Lifestyle Change vs. Diet

I’m sure you’ve heard both terms being thrown around a lot, but do you know the difference?

Diet has two definitions:
1. the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.
2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Which one do you hear more of? I’m forever hearing on the tv about commercials of miracle diets for weight loss. Diets don’t work. Why? Because diets are meant to be temporary. A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome, like weight loss, before returning to your previous eating habits.

Now lifestyle changes are where it’s at. A lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health. A diet focuses on food intake whereas lifestyle changes your diet with other factors that affect your weight and health, like exercise. In other words, a diet is a temporary solution and lifestyle changes are healthy habits for life.

What kind of lifestyle changes can diabetics make?

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, like brisk walking, water aerobics, hiking, or using a manual lawn mower.
  • Cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies.
  • Get rid of junk food and snack on more nutritious foods.
  • Replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrain foods.
  • Reduce amount of saturated fats.
  • Choose lean meats over processed meats.
  • Apply stress management techniques in your life.

Did you know that stress can really mess your body up? Stress hormones can increase blood pressure, slow down your digestion, and can make blood glucose control difficult. Reducing stress can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

In my opinion, I never use the word “diet” unless describing something like diabetes diet, even then I don’t mention it often. Why? Because “diet” is a dirty word. I’m not looking for a temporary change, I’m looking to change my life. Your intentions are everything. If you only intend to diet, you are only looking for temporary. Speak it into existence and tell the Universe you are changing your life for the better.

Do you want to know more about a diabetes diet though? Here’s what I have found for you and for myself.

Healthy Carbohydrates:
– fruits
– veggies
– whole grains
– legumes
– low-fat dairy products
Fiber-rich Foods:
– veggies
– fruits
– nuts
– legumes
– whole grains
Heart Healthy Fish:
– salmon
– tuna
– mackerel
– sardines
Good Fats:
– avocados
– nuts
– canola, olive, and peanut oils

When you’re looking for things to eat, remember to avoid these foods:

  • fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury
  • high-fat dairy products
  • coconut oil
  • processed foods high in trans fats
  • high-fat animal proteins

You should aim for no more than 200mg of Cholesterol and less than 2300mg of sodium per day.

Diabetes management is a lifestyle change. We have to create new, healthier habits for our lives to better manage our diabetes. We can do this! Change your life for the better and not for the temporary.


References

Healthy Eating
Diabetes UK
Mayo Clinic


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My Top 5 Favorite Food Swaps

I understand that it takes a lot of discipline and willpower to change your lifestyle. Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly enough strength to do it for myself right now, but I do understand the importance and what I need to do to better myself and that is always a great start.

On May 6th, I wrote a post about the Top 10 Food Swaps for Diabetics. Of those 10, I have a couple of favorites that I use myself. I do other things too that have helped me on my journey.

1. Quinoa

I’ve replaced white rice with quinoa cooked in low sodium chicken broth just to give it some flavor. However, quinoa is expensive, at least here in Hawaii it is. Almost $13 per pound at some places. The cheapest I found it was $4.50 per pound but that’s still a lot. Quinoa is my favorite swap for rice it’s just expensive.

2. Lettuce

I love using lettuce leaves instead of hamburger buns and bread for sandwiches. They make cute little lettuce wraps with turkey and cheese. It’s light, easy, and fun to eat. It’s less filling by itself but that just means you can enjoy more of them without the added carbs of bread! Instead of two sandwiches, I usually have four lettuce wraps which basically have the same amount of fillings as the two sandwiches anyway just minus the carbs. I always get self conscious of having a stack of sandwiches on my plate but if I have a pile of lettuce wraps, it looks healthier and I trick myself in to thinking I’m being healthy.

3. Fruit-infused Water

Did you know that different combinations of fruits, veggies, and herbs infused in water has different health benefits? Like boost your immune system, flush toxins from your system, and increase energy to name a few. My favorite fruit-infused water is cucumber slices and strawberries with a couple mint leaves. You don’t want to leave the fruits and things in the water for too long though, they’ll get mushy and gross floating there. I have mine sit for an hour or two then take them out and eat them.

