Diet management is a challenging and important aspect in the management of diabetes (both type 1 and 2). Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight---hence calorie control besides the type of food which you eat is also very important.
You should consult your doctor and dietitian to design a meal plan for you as everyone has individual needs. This can help you to maintain near-normal blood sugar (glucose) levels along with your medications. You have to realize that there is no "diabetes diet," per se. The foods which are considered good for people with diabetes---is good for everyone. You really do not have to avoid a particular type of food totally. Important aspect of diet in diabetes is that you have to be careful about the total amounts of carbohydrate, sweets and calorie intake.
- Consult a dietitian to help you decide how to eat a balanced diet (that has adequate amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat).
- Be consistent with your meals and snacks timing and portion sizes. Try to eat (both meals and snacks) at the same times each day. Avoid skipping meals or snacks. For snacks prefer healthy foods such as low fat yogurt, fruits, sprouts to chips, cookies, cakes.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet that gives enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. Try to include a variety of foods from each major food group in your diet. This will ensures that you eat a balanced and nutritious diet which contains all the protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need.
- Eat foods that do not cause rapid and high rise of blood sugar (glucose) levels---like whole grain foods such as whole-grain bread or pasta, brown rice instead of white rice or beans. Use of whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours should be preferred.
- According to experts you should eat more of grains, beans, vegetables than fats and sweets. Include variety of vegetables and fruits (yellow, green, orange colored). Prefer fresh fruits to fruit juices and canned fruits. Diet rich in fiber helps to improve your blood sugar control.
Serving size for people with diabetes
Besides the right kind of food serving sizes are also important in your diabetes meal plan. Remember that all the extra calories that you consume is converted to fats and stored in the body. And excess calorie causes rise in blood sugar level, weight gain, and blood cholesterol levels. Excess weight or excess body fat in your body decreases sensitivity to insulin (the hormone that is involved in blood sugar control). Maintaining weight at the recommended level, or weight loss if you are overweight or obese, helps to improve blood sugars levels.
Some general recommendations regarding serving sizes---
- Grains, beans and starchy vegetables: Eat 6 or more servings daily. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.
- Vegetables: Eat 3 - 5 servings daily. Prefer fresh or frozen vegetables to vegetables with added sauce or preservatives.
- Fruits: Eat 2 - 4 servings a day. Prefer fresh or frozen fruits to fruit juices or canned fruits.
- Milk: Take 2 - 3 servings daily of milk and milk products. Prefer use of low fat dairy products.
- Meat and fish: Eat 2 - 3 servings daily. Prefer poultry, fish and lean meat.
- Fats, sweets and alcohol: Limit intake of fatty foods, sweets and alcohol.
Dr Poonam Sachdeva, our in-house medical expert talks about the why what and how in diabetes.