How To Adjust Your Diet After A Diabetes Diagnosis
As many as 1 in 4 Americans are currently living with diabetes, and around 90-95% of those are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as a direct result of poor dietary choices. Typically prevalent by around 45 years of age, or sometimes younger, this diagnosis can come as a real blow for individuals who have never before had to consider the sugar content of their foods. Yet, if positive changes aren’t implemented fast, even this developing form of diabetes can lead to narrowing of the blood vessels, heart and kidney disease, and strokes among other potential fatalities.
Luckily, caught early, type 2 diabetes is both manageable and even reversible. However, making sure of these recovery benefits requires intense and immediate dietary changes. Here, we consider what those look like, and how you can implement them as soon as your diagnosis settles.
Step 1: Research your food
While we all have some understanding of basics like nutritional content and sugar intake, we most often don’t do a great deal of research about the foods that we’re eating. This can leave us pretty clueless about what positive changes look like post-diagnosis. Hence, your first step should be to research any good or bad foods (e.g. fruit/veg/legumes vs refined carbs, chocolate bars, etc.), as well as taking the time to get to grips with resources like this glycemic index chart for immediate information about whether or not you’re making the best dietary choices in the moment. Low-GI foods are especially invaluable for lowering blood sugar and, while picking the best options will soon become second nature, having guidance like this to start can be a great way to finally get your diet on track.
Step 2: Practice portion control
What you eat is undeniably the biggest hitter when it comes to turning your diet around, but it’s also important that you realize the importance of portion control when it comes to diabetes-based diets. This is especially essential for high-potassium foods like bananas, which offer undeniable health benefits but can become problematic when consumed in vast quantities. More broadly, making an effort to keep portion sizes down can also lead to the 5-10% weight loss that you need to see blood sugars lowering regardless of what you happen to be eating at the time.
Step 3: Focus on long term goals
Often, individuals make a positive start after a diabetes diagnosis only to fall when they see no notable improvements after even extreme dietary shifts. It’s this difficulty to reach their goals that sees many individuals slowly starting to slip up with regards to sweet treats and high-GI foods. In reality, however, it can take up to twelve weeks to see any positive impact from these dietary shifts, and up to six months to reverse things altogether. Hence, instead of focusing on the day-to-day, it’s essential that individuals set long-term goals for themselves immediately after diagnosis, as well as understanding that, realistically, these dietary changes should be for life to ensure ongoing health and recovery at all times.