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Proper nutrition is essential for all diabetic individuals. Control of blood
glucose levels is only one goal of a healthy eating plan for diabetic people. A
diabetic diet helps achieve and maintain a normal body weight, while preventing
the common cardiac and vascular complications of diabetes.
There is no prescribed diet plan for diabetes. Eating plans are tailored to
fit each individual's needs, schedules, and eating habits. Each diabetes diet
plan must be balanced with the intake of insulin and oral diabetes medications.
In general, the principles of a healthy diabetes diet are the same for everyone.
Consumption of various foods in a healthy diet includes whole grains, fruits,
non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, vegetarian substitutes, poultry or
The American Diabetes Association and many experts recommend that 50% to 60%
of daily calories come from carbohydrates, 12% to 20% from protein, and no more
than 30% from fat. People with diabetes may benefit from eating small meals
throughout the day, instead of eating one or two heavy meals. No foods are
absolutely forbidden for people with diabetes. Attention to portion control and
advance meal planning can help people with diabetes enjoy the same meals as
Many people with diabetes benefit from using specific methods to help follow
a diabetes meal plan. Some of these approaches include:
Rating your plate is a meal planning
system based upon portion size. Imaginary lines are used to divide a meal plate
into two halves, and one half is further divided into fourths. One-fourth of the
plate should contain grains/starches, one-fourth should contain protein, and the
remaining half should contain non-starchy vegetables.
Exchange lists help in the planning of
balanced meals by grouping together foods that have similar carbohydrate,
protein, fat, and calorie content. The American Dietetic Association and the
American Diabetes Association have published exchange lists to plan meals.
Carbohydrate counting is based upon the
total carbohydrate intake (measured in grams) of foods.
Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrates
according to the effects they have on blood sugar levels, based on their rate of