Get the latest from TODAY
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body uses blood sugar (glucose), causing levels in your blood to be high if not properly controlled. Glucose is essential for providing your muscles and tissues energy. If your body is not able to utilize the sugar in your blood efficiently, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage.
29.1 million people (9.3% of the US population) have diabetes. And believe it or not, about 8.1 million of those are undiagnosed.
I've got a few tips for keeping your blood sugars under control. First, begin by incorporating some of these simple lifestyle changes:
- Monitor your blood glucose levels
- Take medication as directed by your doctor
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise! Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.
- Keep a food record
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all!)
Then, read on for 5 simple swaps you can make to your diet, all of which will have a huge payoff.
1) Swap croutons on your salad for toasted walnuts
Croutons are basically all carbohydrate. If you’re looking for a crunch in your salad, but want to cut down on the carbs, all the while increasing beneficial nutrients like fiber...go for toasted walnuts or roasted chickpeas instead!
You'll get a lower-carb crunch either way, and chickpeas will even provide you with a hit of magnesium and fiber. Nuts, meanwhile, are naturally low in carbohydrates and have healthy fats that can help blunt blood sugar spikes.
Try the recipe: 3 salad recipes that could help you live longer
2) Swap ranch salad dressing for vinaigrette dressing
Vinegar of all types can slow down the absorption of carbs at mealtime and prevent blood sugar spikes. It's been shown in some small studies to help reduce the rise in blood sugars after a starchy meal. And while it may not work for everyone, it's certainly worth a shot, since vinegar provides a hit of flavor while being naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, and calories.
Try the recipe: How to make a vinaigrette at home
3) Swap breadcrumbs for rolled oats in your meatballs (and meatloaf!)
Oats provide soluble fiber and help to steady blood sugars, whereas refined breadcrumbs do the opposite. And fiber helps to blunt the rise in blood sugars, while refined breadcrumbs have little, if any, fiber and can actually spike blood sugar levels.