Eating well is one of life's greatest pleasures. Having diabetes shouldn't keep you from enjoying a wide variety of foods including some of your favorites. People with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as anyone else and they have to make sure that the carbohydrate content in their food is balanced with insulin, oral medications, and exercise to help manage their blood sugar (glucose) levels. A healthy diabetes nutrition plan is one of the most important things you can do to help manage your diabetes.
A good diabetes meal plan includes:
- Understanding how different foods and the amounts you eat affect your blood sugar (glucose)
- Choosing healthy foods
- Eating your meals at the times appropriate for your diabetes treatment
When planning your meals, keep the following in mind:
Keep it colorful. Include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. When selecting vegetables, it is best to choose from nonstarchy ones such as spinach, carrots, broccoli, or green beans
Keep it whole-grain. Choose whole-grain foods instead of processed grain products. Start including brown rice instead of white rice, and serve whole-wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce
Swap out the soda. Choose water and calorie-free diet drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, and other sugar-sweetened drinks
Switch to nonfat dairy products. Replace full-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese with nonfat dairy like skim milk, nonfat yogurt, and nonfat cheese
Use liquid oils only. When cooking, use liquid fats instead of solid fats. Any fat that is solid at room temperature is higher in saturated and trans fats than liquid alternatives. Remember: fats are high in calories, so be mindful when cooking
Trim the fat. Choose leaner cuts of meat and try to remove visible fat. Remove skin from poultry. If you roast food, use a rack to let the fat drip off. If you make soup, prepare it a day in advance and place in the refrigerator overnight so the solid fat on top can be removed before serving. Avoid meats that are high in fat.
Cut back on dessert. Cut back on high-calorie snack foods and desserts. Cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream are loaded with calories and fat
Watch your portions. Portion control is a very important part of a healthy meal plan. Eating too much food, even if it is healthy, can lead to weight gain. One great way to learn about portions is to measure
how much you serve with measuring cups. You may be surprised how much rice, pasta, meat, or desserts you put on your plate. 1
Exercise & Walk
Exercise, or physical activity, includes anything that gets you moving, such as walking and dancing. Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes.
Staying active can be helpful for people with diabetes. Regular physical activity:
- lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
- burns calories to help you lose or maintain weight
- increases your energy for daily activities
- helps you sleep better
- relieves stress
- strengthens your heart and improves your blood circulation
- strengthens your muscles and bones
- keeps your joints flexible
- improves your balance to prevent falls
- reduces symptoms of depression and improves quality of life1
If you are physically active, movement can become easier and your muscles can be strengthened. It may also be a good way to manage your blood pressure and blood fats (lipids). If you are insulin resistant, it may even make your insulin work better. Remember to check with your healthcare team before beginning an exercise routine2.
Monitoring of Glucose Levels
Blood glucose (blood sugar) is an essential measure of your health. When you hear you have diabetes, you quickly learn that you must manage your blood sugar (glucose) level in order to keep it within a certain range recommended by your doctor. The closer you get to this range, the lower your risk may be for long-term complications.
Managing your diabetes to achieve good blood sugar levels can be emotional and overwhelming. But using practical solutions like a checklist, a self-care diary, and a meal planning guide to manage your blood sugar levels can help support your daily progress.
Checking your blood sugar through regular testing can help you:
- Understand how food, exercise, illness, and other factors impact your blood sugar levels
- Improve your blood sugar management by allowing you to apply what you have learned to your diabetes care plan
- Track how well your diabetes care plan is working and make informed treatment decisions with your healthcare team1
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. However, your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications (pills) and/or insulin to help you meet your target blood glucose levels.1
There are many different types of diabetes medicines, or anti-diabetic drugs, and this includes insulin.
Whilst each drug is unique in the way it works to help patients with diabetes keep their condition under control, some act similarly to one other and are grouped in the same class of drugs.2
People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin.
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