When she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, Buckley realized healthy eating healthy didn't mean restrictive dieting. Here's how she grocery shops to strike a balance and meet her nutritional needs.

By Julia Malacoff
August 31, 2020
Advertisement

When Mila Clarke Buckley was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she realized that resources weren't readily available to provide tips for living with diabetes as a young person. She didn't want food to be bland and boring just because she had to be cognizant of her blood sugar levels.

"I decided to start The Hangry Woman [to] share recipes that helped me keep my blood sugars in range, and helped give others fun meal ideas," she explains. (FYI, here are 10 diabetes symptoms women need to know about.)

While Buckley has long been interested in cooking and sharing recipes, her views on healthy eating shifted when she received the diabetes diagnosis. "When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I thought I had to restrict my food or eat boring foods to keep my blood sugars in check," she says. "After experimenting a little bit, I found that it took some work to figure out what foods would work best for me, but all of that work was worth it!"

These days, her food motto is simple: "My nutrition philosophy is that good food doesn't have to be boring."

When she's creating new recipes, Buckley is always looking for diabetes-friendly options that her family will enjoy, too. Through trial and error, she's learned a major takeaway: "Eating in moderation will allow you to enjoy the foods you love while managing blood sugars well," she explains.

As for how Buckley manages a successful blog alongside all the other parts of her life, quality sleep keeps her fueled. "My husband and I have a bedtime routine where we start to wind down and turn off the lights around 9:30 p.m. to get ready for bed," she says. "Getting a full night of rest has been so important to my energy. I don't always sleep through the entire night, but it's helpful to have that routine!" (Related: This Is the Actual Definition of a "Good Night's Sleep")

Her advice for people learning to manage life with diabetes? Know that you're allowed to be picky about food, she says. "If you go out to eat, it's okay to ask what's in your food or to swap out one part of a dish for something else," she says. "At the end of the day, keeping your blood sugars is the most important, and many places will kindly alter your dish!"

Luckily, when you're cooking at home, you have full control over the ingredients. To get started on building a diabetes-friendly grocery list, Buckley shares her go-to items to whip up her family favorites.

  • Strawberries, nuts, and cheeses: "These are always in our pantry and fridge. I always feel like they're really satisfying to eat, and my blood sugars stay level when I eat them." (Related: The Healthiest Nuts and Seeds You Can Eat)
  • Canned beans and chickpeas: "We can pull them out without fuss and use them in any number of dishes."
  • Seedless grapes: Buckley likes to pair these with cheese and almonds for snacking.
  • Pita bread: "It's great to make into some quick pita chips by baking them, or just using as a vessel to eat salad or create a wrap.
  • Prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella sticks: "It's one of those things you can snack on really quickly, and it's low-carbohydrate, so it doesn't spike my blood sugar."
  • Fully cooked, frozen chicken breast: "These are great when you're in a pinch because you can cook them from frozen. They're great to use in salads and sandwiches."
  • Whole chicken: "I'm a huge fan of roasting a whole chicken on the grill. Not only is it really tasty, but it's a 'set it and forget it' kind of dish, and we can use different parts of the chicken for different meals like salads, sandwiches, or making soup."

When she's short on time, one of Buckley's favorite meals is a Chopped Greek Salad. It's super easy and takes just a few minutes to put together. (If you love this, here are even more Mediterranean diet recipes and meal ideas you'll enjoy.)

Chopped Greek Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cucumbers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • salt, to taste
  • a dash each of Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons green goddess salad dressing
  • pita bread

Directions:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Slice the cucumbers into large chunks and add them to the bowl.
  2. Thinly slice the onion, using as much as suits your taste. Separate the slices into small spirals and put aside.
  3. Add rinsed chickpeas to the bowl. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and hot sauce, if using. Mix everything together.
  5. Sprinkle feta cheese and red onion on top. Then add your green goddess salad dressing and mix again.
  6. Serve with sliced pita.