on how old we are.

Thus, young adults (aged 18 to 29) will benefit from eating more white and red meat, while adults aged 30 and over should eat more fruit and veg if they’re looking for a mood boost.

Also, there’s no need to cut down on hot chocolate after the holiday season; researchers confirmed that cocoa can work miracles for your psychological well-being, mood, and potentially even cognitive abilities, too.

4. Make friends with the great outdoors

Research also suggests that, if we want to get that joie de vivre into our lives in 2018, then we had better spend more time outside. Going to the local shopping mall won’t cut it, however. In order to really feel happier, we should spend more time in nature.

One study shows that green spaces make us happy, and, conversely, when we don’t have access to nature, we tend to become depressed.

Higher levels of green space [in a neighborhood] were associated with lower symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress [in the members of the local community].”

Dr. Kristen Malecki, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Moreover, a recent experiment conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia showed that people who took a minute to observe small details in nature and register the emotional impact caused by these felt happier and more connected to their peers.

So, one easy step that you can take to improve your life in 2018 is simply a step outside — and then keep on walking. After all, a leisurely walk on its own has been found to have a positive effect on mood.

Get your creativity on!

Walking has also been shown to encourage creativity, and one study found that people who engage in creative pursuits every day have a greater sense of well-being.

Doing something creative every day can really make you happier, research shows.

 

Another way of boosting happiness in 2018, then, is to take a walk in your local park and plan a creative activity for that day.

This can be anything from cooking and baking, if you’re that way inclined, to painting, writing, or starting a DIY project. The choice is up to you!

If you’re stuck at home on your own, use that time to do something creative, too. A recent study has shown that sometimes we may need some “time out,” away from our peers, in order to really be able to tap into our creative resources.

You can also put on some happy music if you need that extra boost to your imagination. Researchers from Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have shown that alert instrumental pieces such as The Four Seasons concerto by Antonio Vivaldi work best for this purpose.

5. Be kind to others and to yourself

Finally, but very importantly, in order to achieve a stronger sense of fulfilment and well-being, you should learn to treat yourself with kindness — and then extend that generosity to others.

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. found that, although self-acceptance is a habit that can lead to greater happiness, it is one that very few people have formed.

A study conducted earlier this year also confirmed that, if we embrace our negative emotions, we are less at risk of perpetuating them and more likely to achieve self-healing. One of our goals for the New Year should definitely be practicing more self-love and self-care.

At the same time, the care that we show to others, as well as our degree of gratefulness toward our peers, can influence our levels of happiness.

Profs. Phillipe Tobler and Ernst Fehr, from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, showed that generosity is strongly associated with happiness, and we feel more joy when we give.

This supports previous research that indicated that volunteer work brings psychological benefits.

Lastly, remember to just be thankful. Gratitude for what we have, and for the people in our lives, is another important factor when it comes to mental well-being, leading to more optimism and improved relationships.

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Dinner Ideas for People with Type 2 Diabetes

Every 23 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. But although diabetes is widespread, public awareness and understanding of the disease can be limited.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 29 million Americans currently have diabetes, but a quarter of them do not know it. Another 86 million adults have prediabetes, with 90 percent of them being unaware.

Diabetes is a serious disease that can, if uncontrolled, lead to loss of eyesight, cardiovascular problems, kidney damage, and even amputation of lower limbs. The good news is, it can be managed and these serious health problems can be avoided.

Diet techniques for diabetes

[Empty White Plate]
Using the simple “diabetic plate” rule can help people with diabetes plan meals.

The even better news is that diabetes can be managed through a combination of exercise, health care, and diet. Despite popular belief, a diet can be varied, tasty, and fulfilling.

The “diabetic plate”

Maintaining a consistent, well-balanced diet can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control.

Portion control is also important, which is where the “diabetic plate” comes in.

Endorsed by several organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, the “diabetic plate” can be very helpful when planning dinners.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Draw an imaginary line down the center of your plate.
  • Divide one-half into two further sections, so that your plate is now divided into three.
  • Fill the biggest section with non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, green beans, salsa, mushrooms, broccoli, or others.
  • Use proteins to fill one of the smaller sections. Good options are skinless chicken, salmon, shrimp, tempeh or tofu, eggs, and much more. Legumes can fit in either the protein or the starch section because they provide both protein and carbohydrate.
  • Grains, legumes and starchy vegetables can go in the remaining quarter. These could be corn, lima beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole grain bread, and more.
  • Complete the meal with a serving of fruit, or dairy.

