Eating healthy foods and having a balanced diet is important for everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or social status. If you are one of the millions of individuals diagnosed with certain medical conditions, ensuring adequate nutrition in your daily regimen has probably become natural. More specifically, if you or someone you know is diabetic, you have probably noticed that certain foods are off limits, while the consumption of others is necessary to maintain and improve blood glucose levels.
The diabetes occurs when an individual has high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. In a healthy and non-diabetic person, the pancreas produces the right amount of insulin and releases the hormone into the bloodstream. As a result, glucose levels are regulated and the body functions normally. On the other hand, the pancreas of people diagnosed with diabetes does not produce enough insulin and sometimes does not produce insulin at all. Since the body’s cells need glucose to create energy, when the cells do not receive enough glucose, it remains in the bloodstream.
“If excessive glucose levels continue to exist in the bloodstream, serious health problems can arise, including the development of diabetes”.
Although there is no cure for the disease, smart lifestyle choices and a well-balanced diet are effective methods to control it. More importantly, diabetics can incorporate a diabetic diet into their daily routine to maintain a sense of normalcy.
What is a Diet Plan for Diabetics?
As the description implies, a diabetic diet simply involves eating healthy foods while maintaining a daily routine of moderate portions within structured meals. Although it is essential that people with diabetes follow a well-organized eating plan to ensure that blood glucose levels remain on target, a diabetic diet is safe for virtually everyone, diabetics or not.
What is Included in a Diet Plan for Diabetics?
The first step in any effective diet is to keep a schedule. Eating at the same time every day helps in the production and use of insulin, regardless of whether it is produced by the body or received through prescription medications. Then, create a personalized plan based on your activity level, as well as your dietary needs and preferences. If you are not very familiar with nutrition, food groups and the definition of the necessary caloric intake, you may want to consult with a certified dietitian for the creation of a diabetic diet plan. The next essential step is to determine the types of foods that you should include and that you should exclude from your diabetic diet.
Diabetics need to maintain a nutritious diet high in vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods, including:
- Whole foods without sugar or with minimal amounts of sugar.
- Whole foods, including oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice.
- Baked sweet potatoes.
Vegetables are good sources of fiber and include:
- Vegetables such as kale or spinach.
- Fresh vegetables served raw, grilled, steamed or roasted.
- Canned vegetables without salt or in low sodium amounts.
Fruits are always a favorable option because they are naturally low in fat. Instead of junk food, consider healthy snack alternatives such as:
- Fresh or canned fruits without sugar additives.
- Apple puree without sugary additives.
- Preserves or jams with little or no sugar.
When planning your meals, don’t forget to include the proteins found in them:
- Poultry and chicken (preferably breast meat instead of leg or thigh).
- Low fat dairy products.
- Kariscos (including heart-healthy fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel).
- Plants and sprouts (beans, nuts, seeds and tofu).
- Low fat dairy products.
What to Avoid?
“Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries ” (Mayo Clinic, 2018). With this in mind, staying away from certain foods is as important as including others in your daily routine.
Refrain from eating foods high in:
- Cholesterol – that is, fatty dairy products, liver, egg yolks.
- Saturated fats: found in proteins such as hot dogs, sausages and beef.
- Sodium: limit your daily intake to 2,300 mg.
- Tran’s fats – processed, baked and pre-packaged foods.
The Final Result:
Although diabetes is incurable, people who suffer from it can rest more easily than their glucose levels are under control thanks to a well-organized diabetic diet. The plan not only controls diabetes, but also reduces the risk of complications such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. With so many health benefits, is there any reason not to start a diabetic diet today?