Diabetes Diet Plan..is there such thing?

September 20, 2018 3:33 pm Published by 2 Comments

When I was diagnosed to have diabetes, there’s a lot of things that went into my mind…and one of these is about FOOD! What can I eat? Can I still enjoy the same foods that I have been eating? Will I really stop eating my favorite chocolates? There was a lot about this topic that bothers me and what other people were saying before also added to my worries. I still remember before they keep on telling me to start on “Diabetes diet”…and honestly I don’t have a clue what exactly that is. Diabetes diet..diabetes diet..diabetes diet…that’s all they can say..but, is there really such a thing?

As the time passed by and as I willingly accept my disease, I started looking deep into what really is a Diabetes diet..and to my surprise there is really no such specific thing! It’s just eating healthy in moderate amount and on regular times…that’s it! Huh!.. I can do that, I told myself. That is easy..but I guess not really…

For people like me who always want to eat anything, everything, and every time, controlling what you are eating has been a difficult thing that I am trying to do since the beginning. This is the toughest thing I have ever done in my life…and I think it still is.

What is a Diabetes Diet?

 

Diabetes diet only means that you should eat healthy foods in moderation and on a regular basis or always the same time. This kind of diet is good and advisable for all people, diabetic or not, as this consists of eating foods rich in nutrients, like eating fruits and vegetables, and lessening of those fats and calories, like fried foods, chips, or salty ones.

When you are diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, most of the time your doctor will refer you to a dietitian to assist you in building a meal plan that suits your lifestyle with the main purpose of helping you learn and understand how to prepare foods that is rich in the needed nutrients and less of the fats. The aim for each person with diabetes is to eat foods that will help prevent sudden rise in their sugar levels, control risk factors that comes with it, and maintain an ideal weight (especially for Type 2 diabetes).

For people with Type 2 diabetes, loosing even just few pounds will dramatically help with the control of sugar. Not only this, losing weight can also provide a person other healthy benefits. With a diabetes diet, you can reach your goal of losing that extra pounds since you eat foods that is very nutritious and healthy.

at risk

too much eating

Effects of excessive eating…

 

For a person with diabetes, the main goal is to eat healthy foods, less of fats or calories…why? This is because you want to maintain your blood sugar level in the normal range. When eating too many fats or calories, your blood sugar drastically increase as this is the effect of excessive eating. Having elevated blood sugar levels for a long period of time causes a lot of complications, in almost all organs of the body – eyes, heart, kidney, brain, nerves.

Diabetes diet is basically eating three meals a day with two snacks in between and a bedtime snack on regular times to help use the insulin better by our body.

Building your own healthy plan 

 

Always remember that diabetes diet is just choosing the right foods to eat. There are four food groups:

  • Vegetables and Fruits. Green leafy vegetables are very nutritious, high in fiber, low in calories and low in carbs. It is also a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Fiber helps to control blood sugar levels as these are plant foods that your body cannot digest/absorb.

create logomeal board

There are two types of vegetables, and these are Starchy and Non-starchy. Starchy vegetables are potatoes, corn, and peas. Non-starchy vegetables are mostly green leafy vegetables like arugula, spinach, kale, broccoli, we also have mushrooms, okra, sprouts, tomato water chestnuts and more. The best choices for vegetables are fresh, frozen and canned that is with no added salt, fat, or sugar.

Fruits, just like vegetables, are rich in vitamins and minerals. However, fruits contain carbohydrate that is why you need to count it as part of the meal plan. The best choice for this one is always the fresh fruits, but you can also opt the frozen or canned as long as there is no added sugar.

If you decide to choose canned fruits, choose the ones packed in juice or light syrup. You can wash canned fruits to remove most of the added sugar.

 

  • Grain Products. Remember that healthy high fiber carbohydrate foods like starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes are all high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Always read the labels for this food group to make the best choices. Portion size is the key to control blood sugar levels and enjoy nutrition packed foods.

Choose whole grain foods and starchy vegetable and try to avoid processed white flour-based products or just use them on special occasions. Dried beans are great source of protein and is high in fiber so try to add it in your meal per week.

different fruitshand portiongrains product

Whole grains include the entire grain including the germ and bran. Here in the US, the most popular grain is wheat. “Refined” flours like white and enriched wheat flour does not always contain the whole grain, only a part of the grain, causing it to miss many of the nutrients that is found in whole wheat flour. Always read labels very carefully to find the most nutritious grain products.

  • Meat and Alternatives. This food group is high in protein. The best one to choose in this group are lean meats, fish, chicken without the skin, and plant-based protein foods like soy products, nuts, dried beans, and seeds. These choices vary in the amount of fat they contain.

