Glucose control and the Diabetic
If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably
mentioned that you should pay careful attention to nutrition and
diet as part of your treatment program.
Nutrition experts say that there is no one diet for diabetes,
but people with diabetes should follow the nutrition guidelines
in the Food
Pyramid, while paying special attention to carbohydrate intake.
People with diabetes should also eat about the same amount of
food at the same time each day to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Getting Started With Nutrition Treatment
If you've never attempted to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet before
your diabetes diagnosis, it can be difficult to know where to get
started. Try the following tips:
- Eat more starches such as bread, cereal, and starchy vegetables.
- Aim for six servings a day or more. For example, have cold cereal
with nonfat milk or a bagel with a teaspoon of jelly for breakfast.
- Another starch-adding strategy is to add cooked black beans,
corn or garbanzo beans to salads or casseroles.
- Eat five fruits and vegetables every day. Have a piece of fruit
or two as a snack, or add vegetables to chili, stir-fried dishes
or stews. You can also pack raw vegetables for lunch or snacks.
- Eat sugars and sweets in moderation. Include your favorite sweets
in your diet once or twice a week at most. Split a dessert to
satisfy your sweet tooth while reducing the sugar, fat and calories.
- Soluble fibers are found mainly in fruits, vegetables and some
seeds, and are especially good for people with diabetes because
they help to slow down or reduce the absorption of glucose from
- Legumes, such as cooked kidney beans, are among the highest
soluble fiber foods. Other fiber-containing foods, such as carrots,
also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
- Insoluble fibers, found in bran, whole grains and nuts, act
as intestinal scrubbers by cleaning out the lower gastrointestinal
After a diabetes diagnosis, consider seeing a dietitian and developing
a meal plan to get started.
Taking into account your lifestyle, your medication, your weight
and any medical conditions you may have in addition to diabetes
as well as your favorite foods, the dietitian will help you create
a diet that will prevent complications of diabetes and still give
you the pleasure you've always had in eating..
A Healthier Weight and Lifestyle
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone
with diabetes. Weight control is extremely important in treating
type 2 diabetes because extra body fat makes it difficult for people
with type 2 diabetes to make and use their own insulin.
If you are overweight, losing just 10 to 20 pounds may improve
your blood sugar control so much that you can stop taking or reduce
If you smoke and have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor
will recommend that you quit because smoking makes problems caused
by diabetes worse.
People with diabetes can experience blood flow problems in the
legs and feet, which can sometimes lead to amputation. Smoking can
decrease blood flow even more. Smoking can also worsen sexual impotence
in men, cause high levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol),
and can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you have diabetes and you smoke, you need to quit.
Although alcohol in small amounts can be fitted into your meal
plan if your blood sugar is under good control, drinking alcohol
on an empty stomach can cause low blood sugar.
Alcohol can contribute to complications of diabetes, so ask your
doctor how much alcohol can be included in your meal plan and then
stick to it.
Moderating Sugar, Fat and Carbohydrates
If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have a lot of lifestyle
changes to make. Does that mean you have to give up sugar, fat and
The body breaks down different types of foods at different rates.
Carbohydrates (be it potato or table sugar) typically takes from
five minutes to three hours to digest, whereas protein takes three
to six hours and fat can take eight or more hours.
That's why different foods have different effects on blood sugar,
such as why ice cream (higher in fat) raises blood sugar levels
more slowly than potatoes.
But people with diabetes dont always have to forgo desserts
and sweets. They just have to be sure to eat moderate amounts not
more than once or twice a week.
To control carbohydrates, try a technique called carbohydrate counting.
Carbohydrate counting means counting the total number of grams of
carbohydrate you should eat at a meal or planned snack time based
on your medication and exercise habits. Then you can choose how
to meet those carbohydrate needs.
The "Nutrition Facts" label on most foods is the best
way to get carbohydrate information, but not all foods have labels.
If you want to learn how to count carbohydrates accurately, make
an appointment with a dietitian or a diabetes educator.
Because people with diabetes are at higher risk for heart problems,
it's often recommended that they limit fat to below 30 percent of
total daily calories by eating less overall fat and less saturated
They also need to watch cholesterol, choose smaller portions of
lean meats, poultry and fish, and low or non-fat dairy products.
Because high-protein diets such as the Atkins diets are high in
fat, they are not usually recommended for people with diabetes.
Remember that it will take a while to learn how to adjust to the
changes in your diet and lifestyle after a diabetes diagnosis. With
practice and help, you can have a satisfying diet and keep your
blood sugar under control, too.