4. Use a Small Plate

The reason why I like using a smaller plate and bowl is because it tricks me into thinking I’m eating a lot of food (my “normal” amount) when in reality I’m not. Even if I go back for seconds with my small bowl, it’s really equal to one normal plate. Plus, if we don’t have quinoa and I eat rice, I don’t have a lot of room on my small plate to fit a lot of rice as well as all the veggies I want to eat. It really does help.

5. More Veggies

My grandma pickles cucumbers and Japanese radishes. I love her recipe, they make eating veggies more enjoyable. I’ve been eating more veggies because of it. Every chance I get, I put veggies on my plate. A salad for lunch every now and then is also a good thing.

Top 10 Food Swaps for Diabetics

One of the most important factors in diabetes management is food. You have to have some sort of idea how much sugar and carbs a certain food contains before you eat it because it could spike your blood sugar. Food is probably the only aspect in your life that affects your blood sugar that you can control. Here are some healthier alternatives to some of our favorites.


  1. Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Potatoes are full of starch and calories, they also have a high glycemic index. Cauliflower has a glycemic index of 15 putting it low on the blood-sugar-spike scale. If you use fresh cauliflower instead of frozen, you will have better results. You can still use frozen cauliflower, but it might be a little runnier than you’d want it to be.
  2. Instead of rice, make quinoa. Quinoa is a relative to spinach and beets, therefore it has the nutritional value akin to leafy vegetables. Quinoa also has high levels of minerals, fiber, and it is a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids.
  3. Instead of buns or bread, use iceberg lettuce leaves. An average hamburger bun has about 20-25g of carbs, whereas iceberg lettuce is full of Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, folate, and 19 amino acids, making it much more beneficial than a piece of bread. Iceberg lettuce is also low in calories, nutrient dense, and a good source of fiber.
  4. Instead of drinking sugary beverages, drink fruit-infused water. Fruit-infused water is low in sugar and calories, more hydrating, and very refreshing. It also helps to spruce up your daily water intake if you ever get tired of drinking just water all the time. I will do a post later of different combinations of infused water with some added benefits.
  5. Instead of using wheat flour, use almond flour. I’ll admit right out, almond flour is expensive. In my town at least, it’s cheaper to get almond flour in bulk than buy it packaged at the store. But here are the benefits, almond flour is much more nutritious, can reduce your LDL “bad” cholesterol, and improve insulin resistance. It’s also lower in carbs, higher in healthy fats and fiber, has a lower glycemic index and is gluten-free. My suggestion is to learn more about how almond flour is used before you bake with it, you won’t get the same results as wheat flour.
  6. Instead of using a large plate for food, use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate helps with portion control and being able to control your portion sizes is very important. It can give the illusion of more food on a smaller plate tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating a lot of food. Another tip, slow down when you’re eating and enjoy your food. Make sure to thoroughly chew your food before slowing, it’ll make you feel fuller faster.
  7. Instead of eating cookies, candies, and chips, eat berries, nuts, seeds, and veggies. Cookies, candies, and chips are full of empty calories and carbs, whereas your healthier option has healthy carbs and proteins that will help keep your blood sugar spikes low.
  8. Instead of having little to no veggies on your plate, make sure more veggies make up half of your plate. Fill half your plate with veggies, 1/4 with protein and 1/4 with 100% whole grains to get a well-balanced meal. This will help you feel full and keeps your blood sugar more even.
  9. Instead of eating white potatoes, eat sweet potatoes. Frying white potatoes is high in unhealthy fats and oils, white potatoes are already full of carbs and have a high glycemic index. Sweet potatoes can be roasted or baked with olive oil and be a healthier option. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index and lower in calories and carbs.
  10. Instead of microwave popcorn, try stove-top popcorn. Microwave popcorn is high in trans fats, almost 5g. Stove-top popcorn may take a little longer, but it’s much healthier. It has less calories and it doesn’t come already pre-buttered, you can add however much you want to your popcorn. Also it’s cheaper than the organic microwave popcorn brands, they may be healthier altogether, but who wants to pay $6 per bag? That’s theater popcorn pricing!

Hopefully, all of these food swap options can give you some ideas for a healthier diet and hopefully it gets you out in to the internet or books to find even more swaps you can make! There are many other options out there, just do your research and consult your dietician to make your diet healthier and diabetic-friendly.


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