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Healthier alternatives for diabetes meal planning

healthier alternatives for diabetes meal planning
Quinoa, avocado and apple salad. Perfect for the detox diet or just a healthy meal. Selective focus on front of dish with extreme shallow depth of field.

Eating healthy is one of the cornerstones of managing diabetes. Despite what many people believe, this doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you enjoy eating. Nor does it mean introducing a whole bunch of new foods you have never tried. Substituting healthier alternatives for diabetes meal planning can go a long way to helping you continue enjoying some of your favorite foods. Despite the fact that they are considered healthier alternatives, it's important to keep in mind portion sizes, so that the calories per serving are appropriate for your meal plan.

Choosing foods with higher fibre content can help with blood sugar control; while foods lower in fat can help improve cholesterol levels and assist with weight management and foods lower in sodium can help you manage your blood pressure. In the “Choose this” columns below are foods that are higher in fibre, or lower in sugar, fat or sodium than the alternative choices in the “Instead of this” columns. Experimenting with some of the healthier options is the way to find out if you’ll actually miss the food that was replaced. You may be surprised to discover that you actually prefer the healthier option!

Grains and Starches:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Whole grain or rye breadWhite bread
Sweet potatoWhite potato or French fries
Brown rice or basmati riceShort grain rice
Whole-grain cereals with no added sugarCereals made with processed grains and added sugar
Barley, bulgur, quinoaPasta or rice
Corn or whole wheat tortillaWhite flour tortilla

 

Vegetables:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Fresh vegetables- raw, steamed, roasted, or grilledVegetables cooked with added butter or cheese sauce
Frozen vegetables, lightly steamedCanned vegetables

Fruits:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Fresh fruitFruit juice
No-sugar-added applesauceSweetened applesauce
Frozen fruit or fruit canned in fruit juiceCanned fruit with heavy sugar syrup

Protein:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Egg whitesWhole eggs
Lower-fat cuts of meat, such as sirloinHigher-fat cuts of meat
Roast turkey or chickenCold cuts or lunch meats
Ground turkeyGround beef
Low-fat cheeses (less than 20% M.F.)Regular cheeses (more than 20% M.F.)
Skinless chicken or turkey breastChicken or turkey with skin
Salmon, trout, mackerel – baked or steamedBattered fried fish
Lentils or legumes (chick peas, kidney beans) for taco filling or pasta sauceGround beef

Milk and Alternatives:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

1% or skim milkWhole or 2% milk
Low-fat yogurt (less than 2% M.F.)Yogurt with more than 4% M.F.

Fats and Oils:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Non-hydrogenated margarineHydrogenated or “hard” margarine, butter
Low fat sour cream on baked potatoButter or regular sour cream on baked potato
Olive oil or canola oilButter or vegetable oil for cooking; use olive oil for dipping bread instead of adding butter to bread

Snacks and Sweets:

Choose this:

Instead of this:

Water, unflavored or flavored soda waterRegular pop
Air-popped or “light” microwave popcornPotato chips or pretzels
Sugar-free gelatin dessert or puddingIce cream
Sugar-free or “light” hot chocolateChocolate bar

About Joanne Lewis

Joanne Lewis, Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, is the Director of Nutrition with Diabetes Canada where she is responsible for the development of diabetes education tools for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes. She has nearly 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator working in both hospital- and community-based programs. Ms Lewis has collaborated in the development and implementation of professional diabetes education programs and has presented at local, national and international conferences on a variety of diabetes and chronic disease related topics and has served as an advisor and reviewer for professional organizations and journals.

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