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Conquering the Supermarket Aisles and Diabetes

The success of diabetes mellitus management is largely influenced by what goes into our shopping carts and eventually into our mouths. This makes wise and healthy shopping habits essential in managing diabetes, the prevalence of which co knues to increase among Filipinos. Let us accompany you to your trip to the supermarket and usher you to the road to proper diabetes care and wellness.

Check your blood sugar before shopping. Knowing where you stand before you buy ammunition is important. It helps you gauge the right foods that suit your needs. Having hypoglycemia or low blood sugar will make you feel hungrier than usual and, thus, you will have the tendency to buy more than what you really need. Even worse, it could also impair your ability to think clearly, and it could also be dangerous if you are driving yourself alone to the supermarket.

Consult your dietitian. Being thoroughly armed in managing diabetes mellitus means knowing which foods should be found in your kitchen and which recipes you should know to whip up. A dietitian will help you come up with meal plans that fit you, and let you know the proper ingredients and amounts of food you should be taking.

Generally, great food choices are: lean cuts of meat and poultry (avoid processed meats such as sausage, luncheon meat, and bacon); fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., tuna, sardines, and salmon); unprocessed, unrefined carbohydrates (e.g., whole oats, whole-wheat pasta, and beans); fresh low carb fruits (e.g., cantaloupe, watermelon); fresh low carb vegetables (e.g., zucchini, celery, broccoli, kangkong); low fat cheese (e.g., cottage cheese, ricotta, light parmesan, partly skimmed mozzarella); and healthy fat sources (e.g., olive oil, walnuts, avocado).

Make a list and stick to it. They say that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This couldn’t be truer in grocery shopping. Making a grocery list before heading to the supermarket is a wise idea. Not only does this help you save precious time from contemplating what you need and searching every nook and cranny of the supermarket, it also helps you resist the temptation of purchasing foods that you don’t need (and are potentially fat-, salt-, and sugar-loaded).

Familiarize yourself with the battlefield. All supermarkets are similarly laid out. For instance, fresh produce—such as fruits, vegetables, and fresh seafood and meat—can be found in the perimeter aisles (usually at the back of the supermarket), toiletries at the side opposite the fresh-produce section, and canned goods and other dry foodstuff at the middle aisles. Knowing this will help you steer your shopping cart away from places where junk food lurks, and to the places where healthy food resides.

Shop on a budget. A number of cheap foods are unhealthy, but an equal number of healthy foods are cheap. For instance, load up on fruits in-season (in moderation, of course)—not only can you make sure that they’re fresh and cheap, they also make very healthy desserts. Furthermore, bring just enough cash to the supermarket. This will save you time and money by resisting the temptation of purchasing stuff you don’t need.


Shop on an empty stomach. Being hungry certainly weakens your ability to discern the healthy foods from those that are not. Also, being hungry will tempt you to succumb to the very inviting aroma from the bakeries or food stalls inside the supermarket (right after the checkout counters).

Disregard food labels. Don’t be fooled by misleading advertising. When a foodstuff is labeled “sugar-free’, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy, fat-free, or carbohydrate-free. “No sugar added” does not necessarily mean the product is not high in sugar either. It just means no sugar was added during processing or packaging.

Steer clear of trans fats or foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils which can clog up your arteries. Choose foods with heart-healthy ingredients such as whole-grain, soy,
or oats. Pay attention to the serving size, total carbohydrate, fiber, and sodium content on the label and check if the food fits into your meal plan.

According to Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor of nutrition at New York University and author of What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating, avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, and ingredients you can’t pronounce. If you want “real” foods, buy them in their raw form. For instance, if you’re making enchiladas, use dried beans, fresh tomatoes, and low-fat cheese in place of ready-made sauce. If you’re craving for a green salad, buy olive oil and vinegar and make vinaigrette yourself rather than buying ready-made salad dressings.

Grocery shopping may be tiresome but can be made convenient if one is knowledgeable and prepared. Indeed, proper and effective diabetes management can very well be within the grasp of a wise grocery shopper.

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