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Armalyn Tesoro     Food portions: Eat to survive, not live to eat

As most of you are aware November is Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought it would appropriate to write about the importance of meal planning and proper food portions, which can be beneficial not only to those with diabetes and those at risk of diabetes, but for everyone in general.


People with diabetes are unable to utilize and store glucose, which is a form of sugar. Glucose or sugar is the fuel our bodies need to function, so we need a regular supply of sugar or glucose at regular intervals because too much all at once or too little glucose can lead to health problems.

High cholesterol is a serious heath problem that is associated with diabetes, so it is important to control not only sugar intake but fat intake as well. Those who have or are at risk of diabetes especially need to regulate their glucose and fat intake.

Proper food portion size is a good way of keeping blood sugar levels under control and maintaining a healthy weight. Managing diabetes and a healthy lifestyle can be achieved by consuming appropriately portioned nutrient rich foods that are low in glucose and fat. Although there is medication to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, healthy eating is essential as a preventative measure.

It is recommended for a meal to consist of half a plate of vegetables. By eating more vegetables you can increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are also low in fat and glucose, yet are high in fibre, which helps you feel full longer. (See the plate diagram from Canadian Diabetes Association.)

One-quarter of the plate is for grains and starches such as rice, breads, cereals, noodles or potatoes. These starchy foods help give you energy by being broken down into sugar. Eating too much rice or noodles can contribute to increased sugar levels. High fibre foods will help you feel full faster (so you don’t eat too much) and can even help lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Brown rice has more fibre and is more full of nutrients than white rice.

The other quarter of the plate is for meat such as fish, eggs, chicken, pork, beef or meat alternative like beans and lentils. These foods give you protein and other nutrients, but can sometimes be high in fat so try lean cuts of meat. Instead of frying, try boiling, baking, or cooking the meat in a convection oven (Turbo cooker) to lower the amount of fat.

A glass of milk and a piece of fruit will help complete your meal. Avoid drinking pop or fruit juices that contain high amounts of sugar. Even alcohol can affect blood sugar levels and can cause weight gain.

It is necessary to get your nutrients and energy from the foods you eat; however, portion control is very important. By eating proper portions and regulating the amount of sugar and fat in your diet, you can help yourself live a healthy life even if you have diabetes.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to talk to a registered dietician to learn more about healthy eating and meal planning.

Eat to survive, and not live to eat.


The above information is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor, pharmacist or qualified health care professional to receive proper medical treatment.

Armalyn Tesoro is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. She is currently working as a licensed community pharmacist at Wal-Mart on Ellice and Empress.

Diagrams from the Canadian Diabetes Association


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