Prepare a Diabetic Meal

There are a variety of different methods that may be used to create meals for the diabetic patient.

Carbohydrate intake is important, but so are fats, salts, fiber and nutrients. Calories consumed may also be important if weight is an issue.

A healthy diabetes diet plan will include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, a good source of protein and a moderate amount of nutrient- or fiber-rich carbohydrates.

The Plate Method

Using this method, divide a regular sized dinner plate in half, and then divide one of the halves in half again.

When portioning foods, fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables. One of the smaller sections should contain grains and starchy foods. The last section is for protein sources.

Add a piece of fruit or a serving of dairy and a no- or low-calorie beverage and you’re good to go!

Counting Carbohydrates

Carb counting is another method of meal planning used to keep blood sugar levels within healthy limits. It is a bit more involved than the plate method, but an extremely valuable method for those who are having difficulty controlling their glucose levels.

Everyone has a different number of carbs they can consume each day and still be healthy. Those who are very active can consume more carbs, and sedentary folks will do better with less. Diabetic medications, if taken, can alter the amount of carbs needed to keep blood glucose steady. Timing and size of meals and number of snacks are also factors.

It is recommended to start at between 45 and 60 carbs for each meal and 15 to 20 carbs for each snack. Where foods are labeled, you will know the portion size that corresponds to the grams of carbs. For non-labeled foods there are a variety of sources for carb counts and portion sizes, online and in books. Remember that your diet should include healthy foods. It would be a shame to waste carbs on junk!

For those who test their sugar regularly, it will be evident fairly quickly whether this is too much or too little. Keep a chart, noting the date, the carbs for each meal, and the blood glucose reading afterwards. Include activity levels as well, to give you even more data to work from. Adjust your intake until your sugar levels are where they should be.

Get Help

If you are having difficulty coming up with a diet plan you can stick to, consider consulting with a dietician or nutritionist. With a diabetes diagnosis this visit is likely to be covered by your health insurer. This professional can work with you to come up with a list of foods you like and can safely consume. They can also factor in a need for weight loss or compensate for any food issues, like allergies or gluten.

A customized diet, laid out for your use, can make it much simpler to stay healthy, avoiding the complications of uncontrolled diabetes.

Sources: American Diabetes Association (“create your plate”) and American Diabetes Association (“carb counting”)

Image courtesy: King County government

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