Healthy eating for diabetes

December 4, 2023

How diabetics should eat is the way we all should eat, said Suzanne Henson, RD, LD, assistant professor with the College of Community Health Sciences and a registered dietitian with University Medical Center, which is operated by CCHS.

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that limits the body from making insulin, which releases the sugar in your blood into your body’s cells to be used for energy. One important way to help manage diabetes is with a healthy diet, Henson said in a Mini Medical School presentation as part of The University of Alabama’s OLLI program.

Mini Medical School is a semester-long series of lectures provided to OLLI participants by CCHS faculty and UMC health-care providers.

A balanced, healthy diet includes six major groups of food that people need, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water, Henson said.

The American Diabetes Association recommends consumption of 130 grams of carbohydrates daily. “Total carbohydrates, which include sugar, starch and fiber, should be maintained as too many carbohydrates can cause high blood pressure in the body,” Henson explained.

She said people should check portion sizes when fixing their meals. “The size of your palm can be your meat. The size of your first can include your veggies, rice, pasta and fruits and your fingertip can be for your fats, such as butter.”

Looking at food labels is also important so that you know the number of servings and the grams of carbohydrates included, Henson said. She said breakfast, lunch and supper should include 30-45 grams of carbohydrates each, and three snacks per day that add up to 15 grams each.

For information about maintaining a healthy diet with diabetes, visit the University Medical Center’s patient education website for diabetes.