Nutrition Basics

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Healthy Eating

Eating for Disease Management

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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
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Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
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Nutrition Library: Eating for Disease Management

What should I eat as a diabetic?



Proteins

Protein foods are meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, fish, and tofu. Eat small amounts of some of these foods each day.

Protein foods help your body build tissue and muscles. They also give your body vitamins and minerals.

The number of servings you should eat each day depends on the calories you need and how you take care of your diabetes.

How much is a serving of protein food?

One serving:

  • Two to three ounces of cooked fish
  • Two to three ounces of cooked chicken
  • Two to three ounces of cheese
  • Two to three ounces of tofu

The serving size you eat now may be too big. One serving should weigh between 2 and 3 ounces after cooking, about the size of a deck of cards.

Healthy ways to buy, cook, and eat proteins

  • Buy cuts of beef, pork, ham, and lamb that have only a little fat on them. Trim off extra fat
  • Eat chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Cook protein foods in low-fat ways
  • Broil
  • Grill
  • Stir-fry
  • Roast
  • Steam
  • Stew

*To add more flavor, use vinegar, lemon juice, soy or teriyaki sauce, salsa, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and herbs and spices.

*Cook eggs with a small amount of fat.

*Eat small amounts of nuts, peanut butter, fried chicken, fish, or shellfish. They are high in fat.

Starches

Starches are bread, grains, cereal, pasta, or starchy vegetables. Eat some starches at each meal. People might tell you not to eat many starches, but that is no longer correct advice. Eating starches is healthy for everyone, including people with diabetes.

The number of servings you should eat each day depends on both the calories you need and your diabetes treatment plan.

Starches give your body energy, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Whole grain starches are healthier because they have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps you have regular bowel movements.

How much is a serving of starch?

One serving:

  • One slice of bread
  • One small potato
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal

Two servings:

  • Two slices of bread
  • One small potato and one small ear of corn

Three servings:

  • One small roll and 1/2 cup of peas and one small potato
  • One cup of rice

You might need to eat one, two, or three starch servings at a meal. If you need to eat more than one serving at a meal, choose several different starches or have two or three servings of one starch.

Healthier ways to buy, cook, and eat starches

  • Buy whole grain breads and cereals.
  • Eat fewer fried and high-fat starches such as regular tortilla chips and potato chips, french-fries, pastries, biscuits, or muffins.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free yogurt or fat-free sour cream instead of regular sour cream on a baked potato.
  • Use mustard instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich.
  • Use the low-fat or fat-free substitutes such as low-fat mayonnaise or light margarine on bread, rolls, or toast.
  • Use vegetable oil spray instead of oil, shortening, butter, or margarine.
  • Cook or eat cereal with fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Use no-sugar jelly, low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese, nonfat yogurt, or salsa.

 

Vegetables

Eat raw and cooked vegetables every day. Vegetables give you vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with very few calories.

The number of servings you should eat each day depends on the calories you need and how you take care of your diabetes.

How much is a serving of vegetables?

One serving:

  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/2 cup of cooked green beans

Two servings:

  • 1/2 cup of carrots and 1/2 cup of salad
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable juice and 1/2 cup of cooked green beans

Three Servings:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked green beans and 1/2 cup of cooked greens and one small tomato
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli and 1/2 cup of tomato juice

You might need to eat one, two, or three vegetable servings at a meal. If you need to eat more than one serving at a meal, choose a few different types of vegetables or have two or three servings of one vegetable.

Healthy ways to buy, cook, and eat vegetables

Eat raw and cooked vegetables with little or no fat. You can cook and eat vegetables without any fat.

  • Try low-fat or fat-free salad dressing on raw vegetables or salads.
  • Steam vegetables using a small amount of water or low-fat broth.
  • Mix in some chopped onion or garlic.
  • Use a little vinegar or some lemon or lime juice.
  • Add a small piece of lean ham or smoked turkey.
  • Sprinkle with herbs and spices. These flavorings add almost no fat or calories.

If you do use a small amount of fat, use canola oil, olive oil, or tub margarine instead of fat from meat, butter, or shortening.

Fruits

Fruit gives you energy, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

The number of servings you should eat each day depends on the calories you need and how you take care of your diabetes.

How much is a serving of fruit?

One serving:

  • One small apple
  • 1/2 cup of juice
  • 1/2 of a grapefruit

Two Servings:

  • One banana
  • 1/2 cup of juice and 1 1/4 cup of whole strawberries

You might need to eat one or two fruit servings at a meal. If you need to eat more than one serving at a meal, choose different types of fruits or have two servings of one fruit.

How should I eat fruit?

Eat fruits raw, as juice with no sugar added, canned in their own juice, or dried.

  • Buy smaller pieces of fruit.
  • Eat pieces of fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. Pieces of fruit are more filling.
  • Buy fruit juice that is 100-percent juice with no added sugar.
  • Drink fruit juice in small amounts.
  • Save high-sugar and high-fat fruit desserts such as peach cobbler or cherry pie for special occasions.

Milk and yogurt

Milk and yogurt give you energy, protein, calcium, vitamin A, and other vitamins and minerals.

Drink fat-free (skim or nonfat) or low-fat (1%) milk each day. Eat low-fat or fat-free yogurt. They have less total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

The number of servings you should eat each day depends on the calories you need and how you take care of your diabetes.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, eat four to five servings of milk and yogurt each day.

How much is a serving of milk and yogurt?

  • One serving:
  • One cup of fat free plain yogurt
  • One cup of skim milk

 

Fats and oils

You find the fats and oils section at the tip of the pyramid. This tells you to eat small amounts of fats and oils because they have lots of calories. Some fats and oils also contain saturated fats and cholesterol that are not good for you.

You also get fat from other foods such as meats and some dairy foods.

High-fat food is tempting. But eating small amounts of high-fat food will help you lose weight, keep your blood sugar and blood fats under control, and lower your blood pressure.

How much is a serving of fat or oil?

One serving:

  • One strip of bacon




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