When you learn you have diabetes, you can initially worry that your life is over. This is viewed as a disease that takes over your life since it controls what you eat and don’t eat.
While you will need to make a slight change to your diet, you’ll find that your diet and lifestyle are much healthier than before. You’ll find that with the right diet you have more sustained energy, better mental health, and much more.
People with diabetes need to follow a low-sugar diet. More specifically, you want a low-GI diet. This is a low glycemic index diet. The GI of food is determined by the way the glucose reacts within your body. Food that causes a spike in the blood sugar and insulin levels will have a higher GI than those that offer sustain, normal blood sugar levels.
The great news is that with some simple planning you can fit in a low GI diet into your normal lifestyle. Nobody has to know that you are following a special diet to control your diabetes. It’s all about meal planning and thinking ahead. Here is your ultimate guide to meal planning and managing your diet as a diabetic patient.
Prepare for a Healthier Diet
Start with some preparation tips in your home. You want to go through your fridge and cupboards to make sure you only have the food that is going to be good for you. The main focus right now is eating the right foods on a daily basis; the foods that won’t cause a spike in your blood sugars.
The first stuff to get rid of in your home is the refined sugars and processed foods. You want to get rid of chocolate, biscuits, cakes, cookies, and more. If they remain in your house, they will constantly call out to you. They become a temptation that you reach for quickly when your willpower slips. If they’re not in the house, while you may have cravings you’re less likely to reach out for them.
Talk to a registered dietician. While your doctor will try to help, doctors aren’t necessarily trained in the perfect diet. A registered dietician will know all about the best diets for diabetes patients. They’ll be able to help you learn more about the sugars in foods. You may be surprised to learn that some natural sugars may be off limits, especially foods that are high in natural sugars.
Once you have all the bad stuff out of the house, stock your cupboards full of high fiber, high protein, and low sugar foods. Look out for vegetables and some fruits, legumes and nuts, and whole grains. Lean meats are your friends, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for foods that have healthy, unsaturated fats.
It will take time to get used to this new diet. The best thing to do when you start is making a list of your goals. What do you want to achieve from following this diet? Most diets are about losing weight, but you may just want to prevent your diabetes from getting worse. With the right diet, you could find you rely less and less on medication for your insulin levels. Could this be your goal right now?
Discuss your goals with your dietician and your doctor. Your doctor will want to track your insulin and blood sugar levels, anyway, and will be able to help set reasonable milestones to protect the rest of your health.
Don’t despair with your diabetes diagnosis. Yes, there are stories of people losing limbs, but this is with uncontrolled diabetes. With the right diet and proper medication levels, you can keep your diabetes under control to look after your overall health.
Candy and alcohol aren’t completely banned from the diet. There is now diabetic friendly chocolate out there. Don’t just replace your current chocolate with it. Treat it as a once-every-now-and-then treat. It’s all about moderation.
As for alcohol, you’ll want to keep the amount you drink to a minimum. A registered dietician will be able to advise you on the levels and types of alcohol to drink. Watch out for the sugary beverages, especially white wine, cider, and anything with fruit juices.
It’s Not Just About the Food You Eat
Before we get into a meal plan guide, it’s worth noting that your diabetes diet isn’t just about the type of food you eat. Your portion sizes will affect your diabetes.
While you want to cut back on the refined sugars, you will also want to keep your natural sugar intake down. Natural sugars are in more than you would think. Fruits are one of the common culprits, but you can also get natural sugars in starchy foods and dairy. You’ll want to watch on the levels that you have.
To help get dairy and fruit into your diet, enjoy them with your meals rather than as a snack. You can have a piece of fruit as your dessert and a glass of milk in place of your water. This will help balance out the natural sugars with fiber and protein. When you get the mixed nutrients, your body will handle the natural sugars slightly differently and break them down slower than without the other nutrients.
Opt for more vegetables instead of fruits. Vegetables are lower in natural sugars, while higher in fiber. They’re made up of mostly water and fiber, which will keep your digestive system in check and help to keep your body hydrated. Vegetables also have fewer calories than anything else you eat.
Starchy foods aren’t completelyoff limits, but you will need to watch your portion sizes. Look out for potatoes, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. Brown pasta, rice, and bread are much better than their white varieties. The whole wheat and whole grain options have more fiber to help prevent too many sugars breaking down quickly into the bloodstream.
Protein and healthy fats are a must as part of your diabetes diet. Lean meats are necessary. You want to avoid the fatty cuts. Fatty meats aren’t just bad for your diabetes, but bad for your overall health. Look out for low-fat cheeses and stock up on more eggs. If you are vegan or vegetarian, opt for more nuts and legumes to get your protein and healthy fats.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Many people think that skipping breakfast is a good way to lose weight. It could make your diabetes worse.
Your blood sugar levels will be naturally higher in the morning. Your body will naturally create glucose through the night to offer energy. The problem is this glucose will cause spikes in your insulin production. You’ll find that doctors recommend you take medication on a morning to help manage your insulin levels.
