Excessive amounts of sugar in the blood lead to a condition known as diabetes. While treatment mostly involves medications to control the level of glucose in the blood, following a strict and healthy diet is also advised. So, what is the appropriate diabetic diet? Learn this plus the food to eat and avoid as well as proper meal planning.
What is Diabetes?
As mentioned, diabetes is a condition where there are high amounts of sugar in the blood. Sugar or glucose is absorbed from the food one consumes. Too much sugar in the blood may lead to dangerous health problems such as stroke and heart disease. Moreover, it can lead to nerve, kidney, and eye damage.
This type of diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease where the pancreas’s’ beta cells are destroyed. Thus, the pancreas is unable to produce adequate amounts of insulin. Insulin is vital in regulating the levels of glucose in the blood. Treatment of type 1 diabetes needs insulin which is administered via pump or injection regularly.
Type 1 diabetes was formerly called juvenile diabetes since it was common in children. However, nowadays, diabetes can develop no matter the age of an individual.
For this type of diabetes, the excessive amounts of glucose in the blood are caused by two factors. These include the following.
- Inadequate Production of Insulin
- Insulin Resistance
The body has difficulties involving the metabolism of glucose, which leads to excess amounts in the blood. This was formerly known as adult-onset diabetes since it affected individuals over the age of 40. However, much like type 1 diabetes, it is now a common occurrence in children and adults.
Diabetes that occurs throughout pregnancy and commonly develops between 24 to 28 weeks. It may disappear after birth, but women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later in life.
Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood or LADA is another variant of type 1 diabetes. This diabetes type does not require insulin and usually affects individuals between 30 to 50 years old. These individuals also have glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies.
Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young or MODY is another form of diabetes that can be inherited. It is similar to type 2 diabetes, but the individual affected by it is not overweight.
This condition arises when an individual with type 1 manifests a resistance to insulin, which is a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance developed in the brain for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are affected by this condition.
The diabetic diet involves three meals a day, eaten at regular intervals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Following this schedule enables the body to utilize the insulin medication that is injected or produced by the body. Diets for people with diabetes are planned with the help of a dietician. One’s weight goal, health goals, lifestyle, and taste preference are put into consideration.
Food to Eat
Healthy carbohydrates, good fats, and fiber-rich foods must be included in the diet. Fish rich in omega three fatty acids should also be added to the diet.
- Dairy Products Low in Fat
- Whole Grains
- Whole Grain
At least twice a week, fish should be added to the diet. Choose fish that is rich in omega three fatty acids since this prevents diseases of the heart.
Consume fats that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated compounds that may aid in lowering cholesterol. Healthy fats include the following.
- Peanut, Olive, and Canola Oil
Food to Avoid
As much as possible, steer clear of the following foods as these may accelerate the development of hardened and clogged arteries.
- Cholesterol: these include high-fat animal and high-fat dairy products such as liver, egg yolk, and organ meat. Consume 200 mg or less in a day.
- Sodium: approximately 2,300 mg a day is advised. However, for individuals with high blood pressure, the doctor may suggest a lower amount than 2,300 mg.
- Saturated Fats: animal proteins and high-fat dairy products like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, beef, and butter must be taken out of the diet. Palm and coconut oils should also be avoided.
- Trans Fats: processed food, shortening products, and baked goods are examples of trans fat, which must be removed from the diet.
There are numerous approaches to creating a diabetic diet. The primary goal is to keep blood sugar levels at a normal range. Some of the practices mentioned below may help in planning meals for people with diabetes.
1. Calculate Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, when broken down, turns into glucose. So, it is best to control the carbohydrates consumed in a day. Keep track of the quantity and calculate the amount of each carbohydrate consumed in a day. A dietician can help out when it comes to counting carbohydrates for each meal so that the amount of insulin in a day is adjusted accordingly.
2. Select Food from Categories
With the help of a dietician, choose food from a specific category like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Plan meals around the choices made.
3. Monitor Glycemic Index
Much like with carbohydrates, monitoring and ranking the glycemic index of foods can help determine its effect on an individual’s blood glucose level. This method requires the aid of a dietician as well.
4. Plate Method
According to the American Diabetes Foundation, there is a simple process when it comes to planning meals for people with diabetes. This is called the plate method and is focused on consuming more vegetables than meat and rice. These steps should be followed.
- Non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and spinach should make up half of the plate.
- Protein like chicken, lean pork, or tuna should fill the quarter of the plate.
- Whole grains like brown rice or starchy vegetables like green peas make up the last quarter of the plate.
- Good fats like avocadoes and nuts make up a small amount of the plate.
- Dairy or fruit may be added as a single serving.
- Water, unsweetened coffee, and tea complete the meal.
Tips for Healthy Eating
The whole family should also take part in a diabetic diet to help the individual affected by the condition. Some tips to healthy eating include the following.
- Eat meals regularly and with appropriate portions. A dietician may help an individual out with regards to correct food portions and healthy food options.
- Meals should offer a variety of nutrients such as lean meats, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. Again, these should be in the appropriate food portions.
- Food rich in fiber must be consumed as often as possible. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- If possible, then skip the meat and try healthier alternatives such as tofu, beans, and lentils.
- Consume liquids that are free of calories like water, unsweetened coffee, and unsweetened tea.
- Choose alternatives to sugar and salt.