One of the scariest diseases of all is diabetes. If, like me, you’ve seen it up close and personal in a family member, you know that diabetes doesn’t play well with others. Can it be lived with? Absolutely. Can you still have a full, beautiful, and wonderful life? Of course! But it’s no picnic and those of us who don’t have prediabetes or diabetes today would be fools if we didn’t do ALL we can to make sure we don’t have it tomorrow.
According to South Beach Diet, our weight, level of activity, and food are HUGE contributing factors that decide our risk of getting diabetes. The good news, of course, is that we can obviously control these things.
Below are the foods recommended by the South Beach Diet – foods that’ll help you keep diabetes off of your radar. I’ve thrown in my own two cents (in italics, to separate me from the experts) with tips for preparing, enjoying, and actually eating (!!!) these foods.
- Eat plenty of whole grains: brown rice, barley, quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, slow-cooking oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, and 100% whole-grain bread. Brown rice and whole-wheat pasta can be enjoyable. It’s all about adding flavor. With brown rice, I love to throw in slivered almonds. Whole-wheat pasta’s a little bit more challenging. Personally, I don’t love the smell. That’s easy to take care of, however, with combinations of garlic, basil, thyme, and even red pepper. Barley can be added, effortlessly, to just about any kind of soup imaginable and as for quinoa? Try it! It’s versatile and fun to cook with. Whole wheat bread takes one simple trick: Buy it instead of white bread. If it’s the only bread you have, it’s the only bread you’ll eat. I actually like, and prefer, wheat bread with everything now.
- Eat lots of beans and legumes. Fall in love with beans! Just be sure you don’t throw in a pound of bacon or bacon grease, please. This all but cancels out the good you’ve done. Flavor beans with onion, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and (my favorite) liquid smoke (in the aisle with BBQ sauce). Beans are heavenly with cornbread and green onions. You won’t miss the bacon, I promise.
- Enjoy a lot of vegetables, prepared using healthy cooking methods such as steaming, sautéing, or grilling. Don’t drown your veggies in creamy, rich sauces or butter. The same rules that apply to bacon apply to these sauces – you cancel out the good. My fave way to fix most vegetables is in my bamboo steamer. Delicious.
- Consume whole, fresh fruits like berries, apples, and/or citrus fruits. Buy fresh fruit and enjoy it often. Grab an apple on the way out the door instead of a pastry or candy bar. Make fresh fruit salads for dessert and snacks. My family LOVES smoothies made with fresh fruit as well as fresh fruit served in yogurt. The natural sweetness of fruit, honestly, makes a great after-dinner choice.
- Include nonfat or low-fat dairy in your diet, such as fat-free or low-fat milk, plain or artificially sweetened low-fat soy milk, and nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt. If you serve fresh fruit in a whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, you’ll be a diabetes-fighting ninja.
- Focus on lean proteins, like skinless poultry or turkey breast, and lean cuts of meat, as well as fish and shellfish. Remember, though, that preparation matters. Fall in love with baked and grilled meats as opposed to fried food.
- Avoid saturated fats and trans fats; instead, choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil and canola oil, for example, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish like salmon and sardines, soybeans, flaxseed, and walnuts. When you put your mind and palate to it, you can find endless ways to use olive oil. I even cook my eggs in olive oil now instead of butter. That’s a giant step for a southerner, trust me. I also love to slice tomatoes and mozzarella and drizzle them with a little olive oil and fresh basil. Here’s an alternative for traditional garlic bread for pasta night: First of all, buy a loaf of whole wheat Italian bread. Bake the bread as directed, with no butter. In a platter, pour out a little olive oil and dust the top of the oil with freshly ground black pepper. Delicately dip your bread into this flavorful concoction in lieu of butter. You can even buy flavored olive oil for this purpose. YUM!
See all South Beach Diet Tips.
Adding More Activity to Your Day
One of the best tips I ever heard concerning activity and exercise basically is this: Your body doesn’t know whether you’re in the gym or in your living room. Just move! If you’re cleaning house or raking the yard, your body’s getting exercise and that’s what’s important. It’s as simple as adding more movements and steps into your daily routine. March in place while watching television, walk the long way to everything you need in stores, park further from the door, adopt a dog (or two) from an animal shelter and fall in love with the joy of taking dogs for walks each day.