Shopping Tips for Diabetics

Healthy eating is a cornerstone of management for many health concerns: heart health, diabetes, sleep apnea, kidney health and others. 

The keys to managing blood glucose (sugar) levels are:

  • Eating well and eating regularly
  • Enjoying regular physical activity
  • Getting enough sleep and managing stress in a positive way
  • Taking medications, if or as, prescribed by your doctor

Eating well for diabetes means building your meals and snacks around protein, healthy fats, fibre and long-lasting carbohydrates.  Having a combination of nutrients acts to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels from rising (or subsequently falling) too quickly. Also, it is recommended that people with diabetes limit the amount of salt and fat, especially saturated fat, in their diet. If you think of dividing your food on a luncheon-sized plate, half of your plate should be veggies, one-quarter of your plate should be protein and the starch component should make up the remaining quarter. A glass of calcium-containing beverage and a piece of fruit can round out a meal nicely.

So, whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for a period of time, preparing to shop requires making a list and trying to stick to it.

Grocery shopping tips

  • Shop the outside aisles. That is where you will find the freshest, most nutritious foods. Vegetables and fruit, milk and milk alternates, lean meat, seafood and meat alternatives like beans, lentils and tofu as well as grains.
  • Visually divide your shopping cart into sections: half of your cart or purchases should be vegetables and fruit, the other half can be made up of equal quantities of:
    • Meat or alternates: beans, lentils, peas, tofu, beef, poultry and canned, fresh or frozen fish
    • Milk products or their alternates: lower fat cottage cheese, and yogurt or milk of 1-2% or less
    • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, couscous, bulgur, high fibre and low sugar cereals, whole grain pasta, bread
  • Shop wisely from the frozen, deli and bakery sections. Choose items that are as close to the way nature made them:
    • Salads with little dressing, skinless chicken breast or thighs, oven-roasted meats and cheese and are all good choices. With these foods it comes down to portion size.
    • Watch out for and avoid high salt/fat sauces, spreads, breading and coating and items that are high in sugar.
    • Limit or avoid altogether pop, chips, pastries and high sugar spreads, desserts and candies. Bubbly water with fresh or frozen berries or lemon is a good alternative, as is plain popcorn, a small handful of nuts or home baked fruit.
  • Mind the labels. The % Daily Value (%DV) tells you whether something has a lot or a little in it. 
    • When comparing two similar items for salt or carbohydrate content, if one has 15% and the other has 8% go for the one with the lower % DV.
    • When comparing items for protein and fibre content chose the product with the higher % DV.
  • Ask for help. The Canadian Diabetes Association website offers a wealth of information, resources and tip sheets for meal planning, shopping and preparing foods. With a large selection of recipes, navigating the site is both easy and fun.

And, of course, the staff at Pomme Natural Market are friendly, knowledgeable and there to help make your shopping experience a positive one.

Health science changes quickly.  The information contained in this material should not be misconstrued as medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor or trusted health provider to determine what is best for you.