If you have diabetes, you already know how important careful meal planning is to your health. Food awareness and healthy eating, will keep your weight under control and protect your heart.
If you are diabetic and are looking to develop your own meal plan, here are some important tips to consider:
1. Balance is key-
Strive to keep a balance between all the food groups. Knowing your food groups, for example, will also help you identify the items with carbs which is important as those can have a greater effect on your blood glucose. Your meal should not be full of starch. Majority of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables like spinach, kale, green beans, avocado or mushrooms. Next, include a small portion of grains and starchy food items, such as rice, bread, pasta or potatoes. Then add a small portion of protein such as chicken, sea food, cheese or eggs. You can also add a serving of fresh fruit for dessert.
Since most fruits have a low glycemic index and are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals, diabetics can enjoy it without worry. Foods with low glycemic index effects glucose not as harshly has those with medium to high glycemic index.
2. Spend your calories on nutritious foods-
By nutritious, I mean whole foods. In drinks, for example, to save calories many of us look for zero calorie options. But they don’t have any nutrition. You might think it is a smart idea to save those caloric points, but it really isn’t. Always choose nutrient rich foods. They will be good for your organs and immune system.
3. Practice healthy cooking habits-
Limit the use of butter and shortening. As far as oil goes, stick with olive oil for salad dressings, and coconut oil for cooking. Whenever possible, steam your vegetables in water or homemade vegetable stock. Instead of dairy milk, use nut based milk such as almond or coconut milk. Consume chicken without the skin. Make your own fresh fruit juice at home. Instead of butter, add flavor to your foods with herbs, spices, salsa, or lemon.
4. Choose your fats carefully-
As a diabetic, keeping your weight under control is important. Moreover, choosing the right fat will protect the health of your heart. Stay away from trans fat and reduce your sodium intake. Opt for lean meat, and trim the fat wherever possible. The best tip for avoiding the unhealthy fat is to eliminate junk and processed food from your diet. Include foods with a high Omega-3 content and antioxidants. Rather than frying in oil, grill, bake, broil or roast your ingredients. Also, try to eat fresh homemade foods as much as possible.
5. Do eat regularly-
Even if you are trying to lose weight, please don’t do it by skipping meals. Always keep your blood glucose level balanced and eat foods that are satiating. If your blood glucose level drops too low then you may suffer from hypoglycemia. A few of its symptoms include weakness, headache, dizziness and hunger. Always keep a piece of candy or fruit with you, just in case hypoglycemia occurs and you need to get sugar into your body for a temporary glucose boost.
6. Adaptation is key-
Rather than throwing away your favorite recipes, see if you can adapt and substitute the ingredients with those that are diabetic friendly. For example, rather than creamy sauce, opt for a marinara sauce. In baked foods, cut down on sugar content, or sweeten it naturally using dried fruits. Use low fat and non-dairy alternatives whenever possible. There is always ways to lower the fat, salt and sugar content and still enjoy the final meal. Experimentation might be necessary, but don’t lose heart. It might just be a fun process.
7. Portion control-
Always remember that portion control is imperative, now more than ever. You can use the plate method to divide your plate to get the appropriate amount from each food group. Also measure everything, and keep a food journal if you can.
Diabetes can be restrictive when it comes to diet. It forces you to make healthy choices, and to look at eating as a means of nourishing your body rather than simply quenching hunger or emotional needs. Do remember that it is the small changes that can make big difference. Even if you don’t have diabetes, these tips will definitely lower your risk of ever getting it.
In the comments below, please tell me: If you have diabetes, do you have a healthy tip you would like to share with us?