Carbohydrate counting

Carbohydrate counting is also an essential part of healthful eating for people with diabetes. A number of carbohydrates an individual can eat in a day will vary based on health, activity level, and treatment plans.

Knowing the carbohydrate content of foods can help individuals eat appropriate amounts at each meal or snack, and still enjoy a varied and satisfying diet.

Glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) can help people with diabetes distinguish between carbs that will help or hurt their blood sugar and can provide essential support when planning healthful dinners.

In essence, the higher the GI rating of a food, the more rapidly it will raise blood sugar. However, this does not mean that people with diabetes should avoid all high GI foods since some are full of nutritional value. The important thing is to balance these foods with low GI foods, and monitor portion size.

Portion control

Perhaps the biggest challenge to eating healthful dinners is portion control. This is particularly true when meals are eaten on the go.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, portion sizes in American restaurants have increased by 200-300 percent in the past 20 years and may be a factor in the country’s rising obesity rates.

These giant servings can spell trouble for people with diabetes. They should ask servers about the size of the portions. They could also ask for some of the food to be boxed up, or they could share it with friends.

Alcohol

[People drinking beer]
Alcohol must be closely monitored by people with diabetes.

Drinking alcohol is an important part of a dining experience for many people. But people with diabetes need to be very cautious about drinking alcohol because it can seriously affect blood sugar levels.

However, one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men may be acceptable if consumed with food.

People should check their blood sugars, and check with their doctor and dietitian to find out whether any amount of alcohol is acceptable within their treatment plan.

Dinner ideas suitable for diabetes

Following a healthful diet does not have to mean that people with diabetes have to give up their favorite foods. The key is eating appropriate amounts and making sure there is a balance between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, with an emphasis on fiber.

The following are classic American foods that are suitable for a person with diabetes:

  • Steak: Stick to 3 ounces (oz) portions and do not cook it in butter. Choose center-cuts for less marbling and fat. The Harvard School of Public Health and many other agencies recommend that people eat red meat no more than once per week.
  • Baked potato, or sweet potato: Skip the high-fat add-ons, such as bacon. Substitute sour cream for Greek yogurt for protein and healthy bacteria.
  • Garden salad: Add vinaigrette for taste.
  • Salmon: Baked or grilled wild salmon is a good option.
  • Steamed asparagus: Steaming is a healthful way to prepare vegetables.
  • Turkey: Roasted turkey or chicken is a good choice.
  • Corn on the cob: Avoid butter or other high-fat toppings.
  • Burgers: Simply wrap the patty in lettuce, or only eat half the bun to keep the carbohydrates in check.

Tips for quick healthful meals

The following tips may help people with diabetes create healthful and interesting dinners:

  • Keep a supply of frozen vegetables, low-sodium canned tomatoes, and low-sodium canned beans.
  • Consider serving salad as an entrée.
  • Remember that eggs can be for dinner, too.
  • Prepare a batch of slow-cooker chili that you can store and eat over several days.
  • Combine frozen vegetables with pasta, toss into a stir-fry, or add to a frozen whole-wheat pizza crust.
  • Make tacos with rotisserie chicken, vegetables, salsa, and nonfat Greek yogurt.

Recipe ideas

People with diabetes do not have to limit themselves to boring, bland foods. The following meal ideas illustrate a wide range of ideas for healthful dinners with less than 3 servings or 45 grams (g) of carbohydrates:

  • 1 cup Spanish-style brown rice mixed with pinto beans, chicken, and salsa.
  • Cod fillets with puttanesca sauce, green beans, and quinoa.
  • Tempeh or tofu stir-fry with Asian vegetable mix.
  • Caribbean red snapper, a small baked sweet potato, and vegetables.
  • North African Shakshuka.
  • Dijon chicken, baked sweet potato fries, and steamed broccoli.
  • Skillet whole-wheat or corn tortilla pizza.
  • Bean and wild rice burgers with spinach and avocado salad.
  • Asian salmon fillets, shredded cabbage and peanut ginger sauce, zucchini, and chickpea or bean noodles.
  • Shrimp tacos, using 100 percent corn tacos, pineapple salsa, jicama (yam bean), and carrot and bell pepper slaw.

