Diabetes, a disease in which the body is unable to produce or use insulin, affects more than 23 million people in the United States. A diet plan is crucial for diabetics to stay healthy and maintain proper blood sugar levels. Similar to the USDA diet, a diabetic diet consists of dairy, meats, starches, fruits, and vegetables. However, a diabetic diet differs from the USDA diet because it focuses more on the carbohydrate and protein measure in foods. Protein and carbohydrates affect glucose levels, which is the central interest and concern for diabetics.
Vegetables and Fruits
According to the American Diabetes Association, vegetables are crucial to every diabetic's diet plan. Vegetable are filled with vitamins and minerals, yet low in caloric count. Examples of recommended vegetables include spinach, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, okra, and cauliflower. Three to five servings of vegetables should be consumed daily.
Fruits contain the carbohydrates that are essential for diabetics. Packed full of minerals, fiber, and vitamins, fruits are healthy and can give an added boost of natural energy. The American Diabetes Association suggests consuming two to four servings of fruit per day. Fresh, dried, whole, and canned fruit are acceptable forms of fruit and can include a variety of choices such as apples, bananas, grapes, watermelon, peaches, strawberries, pears, and oranges.
Starches and Dairy
You will also need starches in your daily diet, but it is vital to choose the correct ones. The American Diabetes Association recommends whole grain breads, oatmeal, grits, corn, fiber enriched cereal, pinto beans, and squash. Avoid refined starches that can spike your blood sugar level such as white bread, cookies, and sugar-filled cereal. Eat at least six servings of starches per day.
Dairy is an important part of a diabetic's diet because it provides needed calcium and nutrients. The American Diabetes Association advises to only use low-fat dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. Incorporate two to three servings of dairy per day into your diet.
Meats and Sweets
Meat is an excellent source of protein and should be included daily in a diabetic's diet plan. The American Diabetic Association recommends lean cuts of chicken, fish, turkey, and beef. You may also substitute meat with tofu, olives, peanuts, and low-fat cottage cheese. Choose a serving of four to six ounces of meat per day.
Even diabetics are allowed desserts and treats, but the key is to find the right foods and servings. Avoid any sweets that contain high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as candy, donuts, and cookies. The American Diabetes Association suggests a small serving per day of foods such as low-calorie parfait, whole grain muffins, or sugar-free hot chocolate.