Meats do not contain carbohydrate so they do not raise the blood sugar levels. All plant-based protein foods and any breaded meats do contain carbohydrate and sometimes fat, so make sure to read the food labels carefully.

Heart-healthy Fish are good source of fats that is healthy. Salmon, tuna, sardines, bluefish, herring, anchovies and mackerel are all good source of Omega-3 that is good for the heart by lowering the triglycerides-the blood fats. Fish is a good source of protein that helps you feel full and increases your metabolic rate.

  • Milk and Alternatives. Dairy products are good source of calcium and is high-quality protein. The Best choices of dairy products includes: Fat free or Low-fat (1% milk), Plain non-fat yogurt, Non-fat flavored yogurt without added sugar (this are usually labeled as “light”), and Unflavored soy milk.

 

Each 1 cup of milk or 2/3 cup serving of yogurt contains 12 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of protein. If you cannot drink cow’s milk, try soy or rice milk. Always read the labels for carbohydrate and fat content.

How much Fat can I eat?

 

People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, so eating a diet low in saturated fat can lessen the risk. All fats are high in calories so you should limit your serving sizes. There are two kinds of Fat, Saturated and Unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats provide health benefits to a person, like lowering the risk of heart disease. Saturated and Trans fats, or the “bad fats”, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke or can raise blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats can also be seen in full-fat dairy products and meats.

By knowing the difference of the two, you can include healthy fats in your diet so you can add flavor and nutritional benefits without increasing the risk for heart disease…but how much is considered to be ok? Maintain a less than 7% of your calories as saturated fats. Below is a guide to assist you to maintain your total amount of saturated fat per day.

  • 1200 calories – 9 grams of saturated fat
  • 1500 calories – 11 grams of saturated fat
  • 1800 calorie – 14 grams of saturated fat
  • 2000 calories – 15 grams of saturated fat

fat amount

Remember, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats are good for you and lessen the risk of heart disease. Saturated and trans fats can raise your risk of heart disease. Try to add healthy fats like nuts, fish, and vegetable oils in your diet.

What is Glycemic Index or GI?

 

Glycemic Index or GI measures how fast it takes for a carbohydrate-containing foods to raise your blood sugar. If you eat foods high in glycemic index, then your sugar will raise up so fast compared to those foods that are low in glycemic index.

So, how to know if a food is high or low in glycemic index? Ripe fruits and vegetables, processed juice, duration of cooked foods, and variety of the foods all affect the glycemic index. Try to aim for the low glycemic index which is 55 or less, like oatmeal, beans, and carrots.

When you use the Glycemic index, this includes choosing foods that contains lower GI when you compare it to similar foods. Glycemic Index can be divided into three groups..the Low GI, Medium GI, and High GI.

Low GI or foods with 55 or less grams of carbohydrates like:

  • pasta, rice, barley
  • rolled or steel cut oatmeal, oat barn
  • 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread
  • sweet potato, corn, legumes, dried beans
  • most of the fruits
  • carrots

Medium GI or foods with 56-69 grams of carbohydrates like:

  • quick oats
  • brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous
  • whole wheat, pita bread, rye

High GI or foods with 70 or more grams of carbohydrates like:

  • bagel, white bread
  • pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, saltine crackers
  • short grain white rice, rice pasta
  • cornflakes, puffed rice
  • instant oatmeal
  • fruits like melon and pineapple

plate method

Creating your own meal plan..the Plate Method

 

When you eat, try to picture out a round 9-inch plate. In that plate, draw an imaginary line in the middle of the plate and one more line on one side making it in 3 sections. The largest part should be the section where you can put all your greens..the non-starchy vegetable. On one of the smaller section, put all carbohydrate foods..the starchy foods. On the last small section, you put your protein..all meats/poultry/fish/tofu. Also add one serving of fruit and a drink..can be milk if you like.

The plate method is a good way to portion all the food groups making sure you are eating the right amount to help maintain your blood sugar within the range all the time. There are a lot of diabetes cookbooks, meal plate guide, portion plates or lunch bags that you can use to have a complete control over your serving sizes.

My own meal plan

 

For each person with diabetes, creating your own meal plan is an important part of your diabetes management. You should consult a dietitian about the foods you prefer so your dietitian can make a meal plan that suits your lifestyle. Every person has its own meal plan.

