Managing Diabetes With a Healthy Meal Plan
If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, a healthy meal plan is an important part of managing your condition. Your doctor and other members of your health care team, such as a diabetes educator or dietitian, will help explain what your meal plan should include. They'll take into account information like your current blood sugar level, weight, overall health and lifestyle to help you create a plan you can follow.
Don't worry - a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes isn't overly restrictive, and you'll still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods as well as an active lifestyle. Your plan will consist of good, healthy food choices that would benefit anyone. It will not only help keep your diabetes under control but also be good for your overall health.
How will your healthy meal plan help you?
The primary goals of your meal plan will be to:
- Manage blood sugar levels
- Keep weight in check
- Keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control, since these can be affected by diabetes
What will you eat, and how often?
Having regular mealtimes will be important. Ideally, you'll eat three, well-balanced meals a day about four to six hours apart. This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady. It's also important not to skip meals because this could cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Skipping meals can also lead to overeating at the next meal. Your meal plan may also include one to three healthy snacks a day based on your current eating habits.
Your doctor and health care team will figure out the approximate number of calories you'll need in a day and the best way for you to get those calories. Generally, you'll want to mainly choose foods that are nutritious and aren't overly processed. Foods that have a lot of fiber can also help manage blood sugar levels.
Your healthy meal plan will include a wide variety of foods with an emphasis on lean meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and non-fat dairy products.
What about carbohydrates?
You'll probably hear a lot about carbohydrates, especially those in refined and processed foods. That's because they can affect your blood sugar level more quickly than other types of foods. Ideally, you'll split your carbohydrates fairly evenly among your three meals. Foods such as fruits, milk, cereal, bread, rice, potatoes and sweets contain carbohydrates. You can find out how many grams they have by looking at the labels and getting information from your dietitian.
To sum it up
Following a healthy meal plan will help you keep your blood sugar levels under control, stay at a good weight, and avoid some of the complications that can sometimes develop in people with diabetes. Good meal planning can help make it easier for you to get the nutrition you need to successfully manage your diabetes.