Eating better is one of the best ways to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, and surprises can certainly put a damper on things. Ordering at a restaurant or picking up a prepared meal at a supermarket can lead to a meal that is shockingly high in calories, carbs, and fat due not only to portion size, but to extras such as cooking fats, heavy sauces, and hidden sugars and starches.
The Lark DPP check-in hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the sure-fire way to know exactly what is in your food is to prepare it yourself. You do not have to be a gourmet chef or set aside tons of time to put together a healthy meal. Here are a few ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A high-protein breakfast can get you through the morning with plenty of energy. Many breakfasts are high in added sugar, such as in sweetened cereal, pastries, syrup, or jam, in starches from bagels or pancakes, or in unhealthy fats from sausage or bacon. Your breakfast does not need to be!
The general formula is to have some protein, a serving of vegetables or fruit, and possibly a whole grain or some healthy fat. These are a few easy ideas.
Scrambled egg whites with spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, avocado, and oregano.
Omelet with cheddar cheese and zucchini served with whole-grain toast.
Peanut butter and berries in a whole-grain pita pocket.
Unsweetened shredded wheat and 1/2 sliced banana in milk.
Plain oatmeal made with almond milk plus sliced almonds and strawberries.
Buckwheat pancakes with cottage cheese and cantaloupe.
The choice of lunches can make the difference between being lethargic and productive in the afternoon. Greasy fast food and too many carbs, such as in large sandwiches or fried rice, can lead to sleepiness and a real struggle to get through the rest of the day. Healthy fats and antioxidants can keep your brain clear, while fiber and protein can again keep your belly full.
These options can be just as easy as going to the nearest drive-through.
Baby carrots with peanut butter, plus an apple.
Whole-grain crackers with tuna, and an orange.
Whole-grain pita pocket with pureed avocado, cooked chicken breast, and lettuce and tomato.
Romaine lettuce with garbanzo beans, clementine wedges, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, vinaigrette, and shredded cheese.
Quinoa salad with tomatoes, red peppers, celery, chicken or tofu, and olive oil.
Fat-free refried beans, salsa, and cheese over a bed of lettuce.
Veggie or turkey burger naked or on a whole-grain bun, with mustard, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Lentil or split pea soup made with low-sodium broth.
Soup made with low-sodium broth and onions, carrots, and parsnip plus any other vegetables, plus leftover cooked beans, chicken, fish, turkey burger, or tofu, plus sweet potato, brown rice, barley, or bulgur (make a big batch on the weekend if you want!).
Dinner can be such a great end to the day, or such a bad one! A good dinner can lead to better sleep and a smaller waistline, while a dinner that is less well-chosen can keep you up at night while adding unneeded calories. In general, a few whole grains, not too much fat, and a bit of protein can set the stage for good sleep tonight and good energy tomorrow.
These are some quick and easy options.
Fish (e.g., tilapia, halibut, or salmon) with asparagus or other vegetables and sweet potatoes, baked in foil packets in the oven.
Chili with beans, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and (optional) ground turkey or vegetarian soy protein.
Whole-grain or bean pasta tossed with olive oil, basil, and cooked garlic, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.
Baked salmon topped with a sauce with yogurt, curry powder, pepper, lemon juice, and diced onion, served with brown rice and steamed broccoli.
Skillet meal with a base of ground turkey or chicken, olive oil, and vegetables, and a starch. Try it Mexican-style with bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and taco seasoning, Italian-style with zucchini, green beans, whole-grain penne, and Italian seasoning, or Thai-style with peanuts, snow peas, carrot slices, broccoli, bok choy, and light soy sauce.
Stewed chicken with olives, artichoke hearts, and eggplant.
It is not that hard to make a healthy meal at home, and the benefits can be far-reaching. Not only can you save money by cooking for yourself, but you can choose exactly what is in your food. By selecting your own ingredients, you can have better control over your blood sugar and weight, and experience better energy and sleep patterns.
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.