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Take the Fight out of Food – How to Make Healthy Choices for Type 1 Diabetes

February 28, 2017

This blog is part of NRC’s Nutrition Month, a Dietitians of Canada initiative, blog series. This year’s Nutrition Month theme is “Take the fight out of food! Spot the problems. Get the facts. Seek support.” 

By Rachael Countryman

Nutrition is a big part of living well, especially when living with a disease such as Type 1 Diabetes. Choosing the appropriate foods to help manage Diabetes can be very stressful, but many organizations like Diabetes Canada and Eat Right Ontario recognize that healthy meals and snacks are very important for regulating blood glucose levels, which will lead to a long and healthy life. When choosing foods to eat and prepare, it’s important to pick whole, fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fresh meats.

One helpful tip is to bring a list of what you need to the grocery store to avoid unhealthy and unnecessary food items. Another is to plan ahead for healthy snacks. When you’re hungry and need a snack, it’s so easy to just grab a granola bar or buy a bag of chips. When you’ve had a busy day it’s so convenient to order takeout or buy a premade meal for dinner. Instead, keep unhealthy foods out of the house and have options like an apple with peanut butter or cheese and crackers available. For lunch and dinner, try cooking a big batch of your favourite meal or two on Sunday so you can have leftovers ready to eat during the week! This way you can have some fun with your meals and try new recipes!  

A huge part of living with Type 1 Diabetes is carbohydrate counting. That’s why it’s so important to buy whole foods and make your own meals. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re putting in your body. One of my favourite meals to make is chicken (protein) with quinoa (carbohydrate) and a spinach salad (vegetables). You can cook the chicken in any spices you like (I love paprika and chipotle), cook the quinoa in a vegetable broth to give it flavour— and add peppers, carrots, or avocado to your salad to fill it with nutrients! A great tip from Diabetes Canada for organizing your food portions for meals is to have half of your plate full of veggies, one quarter with starches/carbs and one quarter with protein. For a Type 1 Diabetic, the carbs are what help regulate blood sugars and what the body needs for energy, the protein helps to keep you full and also helps stabilize blood sugars and the vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals, as well as some extra healthy carbohydrates depending on the vegetable. Appropriate foods make all the difference when it comes to regulating blood glucose levels and Type 1 Diabetes. There are great resources out there to help you make healthy food choices such as Diabetes Canada, Canada’s Food Guide and most importantly your dietitian! If you are ever struggling with making healthy decisions, your dietitian is always there to answer any questions, and will even go over what foods to include in your diet and help make a meal plan with you.

Diabetes is a frustrating disease, but with the right foods and resources, you can take the fight out of food and have fun with your meals!

About Rachael: Rachael is a fourth year Food and Nutrition student at Brescia University College  at Western. She’s been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 13 years, since she was 10, resulting in nutrition being a huge part of her life. Living with Diabetes and studying Food and Nutrition has taught her a lot about making healthy food choices and the importance of buying whole foods to cook from scratch. Eating this way also lets her know what she’s putting into her body, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. Rachel loves to be active by running and playing volleyball, another important part of being a Diabetic as it helps to control blood sugars and maintain a healthy body and mind. She also volunteers with Diabetes Canada to help spread awareness about the different types of Diabetes and how to manage them using nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.


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