6 Tips for a Diabetes-Friendly Kitchen

You make every effort to keep your blood sugar in the normal range—you count carbohydrates, get regular exercise, and eat a healthy diet—but others in the household are sabotaging your stay-healthy efforts.

Here's how you can stay on track when dietary minefields seem to be everywhere in your house

1. Discuss your health goals with your family

It's important that they understand that a "diabetes diet" isn't really different from a healthy diet for everyone. "The difference for a person with diabetes may be that they are specifically counting their carbohydrates," says Alison Massey, RD, of Mercy Medial Center in Baltimore. "Carb counting is a way to better manage portions of the foods that impact the blood glucose levels the most." Even individuals who don't have diabetes should monitor carb intake, she says.

2. Remind yourself often why you are making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes

Maybe you want to lose weight so you can be more active with your grandchildren. Or maybe you just want to have more energy so you can do more.

3. Stock up on foods that everyone can enjoy

Massey recommends non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fruit (though individuals with diabetes need to monitor their portion size).

4. Don't have separate "diabetes" foods for the family member with the condition

"That never works," says Rosemary Briars, ND, PNP-BC, CDE, Clinical Program Director of the Chicago Children's Diabetes Center at La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago. "The best approach is for everyone in the family to follow the same healthy eating guidelines," "When you get a diagnosis of diabetes, it means having to make significant changes in your lifestyle. The whole family needs to get on board to help you succeed."

5. Practice portion control

If someone else in the family does the cooking, you probably don't have control over just what is going into the food. "In this case, portion control is important," says Dietlinde Wolter-Nitta, RD, CDE, of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "Just because it is on your plate does not mean you have to eat it."

6. Help your family help you

If your family seems confused about what they can do to help you meet your weight loss goals, sit them down and ask for their help, Wolter-Nitta says. "Tell them that you value your health and that they can help by minimizing the amount of process foods at mealtimesand keeping healthy foods around for snacks."

Rosemary Briars, ND, PNP-BC, CDE, reviewed this article.