Diabetes and Nutrition — A Q&A With Our Expert

cheese and peanut butter on crackers

Today’s diabetic diet is simply a healthy diet. To help you live your best with this condition, S. Sethu Reddy, MD, of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, answers common questions about diabetes:

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Q: Are overweight people more likely to get diabetes?
A: Yes — but only if diabetes runs in the family.

Q: Should I avoid veggies that have carbohydrates?
A: No, starchy veggies like peas and corn contain very few carbs. Try to fill half your plate with veggies. It will help you lose weight and control your blood sugar.

Q: Is it OK to fill up on high-protein, low-sugar foods like cheese and peanut butter?
A: These foods are laden with fat and can hinder your weight loss. Peanut butter is a better choice than cheese because it contains a healthier form of fat.

Q: I feel so limited in what I can eat. How can I handle my hunger?
A: Try eating more fiber. Foods like oatmeal, whole-grain breads, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta will help you feel full longer.

Q: How do I stay motivated to eat right?
A: A registered dietitian can help you identify foods you like that are OK to eat. He or she can help you “negotiate” which foods to give up or cut back on. Small adjustments can make a big difference!

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Q: Is it safe to diet?
A: Yes, but avoid rigid eating plans that take away personal choice. And steer clear of fads that don’t provide a balanced diet.

Q: Should I focus on carbs and not worry so much about fat?
A: The easiest way to cut your calories is to cut the fat. But go ahead and indulge a little — fat helps you feel full longer.

Q: Will using olive oil cut calories because it’s a healthier type of fat?
A: No, because olive oil has just as many calories as other sources of fat.

Q: Do I have to watch sodium too?
A: Yes. Your risk for heart disease is higher with diabetes. High blood pressure — associated with high salt intake — can lead to many diabetes complications.

Q: What about alcohol?
A: If you’re taking a glucose-lowering agent or insulin, drink with caution. Alcohol can make it harder to sense low blood sugar.

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Q: Is there a big difference between “reduced fat,” “low fat” and “fat-free”?
A: Yes. Reduced fat means a product has at least 25 percent less fat than the original — that doesn’t mean it’s low in fat. Going from best to worst, your options are fat-free, low fat, light or lite, and reduced fat.

Q: How does serving size come into play?
A: Don’t be fooled by companies that halve a normal serving size just to label their product “low-carb” or “low-cal.” That means you’ll need to eat two servings of the product to consume a single serving, nutritionally speaking.

A healthy diet doesn’t have to be a hard one if you follow these tips.

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