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How Nutrition Impacts Diabetes

by Ms. Qala Madkin, MSU Extension Service

Video by Jonathan Parrish


More than 308,000 Mississippians live with diabetes, and approximately 600,000-750,000 Mississippians have prediabetes. Managing diabetes starts with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Balancing what you eat is a great place to start. Here are a few tips!


Start by filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, green beans, peppers and tomatoes each day.


Focus on creating a balance of:

  • vegetables, such as turnips, cabbage and okra

  • proteins, such as lean meats, beans and tofu

  • high fiber carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and quinoa.

The diabetes plate method is an excellent place to start. No counting or measuring necessary; all you need is a plate.


Watch your portions and added sugar. Read food labels and pay attention to carbohydrate content and portion sizes. While looking at food labels, also look at the added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that men should try to stay under 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day and women 6 teaspoons per day. Remember, added sugar is not naturally occurring sugar; it is added during food processing.


Avoid skipping meals. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you want to maintain a steady blood sugar. Eating regular meals and snacks will help with that. Skipping meals causes your blood sugar to fluctuate. Skipping meals also can make you hangry (hungry and angry). Providing your body with adequate nourishment not only promotes health, but it also supports good decision making. It’s hard to say no to sugary, salty, high-fat foods if you are hangry.


Find a healthy eating approach that works for you. For some people with diabetes, carbohydrate counting works. For others, the diabetes plate method works. Nutrition and diabetes management is not one size fits all. Work with your doctor or registered dietitian to find an approach that works for you.


And remember to get moving! Nutrition is just one part of the wellness equation.

You can learn more about nutrition and diabetes by joining MSU Extension’s Dining with Diabetes program.


Check with your county’s MSU Extension Office to see if the program is being offered or visit extension.msstate.edu and join the MSU Extension Nutrition and Health Facebook group.


For more information, check out these resources: Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, Mississippi State Department of Health, Diabetes Coalition of Mississippi, American Diabetes Association, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease

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