Like everyone else, people with type 2 diabetes feel their best when they consistently eat a healthy, balanced diet. For those with type 2 diabetes, diet, nutrition, and exercise are two of the most important ways you can control your blood glucose and help prevent the development of serious complications in the long term. People with pre-diabetes can avoid developing diabetes by changing their diets and making other lifestyle changes. There are several different diet-planning tools that can help people with diabetes stick to eating healthy, well-balanced meals.
Some popular diets may contain toxic levels of some nutrients or dangerously low levels of others. Always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.
What does it involve?
Even small changes in what, when, and how much you eat can significantly affect your health. Simply eating a consistent amount of calories at each meal and timing meals consistently each day can make it easier to control your blood glucose. Be sure to take insulin or oral medications exactly as directed by your doctor and at the right times to keep your blood glucose steady.
Having diabetes does not mean that you can never eat sweets, or that you will have to give up your favorite high-calorie foods altogether. However, diabetics do need to pay more attention to what they eat, reserve sweets for rare occasions, and eat smaller portions of high-calorie foods balanced in meals with lower-calorie foods. There are several tools that those with type 2 diabetes can use to help plan meals and control their blood glucose. Try one or a combination of the following methods to see if they work for you.
The carbohydrate counting system focuses on tracking how many carbohydrates (nutrients plentiful in bread, cereal, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit, and sweets) you eat. Since carbohydrates break down into sugars including glucose during digestion, they directly affect your blood glucose. By counting carbohydrates and balancing meals with other nutrients, you can predict how much a meal will affect your blood glucose and plan your medication accordingly. All food labels carry information about how many grams of carbohydrates each portion contains.
Carbohydrates digest at different rates. Those that are digested quickly raise blood glucose more sharply. In the glycemic index system, each type of carbohydrate is rated by the effect it has on blood glucose and insulin when you eat it. The glycemic index can help you plan meals that will keep your blood glucose steady, or be prepared with the correct dose of medication to deal with the blood glucose changes. Some food packages indicate that the food is low glycemic. However, not all low-glycemic foods are equally nutritious.
In the foods list system, food is grouped into categories. Each choice in a given category has approximately the same number of nutrients and calories as the other choices. The list provides a quick reference when choosing meals and snacks.
The plate method allows you to visualize portion sizes and the ratios between different types of food. Imagine a dinner plate divided in half. Then cut one of those halves in half to create three sections. Fill the large half of the plate with vegetables. In one quarter section, put a serving of healthy, protein-rich food such as lean meat or fish. In the remaining quarter, put a serving of whole grains or a starchy vegetable such as a potato. If you have not met your calorie or carbohydrate limit for this meal, you can add a serving of fruit or low-fat dairy.
Consider consulting a dietitian to help plan a diet designed to meet your specific needs and goals.
Finding the right diet for you can help control your blood glucose, minimize the amount of medications you need to take, and prevent serious complications of diabetes.
Doctors and researchers agree that eating nutritious food in a healthy pattern can help those with type 2 diabetes reach their goals related to blood glucose, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol and delay or prevent complications.
Side effects of some diabetes medications, which can include upset stomach, fatigue, and dizziness, may make it difficult to eat regular meals or focus on a healthy diet.
Fatigue or physical disabilities may make it more difficult to find the energy to prepare fresh, healthy meals. Making large batches of food in advance and freezing several portions for the future can help conserve energy.
You may feel disappointed to give up favorite high-sugar or full-fat foods. However, think of diet changes as a chance to explore unfamiliar foods and find new favorites. Many recipe books focus on low-glycemic cooking and provide a wealth of exciting ideas.
Depending on where you live, it may be harder to get to a grocery store with a good selection of produce and other healthy foods.