Nutritional Considerations

Proper nutrition is important for managing diabetes and preventing its complications. In people with pre-diabetes, regular physical activity and proper nutrition can delay the onset of diabetes or prevent it entirely. A registered dietitian can help you develop a plan for eating healthy that meets your individual needs. Here are some answers to common questions:

Because even losing small amounts of weight can help your body use insulin better, losing weight is important for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Limiting fat so that it is less than 30% of your total calories combined with doing regular physical activity has been shown to help people with diabetes lose weight and control their blood sugar better. Your doctor or diabetes educator might recommend a structured weight loss plan to help you achieve your goals.

Because carbohydrates in foods are converted into sugar (glucose) by the body, eating the right amounts of carbohydrates is key to staying healthy. Try to get your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes such as beans and low-fat milk. Low-carb diets, where carbohydrates are less than 130 grams per day, are not recommended for people with diabetes. Your dietitian will teach you how to count carbohydrates and will help you decide how many carbohydrates you need based on your weight, activity level and the medicines you’re taking.

Because people with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease, you should limit your saturated fat to less than 7% of your total calories. You should also minimize trans fats in your diet because these fats lower your good (HDL) cholesterol while raising your bad (LDL) cholesterol. You should consume less than 200 milligrams per day of cholesterol and eat two or more servings of fish (not fried) per week for a healthy heart.