Eating a Balanced Diet for Diabetes Prevention & Fertility
November is National Diabetes Month. If you are trying to conceive or have had problems conceiving due to infertility, then considering what role your food plays makes very good sense.
Eating a balanced diet for Diabetes prevention – Let’s start with the food: Being choosey about carbohydrates.
Choosing the right carbohydrates and balancing a meal with a lean protein and heart healthy fats can help prevent, or better manage diabetes. Balancing your plate with one-quarter carbohydrates, one-quarter protein and half vegetables will start you off in the right direction.
Food is essentially made up of three components: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Some foods fall into only one category. For example, olive oil is a fat and an egg is mostly a protein. Other foods such as beans are a carbohydrate and a protein.
Carbohydrates are foods, which raise glucose, or blood sugar, fueling our brain and giving us energy. We need carbohydrates to function! But when we take in too many, or take in too much of the wrong carbohydrates, our muscles and cells are unable to receive the blood sugar as energy, causing the glucose to remain high in our blood stream and in some cases, become stored as extra weight. High blood sugar over a long period of time can result in a state of pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The Basic Question You Need to Consider About Diabetes & Carbohydrates
Should I eliminate carbohydrates?
The simple answer is no. Make sure though, that you understand which carbohydrates are better choices for glucose control and good health.
Carbohydrates are made up of three elements; sugar, starch and fiber. Simple carbohydrates (sometimes called “bad carbs”) are mainly sugar. Some examples include soda, candy, honey, corn syrup, fruit juice, cake and cookies. These carbohydrates are quickly digested and cause a quick rise in our blood sugar and provide little, if any vitamins or nutrients.
Complex carbohydrates, sometimes called “good carbs” are starches, which are often high in fiber and have some protein. Examples of good carbs are oatmeal, brown rice, lentils, quinoa peas, beans, whole wheat breads and fruit.
What about vegetables? Vegetables have a small amount of carbohydrates with lots of fiber and antioxidants. Fiber is crucial as it helps our digestive system absorb important nutrients while helping to maintain a more even rise in blood sugar. Fiber also helps prevent constipation and can keep our bad cholesterol levels in check.
Protein is necessary for our muscles, organs, skin and our immune system. It is found in meat, poultry, fish, tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, dairy, nuts and seeds. Protein is digested in the stomach and helps to keep us feeling fuller longer. Proteins from animal and fish sources do not have any carbohydrates. Plant based proteins such as nuts and beans do contain carbohydrates.
Fats are a key element for certain reproductive hormones. Fats help keep us feeling full and energetic, and also help us to absorb many vitamins. Please be aware that not all fats are created equal. The Omega 3 fats found in fish such as salmon are an anti-inflammatory and help to lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. Olive oil and canola oil are monounsaturated fats, which when used to replace butter, can help to lower cholesterol. Nuts and seeds are a source of protein and a healthy fat. The fats that are harmful are the trans-fats and saturated fats found in many processed foods.
Making simple changes in your food is the first step. Perhaps take one idea from this blog and add a healthier food choice, modify a serving size or replace a less healthy food item. The key is not to feel that you have to do this all at once.
Or that you have to do it alone.
In honor of November being National Diabetes Month, every Monday we will have information about food, diabetes and fertility.
We are here to help.
About Laura Wolfe, RDN, CDE
Laura Wolfe, RDN, CDE is a nutrionist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT). Wolfe has been a practicing nutritionist since graduating the University of New Haven in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has also earned several certifications: Registered Dietician (2011), Certified Dietary Nutritionist (2012), and Certified Diabetes Educator (2014). She has a special interest in family counseling, particularly for diabetes and prevention of chronic disease, pediatric obesity and gestational diabetes. Wolfe counsels in group settings, as well as one-on-one with a gentle approach to provide guidance about healthier eating behaviors.