Diabetes requires many lifestyle changes. If you do not make them and just continue living like you did before you were diagnosed with this chronic condition, you will inevitably suffer serious consequences. Uncontrolled blood sugar causes severe damage to your body. It can impair your eyesight, cause chronic nerve pain, or kidney failure. The list of potential complications is long.
The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent these things from happening. So much is up to you.
First thing is to look for help. A good specialist will know how to help you. If he/she prescribes you some therapy — which may include diabetes medications — make sure to follow it.
Physical activity is also important. Especially if you are overweight. It will help you to lose weight and lower the risk of developing other chronic conditions associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, and hypertension.
Then there is diet. It is a very powerful tool in the struggle with diabetes. With this disease, you are what you eat. If you maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet your quality of life with diabetes will improve significantly.
What you eat is completely up to you. This is great because with some education you can make smart choices and stay healthy. Shopping for food is crucial here. If you surround yourself with healthy food, get rid of all the bad dietary options, and develop new shopping habits you’re on the road to success in the fight against diabetes.
For this, you need some basic knowledge. Some tricks can help you to shop for food smartly. In this article, we bring you three such tricks that can help you stay on the right path in every section of the supermarket, and with all types of food.
3 Tricks to Control Blood Sugar
Before you even go shopping to bring more food into the house, clean up! This means to go through your food supplies and get rid of everything that goes against your new lifestyle. Many unnecessary food items cannot only be a source of temptation but also a cause of serious health problems.
So, take a garbage bag or a box and take a look inside your fridge, pantry, and all the places you store food in. Take all the processed foods, frozen meals, canned foods with additives, sweets, snacks, sodas, pastries, etc. Sort them all in the box to donate or just throw them away, you won’t be needing them anymore.
Now you are ready to stock up on healthy food. Use these three trick when you are shopping and you are guaranteed to make a good choice every time.
- Most of the foods you buy should be raw and organic
- Always read the product labels and look for additives
- Stay clear of the snacks aisle
Now, let’s explain each of these shopping tricks in more detail.
1.) Buy Raw and Organic Food
The biggest portion of your diet should be made of raw and organic foods. If buying organic foods puts too much strain on your budget, at least try to make 60% of your diet raw.
Naturally, this means plenty of foods and vegetables. Raw, organic, milk is also a great option. Avoid raw meat and fish, they are not very safe.
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is great for blood sugar control.
When you go shopping, start in the produce section. Explore, look, smell, and touch. You will quickly realize that only natural, unprocessed foods look and smell healthy.
Follow your instinct here. Choose what is most appealing to you. Try new flavors. Do not limit yourself. It is difficult to make mistakes when you eat fruits and vegetables. They are all packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. Calories are not a problem. Most fruits and vegetables are very low in calories.
The PLU Codes
Pay attention to the price look-up codes (PLU codes) on produce. The numbers you find there can tell you a lot about the product you are buying. The most important information you will find there is the origin of the product. You can see if the product was grown using conventional methods and if it is organic or genetically modified (GMO).
PLU codes have either four or five digits. Conventionally grown products have four-digit PLU codes that start with numbers 3 or 4. Organic products’ PLU codes have five digits and start with 9. GMO products’ PLU codes also have five digits and start with 8.
For example, conventionally grown bananas can have the 3011 or 4011 PLU code. For organic bananas, number 9 is added at the beginning so the PLU code is 94011. GMO bananas have the 84011 PLU code.
Conventionally grown produce can contain traces of pesticides, hormones, or heavy metals. Some of these contaminants are associated with increased diabetes risk.
2.) Read the Labels and Recognize Dangerous Additives
Some food additives can be bad for your health. They are added to almost all processed foods to improve flavor (flavor enhancers), prolong shelf-life (food preservatives), add color (artificial color), etc. Additives are associated with cancer, asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and hyperactivity. It is best to avoid eating them.
The problem is how to recognize additives in your food. It’s easy if you know what you are looking for. All additives can be found on the label. So, make sure to always read the product labels. You’ll be amazed by the amount of junk you will avoid eating if you just take some time to read the label.
Aside from the brand name and nutrition facts, every label has a section that says “Contains” or “Ingredients”. Here you can find all the additives. The following is a list of some common additives you should avoid:
Guar Gum (E412)
Food thickener found in sauces, dressings, and ice cream. Higher amounts can cause constipation and bowel obstruction.
Xanthan Gum (E415)
Thickener that can cause digestive problems.
Used mostly in diet drinks. Some, like aspartame (951), are associated with causing headaches and other health problems.
Yeast Extract (E620 – E640)
Flavor enhancer associated with high hypertension risk.
Sodium Nitrite (250 and E250)
Regular ingredient of processed meats, associated with stomach cancer.
Sodium Benzoate (211 and E211)
A preservative found in juices and sodas. It is connected with ADHD, hyperactivity in children, and cancer.
Artificial Flavoring and Color
Potentially toxic chemicals used to mimic the taste and color of natural foods.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
A sweetener used in snacks, sweets, and sodas. It is strongly linked to obesity and diabetes.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (620 – 625)
Flavor enhancer commonly found in savory foods and salty snacks, associated with neurological damage.
Stay Clear of the Snacks Aisle
This is simple and straightforward. Do not go to the snacks section. There is nothing for you there. All snacks are empty calories. Junk food with no nutritional value. Avoid temptation completely by staying clear of the snack aisle in the supermarket.
This does not mean that you cannot snack on anything. Raw nuts are the best option for a healthy lifestyle. They have great nutritional value and are very rich in healthy fats and fiber.
There are also many healthy snack recipes on the internet. Do your research and you will see that it is possible to enjoy a healthy diet and be happy.
The Final Word
You can choose what you eat. That is great news. Don’t take it for granted. You have the control and you can fight diabetes on your terms. Keep this in mind whenever you go shopping for food. Don’t be a victim of temporary pleasures and temptations, they are not worth it.
Your health is worth more than any delicious snack potentially loaded with additives, chemicals, and toxins. Use the three shopping tricks from this article to make healthy food choices and you will always stay one step ahead of diabetes.
- McMacken M, Shah S. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017; 14(5):342–354. doi:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.009
- Sharma M, Rajput A, Rathod C, Sahu S.Food Chemicals Induces Toxic Effect on Health: Overview. 2018; 6(4): 33-37.
- Carocho M, Morales P, Ferreira ICFR. Sweeteners as food additives in the XXI century: A review of what is known, and what is to come. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Sep; 107(Pt A):302-317. Doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.06.046. Epub 2017 Jul 5.
- Wang PY, Fang JC, Gao ZH, Zhang C, Xie SY. Higher intake of fruits, vegetables or their fiber reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. J Diabetes Investig. 2016; 7(1):56–69. doi:10.1111/jdi.12376