One of the best things you can do on a morning is grab something to eat. If you are regularly in a rush or you don’t like to eat anything heavy, look out for light, on-the-go breakfasts. You can make your own. An overnight oatisa popular option for those looking for something quick. It’s full of Greek yogurt (make sure it’s plain and low in sugar), oats, and some fruit. Left overnight in the fridge, the yogurt will soak into the oats to soften them, and you get a taste of natural sweetness on a morning.
Eating breakfast is good for you, anyway. You give your metabolism a kick start, which will help with weight loss. Diabetes patients can find it harder to lose weight due to the way their body struggles with insulin and glucose levels. Giving your metabolism a helping hand on a morning will help you manage this issue.
Seven Day Meal Plan for Diabetics
Sometimes you just want someone to create a diabetic meal plan for you, right? A registered dietician will be able to help with this. However, this seven-day meal plan will help give you a start. If there is anything on this list that you don’t like, look out for a healthy alternative to work with the meals. It’s worth having a few go-to choices in your cupboard for any recipe you find.
Where there isn’t a drink mentioned with your meals, stick with tea/coffee or water.
Breakfast: Porridge with some raisins, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon; glass of skimmed milk; 1 kiwi
Lunch: Minestrone with a small turkey and spinach sandwich; handful of grapes; water
Dinner: Omelet with red pepper and asparagus and a spinach side salad; Greek yogurt with fruit and bran flakes; glass of skimmed milk
Snacks: Whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheddar cheese; homemade diabetic-friendly muffins
Between your meals, try to stick to just water to drink. You can also enjoy some tea and coffee. Avoid fruit juices, as they are full of natural sugars that will metabolize quickly.
Breakfast: high fiber cereal of choice with walnuts and skimmed milk; 1 pear
Lunch: whole wheat pita bread pizza with vegetables of choice; carrot and celery sticks; up to 2 plums
Dinner: Salmon with baked potato, cauliflower, and broccoli; peach; skimmed milk
Snacks: mixed vegetables sticks with a low-fat ranch dressing; protein bar
Breakfast: whole grain toast with some scrambled eggs; 1 apple
Lunch: Salmon salad with mixed greens and plenty of vegetables; unsweetened applesauce and whole grain roll; skimmed milk
Dinner: Tofu stir fry with brown rice; portion of melon
Snacks: homemade trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruit; whole wheat pita with hummus and skimmed milk
Hummus is made with chickpeas, making it full of protein and fiber. You can make your own or look for a healthy store-bought option. Just watch out for the additives in grocery store options. For more info on hummus for diabetics, check it out here.
Breakfast: Banana and peanut butter in whole wheat tortilla wrap; soy beverage or skimmed milk
Lunch: Chicken and bulgur salad with plenty of mixed greens and vegetables; 1 apple
Dinner: Pork chop with baked sweet potato and green beans; gingersnap cookies; skimmed milk
Snacks: plain granola bar; pumpernickel break with melted low-fat cheese and sliced apple; chai tea
You can make your granola bars. They can make good breakfasts on the go and will last for a few days in an airtight tub.
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwich on whole grain bread; Plain Greek yogurt with some berries; baby carrots
Lunch: Black bean and couscous salad; bell pepper slices; skimmed milk
Dinner: whole grain roti with beef and diced baked potato and onion; broccoli; dried apricots
Snacks: Homemade whole wheat orange scone and milk; air-popped popcorn with seasoning of choice
Popcorn on its own is low in sugar. It’s one of the healthiest snacks you can get. Top with Italian seasoning, nutmeg, or another herb/spice in your cupboard. Avoid the toffee and salt.
Breakfast: Breakfast smoothie with strawberries, banana, and skimmed milk; whole grain toast with scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
Lunch: Green veg salad with chapatti and lentils; plain soy milk
Dinner: spinach and mushroom lasagne with a side salad; grapes
Snacks: 1 pear; homemade guacamole with melba toast or homemade pita chips; celery sticks
Breakfast: Homemade French toast with whole grain bread; spinach and mushrooms; 1 peach
Lunch: Black bean, pepper, and onion quesadillas made with whole grain tortillas; skimmed milk; 1 orange
Dinner: Tandoori haddock with broccoli and brown rice; homemade rhubarb and apple loaf
Snacks: mixed whole grain cereals; skimmed milk; 1 apple; handful of almonds
Watch Your Carb Intake
Carbs are the part of the foods that sugar. You want to watch some overall carbs you get into your diet, even the good ones. The ideas above will give you between 45g and 60g of carbs in your meals in most cases. The snacks don’t go over 30g. This is a good plan to follow when you start making substitutes for the food that you don’t like.
Remember that your diabetes isn’t just controlled by your diet. While following the above meal plan, you will want to follow a good exercise plan and check in with your doctor regularly to keep your medication consistent.