DIABETES DIET: Your Healthy-Eating Plan

diabetes dietYour diabetes diet should be no more than a healthy-eating plan to help you control your blood sugar and your weight in a safe and comfortable fashion. You do not need to start eating special foods or follow complicated diet plans just because you are a diabetic.

A diabetes diet, for most people, simply translates into eating moderate amounts of a variety of foods, and sticking to regular mealtimes. A diabetes diet must emphasize vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Coherence is key as well. Your body responds to excess calories and fat by raising your glycemia levels. Rather than a strict standardized diet, a good diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan, low in calories and fat and naturally rich in nutrients. It should be the best eating plan for everyone, in fact.


Your meal plan is your eating guide to help you:
+ Choose the right amounts of the healthiest foods at each meal
+ Set up a routine for eating meals

Watching your serving sizes and sticking to your meal plan will lead you to eat about the same amount of calories and nutrients every day. Which in turn will help you better control your weight and your blood sugar.

Beware of this: the more you vary the amount of carbohydrates and fat you eat, the harder it is to control your blood sugar.

If at the present you are already eating a variety of adequate healthy foods, you will need to just adapt the portion sizes, to keep your glycemia (blood sugar) checked. You may need to go in for a more specific plan, eating only a recommended number of portions from each food group every day.


Dietitians recommend using the exchange system, which groups foods into categories, such as fruits, meats and meat substitutes, fats and starches, for example. A helping in a group is what they call an "exchange". Any exchange has about the same amount of protein, fat, carbs and calories as a helping of every other food in the same group, and the same effect on your blood sugar. For example, you could trade either of the following for one carbohydrate serving: 1 small apple or 1/3 cup of cooked pasta.


Counting carbohydrates can be a helpful tool, especially if you take insulin or diabetes medications in general. This method makes sure your timing and amount of carbs are the same each day. Eating more or less carbs than usual at a given meal or from day to day may lead your blood sugar to undesirably fluctuate more. This method is not so hard to implement, but you better work with a dietitian to learn how to do it properly. They will teach you how to calculate the carbohydrate content in each meal and snack, so you will be able to adjust your insulin dose accordingly.

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) diabetic diet

Some diabetic people use this index to select foods, in particular carbohydrates. High glycemic index of a food is associated with greater increase in blood sugar. But foods with low index are not necessarily healthier. For example, foods high in fat tend to have lower glycemic index values than some healthier options do. Nevertheless, the low GI diets are, experts say, one of the best choices for diabetics. It is just a matter of making adjustments to your particular needs to get your personalized and balanced healthy GI diet.


Coherent eating habits help you control the level of your blood sugar. That is why you should try to eat every day at about the same time and the same amount of food. Aim to meet your nutritional needs by including a variety of healthy foods. With the help of a dietitian, plan a program to meet these guidelines:

+ Carbohydrates must provide 45 to 65% of daily calories diabetic diet
+ Fats, 20 to 35% of daily calories+ Protein, 15 to 20% of daily calories.
+ Eat adequate carbohydrates. Focus on the healthiest ones, the complex carbohydrates (starches), such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products and legumes.
+ Select fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber consists of all parts of plant foods that your body cannot absorb or digest. Fiber helps control blood sugar levels and decreases the risk of heart disease.
+ Every day consume about 25 to 30 grams of fiber. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, etc), wheat bran, nuts and whole-wheat flour. At the same time, limit saturated and trans fats. Heart-healthy eating becomes a vital part of your diabetes diet because your risk of stroke and heart disease is increased by your diabetes, which accelerates the development of hardened and clogged arteries.
+ Try to avoid trans fat completely, and get only up to 7% of your daily calories from saturated fat.

The best way to achieve this is to
+ Reduce the amount of shortening, butter and margarine you eat. In short, limit solid fats.
+ Use low-fat substitutes. For example, instead of butter, top your baked potato with low-fat yogurt or salsa.
+ Instead of margarine, use sugar-free fruit spread on toast.
+ Opt for unsaturated fats. Aim for monounsaturated fats such as canola oil or olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are a healthier choice as well. You can find them in seeds and nuts, for instance. Nevertheless, remember that all fat is high in calories. Here moderation is essential.
You may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels if there is too much cholesterol in your blood. And these deposits make it difficult for your blood to flow freely through your arteries. So curb dietary cholesterol. Consume only up to 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day, to keep it under control in your blood.


+ Instead of organ meats use lean cuts of meat
+ Choose egg replacements over egg yolks
+ Instead of whole milk products opt for skim milk
+ Consume heart-healthy fish twice a week at least. Tuna, halibut and cod, for instance, have less fat and cholesterol than do meat and poultry. So fish can be a good substitute for high-fat meat. Other fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which promote heart health by lowering blood triglycerides.

CAUTIONS? Avoid fried fish and also fish containing high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.


Adhering firmly and devotedly to your diabetes diet is the best way to prevent diabetes complications by maintaining your blood sugar under control. If you want, work in your favorite foods and foods you have not tried before, for greater variety. Follow your healthy-eating plan, a low GI diet or any other, and be creative within its guidelines.

Try to join others who are following a diabetes diet and enjoying the benefits, and look for inspiration from them.

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