Healthy Up Your Kitchen!
Use these tips to improve the healthy eating quotient in your household.
It is time to jettison the notion of a "diabetic diet." After all, what is the best, healthiest diet for someone living with diabetes? It is the very same healthy-eating diet that is best for someone who doesn't have diabetes.
Think about it: What kinds of foods wreak havoc with blood sugar? Those that are high in nutritionally empty carbohydrates –– primarily refined sugar and refined grains. What kinds of foods help moderate blood sugar and help offset an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers? Those that are rich in protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. In other words, the foods that help keep blood glucose under control and help moderate the risks and complications associated with diabetes are the same foods we all need to eat for optimal health.
That's all great news for a diabetes household – and for the person with diabetes. It means one less thing that person has to think about, one less challenge in their day. So by keeping a healthy kitchen, you're doing the right thing for everyone's health and you're creating a home environment in which all cabinets and all refrigerator shelves and compartments are "fair game" for everyone.
By now, you know about eating your veggies. Here are some other great guidelines for keeping a healthy kitchen:
1. Stock your refrigerator with protein. Great refrigerator protein staples include: hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken strips, chicken salad, tuna fish, three bean salad, hummus, plain or sugar-free yogurt, string cheese, nuts, and seeds.
2. Eat seafood three times a week. Unless you pass a fish market on your way home each day, it's hard to have fresh fish available more than once a week. So buy your favorite fillets fresh, but keep frozen shrimp, rock shrimp, scallops, or even kabob-sized cubes of fish in your freezer, and you can quickly cook custom portions in a saut pan with olive or grapeseed oil and garlic.
3. Keep packaged snack foods to a minimum, and shop for them only in the natural foods section of your store. It's a law of physics (or should be): If chips and cookies are there, they will be eaten. So buy the kind with the healthiest ingredients choices – or skip the category all together.
4. Buy good-quality spices and fresh herbs. You do not have to be a cook to use herbs and spices in your food, yet they can transform basic dishes into memorable meals – and boost the health quotient. Most spices come with impressive health benefits, and like salad greens, herbs are full of plant chemicals with antioxidant and other disease-fighting properties. Try simply adding chopped parsley to your meals one week; experiment with sage and thyme the next. Find a spice specialty store, and get yourself some black pepper, chili powder, and maybe a spice blend made for chicken.
5. Go big with fruit bowl. In a couple of highly conspicuous places, maintain big bowls of low-glycemic fruits (apples, peaches, pears, plums) that are easy to grab on the go. Fruit does contain natural sugars that can raise blood glucose levels, so keep portions reasonable and always test.
Don't think of diabetes as something that restricts food choices; seize the opportunity to discover delicious, new, healthy foods, and expand your family's culinary horizon.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...