Healthy Shopping Tips for Diabetes Patients on a Budget
Budget-friendly Tips for Eating Healthy With Diabetes
Healthy eating habits affect your overall wellness, especially if you are one of more than 29 million Americans with diabetes. To keep you feeling your best, doctors and nutritionists recommend filling your grocery cart with plenty of heart-healthy foods, which can help regulate your blood sugar and blood fat levels—and help you maintain a healthy body weight.
However, for many people with diabetes, shopping for nutritious ingredients on a budget feels impossible. We sat down with Jennifer Reed, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator with the Baptist Diabetes Education Center, to learn how you can navigate the grocery store on a budget. Reed recommends the following tips for eating healthy with diabetes and getting the most for your money.
1. Make a list.
According to Reed, saving money and eating healthy starts with making smart decisions before you leave for the grocery store. Ask yourself, “What are my shopping goals?” Starting with a list helps you determine what you need—and it serves as a set of strict guidelines once you step foot in the store.
“People with diabetes should be looking for the kinds of things we’re all looking for—vegetables, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and lean meats,” said Reed. “Make sure these items are on your list.”
She also suggests skipping the name-brand food items and adding generic foods to your list instead.
“Diabetics who are on a limited income or shopping on a budget can buy generic brands,” said Reed. “You don’t have to buy name brands. The nutrition is still there with generic food brands.”
Shopping lists also can help eliminate excess food that turns into waste or remains uneaten in your pantry. When you buy only the items on your list, you are more likely to spend within your budget.
2. Save money with coupons.
Many stores send ads or circulars each week, showcasing sale items and offering coupons for both regular and specialty foods. Take advantage of local promotions, and be aware that manufacturers often provide online coupons that you can print at home. Many stores accept more than one coupon per item, so check with your grocer’s customer service department for specific coupon opportunities and rules that can save you money in the checkout line.
3. Practice reading food labels.
Nutrition labels are full of information—but you need to know how to read them. Look for heart-healthy ingredients, such as whole wheat, oats and olive oil. Say no to hydrogenated oils and be wary of fat-free items which can have more carbohydrates than regular versions.
“We want people with diabetes to look at the carbohydrates in a food item—not sugars,” said Reed. “The body doesn’t differentiate between carbohydrate intake and sugar intake. No matter where carbohydrates come from—a cupcake, piece of bread, potato or piece of fruit—those carbohydrates break down into the same form of blood glucose.”
Reed also encourages shoppers with diabetes to look at the serving size indicated on the label. Paying attention to serving sizes not only helps stretch your dollar further when planning meals but also keeps your waistline trim.
“Most of the time there are two servings in a can of soup,” said Reed. “If the can says there are 15 grams of carbohydrates, that’s for one serving. If you’re having the whole can of soup, you should double those 15 grams because you’re having two servings in that can.”
Diabetes Management at Baptist Memorial Health Care
A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t just change the way you navigate the grocery store—it affects your daily life. The Diabetes Education Center at the Baptist Medical Group Outpatient Care Center offers programs and services to help you manage your diabetes and improve your overall health.
“At the Diabetes Education Center, we offer individual assessments and individual medical nutrition therapy,” said Reed. “We have three classes, one of which focuses on nutrition and physical activity. We also have a prediabetes program. That program is free and focuses on eating habits and lifestyle and behavior changes. It covers how to navigate the supermarket and increase your physical activity to promote weight loss and personal wellness.”