Food and Fitness

Eating healthy and getting daily exercise for at least 30 minutes will help to ensure a healthy lifestyle and to control or prevent diabetes. Please consult your doctor before starting any dietary plan.

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Healthy Heart Foods:

  • Protect your heart and blood vessels by consuming less unhealthy fats such as trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol (limit processed snacks and baked goods). Eat unsaturated fats that will help maintain your cholesterol levels.
  • Maintain a healthy and appropriate weight consuming foods in moderation. Don’t over eat.
  • Decrease your sodium intake to help with blood pressure control.
  • Get your vegetables and fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Use vegetable based oils for cooking
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent clogged arteries (fish, 2-3 times a week or supplement)
  • Trim fat off meats and poultry
  • Less fat in ground beef (90%)
  • Skim milk or 1% milk
  • Less cheese or reduced fat
  • Applesauce with half the amount of butter or margarine when cooking

Power Foods:

  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Citrus fruits
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish)
  • Non-fat yogurt and fat-free milk
  • Meat and poultry low in fat (trim fat)

Dining Out:

When you know you’re unable to cook a meal, you may have to eat out. It is unplanned but don’t stress, pick a place that you know you can stick to your healthy meal plan. The power foods listed, keep them in mind when ordering.

  • Fish or broiled meat
  • Baked potato plain (use salad bar or ask for vegetables if your meal plan requires it that day)
  • Keep portion size the same as at home (ask for lunch serving if needed)
  • Avoid fried or breaded foods if possible.
  • Substitute French fries, onion rings, anything that doesn’t fit your meal plan for extra vegetables, fruits, yogurts, or salads.

Fast Food:

Not all fast food is bad. But it’s not the best. However, the fast food menus are acquiring more healthy choices and some have point counters if you must stick to a certain diet along with the amount of calories. When ordering food, know that you can make substitutes for healthier choices. You can always make up for eating healthier during any of the meals you have planned that’s not fast food.

What to look for:

  • Keep moderation in mind with you eat. Avoid “value”, “deluxe”, “super-sized” or “large” sizes when ordering.
  • Whole Grains
  • Minimum sodium intake
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Avoid completely or limit the amount of saturated and trans fat content
  • If possible, stick to diet

Access or income may become a factor in trying to have a healthy lifestyle. If you are unable to get the appropriate kinds of foods, keep in mind there are options at stores or dining out to have less sodium and keep everything in moderation. Don’t eat a whole bag of chips just to eat it. Place them in snack size bags, and get your mind into thinking, “I can do this, have control” and it will become easy.

Healthy Recipes for Your Enjoyment (updated every month):

Vegetarian Recipes:


Staying active is the way to go to prevent or delay diabetes. You don’t have to be an avid or competitive runner, you don’t need to strive for the vision of what pro-athletes look like. Everyone is different. Anything from walking to dance classes helps keep you fit along with maintaining a healthy diet. IT’S OKAY to skip a day or two and it is okay to indulge in a craving but self-control is key to developing healthy habits. Self-control and moderation is everything.

Work your strengths. The main goal, is to get the motivation to get active, and then the determination to stay active. Go play basketball, tennis, join a softball team, an intramural soccer team, join a running club, walk up every set of stairs and if you live on the 12th floor, make it a goal to walk all twelve by a certain date.

Physical activity, eating healthy, taking medication (if you need to) are the tools to managing diabetes or living a healthy lifestyle to avoid diabetes. Exercising can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C.

Please consult with your doctor before attempting physical activity.

Why should I work out?

  • Better sleep schedule
  • Stress Reliever
  • Flexibility
  • Strengthens bones and muscles
  • Increase in energy
  • Decrease in risk of heart disease and/or stroke
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol

Aerobic Exercise:

Aerobic exercise helps use insulin better. It also benefits your heart, relieves stress, improves blood circulation, strengthens bones, lowers blood glucose, lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels.

Aim for 30-45 minutes a day, at least 4-5 and avoid going multiple days in a row of no physical activity. It’s okay to break them up. Try in the morning before work, during lunch break or after work. Make time to do this. Your effort in aerobic exercise should range from being able to have short conversations to only a few words a time. DO NOT get to a level where you can talk or having trouble breathing unless you are physically fit to handle those intervals or workouts (ex: track athletes).

Start off light and easy, and gradually increase to the suggest amounts. It will take time but your body will adjust.

Suggested exercises:

  • Dance classes
  • Walking (Faster than normal walking pace, act like you’re in a rush to get somewhere)
  • Swimming (ex: Aqua-jogging with float belt)
  • Tennis
  • Stairs
  • Running/Jogging
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Roller-skating
  • Biking (stationary)
  • Strength Training at least 2 times per week (Please speak with a fitness specialist or trainer to get strength workouts)

Try a fitness activity from an SDPI Grantee!


For more detailed information, please visit the American Diabetes Association website

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