One of the most important things you can do for your diabetes is to control blood sugar levels with a balanced diet. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy the foods you eat, and your eating plan doesn't have to be complicated, either. A diabetes diet is simply a well-rounded, healthy way of eating that everyone should adhere to, not just diabetics. Fill your menu with a variety of nutritious, delicious foods, and enjoy the benefits.
Which Foods and How Much?
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 15 to 20 percent should come from protein, and 20 to 35 percent should come from fats. For a 1600-calorie diet, that's 720 to 1040 carbohydrate calories, 240 to 320 protein calories, and 320 to 560 fat calories. Portion size is the key to controlling the amount of calories you eat, so be sure to read labels and measure foods in order to have an accurate count.
It is important to note that not all nutrients are created equal. For people with diabetes it's especially important to eat the right kind of carbohydrates, since they have the biggest impact on blood sugar. The best sources are from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Not only are these foods low in fat and calories, they are naturally high in nutrients and dietary fiber, a natural blood sugar regulator. Avoid the common dieting strategy of cutting carbs, which your body needs for fuel. This can lead to a dangerous condition called ketosis.
Optimal protein sources could include low-fat/fat-free dairy, beans, soy products, egg whites and lean cuts of meat that are low in saturated fat, like chicken breast and fish. Eating fish twice a week helps to lower triglyceride (blood fats) levels. Steer clear of fish with high levels of mercury and eat it steamed, baked, or grilled rather than fried or sautéed.
Having diabetes means that you are also at a greater risk for stroke and heart disease, so heart-healthy eating is essential. Dietary fats should mainly be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These fats are liquid at room temperature and come from plants, nuts and seeds. Limit saturated fats like butter or margarine, which can contribute to clogged arteries.
Consistency Is Key
As a diabetic, you should eat on a regular daily schedule, so plan your meals for the same times each day. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating approximately the same amount of calories and carbohydrates, as well as smaller, more frequent meals spaced throughout the day. These practices ensure consistent blood sugar levels and help to control your weight.
Diabetes & Weight Loss
Before engaging in any weight loss plan, be sure and consult with your doctor or nutritionist. Losing weight can get you off of insulin and medications, but it's important to balance calorie restriction with keeping your blood sugar at an appropriate level and managing medication levels. The safest way to do this is with the help of a professional.