According to the National Institutes of Health, nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan keeps blood glucose level in the target range. To manage your blood glucose, you need to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are all important in keeping your blood glucose level in the range that your health care team recommends.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, your doctor will likely recommend that you see a dietitian to help you develop a healthy eating plan. The plan helps you control your blood sugar (glucose), manage your weight and control risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high blood fats. A meal plan helps you plan the timing of your meals, what foods to choose and how much to eat. When developing a meal plan you should take into account your likes, dislikes and lifestyle.
Recommended Foods from the ADA:
- Healthy carbohydrates.
- Fiber-rich foods.
- Heart-healthy fish.
- “Good” fats.
Foods to Avoid from the ADA:
Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries. According to the ADA, foods containing the following can work against your goal of a heart-healthy diet.
- Saturated fats.
- Trans fats.
Meal Plan Methods from the ADA:
Two common ways to help you plan how much to eat if you have diabetes are the plate method and carbohydrate counting, also called carb counting.
- Plate Method.
- Carbohydrate counting.
Eating Out with Diabetes
According to Web MD, eating out with diabetes can be tricky and seem impossible. Two of the best tips you can use at restaurants are to watch the salt and cut the portions.
Tips on ordering meals for diabetics from the Joslin Diabetes Center:
- If you are not sure how a food is prepared, ask your server.
- Watch your portion sizes. Order an appetizer for a main course, split an entrée, or eat half and take the rest home.
- Ask for substitutions. For example, get vegetables instead of french fries.
- Avoid breaded or fried foods, or foods in heavy sauces. Try fish or poultry that is grilled or boiled, without butter.
- Ask for salad dressing and sauces on the side.
- Limit alcohol to one serving.
- Be careful of all-you-can-eat restaurants. If you do eat at a buffet, try to fill up on vegetable dishes.
Diabetes and Alcohol
Alcohol will raise blood sugar levels acutely while some types of alcohol lower blood sugar levels. According to Web MD, on top of the initial blood sugar response based on your alcohol(s) of choice, almost all types of alcohol have a blood sugar lowering effect for up to 16 hours (usually 8-12).
- Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes
- Alcohol Consumption Guidelines