Free Meal Planning for Diabetic

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Plan your meals with a healthy outlook. By avoiding complex starches such as candies and baked goods, limiting unhealthy fats and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish, you'll not only keep your blood-sugar levels in check; you'll be giving your body the nutrients it needs for good overall health.

The Basics

According to staff at the Mayo Clinic, being a diabetic doesn't mean that you have to eat special foods or adhere to a complex diet plan. It means that you need to eat healthy foods in the right amounts at regular intervals.

Choose vegetables, fruits and whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas as the mainstays of your diet. Strive to consume meals that are low-calorie and low-fat, but highly nutritious. Overeating leads to a spike in blood-sugar levels. Establish consistent mealtimes. Your body needs to be fueled regularly, not overfed because you've skipped a meal and are overly hungry. Eat a variety of healthy foods, but aim to eat the same amount of each nutrient daily.

If you take insulin, consult a dietitian for help in planning your daily intake of carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber.

Foods to Include

Eat carbohydrates, but choose wisely. Select fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low- or no-fat dairy products, beans, peas, lentils and nuts. Reduce your intake of saturated fats. This is especially important because diabetes can speed up artery blockage and raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Limit saturated fats to 7 percent or less of your daily caloric intake, and avoid trans-fats completely. Avoid using solid fats such as butter or margarine. Instead, use monounsaturated fats, such as those found in canola oil and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seeds and nuts.

Cut down on your cholesterol, which also contributes to clogged arteries and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Eat lean meats and avoid organ meats, such as liver. Choose an egg substitute rather than using egg yolks.

Exchange System

Because every individual's needs are different, you should consult a dietitian, who will design a plan for you and determine how many calories and which foods you need to consume daily.

Your dietitian might recommend that you use the Diabetic Exchange System (see Resources), which groups foods into six categories: breads and starches, meats, dairy, fats, vegetables and fruits. You use the system to choose foods from each group. The amount of each type of food you eat depends on the number of calories you are permitted to consume each day.

For example, one starch exchange equals 80 calories, which is one ounce of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or pasta. Meats and cheeses are listed according to fat content: lean, medium-fat and high-fat. One exchange equals 1 ounce of cooked meat, with the fat trimmed before cooking. One cup of raw vegetables, or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, equals one exchange. You should steam or microwave your vegetables without adding oils or fats. Sugars are included in the fruit category, which should equal no more than 10 percent of your daily food intake. One exchange equals 60 calories, which is one small apple. Milk and milk products are listed according to fat content. One dairy exchange equals 8 ounces. You should use skim and low-fat milks, and avoid milk products with artificial sweeteners. One fat exchange equals 1 teaspoon and, as noted, you should avoid saturated and trans-fats.

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