A key part to managing blood sugar is eating healthy foods every day. You don’t have to stop eating the foods you like. However, you do need to know how the food you eat affects your blood sugar. Good control of your blood sugar will help reduce your chances of complications from diabetes. A nutritionist or dietician can help you to develop a meal plan that takes into account your personal preferences, culture, budget and taste.
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Your body needs carbohydrates, fats and proteins to be healthy. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source for energy. But carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels higher and faster than other kinds of food. They can be found in foods such as sweets, breads, rice, potatoes, pastas, fruits and milk. People with diabetes need to consider how these foods can fit into your meal plan and how they pair with the diabetes medications you are taking. If you are taking insulin, you have a unique opportunity to match your insulin doses to the amount of carbs you eat.
While proteins and fats do not impact blood sugar, they do round out a healthy balanced diet. Too much protein could increase the risk for diabetes related kidney disease. Too much fat can increase your risk of heart disease and lead to weight gain. You should choose products with less than 20% of your daily value from fat.
Another important nutrient to track is fiber. Foods that are higher in fiber can help lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, give you a feeling of fullness and keep you regular. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, beans and legumes. Higher fiber foods may also help lower the impact carbohydrates have on blood sugar. Try to get about 25-35 grams daily. To avoid constipation from adding more fiber to your diet, be sure to increase the amount of water you are drinking.
High intensity artificial sweeteners do not impact blood sugar levels. They provide a sweetening effect to foods when added in place of sugar. TIP: Do not use aspartame to cook as it breaks down into something that is not sweet.
A diabetes meal plan is a guide to healthy eating that helps balance nutritional needs for protein, fat and carbohydrates. The right meal plan will help you improve your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also help keep your weight on track. A good meal plan should offer a variety of foods and the flexibility to change as events or needs in your life change.
Equally important to what you eat is how much you eat. Begin by using what is called the “plate method” or the “hand method” to help estimate portion sizes. You don’t need any special tools or have to do any counting. It’s simple and effective.
Plate Method to Determine Serving Size
Choose a 9 inch plate and divide into 3 sections:
½ Non-Starchy Vegetables
¼ Meat (3-4 oz serving)/Proteins
On the side, add:
1 cup of milk or yogurt or ½ cup of low fat ice cream or pudding
½ cup of fruit or fruit juices
¼ Meat (3-4 oz serving)/Proteins
Hand Method to Determine Serving Size
This chart can help you to visualize serving sizes for different foods.
Eating healthy can seem difficult when eating away from home. You can follow your meal plan by using the following tips:
Most restaurants typically serve large portion sizes. Use the following suggestions to help tackle this issue: