How to Plant a Diabetes-Friendly Garden

How to Plant a Diabetes-Friendly Garden

The health benefits you get from gardening are plentiful. Gardening is an opportunity for you to grow your own healthy, diabetes-friendly food, to get in tune with nature, reduce stress, and even to exercise. It's also a way to get you more excited about the future, as you envision the produce your garden will create for years to come. Here's the lowdown on why you should garden and what to plant.

Why garden?

  • It provides stress relief: Folks with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes find incredible stress relief from gardening. It's private time every day to nourish thoughts and emotional well-being. Gardening can also be a social avenue for stress relief if you join a gardening club or community garden, or if you take friends and family under your wing for a group effort.
  • Food becomes more meaningful: You are more invested in the meals you're creating if you planted the strawberries or tomatoes that are on your plate. You get to enjoy fresh food customized to your preferences.
  • The exercise burns calories: Being active is an important part of living with diabetes. Gardening is an opportunity to tailor activity levels to match your needs. For example, if you want to prepare the garden yourself, clearing land for 30 minutes burns about 202 calories for a 180-pound person. Weeding for 30 minutes burns about 182 calories and planting bulbs or seeds burns about 162 calories.

What to plant

What you plant depends on the amount of space in your garden, what you will most enjoy eating, and how much labor you are willing to put into your garden. Keeping that in mind, here are a few general guidelines to help you out with determining your best options.

  • Easy plants: Zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, strawberries, and kale are all incredibly good and easy for any diabetes-friendly garden. They also help to keep your blood sugar low.
  • Fruit trees: Fruit trees such as peach and apple trees are beautiful and fairly simple for anyone to plant. Use these fruits as part of a delicious diabetic-friendly dessert.
  • Spices: You want your food to have flavor, of course. Get that special touch when you plant spices or herbs like oregano, parsley, and cilantro.
  • More advanced: If you are an experienced gardener or have space and motivation, try more challenging plants such as corn, broccoli, and peppers. They provide more taste, while also controlling your blood sugar levels.

Tips for gardening

As you begin (or continue) gardening, keep the following actionable tips in mind.

  • Get more exercise by using buckets, milk jugs, or barrels with rainwater to water your garden rather than using a garden hose.
  • Add red, green, yellow, and orange vegetables and fruits to your garden. These are good for regulating blood sugar.
  • Give and get more joy and love from your garden when you invite friends and family to help you out.
  • Take advantage of the benefits of gardening even if you live in the city and have little space. You can grow some items in flower pots, or join a community garden.

The advantages of a diabetes-friendly garden include exercise, stress relief, and fresh food on your plate. If you don't have one yet, get started today, and enjoy all of its benefits.

Sources:

Diabetic Living: The Health Benefits of Gardening

Diabetes Forecast: Growing Your Own Food

Everyday Health: Diabetes and the Benefits of Gardening

About the author:

Kelly Short has been a freelance writer and editor since 2009. Before that, she worked as a newspaper copy editor and page designer. In her free time, she hikes, plays tennis, and is looking forward to establishing a vegetable garden this summer.