Diabetes Management: How to Eat Healthy During the COVID-19 Outbreak

September 30,2021 |
Couple making salad in their kitchen.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have been trying to take better care of themselves. One of the best ways to do this is by eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains. This is especially important for people living with diabetes since the proper diet also helps with ongoing diabetes management while improving overall immune function. Good nutrition is essential for staying healthy, reducing your risk of complications from diabetes, and protecting yourself against disease. To get the most out of your diabetes management, here’s more information on how to eat healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.


  1. Plan Your Meals

    One of the best ways to make sure that you’re consistently eating healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak is to plan ahead. Meal planning is a great option for everyone, not just people living with diabetes. It reduces unnecessary waste, saves you money, and allows you to plan out your grocery list. While you don’t necessarily have to prep your meals ahead of time, consider taking some time at the start of the week to chop ingredients, wash your fruits, and portion out lean protein. This will make cooking each night easier and less time consuming. If you’re unsure about how big your meals should be, look into getting a food scale to help you better understand what’s considered a healthy portion.

    Creating a diabetes friendly meal plan helps you commit to eating nutritious foods that will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and reduce ongoing complications of diabetes later on. When you have options planned out in advance, you don’t resort to grabbing quick, unhealthy snacks or hitting the drive thru on your way home from work. Plus, you’ll be able to experiment with new recipes and discover new favorite foods.


  2. Aim for Variety

    When you’re planning your meals, try to include a variety of options throughout the week. Eating the same things over and over again will get repetitive and increase the likelihood that you fall back into bad habits. You should be eating 2-4 servings of fruit per day alongside 5 servings of vegetables, adequate amounts of whole grains, and plenty of lean protein. This allows you to get all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and fiber that your body needs to function optimally.

    Get creative with your recipes and change up your ingredients often. Incorporating plenty of variety will help you stay on track and make healthy choices.


  3. Prioritize Fresh Products

    When you go to the grocery store, avoid buying unhealthy snack foods like chips, cookies, crackers, and items with lots of added sugar. Processed foods are terrible for your health and can make diabetes management more difficult. Instead, aim for fresh products like plenty of diabetes friendly fruits and vegetables. It’s been found that eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 50%. Fruits and vegetables are also beneficial for those already living with diabetes, as they help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide ongoing fuel for your body to function.

    While there are certain foods that people living with diabetes should eat in moderation, there are plenty of options for you to enjoy. Since fresh produce has a short shelf life, consume them within a few days of purchasing and avoid over stocking your kitchen or fridge. You can also opt for frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, just make sure that you read the label and avoid buying products with added sugar, salt, or unnecessary preservatives.


  4. Increase Healthy Fats

    The word “fat” has a negative connotation, but fat is an essential macronutrient, and our bodies need it to function. However, not all fats are created equal. Bad fats like artificial trans-fat and saturated fat contribute to weight gain, clog your arteries, increase inflammation, and increase your risk of chronic conditions and diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Good fats, like unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can help stabilize blood sugar levels, increase heart health, lower your risk of stroke, lower your blood pressure, reduce fatigue, and maintain a healthy weight. In some studies, it was even found that eating a diet with healthy fats could help reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

    You’ll find healthy fats in nuts, avocados, seeds, vegetable oils, flaxseed, fatty fish, and eggs. Avoid processed meat and animal fat, which can have adverse health effects. While you should increase your intake of healthy fats and try to limit how much saturated fat that you consume, moderation is still important. Aim to consume about 20% to 35% of your total calories from fat, which is about 44 to 77 grams per day.


  5. Boost Your Immune System

    Your immune system is what helps protect your body from bacteria, viruses, toxins, and more. Everything that you do has an impact on how your immune system functions. For example, smoking and drinking weaken your immune system while sleep and exercise strengthen it. What you eat also has a direct relationship to the strength of your immune response. To help boost your body’s natural ability to fight off infection, increase your consumption of vitamins and minerals that help protect your cells. Zinc is a great option for wound healing and can be found in whole grains, beans, seafood, and nuts. Iron helps strengthen your body’s first line of defense and can be found in spinach and lentils. Vitamin A regulates immune response and is abundant in sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, black-eye peas, and mango. Vitamin C protects your cells from oxidative stress and is in broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes.


  6. Eat at Home

    While going out to eat every now and then is completely fine, the portion sizes tend to be two to three times larger, and many menu items are cooked with lots of butter or oil. Instead, experiment with different cuisines in the comfort of your own home. This will help you make healthy choices, avoid overeating, and limit your contact with other people. If you’re trying to celebrate something, host a dinner party with plenty of healthy options.


  7. Consume Foods with a Low Glycemic Index

    Foods that have a low glycemic index take longer for the body to digest. This means that they don’t result in spikes in your blood glucose levels, but instead raise blood sugar slowly over time. This helps you maintain stable glucose levels and reduces your need for excessive insulin dependency throughout the day. Low glycemic foods include kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, whole-grain bread, apples, sweet corn, and more. You’ll still need to count your carbohydrates and keep track of what you’re consuming, but including low glycemic foods with your meals will have a positive impact on your blood sugar.

    While foods that have a low glycemic index can help stabilize your blood sugar, it’s still essential to take your medication as directed. If you have any questions about your insulin or prescriptions for managing diabetes, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.


  8. Limit Sugar Consumption

    Consuming too much sugar will create large spikes in your blood glucose levels, which is problematic for people living with diabetes. By limiting sugar consumption you’ll improve the overall management of your diabetes and help keep your immune system functioning it’s best. Always read the labels on foods you buy to look for added sugar and try to stick to naturally occurring sugars in fruits when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth.


  9. Stay Hydrated

What you drink is also essential in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Empty calories from soda, sports drinks, iced coffee, or other sugar-laden drinks do more harm than good. Instead, focus on staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Aim to drink about eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day—more if you’re exercising or outside in hot weather. To help you achieve your water goals, consider downloading a free app on your phone or carrying around a large water bottle throughout the day.

If you begin to show any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately. Infections can have a serious impact on how your body processes insulin, so you will need to discuss treatment plans with your doctor to ensure that you’re staying healthy.

To help you stay healthy and manage your diabetes effectively, Byram Healthcare has a range of continuous blood glucose monitors. We also offer diabetes support and educational materials to give you everything you need for comprehensive care. For more information and added support on diabetes management, sign up for Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program.