Diabetes - Diet

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Diabetes diet

Proper nutrition is essential for anyone living with diabetes. Control of blood glucose levels is only one goal of a healthy eating plan for people with diabetes. A diet for those with diabetes should also help achieve and maintain a normal body weight as well as prevent heart and vascular disease, which are frequent complications of diabetes.

There is no prescribed diet plan for those with diabetes. Rather, eating plans are tailored to fit an individual's needs, schedules, and eating habits. A diabetes diet plan must also 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 a variety of foods including whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats or vegetarian substitutes, poultry and fish is recommended to achieve a healthy diet.

Many experts, including the American Diabetes Association, 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 also 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, and attention to portion control and advance meal planning can help people with diabetes enjoy the same meals as others in the family.

Some people with diabetes will benefit from using specific methods to help follow a diabetes meal plan. None of these diet plans is required for people with diabetes, but many people will find one them useful. Some of these ways 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. Meal planning exchange lists have been published by The American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association.
  • 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.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: sdemick, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 05

I started a diet the last week of January along with a strenuous exercise program. I have lost over 20lbs.since I started and have gained significant muscle mass. Early on my insulin levels dropped from 50 units per day to 10, but in the last 4 weeks my insulin use has increased. I do 1.5 hrs of exercise daily, 30 plus minutes of cardio and 45 plus of weight lifting. My blood sugar increases 100 to 150 points during exercise and has been hard to control. I am happy with the weight loss and will continue to try to lose another 15 lbs to see if blood sugars get lower. It's been frustrating not being able to see better blood sugar levels, but I'm working on it!

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Comment from: drawles, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 03

I seriously need to lose weight. I can't get my levels under 200. I am insulin dependent. I am seeing a specialist soon. What questions should I ask him to help? I am unable to exercise as a result of congestive heart failure. I can't walk further than a block.

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