Cooking for others who have diabetes

Although they can eat most things, people with diabetes need to ensure they keep their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in their target range.

The first step in planning healthful dinners for people with diabetes is balancing the levels of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats while providing ample fiber.

By using the “diabetic plate” method to plan the basic framework of a meal, it is much easier to produce healthful and flavorful options that will appeal to everyone. As well as the examples listed above, the American Diabetes Association offers an extensive listing of recipe ideas.

Dinner options for people eating out

People with diabetes have lots to think about when eating out:

  • How the food is prepared: People with diabetes should find out how the meat or fish is cooked. Order grilled, roasted, or baked meats, poultry, and fish, or go for a vegetarian option.
  • What is in a sauce or soup: Choose broths over cream-based soups. Ask for sauces and salad dressing to be served on the side.
  • Ratios of different ingredients: It is important to identify how the meal is balanced between vegetables and carbohydrates. Request steamed vegetables, when possible.
  • Cuts of meat used: Lean cuts of meat are best for people with diabetes.
  • Making substitutions: Instead of choosing french fries or potatoes, opt for non-starchy beans, cooked vegetables, or a salad.
  • What types of carbohydrates to choose: Always select whole grain options, such as whole-wheat bread and pasta, if possible. Legumes and fruits are higher in fiber and are great carbohydrate choices for people with diabetes.

Foods to avoid

There are some foods and drinks that a person with diabetes should avoid or strictly limit. These include:

  • fried foods
  • sweets
  • sweetened beverages, such as blended coffee drinks, soda, sweet tea, or juice
  • white rice and white bread
  • “loaded” anything, as in baked potatoes or nachos
  • dishes with rich sauces
  • alcoholic beverages

Other dietary tips

Other tips that may help a person with diabetes maintain a healthful diet include:

  • eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day
  • increasing the amount of fiber consumed to 25-38 g per day
  • reducing sugar and salt intake found in sweetened beverages, canned foods, and processed meats
  • replacing saturated fats, such as those in red meat and butter, with mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as those in fish and olive oil
  • using alcohol sparingly, if at all
  • aim for a low salt diet of fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily

Learn your ABC

One of the most important general tips for managing diabetes comes from the CDC, as well as other health experts, who advise people with diabetes to “know their ABCs.” This acronym helps individuals monitor measurements that are essential for keeping their diabetes in check: These include:

  • A1C test: This test measures a 3-month average of blood glucose scores, which should be less than 7.
  • Blood pressure: The targeted measurement is below 130/80.
  • Cholesterol: The targeted levels for LDL (bad cholesterol) should be below 100 and HDL (good cholesterol) should be above 40 for men and 50 for women.

Tips to keep in mind

When it comes to planning dinners, people with diabetes should keep the following tips in mind:

  • A measured plate: Rough amounts for the “diabetic plate” method would include 2 cups of vegetables, 3-4 oz of protein, and a half to 1 cup of complex carbohydrates.
  • Be willing to trade: Healthful dinners do not have to mean no dessert. Simply hold back on carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread or pasta during the main part of the meal and spend the “saved” carbohydrates on a small serving of dessert. Make sure to check your blood sugar 2 hours after you eat, so you know how much the dessert raised it.
  • Add extra vegetables: Use a spiralizer to make zucchini “noodles,” try cauliflower “rice,” or use squash instead of pasta.
  • Plan a walk: Exercising after meals can reduce blood sugar because muscles remove glucose from the bloodstream and don’t need insulin. This is especially helpful when you do consume the occasional sweet.
  • Check your blood sugar: The common times recommended to check blood sugar levels are first thing in the morning after fasting, and two hours after meals. This will help a person to see how well they are managing their blood sugars, and how the food they are eating is affecting them. This can help people make better choices in the future.

Managing Diabetes Through Diet

Diabetes is a widespread state wherein the intensity of glucose present in the circulatory is permanently excessive than in normal conditions. The disease is among the six main reasons for death in America and is accountable for over 180,000 bereavements in the continent every year. Researchers have found that people suffering from diabetes are two to four times more prone to die owing to stroke or heart ailments than those free from the ailment. Apart from death, diabetes often leads to kidney disorders, ailments related to the nervous system, amputation, and even impotence labeling this as one of the most pitiless diseases.

