The Diabetes Diet

Over 68,500 people in Alaska live with Diabetes. It's often difficult to navigate a diet plan to manage diabetes with so much information available. There are a few common guidelines for healthy eating to control blood sugar levels and increase nutrition.

A diabetes diet provides moderate meals at regular meal times. Medically speaking, a diabetes diet is known as medical nutrition therapy (MNT). Many diets focus on restricting certain foods; MNT is a healthy eating plan that's naturally nutrient rich and lower in fat and calories. It's important to get your fruit, vegetable, and whole grains as well. Even if you don't have diabetes, the components of a healthy eating plan for diabetes are beneficial for most people.

Some of the basics from the Mayo Clinic:

When you eat excess calories and fat, your body responds by creating an undesirable rise in blood glucose. If blood glucose isn't kept in check, it can lead to serious problems, such as a dangerously high blood glucose level (hyperglycemia) and chronic complications, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage.

Making healthy food choices and tracking your eating habits can help you manage your blood glucose level and keep it within a safe range.

For most people with type 2 diabetes, weight loss also can make it easier to control blood glucose and offers a host of other health benefits. If you need to lose weight, MNT provides a well-organized, nutritious way to reach your goal safely.

Recommended foods

Make your calories count with these nutritious foods:

Healthy carbohydrates. During digestion, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) break down into blood glucose. Focus on the healthiest carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and low-fat dairy products.

Fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Fiber can decrease the risk of heart disease and help control blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole-wheat flour and wheat bran.

Heart-healthy fish. Eat heart-healthy fish at least twice a week. Fish can be a good alternative to high-fat meats. For example, cod, tuna and halibut have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than do meat and poultry. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and bluefish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health by lowering blood fats called triglycerides. However, avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury, such as tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel.

'Good' fats. Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — such as avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives, and canola, olive and peanut oils — can help lower your cholesterol levels. Eat them sparingly, however, as all fats are high in calories.

Foods to avoid

Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries. Foods containing the following can work against your goal of a heart-healthy diet.

Saturated fats. High-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as beef, hot dogs, sausage and bacon contain saturated fats. Get no more than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat.

Trans fats. These types of fats are found in processed snacks, baked goods, shortening and stick margarines and should be avoided completely.

Cholesterol. Sources of cholesterol include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, shellfish, liver, and other organ meats. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day.

Sodium. Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day.

A sample menu

Your daily meal plan should take into account your size as well as your physical activity level. The following menu is tailored for someone who needs 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day.

Breakfast. Whole-wheat pancakes or waffles, one piece of fruit or 3/4 cup of berries, 6 ounces of nonfat vanilla yogurt.

Lunch. Cheese and veggie pita, medium apple with 2 tablespoons of almond butter.

Dinner. Beef stroganoff; 1/2 cup carrots; side salad with 1 1/2 cups spinach, 1/2 of a tomato, 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar.

Snacks. Two unsalted rice cakes topped with 1 ounce of light spreadable cheese or one orange with 1/2 cup 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese.

 

For more information about diabetes nutrition and healthy meal planning go to:

www.mayoclinic.org/…/art-20044295

www.diabetes.org/…/?referrer=https

www.nutrition.gov/…/diabetes

www.searhc.org/services/health-promotion/traditional-foods