Diet for Diabetic Patients

If We are “Diabetic” whether we are being treated with insulin or pills, understanding how to eat properly is important for keeping our blood glucose in good control.

We must try to find healthy foods that we enjoy eating. Our meal plan should fit our lifestyle.We must eat our meals at about the same time every day, without skipping any meal.Eating about the same amount of food at the same meal and at snack-times can help us to avoid short-term problems such as a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

Our meal choices need not be very different from those eaten by other family members. Everyone should be concerned about eating a healthy diet that includes a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, foods high in fiber, less animal type fats (saturated fats) and limiting foods with added sugar.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight should be a primary goal. Even a 10% weight loss in overweight patients has been shown to make a big difference in controlling blood glucose levels.

There is no single diabetic diet for improving glucose control for all patients with diabetes. Eating properly may also delay or prevent complications associated with diabetes such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

If we have type 1 diabetes, our meal plan should help us keep our blood glucose as close to normal as is safely possible. We must eat our meals when our insulin is working the hardest. We must test our blood glucose levels and write them down so we can match the dose of insulin we are taking with our carbohydrate intake and physical activity. Our health care provider will provide us with instructions on how to adjust our insulin.

We must know how to adjust our food intake of meals and snacks and our insulin dose when we exercise. We should know how to treat and avoid a low blood sugar. We must know what may be causing a high blood sugar. We must understand how to eat when we are ill and cannot eat normally and when we should contact our doctor.

Children and teens with type 1 diabetes need a special meal plan that provides them with enough calories and other nutrients for normal growth and development. The increasing number of children and teens who have obesity-related type 2 diabetes should be on a weight-reducing diet, but this diet needs to be adequate in calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals for their special needs.

If we have type 2 diabetes, our health goals should be, normal levels of blood holesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides (fats), a normal blood pressure, weight loss and exercise, Exercise such as walking 30 minutes per day for a minimum of 4 days per week can make a major difference in controlling type 2 diabetes. Eating right and exercising will help make our medications work better. We must focus on reducing the fats in our diet. We must limit or avoid fried foods. If we are having difficulty in losing weight, it may not be what we are eating. We have to eat less.. Losing 10 -20 pounds can improve both our blood glucose and blood pressure.

“Nutrion” refers to getting “Nutrients” such as Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals from our food to keep us healthy. Carbohydrates, protein and fats provide our body with energy needed for our basic needs.

The amount of each that we need varies, but in general a diabetic diet will include:
10- 20 % of total calories from protein. Sources of protein include fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, low fat dairy products, beans, grains, ands vegetables.

Less than 30% fat. We eat too much and the wrong type of fat. Patients with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, more reason to change the amount and types of fat eaten. Less than 10% of the fat should come from Saturated Fats found in whole milk, butter, high fat meats, high fat cheese, etc. This type of fat has been associated with raising Cholesterol and increased risk for heart disease. The primary sources of fat in our diet should come from monounsaturated fats such as plant oils like olive or canola oil, and polyunsaturated fats found in fish and other seafood.

Most of the calories should come from Complex Carobohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and starchy foods such as breads, beans, rice, and pasta. We must try to limit foods with added sugars such as candies, cakes, pastries, and sugar sweetened beverages. They can lead to rapid increases in blood sugar levels.

Foods containing fiber include: vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and brown rice. Fiber may help to regulate your blood glucose levels.

We must limit your foods high in sodium. It has been shown that even if we do not have high blood pressure, people who have diabetes tend to be more sensitive to a high salt diet. Foods high in sodium include processed foods, hot dogs, bologna, salami, frozen prepared meals, regular canned foods, soy sauce, and seasoning salts.

We must keep our doctor informed about any vitamins, herbs or supplements we may be taking without our doctor’s knowledge and make certain that what we are taking does not interfere with our prescribed medications.

Sugar is one type of Carbohydrate. For about 100 years, people with diabetes were told to avoid sugar. It was thought that table sugar would raise our blood glucose levels more rapidly that any other carbohydrate. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides us with basic nutrition guidelines. In 1994, ADA lifted the ban on sugar from its dietary guidelines. This change was based on scientific studies showing that carbohydrate in the form of sugar does not raise blood glucose levels more rapidly than other types of carbohydrate containing foods.

However, there are still good reasons why sugar is not considered to be a smart food choice. Sugary foods are often considered to be “Empty Calories”. They provide few vitamins and minerals. Our dietitian can help us work sugar into our diet, but these foods should not be used to replace the healthier food choices. There is no reason to avoid foods that contain sugar. What is more important is the amount that we are taking and knowing how it may affect our blood glucose. Testing our blood glucose before and after eating will help us to determine this information. The glucose value two hours after the first bite of food is called a “Post-Prandial Glucose” and is helpful in evaluating our treatment plan.

Related Readings:-

Type 2 Diabetes

Keep Blood Sugar under Control

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