Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no single "diabetes diet." That means that the foods recommended for a diabetes diet to control blood glucose (or blood sugar) are good for those with diabetes -- and everyone else. You and your family can eat the same healthy foods at mealtime.
However, for people with diabetes, the total amounts of carbohydrates consumed each day must be monitored carefully. Of the different components of nutrition -- carbohydrates, fats, and proteins -- carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. Most people with diabetes also have to monitor total fat consumption and protein intake, too.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our July/August 2012 issue, we asked WebMD's diabetes expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, about the link between diabetes and poor sleep.
Q: I have diabetes, and I'm not sleeping well. Are the two related, and what can I do?
A: Yes, people with diabetes often have reduced sleep quality and quantity. Sleep apnea, medications, lack of exercise, and abnormal glucose and hormone...
To keep your blood sugar levels in check, you need to make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, and take the medicines your health care provider prescribes. A dietitian can provide in-depth nutrition education to help you develop a personalized meal plan that fits your lifestyle and activity level, and meets your medical needs.
Learn the ABCs of a Diabetes Diet
The goal of nutrition for people with diabetes is to attain the ABCs of diabetes. The A stands for the A1c or hemoglobin A1c test, which measures average blood sugar over the previous three months. B is for blood pressure, and C is for cholesterol. People with diabetes should attain as near as normal blood sugar control (HbA1c), blood pressure, and healthy cholesterol levels.
Alcohol and Diabetes
Use discretion when drinking alcohol if you have diabetes. Alcohol is processed in the body very similarly to the way fat is processed, and alcohol provides almost as many calories as fat. If you choose to drink alcohol, only drink it occasionally and when your blood sugar level is well-controlled. Remember, most wine and mixed drinks contain sugar. It's a good idea to check with your doctor to ask if drinking alcohol is acceptable.
Diabetes and Glycemic Index
For years, researchers have tried to determine what causes blood sugar levels to soar too high after meals in those with diabetes. Potential culprits have included sugar, carbohydrates, and starches, among other foods. The glycemic index is a ranking that attempts to measure the influence that each particular food has on blood sugar levels. It takes into account the type of carbohydrates in a meal and its effect on blood sugar.
Foods that are low on the glycemic index appear to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels after meals. People who eat a lot of low glycemic index foods tend to have lower total body fat levels. High glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. People who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods often have higher levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI).
Talk to your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a diabetes educator and ask if the glycemic index might work to help gain better control of your blood sugar levels.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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