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Create a Colorful Plate

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Session 1: Eat to Beat Diabetes; Part 1: Sugar, Salt and Fiber, Oh My!

Choose foods from a variety of food groups


Eating a lot of vegetables can decrease your risk of osteoporosis (weak bones) and other diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Tip: Selecting vegetables in a variety of colors (think of the rainbow) provides the most nutritional benefit. For example, dark green vegetables may include broccoli, spinach, or turnip greens. Orange and red vegetables may include carrots, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.


Grains have beneficial vitamins and minerals. Also, they are high in fiber.

  • Tip: Choose whole grains as often as possible.


canva---fruit.jpgFruits are packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium. They are also high in fiber and may lower your risk of developing certain diseases and cancer.

  • Tip: To get the most benefit from fruit, select fresh produce. Dried fruits have a higher amount of sugar. If choosing canned fruits, select those in 100 percent fruit juice or water instead of syrup to limit extra sugar intake.


canva---eggs.jpgProtein can come from either plants or animals. Many sources of protein contain vitamins and minerals.

  • Tip: Protein from animal sources can be high in calories and fat. To limit calories and fat, choose lean meats (93-95 percent lean), chicken or seafood. Eggs are another great source of protein. Egg yolks can be removed to limit cholesterol. Plant sources with lots of protein include foods such as legumes, beans and peas.


canva---milk.jpgDairy contains vitamins and minerals that help improve your bone health. Milk and cheese are examples of dairy products.

  • Tip: Select 1 percent or fat-free milks and low-fat cheeses or yogurts. Examples of dairy-free milk include plant-based products, such as almond milk.


Oils are not a food group, but provide essential nutrients, such as vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

  • Tip: Avoid solid oils such as butter, shortening, and lard which are high in saturated fats. Choose oils free of saturated fats, such as olive oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil.

Tips to eat healthy without sacrificing taste

Add flavor to food with herbs and spices

canva---herbs-and-spices.jpgSalt is an essential nutrient in small quantities. However, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure or heart disease. Limit salt intake to 2,300 mg or less per day.

Limiting your salt intake does not mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Try cooking with fresh herbs and spices.

Other ways to limit salt intake include use of low-sodium broth in cooking. You can also try using fresh or frozen vegetables instead of those coming from a can. If canned foods are your only option, try rinsing them with water to remove extra salt.

Eat foods high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and proteins

canva---bowl.jpgIncreasing the amount of fiber you eat helps you feel full and controls food cravings. Fiber also helps steady blood sugar, improve digestion and lower cholesterol. It can also lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes or colon cancer.

The daily recommended fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. To increase fiber in your diet, try the following:

  • Use whole grain breads;
  • Eat fresh fruit and vegetables (adding berries to morning yogurt, for example); 
  • Add beans to soups and salads;
  • Consider a fiber supplement.

Avoid sugary drinks, processed foods, fried foods and refined grains

Canva---Clear-Drinking-Glass-With-Water-Poured-in.jpgSugar adds calories with no nutritional value. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar for women per day.

To reduce sugar intake, try eating fresh or frozen fruits for dessert. Replace sugary cereals with unsweetened cereal and add fruit. Drink water instead of soda. Read nutritional values to avoid hidden sugars (disguised as fructose, corn sweetener, dextrose, etc.).

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