Healthy Diet Basics for Diabetes
A diet for diabetes is really a healthy diet, controlled in calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and salt. The foods that are good for controlling your blood sugar are good for everyone. Several components of your diet -- including the amounts of carbohydrate, fat, and protein that you eat -- affect your blood sugar levels. So to keep your blood sugar levels normal, you need to make healthy food choices, eat regularly without skipping meals, exercise regularly, and take the medicines your doctor prescribes.
Eating a properly balanced diet can help people with diabetes:
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, if you are overweight.
- Prevent low blood glucose reactions.
- Reduce your risk of health problems caused by diabetes, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Control your blood sugar levels.
- Control your cholesterol levels.
A registered dietitian can be helpful in creating an individualized meal plan that works for you. He or she can provide in-depth nutrition education to help you develop a personalized meal plan that fits with your lifestyle and activity level, and medical needs.
General Guidelines for a Diabetes Meal Plan
In general, a healthy diet is a healthy diet. The food choices you should make are those that would benefit everyone, whether or not they have diabetes. For example, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, keep fat and sugar consumption down, and keep portions reasonable. Here are a few additional guidelines to remember:
- Eat a wide variety of foods. Having a colorful plate is the best way to ensure that you are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and other forms of protein such as nuts, low fat dairy products, and whole grains/cereals.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing 5%-10% of your body weight could help improve your diabetes.
- Choose foods high in fiber such as whole grain breads, fruit, and cereal. You need 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
- Watch your portions. Eat only the amount of food in your meal plan. Eat about the same amount of food each day.
- Distribute meals three to five hours apart.
- Do not skip meals.
- Eat meals and snacks at regular times every day. If you are taking a diabetes medicine, eat your meals and take your medicine at the same times each day.
Note: If you are taking some of the newer diabetes medicines, some of these tips may not apply to you; ask your health care provider.