Healthy Eating Tips to Remember During National Diabetes Month

By Marie Frazzitta, DNP

About 12.6 million, or 10.8 percent of all American women 20 years of age and older, have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has identified eating well to maintain a healthy weight as one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Sticking to healthy eating habits can be difficult on a normal day, let alone during the upcoming holiday season when unhealthy food options surround us.

November is National Diabetes Month and with the holidays only a few weeks away, there’s no better time than now to remind ourselves of some of the simple, healthy habits that we can add into our daily routines.

When eating at a restaurant:

  • Try to view the menu online beforehand and decide what you want to order. By selecting a healthy option before arriving at the restaurant, you can avoid making less healthy decisions when you walk in hungry.
  • When you arrive, request that the waiter not bring bread to your table. If it’s not within reach, it becomes less of a temptation. Instead, start your meal with a salad.
  • When ordering, stick to sugar-free drinks. This is a quick way to save calories. Also try to choose food that is broiled and baked instead of items like casseroles or meals that come with sauces. If a dish comes with a sauce, ask for it on the side so you can monitor how much you use.
  • Concerned about carbohydrate intake? A good rule is to keep portions about the size of your fist.

When eating at home:

  • Plan meals in advance. Choose a day of the week to do the prep work for your meals, like cutting and cleaning vegetables. A lot of people go off of their meal plans when they are hungry and have nothing planned out. By doing this work ahead of time, it will be easy to cook a healthy meal.
  • Use smaller plates. Did you know that the average dinner plate in the 1950s was about nine inches in diameter? Our plates are now about 12 inches in diameter. Using smaller plates will make portion sizes appear larger.
  • Want a second serving? Give yourself a few minutes to digest. Often it takes time for digestion to catch up with the feeling of hunger, so you may realize after waiting a few minutes that you are not really hungry anymore and do not need a second helping.

While adopting some of these habits into your lifestyle can help your health and lower your risk for diabetes, it’s also important to be physically active. Anyone who watches TV already has activity time built into their schedule. It’s as simple as getting up and marching in place during commercial breaks. Or, when you get home at the end of the day, walk once around the block before going into the house. Adding these brief activities into your day can make a difference in your health.

Want to learn more about diabetes and how to help yourself or a loved one cope with the disease? The North Shore-LIJ Health System diabetes education program will be hosting an educational session on Friday, November 22 at North Shore University Hospital. The program will cover healthy eating, physical activity, medications, monitoring glucose levels and managing the disease. For more information, call 855-36-GOALS or email

Concerned about your risk for developing diabetes? Bring these healthy tips to your next doctor’s visit to discuss which ones you should incorporate into your lifestyle or call 855-850-5494 to reach a women’s health specialist at the Katz Institute.