This is essentially a healthy meal plan that is comprised of foods that are naturally quite rich in important nutrients and low in calories and fats. The major constituents of this healthy meal plan include vegetables, whole grains and fruits. More than just a meal plan for someone that has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is indeed the best meal plan for everyone.
A diabetes diet refers to the act of planning to eat and eating the healthiest meals in moderate quantities while adhering to a regular eating schedule or meal time.
Doctors usually recommend an appointment with a dietician for anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes or is at a pre-diabetes stage. This is to help the individual formulate a healthy meal plan that will help to control blood glucose level, manage weight, and reduce the chances of getting heart diseases like high blood cholesterol and an excessively high blood pressure.
Consuming excess fat and calories can cause an undesirable spike in blood sugar level and this can cause serious problems. One of the possible problems is hyperglycemia which describes a situation where the blood sugar level is dangerously high which can have long-term consequences like major organ damages.
Thus it is important to keep blood sugar level at a very safe range and this can be done by making the right choices and keeping track of eating habits. Patients who have type2 diabetes would probably have to lose weight in order to make it easy to maintain control over their blood glucose among other possible health benefits. A diabetes plan is a great way to achieve weight loss as it provides a safe and equally efficient means of attaining your weight loss goals.
Diabetes meal plan still consists of three meals, eaten at regular intervals during the day while giving the body enough time to make use of the insulin produced or gotten through medication.
With the help of a dietician, you should be able to come up with a diet which is based on your lifestyle, taste and most importantly on your health target. The dietician will talk you through the process of improving your eating habit by choosing the right portion size for your weight and also depending on how active you are.
Here are some nutritious foods recommended to make your calorie intake count.
- Healthy carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates otherwise known as sugars, and complex carbohydrates also called starch is broken down into glucose during digestion. You should focus on getting the healthiest form of carbohydrates notably the ones from fruits, whole grains; vegetables; beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes; as well as dairy products that have low-fat content.
- Fiber-rich foods. this refers to all the parts of a plant food which the body cannot absorb or digest. Fiber helps to moderate the process of digestion and absorption of blood sugar. Example of fiber-rich foods include vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes, wheat bran, and whole-wheat flour.
- Heart-healthy fish: high-fat meats are not good for the body, as an alternative, you should eat healthy fish instead. In fact, it is recommended that you eat fish a minimum of two times a week. Popular examples include cod, halibut, and tuna. These fished contain less amount of total fat, cholesterol and saturated fat than what we get from eating poultry and red meat. Also, fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, and sardines contain a high amount of omega3 fatty acids. This makes them desirable for promoting a healthy heart and reducing the level of triglycerides (blood fats). However, not all fish are desirable. You should stay away from fish that contain a high amount of mercury like tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish.
- “Good” fats: not all fats are bad for you. in fact, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are beneficial to the body as they help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Examples of such include avocados, pecans, almonds, olives, canola, walnut, and peanut oils. However, they should still be taken in limited quantities as all types of fats even the healthy ones are rich in calories.
Foods that should be stopped or reduced
Diabetes can increase the risk of having a stroke or a heart disease by increasing the development of hardened and clogged blood vessels. This can be increased by taking the following foods.
- Saturated fats: dairy products with high-fat constituents or animal proteins like beef, sausage, bacon, and hot dogs are rich in saturated fats.
- Trans fats: Trans fats are common in processed foods like snacks, baked food, stick and shortening margarine and others and should be avoided.
- Cholesterol: cholesterol is commonly found in dairy products with high-fat content, as well as in high-fat animal proteins, and in organ meats. Your maximum intake of cholesterol per day should not exceed 200mg.
- Sodium: you should not consume more than 2300mg of sodium in a single day. Patients with hypertension are advised to take even less than not (not more than 1500mg)
Creating your meal plan
There are different ways to go about setting up a diabetes diet that will help maintain your blood sugar level within its normal range. You can enlist the help of a dietician to find the perfect combination of methods that is okay for you.
- The plate method. This is a seven-step process recommended by the American Diabetes Association. It is focused on consuming more vegetables. Under this plan, you fill up half of your plate with non-starchy veggies like spinach, tomatoes, and carrots. You also fill a quarter of it with protein like pork or tuna and the final quarter should be filled with a starchy food or whole grain item. You can add a serving of dairy or fruit along with water, coffee or unsweetened tea.
- Counting carbohydrates. Since carbohydrate is broken down into glucose, food rich in carbohydrate have the highest impact on blood sugar level. Thus, to keep the blood sugar level under control, you should eat the same quantity of carbohydrates daily at a regular internal especially if you are on insulin or any type of diabetes medication.
You should consult a dietician to learn how you can measure portions and how to correctly read and interpret nutritional information on food labels. You should also learn how to monitor carbohydrate content and serving size of a meal. your dietician will also teach you how to adjust your carbohydrate consumption with your daily insulin dosage.
- Exchange lists system. An exchange list is organized into categories such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A serving in any category is referred to as a choice and contains about the same quantity of carbohydrate, fats, proteins, and calories. It also likes the same amount of effect on the blood sugar level as a serving of food in the same category. an example is choosing to eat either half of an ear of corn or take 1/3 of a cup of cooked pasta instead for a starch choice.
- Glycemic index: the glycemic index is another popular criterion used in selecting food most especially carbohydrates. The glycemic index ranks food rich in carbohydrate based on how much effect they have on the sugar level of the blood. You can consult your dietician to check if this method will work for you.
When putting together a meal plan, you have put your weight and activity level into consideration. The sample menu below is targeted at someone who requires about 1200 to 1600 calories per day
- Breakfast. 1 medium sized slice of Whole-wheat bread to be taken with 2 teaspoons of jelly, half a cup of shredded wheat cereal. These should be taken with one cup of 1% low-fat milk, with a single piece of fruit and coffee
- Lunch. Veggie pita and Cheese. This should be taken with a medium sized apple and two tablespoons of almond butter water.
- For Dinner: Salmon, one-and-half teaspoons of vegetable oil together with a small sized baked potato and 1/2 cup of carrots. This should be taken with a side salad consisting of one-and-half cups of spinach, half a tomato, a quarter cup of bell pepper that has been chopped. You should take 2 teaspoons of olive oil with one-and-half teaspoons of red wine and unsweetened iced tea
- Snacks: For a snack, you can have two-and-half cups of popcorn or you take one orange with half a cup of 1% low-fat cottage cheese
To live a healthy life and maintain a low blood sugar level, there is a need to embrace a healthy meal plan. This is also important in order to avoid diabetes complications. A meal plan can also be a great way to lose weight. You simply have to plan it according to your goals.
There are also other benefits of a diabetes meal plan. It reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases because it contains a large number of fruits, fiber, and vegetables. It might also help prevent some forms of cancer and lowers the risk of developing low skeletal mass.
With the help of your health care provider and dietician, you can create a healthy and effective eating plan which works perfectly for your body by making use of the strategies listed above. Deviating from the prescribed diet can expose you to risk due to fluctuating blood glucose level and might cause serious complications.