Do you have too much on your plate? If you're newly diagnosed with diabetes, it might feel that way.
"You're sort of overwhelmed," said Kathy Laase of Cortland. "It sort of takes over your life."
But the plate is the place to start.
"They can start by using the plate method," said Janet Aliff, a registered dietitian at St. Elizabeth Health Center. "Choosemyplate.gov is helpful for everyone, not just diabetics."
First of all, start with a smaller one.
"That's a big key - plates and cups are bigger than they used to be years ago," Aliff said.
Ways to improve
Add more vegetables
Keep portions small
Bake foods rather than frying them
Avoid processed grains
Consume fat-free dairy products
Choose low-sodium breads, frozen foods, canned foods and soups
Drink water instead of sugary beverages
WHAT:?Diabetes Wellness Connection Day, for pre-diabetics, diabetics and those at risk. Free blood sugar screening (eight-hour fast); support and information; free foot screenings.
WHEN: 8:30 to 11 a.m. Sept. 17
WHERE:?St. Joe's at the Mall
LEARN?MORE:?For more information or to register, call 330-652-7542 and press option 1.
On the Web
"You don't even have to buy cookbooks," said Janet Aliff of St. Elizabeth Health Center. Instead, she recommends www.dlife.com/recipes, where there are more than 9,000 recipes available, as well as many other Internet resources.
Then, divide it into four parts - vegetables and grains, proteins, fruits - with some dairy on the side.
Aliff said the bulk of the food should be from fruits and vegetables, which are also good for snacks.
"Meet with a dietitian and learn about healthy eating choices - whole grains, fruits and vegetables, avoiding high-fat sugary snacks and high-preservative foods," said Linda Tominey, nurse in the diabetes education department at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
Aliff said it's important to look for foods that are high in nutrition density. Look at a nutrition label: If the grams listed next to the serving size are more than calories, then it likely is a good choice.
For example, a 100-calorie serving of celery has 600 grams. Of course, you'd have to eat 15 stalks to get there, making celery a pretty solid choice. A 100-calorie cup of grapes has 141 grams.
On the other end, it takes just 21 grams of potato chips to get to 100 calories - meaning you only get to eat 12 chips.
"There's more volume to foods that are high in water content," Aliff said. "The fiber and water fills your belly and gives you more volume in your stomach."
Serving size is important, too, and Aliff encourages use of a food scale. There are other ways to calculate serving size, too, such as knowing that a 3-ounce serving of meat is about the size of your palm.
Also, fruits, grains and dairy count as carbohydrates, which is a big word for sugar. Aliff said it's recommended that carbohydrates make up 40 to 60 percent of the daily diet, with 30 percent fat and 10 to 20 percent protein.
It's also important to avoid saturated fat, which clogs the arteries, Aliff said.
"Anything solid at room temperature is a saturated fat," she said, adding that heart disease is the main complication for diabetics.
So when you're at the grocery store, bypass the bakery to avoid those fats and transfats.
"If you make your things at home, you can avoid some of that," she said.
And this doesn't mean you'll never eat any of your favorite foods again.
"You sort of count your carbs and watch what you eat," said Laase, 72, who was diagnosed in 2006. "You think you can't eat a lot of things, but after a while you can eat things you could eat before."
For example, Aliff said, eat that piece of pizza, but just eat one. Don't make it the meal, and instead add a salad.
Laase said now and then it's OK to "switch over" and enjoy some regular ice cream. But sometimes, even if you've planned for that special piece of celebratory cake, you discover you don't really need it or even want it.
"It's been a change, but you go on with it," Laase said. "It worked out, and I'm doing pretty good now."
Last, but not least, this lifestyle change involves thinking ahead.
"Everybody with diabetes should have a meal plan," Aliff said.