Meal planning, along with exercise and medications, is one of the mainstays for treating diabetes. Sometimes meal planning is viewed as one of the most difficult aspects of good diabetes management. Here are some tips for successful diabetes meal planning.
- Eat regular meals and snacks. Having a consistent eating schedule makes blood sugars more consistent and predictable. Meals should be eaten at roughly the same time each day. If meals are skipped or delayed, low blood sugar may occur. Also this leads to being extra hungry at the next meal, which can lead to overeating.
- Spread carbohydrates evenly throughout the day. Carbohydrate is the nutrient in foods that has the greatest effect on raising blood sugar. Carbohydrates are found in grains, pasta, potatoes, fruits, milk and in small amounts in vegetables. If counting grams of carbohydrate, average needs are 40-60 grams/meal for women, or 60-80 grams/meal for men. Consult a Registered Dietitian for individualized recommendations. Meals should contain about the same amount of carbohydrate and be consistent from day to day. Eating too much or too little carbohydrates can lead to high or low blood glucose levels. Individuals who take meal time insulin can learn how to adjust their insulin dose to match the amount of carbohydrate in their meal.
- Select foods low in fat. People with diabetes are at greater risk for heart disease and need to keep blood cholesterol levels in range. Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels. Try to avoid fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, high fat dairy products, and high fat sauces and dressings.
- Follow general guidelines for a healthy diet. We all need a well-balanced diet containing foods from all food groups. One easy way to do this is to follow the guidelines at choosemyplate.gov. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter of your plate with lean protein, and the other quarter with starchy food. Have a glass of low-fat milk and a small serving of fruit on the side. This model ensures a good mix of essential vitamins and minerals.
Post by: Julianne Steiner, MS, RD, CDE