I am a African American female, 43 years young and had my fourth baby six months ago. I developed gestational diabetes with each pregnancy. Recently, my family Dr. stated to watch my diet and exercise more. I can't manage my cravings for sweets and snacks. I weigh about 146 lbs, 4ft. 111/2 inches tall. How do I begin to take better care of myself before diabetic manages me? PS: My father, 76 years old was recently diagnosed with sugar diabetes. Thank you in advance.

It is a great thing that you are taking an active role in getting healthy. Achieving a “healthy” diet may sound like a difficult thing, but anyone can do this with a little information, planning, and some motivation. I encourage you to take a look at your current diet and ask yourself a few questions. Do I get at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day? Do I eat a high amount of processed foods (cookies, candy, chips, crackers etc)? Do I eat foods that are high in fiber? For example, when choosing a bread, do you select white or whole grain? Do I eat red meat daily? Do I skip meals?

Your answers to these questions may provide a starting point for achieving a healthy diet. I encourage that people eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This could be accomplished by substituting a piece of fresh fruit for cookies or choosing raw vegetables/low fat dip instead of potato chips. By increasing fruit and vegetable intake, you may be able to decrease the amount of processed foods that you may be eating. Processed foods generally contain empty calories and may also contain trans fats, which can increase risk of heart disease. Fruit and vegetable intake can also increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Foods high in fiber (whole grain bread/cereal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans etc) generally help us to feel fuller longer. This can help keep you feeling satisfied and may help prevent overeating at mealtimes. If your diet is high in red meat (daily or every other day), I would suggest that you begin substituting lower fat meats such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts or fish. You may also start to prepare vegetarian meals such as a vegetable bean chili or vegetable stir fry. Eating at regular times during the day and not skipping meals will also help to control how much you are eating. Those that skip meals tend to overeat at later times during the day. Finally, you mentioned that you have trouble with saying “no” to sweets and snacks. I would start by adding a few healthy snacks in between meals. For example, low fat pudding or yogurt can satisfy your sweet tooth or selecting a handful of almonds or walnuts may provide a filling snack mid day.

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