Grocery List Essentials for Diabetes

As more and more people of all ages are diagnosed with diabetes everyday, grocery stores can expect people to turn more toward home cooked meals, seeking out nutrition advice and healthier options for feeding themselves and their families.

October 20, 2017

By Tyler Kim, RDBA Dietetic Intern, Wellness Workdays

30.3 million Americans in 2015 had Type 2 diabetes, and 1.5 million more are diagnosed every year.  Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form, occurs when the body becomes unable to adequately use the insulin produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar, especially after eating.  When the body is overloaded with carbohydrates or sugars, especially refined carbs, over time the pancreas is unable to keep up with the demand for insulin to keep these blood glucose levels in check. Hyperglycemia, or elevated blood glucose can wreak havoc on the organs with complications including increased risk for heart and kidney disease, nerves damage and amputations, and impaired vision or blindness. 

In managing type 2 diabetes, aside from medication, the two key components are physical activity and adopting a healthful eating pattern.  Thus, as more and more people of all ages are diagnosed everyday, grocery stores can expect people to turn more toward home cooked meals, seeking out nutrition advice and healthier options for feeding themselves and their families.  

Here are some "superfoods" to incorporate into a diabetes-friendly (or any general healthful) eating pattern:

  • Beans, soy, and other plant-based proteins: Low in fat and richer in fiber, vitamins and minerals, plant-proteins are a nutrition powerhouse. Often containing as much protein as their animal counterpart per serving minus the saturated fat and cholesterol, these products are a great choice for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables, especially the leafy greens, are important components in any diet, but especially for diabetes.  Loaded with phytochemicals/antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals but low in calories and carbohydrates, they are ideal choices for controlling blood glucose after eating. As a general rule of thumb, try making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables, which can be fresh, frozen, or canned (Tip: If using canned, go for the no or low-sodium if available or rinse with water before eating).
  • Citrus Fruits and Berries: Though fruits do contribute to carbohydrate intake due to their naturally occurring sugars, they are still part of a healthful dietary pattern for diabetics as they contribute an array of essential vitamins and minerals.  Citrus fruits, berries, and apples are specially good options for diabetics due to their high fiber and antioxidant properties. 
  • Oatmeal and other whole grains: When choosing carbohydrates for diabetes management, it is important to pick your grains wisely.  Whole grains are definitely the way to go as they still have their bran and germ intact.  This is where the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals are naturally stored but almost entirely removed in the refining process.
  • Nuts, Seeds, and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:  Packed with fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, and protein, but low in carbohydrates, these foods are ideas choices especially in place of saturated and trans fats.  They help with satiety, heart health and inflammation, as well as blood glucose control.  Examples of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds.  

Hopefully this provides a helpful tool for basic meal planning and creating grocery lists for diabetes-friendly shopping.  For any further questions or individualized nutrition guidance, customers should be encouraged to seek out the help of your friendly supermarket dietitian or to consult his/her local registered dietitian and/or certified diabetes educator (CDE). 

Sources:
http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html?loc=db-slabnav
http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/diabetes-superfoods.html
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/10/2947.short
http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/?referrer=https://www.google.com/
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

 

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