Diabetes: Get a New Attitude Toward Eating and Cooking
Eating nutritious meals and increasing your knowledge to make better food choices are both vital parts of a healthy lifestyle. But believe it or not, eating well isn’t just about the food — it’s also about your attitude. Diabetes can be tough to manage and changing your lifestyle can be stressful, but if you’re always focused on the negative aspects of diabetes management, you’ll find it harder to take care of yourself.
To make positive lifestyle changes last, adjust your thinking to embrace your new, healthier habits. Set yourself up for success by following these tips for finding joy in healthy eating and cooking:
- Manage your expectations. Making better food choices and cooking healthy meals aren’t skills that you pick up overnight. If you’re not familiar with diabetes nutrition or don’t have much experience in the kitchen, learning how to do these things can take time. Start by making small changes to the way you shop for ingredients and cook dishes (hopefully the tips in this chapter will help). You also need to manage your expectations when it comes to diabetes and other health goals. For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in 1 week. Set small, realistic goals for yourself, and try not to get discouraged if things aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like.
- Gain confidence in the kitchen. Eating well with diabetes does require some cooking, and this can be intimidating if you’re not used to spending much time in the kitchen. Make things easy on yourself by sticking to quick, simple recipes as you’re learning. Many of the recipes in this book are great for beginner cooks!
Read through each recipe carefully and look up any ingredients or cooking terms that you’re unfamiliar with. Making mistakes is part of the process, so try not to be too hard on yourself.
- Make healthy eating fun. Eating well doesn’t have to be a chore. Find something positive that motivates you to continue eating healthy foods. You might discover as you begin spending time in the kitchen that you really love cooking. If that’s the case, that’s great! Look for new healthy recipes to try each week, take a cooking class to inspire you, or make nutritious menus to share with your friends and family.
If you’re not a fan of cooking, try to include something you love in the process. If you’re a music fan, make a playlist to listen to as you cook dinner each night. If you love spending time with your friends, invite them over to help you cook. Fan of the outdoors? Visit your local farmers’ market and find fresh ingredients to prepare. Find some aspect of healthy eating that excites you.
- Savor your food and slow down. One of the best ways to maintain a positive attitude about healthy eating is to actually experience and allow yourself to enjoy healthy foods. It can be tough on busy days, but it’s important to take a break from everything else when you can and focus on the food you’re eating without distractions. Try to appreciate the progress you’re making as a cook and the fact that you have nutritious food to eat.
- Find a support system. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be tough even if you maintain a positive attitude. Sometime it helps to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Is there a friend or family member who is supportive of your health goals and lifestyle changes whom you can turn to? Don’t be afraid to talk to that person if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Diabetes support groups (both online and in person) are another great resource. If you’re struggling with a specific aspect of healthy eating or diabetes management, you can also ask your doctor or dietitian for help.