When a person is affected by diabetes, the oxidant resistance system of the individual becomes weak. According to several types of research on diabetes, the LDL or bad cholesterol is more disposed to oxidation in this ailment. However, it has been found that the blood of the diabetes patients contains more detrimental substances that are the fall-out of oxidation of fats in the body. The weak oxidant resistance system of the body owing to diabetes leads to the formation of free radicals which are associated with most of the complications in this ailment. The complications or disorders owing to diabetes include heart ailment, stroke or cardiac arrest, diabetic retinopathy (a disease of the retina caused by diabetes), cataracts and destruction of the nerves.

Following numerous researchers, scientists are now able to comprehend the manner in which diabetes leads to uncontrolled harm to the arteries and veins in our circulatory system. It has been found that the process of accrual of glucose in the blood called hyperglycemia stimulates an enzyme known as Kinase C or PKC into an extra hard level of activity. The PKC not only sends signals to the genes (the basic units of hereditary) and encouraging the cells to develop as well as divide quickly, but also sets off a sequence of reactions that alters the suppleness of the veins and arteries. As a consequence, the hardened or less flexible arteries are disposed to breaking up.

It has also been found during the researchers that PKC also obstructs the small arteries supplying blood to the eyes and this often leads to the disintegration of the arteries causing blindness. On the other hand, rupture of the arteries in the brain can also lead to cardiac arrest or strokes. In the instance of the kidneys, damaging arteries often lead to nephropathy or a disease of the kidney. What is worse is that the blockade or log jam of the larger arteries may result in heart disorders and even malnourish the tissues to fatality. In such conditions, the organ of the body may require amputation.

Medicinal Food and Plants Play A Role:

Various studies have demonstrated that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are crucial to curing diabetes. Omega-3 and omega-6 aid in decreasing oxidation of LDL also known as bad cholesterol, counteract free radicals and fill up the nutritional voids that are frequently associated with diabetes. Filling the nutritional voids can be achieved by controlling and exploiting the gifts of nature. In fact, the use of medicinal plants has a crucial role in this regard.

Purslane, a herbaceous or a plant without a woody stem that grows each year, has fleshy and juicy leaves that enclose the highest concentration of fatty acids ever found in any green leafy plants. Incidentally, this inconspicuous plant also often described as a ‘garden weed’ is rich in nourishing substances that may be of great help in controlling diabetes. Chemical analysis of purslane has revealed that the herb contains tocopherols (both the alpha, gamma, and delta) that are believed to be potent antioxidants. In addition, purslane also encloses substantial amounts of vitamins C, A and E and a wide variety of essential minerals such as zinc, glutathione calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon, and manganese. It may be mentioned here that anti-oxid glutathione and vitamins A, C and E are valuable for treating diabetes as they help in thwarting the inflammatory enzyme PKC from going into additional level of activity or overdrive.

Antioxidant Benefits:

Antioxidants are of immense remedial value to the diabetes patients. While it has already been mentioned that antioxidants prevent the PKC enzyme from going into hyper activity causing harm to the blood vessels, they also lessen the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol that is a primary predicament for diabetes patients. In addition, antioxidants put off platelets from being sticky and also accumulating to form patches on the skin. Most importantly, the antioxidants also help in thwarting blood clots in the circulatory system and consequently save life.

The insulin requirements in type 2 diabetes patients may be lessened considerably by taking the right food and food supplements. Several researches conducted over the years have shown that purslane lessens the quantity of insulin requirement of the diabetics. If any of you or anyone close to you is suffering from diabetes, be prepared to combat the disease with any natural medication. This is because herbal medicines as well as organic food are best to cure the disorder. At the same time, bear in mind the right diet forms the most important aspect of curing diabetes. Another important thing to remember is that a diabetic patient should never stop taking insulin without the advice of his family physician. Stopping the insulin doses may often prove to be fatal for diabetic patients.

How Should I Organize My Diet To Help My Diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the most commonly occurring long-term medical conditions in the world.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 2014, over 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. Diabetes complications can include blindness, kidney problems, and heart disease.

Similar to many long-term diseases, complications may be prevented with proper management of the condition.

