GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time when many bring attention to all types of diabetes.

For today's On the Menu segment, Registered Dietitian Tara Martin from Mercy Health shares information about nutrition and managing diabetes.

Many of us know somebody who is affected by some type of diabetes. Some of us may even have it ourselves. Over 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 7 million of these people are not diagnosed.

Good nutrition goes hand-in-hand with management and prevention of diabetes. While everyone’s needs are individual to them, those with diabetes should learn sources of carbohydrates and how to balance meals that work best for them and their lifestyles.

Having diabetes does not necessarily mean giving up your favorite foods, but perhaps having certain foods in smaller amounts or less often.

A great place to start is by learning how to read a food label. This is a good way of seeing exactly how many grams of carbohydrate are in a serving of a specific food. For example, you will look for the total carbohydrate since this section has already taken into account the added sugar and fiber.

It is recommended that some people with diabetes eat about the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal or around the same time each day. I prepared what a sample day may look like in terms of balanced, healthy meals. Remember, everyone’s calorie and carbohydrate needs are different and specific to their medical background and height and weight.

Oatmeal is a traditional breakfast that many enjoy. For those with diabetes, it can serve as a great alternative to cold cereal or something like pancakes that tend to have a lot of added sugar. Because oatmeal has such a high fiber content, it will raise blood sugar slowly rather than spiking it too quickly. You can add things like nuts or berries to help you feel fuller afterwards as well.

Lunch & Dinner
Lettuce burrito bowls are full of complex carbs like beans and vegetables. Again, these carbs will give you energy but are high in fiber and other nutrients so that they can help stabilize your blood sugar. Instead of using a tortilla, utilize bib lettuce which is sturdy enough to act as a vehicle for the other ingredients. You can also add some ground turkey for an extra source of protein.

Dessert is important to many people and it can definitely fit into a balanced meal plan if you take the time and count your carbohydrates through your meals. Stuffed apples are a great example, as they have minimal added sugar and still satisfy that sweet tooth.

Oatmeal Bowl: 

1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs nut butter
1 tbsp coconut shreds
banana slices
fresh blueberries

  • Cook the oatmeal according to the package directions with salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  • Top cooked oatmeal with peanut butter, coconut shreds, and fresh fruit. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon.

Lettuce burrito bowl: serving size 1 ¾ cups

12 Bibb lettuce leaves
2 ½ cups rinsed beans
2 cups grape tomato
1 ¼ cup corn
3 green onions
1/3 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
¼ cup cilantro
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
4 lime wedges
½ ground turkey (optional)

  • Divide lettuce leaves among 4 dinner plates, forming a “bowl”
  • Stir together the beans, tomatoes, corn, scallions, cheese, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder in a medium bowl. Add turkey if desired. Evenly divide mixture among bowls

Baked Apple: Serving size: ½ apple

4 large Apples
½ lemon, juiced
6 tbs Splenda brown sugar blend
¼ cup oatmeal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbs margarine
¼ cup pecans

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees, drizzle lemon juice over apples
  • Mix remaining ingredients and stuff each apple
  • Place apples in baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes

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