A diabetes diet is a curated meal plan that is healthy in nature, and it helps lower your blood sugar levels. It’s also full of essential nutrients, but low in carbs, calories and fat.
Your eating plan must include certain foods that can help lower your blood glucose levels. These include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.
Your diabetes diet must also follow regular meal times that include not missing your breakfast and eating a meal or snack every 4 to 5 hours.
A good diabetes food plan is always tailor-made for your type of diabetes, and it is usually designed by your dietician or nutritionist.
Your dietician will decide the exact amount of fat, carbs and protein that you can safely eat along with vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. He or she will also design your diet plan based on your other existing health conditions.
To get this balance right leads to an optimal meal plan that can help keep your diabetes in check.
For more on diabetes mellitus in general, click here.
Why a Diabetes Diet Plan?
A diabetes diet plan helps you control your blood glucose levels. It also plays an important role in your weight management as well as minimising the risk of your high blood pressure and heart disease.
Your dietician will also decide how much food you need to eat as well as how much fluids you must drink. This is dependent on your age, gender and your particular goals.
It is also based on your physical condition and the exact requirements of essential nutrients you require in your diabetes management.
Foods rich in fat and calories can lead to an increase in your blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). This could lead to nerve damage, kidney failure and heart disease.
The purpose of a diabetes diet plan is to keep your blood glucose levels in check, thereby helping you to minimise the incidents of these undesirable health complications.
Your recommended diet plan can help you lead a healthy life and mitigate the risk factors of your uncontrolled diabetes.
There are three things to consider here, when it comes to designing your diabetes diet plan:
Based on these factors, your dietician will prepare your diet plan to effectively manage your diabetes.
How to Design Your Diabetes Meal Plan?
Your diabetes diet plan is often a perfect balance between carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins. But like we said before, it must be based on your exact dietary requirements for managing your blood sugar levels, not on fancy or fad diets!
You must keep in mind these following things while designing your meal plan in general.
Now, let’s prepare your plate.
Nonstarchy Vegetables (Half Plate)
Add more nonstarchy vegetables that are low in carbs and high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Some examples of nonstarchy vegetables are mushroom, okra, carrot etc.
Healthy carbohydrates (Quarter Plate)
Limit your carbohydrates to one quarter of a plate. Sources of healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal etc.
Lean Proteins (Quarter Plate)
Add more lean proteins than foods high in protein. Some examples of lean protein foods are eggs, chicken, cottage cheese etc.
Keep in mind that this is only a general recommendation, and it may have to be personalised or tailor-made for your specific diabetic condition. It is only your dietician who can determine the right diabetes food, the right amount and the right time to eat.
What Foods are Good for Your Diabetes Diet?
Whole grains contain more fibre than refined grains. Fibre slows down your digestion so that food takes longer to leave your stomach. This will make you feel full longer and reduce the number of calories consumed at one sitting.
Eating whole grains also lowers your cholesterol and improves your cardiovascular health.
Some examples of whole grains Include:
Fruits and Vegetables
If you are a diabetic, you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables because these foods are low in fat and high in nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are also rich sources of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, folate and dietary fibre. They help lower your blood sugar levels by slowing down your digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
Some examples of nonstarchy vegetables and fruits include:
However, your consumption of starchy vegetables and fruits depends on whether you require them for your bodily needs. Your dietician will determine the need as well as recommend the right quantity for you.
One of the best ways to control your blood sugar levels is by consuming lean proteins. These foods contain less fat and fewer carbohydrates than other foods. They also provide you a steady stream of energy throughout the day.
Some examples of lean proteins include:
It’s important to keep your cholesterol levels in check to prevent diabetes-related complications.
While some fats are good for you, others are not. Fatty acids found in animal products (like meat) and dairy products are considered unhealthy fats because they raise your cholesterol levels.
In contrast, unsaturated fatty acids found in plant sources such as olive oil, avocados and nuts lower cholesterol.
Low-Calorie Drink or Water
Water does not contain carbohydrates or calories, and it is a much better option than sweetened or sugary drinks which will increase your blood glucose levels.
However, you can drink low-calorie drinks such as seltzer (sparkling water), club soda, unsweetened tea or coffee etc.
Foods That You Should Avoid
The risk factors associated with your diabetes must not be taken lightly.
Don’t eat foods that contribute to the increase of your blood sugar levels. These, in turn, can increase the risk factors such as stroke, kidney failure or heart disease.
These following foods must be eaten in limited quantity, and some of them must be completely avoided.
Know How to Count Your Carbs
You need to keep track of how much carbs, fat and protein you consume everyday. This will help you manage your blood sugar levels effectively.
If you’re diabetic, you can safely consume 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15 to 20 grams per snack.
These figures may have to be altered or personalised for your specific condition and for your other risk factors.
Always seek the help of your dietician or nutritionist to get it tailor-made for your specific needs.
You must also read the Nutrition Facts Labels clearly and check for Total Carbohydrates mentioned. This will help you in limiting your carbs intake to prescribed levels.
Your diabetes management cannot succeed without a curated and personalised diabetes diet.
But for your diabetes diet to be optimal and effective, you need to consult with your dietician or nutritionist.
Then your dietician or nutritionist will design a meal plan most suited to your diabetic condition and help you manage your condition better.
While these general rules may be effective or even important, it is only in a personalised dietary recommendation, based on your existing condition, that you can safely rely on.
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