Dietitian offers advice on grocery shopping for individuals with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes

Individuals who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes may be overwhelmed by all of the lifestyle changes that some physicians recommend for controlling blood sugar levels.

While many patients with type 1 diabetes require insulin and other diabetes medications, those with type 2 diabetes may simply need to follow a diabetic diet and exercise regimen to help reduce their blood glucose levels.

However, individuals who have practiced unhealthy lifestyle habits for long periods of time may find it difficult to adhere to these guidelines.

The American Diabetes Association states that a diabetic diet should consist of high amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Additionally, diabetics should avoid sugary foods or items that are high in saturated fats, and they are also instructed to abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol.

A recent article published by the Island Packet reported that Hilton Head Hospital in South Carolina offered a program called "Smart Diabetes Grocery Shopping" to help teach patients how to identify healthy options in the supermarket.

Elizabeth Huggins, a dietitian, exercise physiologist and outpatient diabetes education coordinator at Hilton Head Hospital, told the newspaper several grocery shopping tips that people who participated in the classes were informed of.

She explained to the news provider that shoppers should have a plan of action before they head out to buy food.

One thing that people can change on their grocery list is replacing diet soda with water. Huggins said that this is not only a healthier option, but may also help individuals save money. She recommended purchasing salad dressings that are comprised of oil and vinegar, which may help reduce blood sugar levels when used in place of creamy or sweet products.

Another way that people can stick to their diabetic diet is to replace cheese and crackers with hummus on vegetables like celery or cucumbers. Hugging noted that shoppers sometimes rely on the color of bread packaging to try to figure out whether or not the loaf is high in fiber, but she said that individuals should always read the nutrition label to ensure that there are at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

"You have got to get your bearings with the portion it is talking about versus the portion you are going to eat," Huggins told the news source.

Simply replacing some ingredients in everyday meals may help individuals create healthy diabetic recipes.

The Mayo Clinic explains that changing cooking techniques may aid in diabetes management. The organization recommends grilling, broiling, baking and stir frying, while using olive or canola oil instead of butter.

Although some health experts say that eating lean meat is an important part of a diabetic diet, people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes should try to limit their red meat intake to 4 ounces, three times per week, the Mayo Clinic states. Eating seafood two times weekly is also a good way for individuals to obtain essential nutrients without the high fat content of red meat.