“Diet is one of the key elements in managing diabetes,” Amparo Gonzalez, RN, CDE, of the Johnson and Johnson Diabetes Institute. “People with diabetes need to manage the amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and overall calories they eat daily.”

“When it comes to diet, it’s also important to remember moderation and portion control are essential.”

The basics of diabetes

The two major types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

A girl holding a glucometer.
Making the right food choices is important for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes often develops early in life, and the cause is not fully understood. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system damages the cells that make a hormone called insulin. The result is insufficient insulin production.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. It can develop in both children and adults. People with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, or the insulin they do produce is not used efficiently.

Fortunately, both types of diabetes can be managed through medication and lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating. Making healthy food choices and limiting unsuitable foods is a large part of a diabetes treatment plan.

Important goals for managing diabetes through diet include controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight.

The role of diet in diabetes

After eating, food breaks down into glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar and a major source of energy for the body.

In response to an increase in glucose levels, the body releases insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone because it allows the cells in the body to absorb glucose. It also plays a role in helping the body store protein and fat.

In people who have diabetes, their body may stop making insulin, not make sufficient levels of insulin, or may not use insulin efficiently. Without proper insulin production and use, glucose may not be absorbed by the cells. Instead, glucose levels rise in the bloodstream.

There are a couple of problems when blood sugar levels in the bloodstream become high. The cells don’t get the energy they need, and fatigue can occur.

High blood sugar levels over time can also damage blood vessels in the body. When the blood vessels become damaged, various complications can occur, such as kidney and heart disease, and vision loss.

The good news is that by making the right choices, people can manage their diabetes more effectively, keep glucose levels steady, and lower the risk of possible complications.

How does food affect blood sugar levels?

Different foods affect blood sugar levels differently. The three macronutrients the body uses are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates affect glucose levels the most. When eaten alone, protein and fat do not have a significant impact on glucose levels.

It’s important to remember that many foods contain a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Since food can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, it’s essential to make good food choices and monitor carbohydrate intake.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” diet for people with diabetes. Several individual factors play a role in dietary choices, including whether a person is overweight, has kidney disease, and whether they have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

It’s always best to get nutritional advice from a registered dietitian. The guide below provides some general dietary guidelines to help manage diabetes.

Suitable food choices for people with diabetes

It’s difficult to state recommendations for an exact number of grams of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, a person with diabetes should eat.

A glucometer with fruit, vegetables, and grains.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good choices for people with diabetes.

According to dietary guidelines released by the American Diabetic Association (ADA), there is no conclusive evidence supporting an ideal amount of carbohydrates or other nutrients for people with diabetes.

Instead, an emphasis is placed on choosing healthy foods, including:

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates differ from simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly. They also often contain fiber, and they do not affect blood sugar levels as significantly as simple carbohydrates.

Foods containing complex carbohydrates include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Sweet potatoes

Lean protein

The ADA guidelines do not provide a specific protein intake recommendation for blood sugar control. Again, the focus is on healthy choices.

People with diabetes should keep in mind that some sources of protein can be high in fat, which can contribute to weight gain.

The ADA recommend lean sources of protein including:

  • Fish (herring, sardines, salmon, tuna)
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, soy nuts)
  • Lentils

Healthy fats

Fat is an essential nutrient. Certain types of fat, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are considered healthy fats. More important than the quantity of fat is the type of fat eaten, however.

Suitable fat choices include:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Flaxseed

Unsuitable food choices for people with diabetes

People with diabetes should also be aware of food choices that can cause spikes in blood sugar and contribute to being overweight. When choosing foods, it’s helpful to limit those listed below.

A selection of foods that are bad for people with diabetes.
People with diabetes should limit refined carbohydrates and foods containing hidden sugars.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates may include foods containing processed sugar or refined grains. Most refined carbohydrates have their fiber removed and have limited nutritional value. They also lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Refined carbohydrates to be limited include:

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Cereal with added sugar

Trans fat and saturated fat

Excessive amounts of saturated fats and any amount of trans fats are unhealthy for everyone. They can raise “bad” cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.

Foods that are high in trans fat and saturated fat include:

  • Fried food
  • Chips
  • Commercially baked cookies and cakes
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Food containing partially hydrogenated oil

Hidden sugar

People with diabetes should also be aware of foods with hidden sugar. Some foods may look healthy but have a high sugar content on closer inspection.

