Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin or an inability of the body to use insulin effectively, resulting in improper blood sugar metabolism. As a result, the blood sugar level increases, which causes extreme thirst, increased urination, fatigue, and weight loss.
A lack of control of diabetes over a long period of time can result in damage to various organs, such as the eyes, kidneys, and nervous system. Additionally, it increases the risk of strokes and heart diseases.
Having diabetes may cause you to worry about not enjoying your favourite foods. Good news is that you can still enjoy your favourite foods, just in smaller portions or less often.
A diabetic’s meal plan should include healthy and low GI food from all food groups in the right amount.
The food groups are
- Non-starchy: broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, peppers and tomatoes
- Starchy: potatoes, corn, and green peas
- Oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes
- Grains – at least half of your grains for the day should be whole grains
- Wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and quinoa
- Lean meat
- Chicken or turkey without the skin
- Nuts and peanuts
- Dried beans and certain peas, such as chickpeas and split peas
- Meat substitutes, such as tofu
- Dairy – non-fat or low fat
- Milk or lactose-free milk if you have lactose intolerance
Eat foods with heart-healthy fats, which mainly come from these foods:
- Oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as canola and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Heart-healthy fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
When cooking food, use oil rather than butter, cream, shortening, lard, or margarine sticks.
Some examples of food with low, medium and high GI values include the following:
- Low GI: Green vegetables, most fruits, carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Medium GI: Sweet corn, bananas, pineapple, raisins, oat breakfast cereals, and multigrain
- High GI: White rice, white bread and potatoes
With all that in mind, there are two widely used methods to help you plan your portions for each meal.
One of these methods is the plate method. You can control your portion sizes by using the plate method. Calorie counting is not necessary. Using the plate method, you can see how much of each food group to consume. Lunch and dinner are the best times to use this method.
You will need a 9-inch plate. On half of the plate, place non-starchy vegetables; on one-fourth, meat or another protein; and on the last quarter, a grain or carbs. As part of your meal plan, you may also include a small bowl of fruit or a piece of fruit.
The other method is by carbohydrate counting. In carbohydrate counting, you keep track of how many carbohydrates you consume each day. Since carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body, their effect on blood glucose levels is greater than that of other foods. The act of counting carbohydrates can help you maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Counting carbohydrates can assist you in knowing how much insulin to take if you take insulin.
People with diabetes who take insulin use carb counting as a meal planning tool, but not everyone with diabetes needs it.
Carbohydrates are measured in grams in foods. In order to count carbohydrate grams in your food, you need to do the following:
- The carbohydrate content of different foods
- Look through and understand the Nutritional food label
- Calculate your daily carbohydrate intake by adding the grams of carbohydrate from every food you eat
The majority of carbohydrates come from starches, fruits, milk, and sweets. Reduce consumption of carbohydrates that contain added sugars or refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. You should instead consume carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat or non-fat milk.