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Your Health

Nutrition and Diabetes

Don't let your sugars get you down

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering what kinds of changes you'll need to make to your diet. Of course, some of those adjustments will depend on what type of diabetes you have – Type 1 or Type 2 – but in either case there are certain things to know to keep yourself healthy.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses sugar, or glucose, for growth and energy. As a result, your blood sugar becomes too high, which can, over time, cause harm to your heart, kidneys, eyes and feet.

One of the best ways to help control diabetes is through a healthy, balanced diet and by staying as close as possible to your ideal weight. Your doctor or dietitian will help you determine that as well as giving you guidance about which foods they recommend and which ones you should stay away from.

Understanding carbohydrates

While being aware of your entire diet is important, understanding the role of carbohydrates, or "carbs" is critical. There are two types of carbohydrates:

  1. Simple carbohydrates, found in cakes, soda, candy
  2. Complex carbohydrates, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains

In general, complex carbohydrates satisfy your hunger over a longer period of time and are more consistent in maintaining your blood sugar level and promote better health by providing vitamins, minerals, fibers and other nutrients.

One common method of keeping your blood sugar at the proper level is through "counting carbs" and is developed with your physician, nurse educator or dietitian. It involves three steps:

  1. Establishing a meal plan
  2. Understanding how to read food labels
  3. Learning how to accurately measure and weigh your food

Sounds like a lot of work, right? But the good news is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. And after a while, you'll be managing your blood sugar and eating great tasting food!

For more on diabetes and nutrition, see these tips from a doctor who recommends "mindful eating" to keep diabetes in check.