Always check food labels to determine the sugar and carbohydrate content.

Foods that often contain hidden sugar include:

  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Canned fruit packed in syrup
  • Canned pasta sauce
  • Frozen dinners
  • Bottled condiments

Daily and weekly menu planning tips

People with diabetes may benefit from daily and weekly meal planning. Meal planning can help someone choose foods that keep glucose levels steady and help them maintain a healthy weight. Meal planning should also include keeping track of what is eaten.

There are three main ways for people to track what they eat: carbohydrate counting, glycemic index, and the plate method.

Plate method: Divide the plate into three categories. Half the plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables. One-fourth should consist of whole grains and complex starchy food. The remaining fourth of the plate should contain lean protein.

Carb counting: Carbohydrate counting involves planning how many grams of carbohydrates are eaten with each meal and snack.

Glycemic index: The glycemic index categorizes food by how much it increases blood sugar. Foods that have a high glycemic index raise blood sugar more than foods with a low glycemic index. Meal planning using the glycemic index involves choosing foods that are low or medium on the glycemic index.

Whether planning daily or weekly menus, it’s also important for people with diabetes to keep the following in mind:

  • Eating at regularly set times
  • Avoiding skipping meals as it can affect blood sugar levels
  • Spacing meals and snacks out to prevent large changes in blood sugar levels
  • Eating a wide range of foods
  • Thinking about the size of servings
  • Avoiding carbohydrate-only meals that can cause higher blood sugar spikes

Legumes May Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a serious health concern in the United States and across the globe. New research shows that a high consumption of legumes significantly reduces the risk of developing the disease.
[various types of legumes]
A new study suggests that a high consumption of legumes can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35 percent.

The legume family consists of plants such as alfalfa, clover, peas, peanuts, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, and various types of beans.

As a food group, they are believed to be particularly nutritious and healthful. One of the reasons for this is that they contain a high level of B vitamins, which help the body to make energy and regulate its metabolism.

Additionally, legumes are high in fiber and contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They also comprise a variety of so-called phytochemicals – bioactive compounds that further improve the body’s metabolism and have been suggested to protect against heart disease and diabetes.

Finally, legumes are also considered to be a “low glycemic index food,” which means that blood sugar levels increase very slowly after they are consumed.

To make people aware of the many health benefits of legumes, the year 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pulses are a subgroup of legumes.

Because of their various health benefits, it has been suggested that legumes protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes – a serious illness that affects around 29 million people in the U.S. and more than 400 million adults worldwide. However, little research has been carried out to test this hypothesis.

Therefore, researchers from the Unit of Human Nutrition at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, together with other investigators from the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study, set out to investigate the association between legume consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study also analyzes the effects of substituting legumes with other foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates, and the findings were published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

High intake of lentils lowers risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent

The team investigated 3,349 participants in the PREDIMED study who did not have type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study. The researchers collected information on their diets at the start of the study and every year throughout the median follow-up period of 4.3 years.

Individuals with a lower cumulative consumption of legumes had approximately 1.5 weekly servings of 60 grams of raw legumes, or 12.73 grams per day. A higher legume consumption was defined as 28.75 daily grams of legumes, or the equivalent of 3.35 servings per week.

Using Cox regression models, the researchers analyzed the association between the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the average consumption of legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and fresh peas.

Overall, during the follow-up period, the team identified 266 new cases of type 2 diabetes.

The study revealed that those with a higher intake of legumes were 35 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their counterparts who consumed a smaller amount of legumes. Of all the legumes studied, lentils had the strongest association with a low risk of type 2 diabetes.

In fact, individuals with a high consumption of lentils (defined as almost one weekly serving) were 33 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared with their low-consumption counterparts – that is, the participants who had less than half a serving per week.

Additionally, the researchers found that replacing half a serving per day of legumes with an equivalent portion of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods including bread, eggs, rice, or potatoes also correlated with a reduced risk of diabetes.

The authors conclude that:

“A frequent consumption of legumes, particularly lentils, in the context of a Mediterranean diet, may provide benefits on type 2 diabetes prevention in older adults at high cardiovascular risk.”