Diabetes is a chronic health condition. The primary symptom of diabetes is chronic high blood sugar levels. The underlying reasons for high blood sugar differ in type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.  Research shows that with proper management, diabetes can be controlled and, in some cases, type 2 diabetes can be reversed. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, a person with diabetes needs to make conscious food choices that help keep their blood sugar within the target range.

What constitutes a good meal plan?

Ideal meal plans are unique to each individual. Several factors play a role in your nutritional needs. These include but are not limited to your age, sex, physical activity, and overall health. 

The following are the building blocks of a balanced diet:

It is vital to meet your daily nutritional targets for your body to function effectively. Eating a balanced diet helps you maintain good health, and achieve weight loss goals. A balanced diet also prevents and, in some cases, reverses chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

The following are guidelines that can help you develop a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat at least 400g of fruits and vegetables 
  • Consume 50g or less of sugars, including those in food and drink and those present in honey and fruit juices. 
  • Less than 30% of total energy intake should come from fats
  • Consume less than 5g of iodized salt per day

SLIDESHOW

Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow

What makes menus for diabetics different?

There is no specific diet for a diabetic. Their nutritional needs are similar to those of any other person. However, to control diabetes, you may need to pay attention to your food choices. This is especially critical for the type and amount of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) you choose to include in your diet.

Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels. As sugars and starches are broken down in the digestive system they're converted to glucose. The glucose is then released into the bloodstream to be used in different body functions. 

Carbohydrates can be classified as low- or high-glycemic:

  1. High-glycemic carbohydrates. These include white bread, potatoes, and pasta. When they are broken down they produce a spike in blood sugar which makes it hard to manage your diabetes.
  2. Low-glycemic carbohydrates. When broken down, these have a more gradual effect on your blood sugar levels. They are packed with fiber which ensures your digestive system is working well. They include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-grain bread.

If you live with diabetes, you are encouraged to follow the guidelines for a healthy diet. Eat a wide range of foods but limit sugar, high glycemic carbs, fats, and salt. Regular exercise can help keep blood sugar levels within your target range. This is achievable through healthy choices and tracking of eating habits.

Build a good diabetic diet with these 4 tips

A good diet for diabetics ensures that nutritional goals are met and blood glucose is within the target range. With proper planning, this can be achieved without extreme restrictions. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for some time, small changes can help you successfully build a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some valuable tips to help you get started:

Plan your meals in advance. This ensures that you meet daily nutritional goals. It also allows you to enjoy your food without feeling deprived. 

Focus on the quality of ingredients. Aim to have more natural food in your meals and less processed or packaged food.

Create a balance in your food. Understand your daily nutritional target and determine the portions of food components you will need. For balance, divide these portions between your main meals and your snacks.

Monitor your blood sugar levels. Make this a regular habit. It will help you understand what works well for you. You can then be flexible with your meals to achieve your desired results.

It can be extremely difficult to make lifestyle changes. Focus on working on one habit for some time before adding a new one.

The 2 types of plans that can support a healthy lifestyle

An excellent daily menu for a diabetic requires planning. The following plans can support this goal:

The plate method. This plan encourages more consumption of vegetables. They are naturally low in calories and have various vitamins and fiber. They help keep blood glucose at a reasonable level. The essential guidelines of the plan are: 

  • Half your plate should have non-starchy vegetables 
  • One-quarter of your plate should be protein
  • One-quarter of the plate should be whole grains
  • Control the amount of fat on your plate
  • Favor healthy fat sources like nuts or avocados
  • Your daily meals should include a serving of low-fat dairy
  • Your meals should include a drink of water or unsweetened tea or coffee

Counting carbohydrates. This practice helps control the number of carbohydrates you consume to manage your blood sugar levels. If you want to use this method, seek assistance from your health practitioner.

Failing to follow your diet increases the risk of fluctuating blood sugar levels and more serious complications. Food portion control and scheduling can help. Seek assistance from your doctor to find a daily menu tailored to your individual needs. 

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Medically Reviewed on 9/30/2021
References

Diabetes UK: “What Is A Healthy, Balanced Diet for Diabetes?”

Help Guide: “Diabetes Diet.”

Mayo Clinic: “Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan.”

National Health Service: “Food and keeping active- Type 2 Diabetes.”

World Health Organization: “Healthy Diet.”