The following is an excerpt from “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet.” This book provides those living with type 2 diabetes a simple and straightforward guide to losing weight and keeping it off.
Changing habits can be challenging, and people often underestimate how difficult it can be to alter their everyday patterns. But what’s often challenging to begin with generally becomes more manageable over time. In other words, stick with it, because it will get better. Below, we offer three habits to build into your daily routine to kick-start your weight-loss plan.
“Keep in mind that new behaviors take time. These changes may not come automatically or be easy, but I encourage you to give them your best effort. And by concentrating on what you’re adding, you’ll pay less attention to what you’re giving up,” says Mayo Clinic psychologist Matthew M. Clark, Ph.D., L.P.
Eat a healthy breakfast — but not too much
What: Have breakfast every morning. You don’t need to eat a lot — just something to get you off to a good start.
Why: Research shows that people who eat a healthy breakfast manage their weight better than do people who don’t eat breakfast. Breakfast is associated with improved performance at school and work, and it helps prevent you from becoming ravenous later in the day.
Regular meals, including breakfast, also help keep your blood sugar (glucose) within a consistent range. This is especially important if you take medication to control your blood sugar.
- Opt for whole grains. Try oatmeal, whole-grain cold cereal or wholegrain toast.
- Include some color. Add some fresh or frozen unsweetened fruit. Make it filling. Low-fat milk and yogurt, an egg, nuts, seeds, and nut butters can help you feel satisfied.
- Plan ahead. If time is an issue, place a box of cereal, a bowl and a spoon on the table the evening before.
- Choose wisely. Select your cereal — hot or cold — by checking the Nutrition Facts label for fiber (choose more) and sugar (choose less). If you add milk or yogurt, choose reduced-fat or fat-free varieties. Top with banana slices or berries.
- Mix it up. Try a smoothie made with fruit (bananas, pineapple, fresh or frozen berries) and low-fat yogurt. Blend the ingredients to a smooth consistency.
- Bring it with you. Keep items that you can grab on your way out the door. Convenient foods include apples, oranges, bananas, low-fat yogurt in single-serving containers, pre-portioned cereals, wholegrain bagels (mini-sized) and low-fat cottage cheese in single-serving containers. Stir in berries or fruit to add fiber and sweetness.
- Wrap it up. Make a breakfast wrap with whole-wheat tortillas, roll in scrambled eggs with diced peppers and onions, or peanut butter and bananas.
- Make it healthy. For French toast, use whole-grain bread, egg whites or an egg substitute, a pinch of cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla extract for sweetness. Fry on a nonstick skillet or use a cooking spray. Top with unsweetened applesauce, berries or sliced bananas.
- Innovate. Don’t like traditional breakfast foods? Fix yourself a sandwich made with lean meat, low-fat cheese, vegetables and whole-grain bread instead.
If you’re not in the habit of eating breakfast, start out small. Grab a piece of fruit or a healthy granola bar. Gradually include other food groups. Just like you got used to not eating breakfast, you can get used to eating breakfast. With time, you’ll begin to feel hungry in the morning.
When you don’t eat breakfast, your body says, “If you’re not going to feed me, I won’t be hungry,” and you don’t miss eating in the morning. However, you tend to make up for this by overeating later in the day. Eating breakfast helps you lose weight by reducing the urge to overeat later in the day.
Eat whole grains — like whole-grain bread, oatmeal and brown rice
What: Eat whole-grain breads and pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole-grain products, instead of white, refined and highly processed foods.
Why: Whole grains include the entire grain kernel, which is packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that are part of a healthy diet. Whole grains help you feel full by adding fiber and bulk, and they help reduce your risk of becoming overweight. Because they’re generally absorbed more slowly than refined grains, they also produce less extreme swings in blood sugar levels.
- Start whole. For breakfast, have whole-grain cereal, such as oatmeal or a bran cereal, or eat whole-grain toast instead of white.
- Stock up. Fill your pantry with whole-grain products. This includes whole-grain brown and wild rice, whole-grain pastas, and whole-grain cereals that aren’t sweetened (if you want sweetness, pile on fruit). Also include on your list oatmeal, pita bread and whole-grain bagels.
- Go brown. Use brown rice as a healthy alternative to white rice. If you want it fast, buy instant brown rice.
- Think main meal. Prepare a meatless main dish made from whole grains, such as whole-wheat spinach lasagna, red beans over brown rice, whole-wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce, or vegetable stir-fry over brown rice.
- Experiment. Include side dishes that use products such as bulgur, kasha or whole-grain barley.
- Throw ‘em in. Add whole-grain barley or wild rice to soups, stews and casseroles.
- Do a flour swap. Substitute whole grain flour for half the white flour in recipes for pancakes, waffles, muffins and bread.
- Look at the label. When shopping, look at the food label for specific terms such as whole wheat, whole oats or brown rice. Terms such as 100% wheat, multigrain and stoneground do not mean the product contains whole grains.
Whole-grain products may taste different at first if you’re not used to them. But if you give them a try, chances are you’ll learn to like them. Think about foods you didn’t like when you were younger but that you like now.
Many people find that when they get used to the full flavor and texture of whole grains, it’s hard to go back to their refined counterparts.
Eat healthy fats like olive oil, vegetable oils and nuts
What: When consuming fat, make healthy choices — olive oil, vegetable oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, and the oils that come from nuts.
Why: These fats are the most heart healthy. But don’t forget that all fats contain about the same number of calories, so even healthier fats need to be consumed sparingly as part of a healthy diet.
Saturated fat appears to be associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. If you eat less saturated fat and replace it with healthy fats, you decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and improve how insulin works in your body.
- Check food labels. Compare similar foods and choose the one that’s lower in fat. Make sure it’s also lower in calories — some low-fat and fat-free foods are higher in sugar and sodium and not much lower in calories.
- Choose wisely. The types of fat in commercially made products are listed on Nutrition Facts labels. Limit foods high in saturated fat and trans fat. Select foods made with unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Limit dairy products. To reduce saturated fat, choose reduced-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Avoid trans fats. They’re the most unhealthy. Manufacturers are limiting their use, but check labels as a precaution. Trans fats are most common in stick margarine and vegetable shortening and processed products made from them.
- Forgo frying. Use low-fat cooking techniques such as grilling, broiling, baking, roasting or steaming. A good-quality nonstick pan may allow you to cook food without using oil or butter. Also try cooking spray, low-sodium broth or water instead of using cooking oil.
- Cut out the fat. Choose meat with the least amount of visible fat, and trim most of the fat from the edges. Remove all skin from poultry before cooking it or buy skinless breasts.
Survey your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator. Identify sources of animal fats (cream, butter) and trans fats (shortenings) and get rid of them. Replace them with olive oil, vegetable oils and trans fat-free buttery spread. Whenever you use fat, measure it out by the teaspoon.
The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet, 3rd Edition
This adaptation of the #1 New York Times bestselling book, The Mayo Clinic Diet, provides those living with type 2 diabetes a simple and straightforward guide to losing weight and keeping it off.Shop Now