The Diabetic Diet Plan Explained
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin it produces – this is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. When there is not enough insulin or the body is unable to use it effectively, the amount of sugar in the blood becomes too high, leading to a variety of symptoms and health complications.
A healthy diabetes diet plan is a healthy eating plan that consists of diabetic meals designed to help people with diabetes control their diabetic or pre-diabetic glucose levels, manage their weight and reduce their risk of developing long-term complications from the disease. A healthy diabetes diet plan typically includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats, and limits foods that are high in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Examples of foods that can be eaten on a diabetes diet plan include:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole grain breads and cereals
Lean proteins such as fish, poultry and beans
Low-fat or non-fat dairy products
Nuts, seeds and legumes
Healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado
Herbs and spices
Examples of foods to avoid on a diabetes diet plan include:
Refined carbs such as white bread, pasta and rice
Fried and processed foods
Sugary beverages such as soda and juice
Sweets and desserts
High-fat dairy products
Processed snack foods
Eating foods that spike blood sugar, such as sugary drinks, sweets, and processed snacks, can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. This can lead to a condition known as hyperglycemia, in which the blood sugar levels become too high. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage and vision problems. To avoid these complications, it is important to follow a healthy diabetes diet plan and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
It is important to check blood sugar levels regularly to monitor diabetes. Depending on the type of diabetes (diabetes type 1 or diabetes type 2), frequency of monitoring can vary from several times a day to several times a week.
The role of different foods in a healthy diabetes diet plan:
Carbs play an important role in a healthy diabetes diet plan. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body, which is the main source of energy for the body. When consumed in moderation, carbs can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and provide the body with the energy it needs. It is important to note that not all carbs are created equal; some carbs cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels include white rice vs brown riceand should be avoided, while other carbs are slow-releasing and provide a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Examples of slow-release carbs include whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, type of brown rice, and nuts. The two types of carbs that raise blood sugar are starches and sugars:
Starches: long chains of sugar units that are linked together. (E.g. grains, rice, pasta, potatoes, peas, corn)
Sugars: two sugar units that are linked together. (E.g. fruit, milk, table sugar, honey)
After carbs are consumed, they’re broken down into single sugar units in your digestive tract and absorbed into your bloodstream. This causes your blood sugar to rise. As a result, starchy foods like rice and bread can raise blood sugar as much as sweet foods in many people.
Importantly, one portion of the carbs in whole plant foods isn’t digested and absorbed into the bloodstream: fiber. For this reason, fiber that occurs naturally in foods generally doesn’t raise blood sugar in most people.
The digestible, non-fiber portion of carbs is often referred to as “net carbs,” which are calculated by subtracting fiber from the total carbs a food contains.
For example, if you eat one-third of a cup of white rice, which has about 15 grams of carbs and no fiber, your body absorbs all of the carbs, leading to a rise in blood sugar. By contrast, 3 cups of chopped cauliflower also has about 15 grams of carbs, including 7 grams of fiber.
If you eat diabetic recipes like pure cauliflower rice, you’ll only get 8 grams of net carbs, and your blood sugar will likely increase much less and more gradually due to the lower net carbs and a slowing effect from the fiber. Furthermore, 3 cups of chopped cauliflower is perhaps more than you’d want to consume at one sitting, and eating a smaller portion would further reduce your net carb intake.
Fats play a very important role in a healthy diabetes diet plan. Healthy fats are important for providing energy, aiding in cell growth, and helping the body absorb certain vitamins and minerals. Healthy fats include unsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon. Eating healthy fats in moderation can help people with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing long-term complications.
Protein plays an important role in a healthy diabetes diet plan. Protein helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels. Eating a variety of lean proteins such as fish, poultry, beans, and eggs can help people with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing long-term complications.
Sample Healthy Diabetes Meal Plan:
Whole grain toast with nut butter
Fruit smoothie with spinach and Greek yogurt
Quinoa bowl with roasted vegetables, chickpeas and a drizzle of olive oil
Veggie sticks with hummus
Apple slices with peanut butter
Baked salmon with roasted asparagus
Dark chocolate and almonds
Healthy Diabetes Breakfast Plan:
Healthy Diabetes Lunch Recipe Ideas:
Balanced Diabetic Dinner Recipe Ideas:
Follow-up Diabetes Care:
In addition to following a diabetes diet plan, it is important to also see a doctor regularly for follow-up care. Diabetes is a chronic disease and regular check-ups help ensure that it is managed properly and that complications are minimized. During these appointments, a doctor or diabetes educator may review medication dosage and side effects, discuss lifestyle changes, and order blood tests to monitor blood sugar levels.