Each dietitian has their own style of how to create your own meal plan based on many factors. It is highly individualized and it should be aiming as to what the person with diabetes chooses to concentrate on the following:

  • Calorie control
  • Blood sugar control
  • Weight loss
  • Carbohydrate counting
  • Blood pressure control
  • Lipid control
  • Exercise
  • Meal timing/frequency

This is the meal plan that my nutritionist-dietitian ordered me to follow before:

BREAKFAST: Time 8:00 AM

Choose 1-2 servings of:

¼ large bagel

1 slice bread

½ croissant

1/3 cup cooked rice

¾ cup oatmeal

½ cup noodles

Choose 1 serving of:

1 cup milk/plain yogurt

2 x 100gm diet yogurt

Eat your usual portion: cheese, egg, peanut butter, meat, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts

 

LUNCH: Time 12:00 Noon

Choose 2 servings of:

1 cup soup

1 slice bread

½ bun (hot dog, hamburger or Kaiser)

½ cup cooked noodles

1/3 cup cooked rice

1 small roll

Eat your usual portion of: cheese, egg, peanut butter, meat, fish, chicken, lentils, tofu, shellfish

Eat as desired: Other vegetables like Asparagus, Bitter Melon, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, Greens, Lettuce, Okra, Spinach Zucchini.

 

DINNER: Time 7:00 PM

Choose 2 servings of:

1 slice bread

½ cup corn

1/3 cup cooked rice

1 small dinner roll

½ cup cooked noodles

1/3 cup potato (mashed)

Eat your usual portion of: cheese, egg, peanut butter, meat, fish, chicken, lentils, tofu, shellfish.

Eat as desired: Other vegetables like Asparagus, Bitter Melon, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, Greens, Lettuce, Okra, Spinach Zucchini.

 

MID MORNING SNACK: Time 10:00 AM

Choose 1 serving of:

1 medium apple

15 small grapes

1 medium orange

1 cup cantaloupe

Choose if desired: cheese, egg, peanut butter, nuts, meat, fish, or chicken

 

 

MID AFTERNOON SNACK: Time 2:00 PM

Choose 1 serving of:

1 slice bread

3 cookies (Arrowroot or Gingersnaps)

½ cup cooked noodles

1 small bran muffin (2 inch)

Choose if desired: cheese, egg, peanut butter, nuts, meat, fish or chicken

 

 

BED TIME SNACK: Time 10:00 PM

Choose 1 serving of:

1 small banana

1 cup berries

1 medium orange

2 medium plums

Choose 1 serving of:

1 cup milk/plain yogurt

2x 100 gm diet yogurt

Choose if desired: cheese egg, peanut butter, nuts, meat, fish or chicken.

There were a lot of food options to choose from. My meal plan aimed to control my blood sugar in preparation for my first baby..and truly it helped me.

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In summary…

 

For people with diabetes, the question, “What can I eat?”, usually is the main question asked to healthcare professionals. There are a lot of things to know when studying about a diabetes diet plan..but only one thing is for sure..this is a healthy diet that is low in calories and carbohydrates.

A good and realistic meal plan should fit ones schedule, culture, and eating habits. It is very important to choose a variety of foods from each food group when you have diabetes. The right diabetes meal plan should help improve blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and also maintain the weight to its weight goal by eating more frequent smaller meals rather than a few big meals. Skipping meals or skipping snacks is definitely not a good idea.

This blog is somewhat a guide to help you learn and understand about different food choices that people with diabetes usually make to assist them in controlling their diabetes and feeling their best. Remember, how you control your diabetes is totally up to YOU!

We’re hoping that this has helped in some way. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and we will be more than happy to help you out as much as we can.

References: American Diabetes Association “The Diabetes Guide to Healthy Food Choices”; www.mayoclinic.org; Implementing Group & Individual Medical Nutrition Therapy for Diabetes by Franz, Reader, Monk; BC Women’s Hospital & Health Center Meal Planning for Diabetes in Pregnancy; https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/video/diabetes-special-diet; Lilly Diabetes Daily Diabetes Meal Planning Guide.

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All the best,
Jacy and Ryan (TMD Team)

2 Comments

  • Tiffany Domena says:

    Wow! What a dense article. My family has not been dealing with diabetes, but we have had to make a shift in our diet because my son was diagnosed with food allergies that cause intense stomach pain. Similar to your diet, we’ve had to switch to majority fruit, nuts, and eggs. I think the “diabetes diet” is a healthier alternative for everyone: diabetes or not. The food nowadays has a lot of additives that probably make an alternative diet even more harmful than it may have been in past generations. 

    Great article!

    • admin says:

      Thank you Tiffany for your comment. Truly, this kind of diet should be, as much as possible, be part of each one’s eating habits since this is one form of being conscious of what we eat, and entails all food groups which will be beneficial to all people-healthy or not.

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