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Summer foods and diet for people with diabetes, vegetables and fruit

Have Diabetes? Beat Those Diet Summertime Blues

Tasty, healthy food choices are out there for you

Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the tempting food at summer parties and picnics.

Registered dietitian Cheryl Reitz, of Cleveland Clinic’s Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute, says that although warm weather celebrations can be challenging for both adults and children with diabetes, there are strategies to help you make nutritious food choices.

Food choices a balancing act

“It’s important to balance a meal correctly with one quarter of your plate from lean protein, one half from non-starchy vegetables and one quarter from starchy sides,” Ms. Reitz says. “This provides an easy way to lower your carb intake at a meal, adds volume to fill you up, helps lower the fat content of the meal and helps control those after-meal spikes in blood sugar.”

She also suggests going easy on sauces such as sweet and sour, barbecue or teriyaki. Just 3 tablespoons can have as many carbs as a slice of bread or piece of fruit.

Instead, consider bringing a healthy dish such as a salad or seasonal vegetable to a party. “If you focus on eating healthier options,” Ms. Reitz says, “it’s easier to include treats such as an extra starchy side or a dessert.”

More tips to keep you on track

Other strategies to stay on track at summer parties include:

  • Eating a salad beforehand to decrease hunger and avoid overindulging 
  • Drinking water or diet beverages to additionally limit calories and carbs
  • Getting more physical activity that day to help maintain better blood sugar control

Summer fruits and veggies make it easier

Ms. Reitz says the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer makes it easy to eat more of them. Four quick facts: 

  • It takes 3 cups of raw or 1-and-1/2 cups of cooked non-starchy vegetables to equal the same amount of carbs in a single slice of bread
  • Fresh fruit is a great substitute for baked sweet treats 
  • Some fruits have a higher fiber content than others — for more fiber, eat 3/4 cup of berries, 1 cup of melon or a small apple, orange, peach, pear or nectarine that fits in the palm of your hand
  • Serving sizes can be deceiving; for example, grapes and cherries should be eaten in moderation — just 10 grapes and 12 cherries equal 1 serving

Eating a balanced diet is the best plan if you have diabetes, Ms. Reitz says. But you can be healthy and have fun at the same time. Incredible Italian Dip and Tortellini-to-go Salad (from You Can Eat That! Awesome Foods for Kids with Diabetes by Robyn Webb are healthy and tasty recipes, perfect for grown-ups and kids alike.

More information

Tags: Catalyst, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, Recipes, Type 2 diabetes
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  • Tim Carter

    I feel this is really poor information you have provided in this newsletter. One quarter plate lean protein is not correct unless you are talking about plant protein. When you say protein, most people think eggs, meat, fish, poultry. These foods are not going to help anyone with diabetes or obesity. Most people do not realize that plants have plenty of protein in them. I would reference Dr. Neal Barnard’s books, research and studies. The notion that diabetes patients should restrict quality starch like brown rice and sweet potatoes in favor of animal protein is patently false. I would also reference your own Dr. Esselstyne of Cleveland Clinic to get updated on what the best diet is for diabetics and heart disease prevention and reversal. You at Cleveland Clinic can play a vital role in educating the population on the real way to reverse diabetes through a proper diet and exercise program. Please step up to the plate and swing for the fences.

    • Dillonvale1964

      Tim… Just because you are a vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean that others have to follow suit. You can be very healthy and consume animal protein. Drs. Bernard and Esseltyn are not the last words on diet and nutrition. There are other perspectives that are as equally or more valid. The human body is very complex and our knowledge of it is constantly evolving.