Maintaining a healthy diet can be very important for those with diabetes but there is no specific diet that is designated as a diabetes diet so it can be difficult to know what diet to follow. Following some basic tips can be very beneficial for those with diabetes as it helps minimize symptoms to keep you feeling healthy. In this article we would like to share some tips on the basics of a healthy diabetes diet.
The most important part of a healthy diabetes diet is portion size. Eating too much can cause weight gain which can be very problematic for people with type II diabetes because excess weight causes the body to be less sensitive to insulin. Not eating enough can also be a problem because it can contribute to low blood sugar so people with diabetes should make sure that they are following their portion size guidelines when eating. People with diabetes should talk to their doctor about portion size to find out what portion sizes are appropriate for their weight. Doctors can advise patients about how much they should eat depending on if they need to maintain their weight, gain weight or lose weight.
After portion size requirements have been established it is important for people with diabetes to make sure that they are making healthy food choices. People with diabetes should make sure that they eat a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and proteins. It is also very important for people with diabetes to eat foods that are high in fiber because they contain important vitamins and minerals. Having a fiber rich diet can help improve blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol in those with type I and type II diabetes. Carbohydrates are also important to monitor so people with diabetes should learn which carbohydrates are bad and which ones are good. Carbohydrates should be watched and counted on a daily basis because they break down into glucose and impact blood sugar level. Substituting bad carbohydrates for good ones such as those found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products can make a big difference in blood sugar levels throughout the day.
People with diabetes should also make sure that they know what foods to avoid. Saturated fats and trans fats should be avoided as they are bad for your heart health. Foods such as high-fat dairy products and animal proteins like beef, sausage, hot dogs and bacon contain high amounts of saturated fats and should be eaten in small amounts. In order to maintain a healthy diet it is important that no more than 7 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fats. Trans fats are found in baked goods, processed snacks and stick margarines and should be completely avoided because they are very unhealthy, especially for those with diabetes. Cholesterol and sodium should also be eaten in limited amounts to maintain optimum heart health. Foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat also tend to contain large amounts of cholesterol. Sources of cholesterol include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, shellfish and organ meats. People with diabetes should try to keep their cholesterol intake to 300 mg a day or less. Looking for low sodium options when shopping is also important as people with diabetes should aim for a sodium intake of 2,300 mg a day or less.
Those who are still having trouble deciding what they should eat can take a look at the glycemic index. The glycemic index was created to measure the effect of foods on blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should try to choose foods that are low on the glycemic index but should also keep fat levels in mind as some items that are low on the glycemic index are high in fat. Complex carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index are healthy food options because they do not contain a lot of fat and will not make a big impact on blood sugar levels.
Following the tips in this article is a good way for people with diabetes to start following a healthy diabetes diet. When following these tips it is often a good idea to create a daily menu as that is the best way to keep up with portion sizes and food intake levels such as calories, carbohydrates and cholesterol. Family caregivers can help with this by making a new menu every week that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options for their loved ones. When making a menu it is important to include snacks as small snacks in between meals help keep blood sugar levels up. People with diabetes should also avoid skipping any of the food items or meals on their daily menu because that can cause a blood sugar drop as well.
Additional articles on the subject in our home care services blog:
- Tips for Managing Diabetes
- Common Myths and Misconceptions about Diabetes
- Heart Healthy Eating after Heart Attack or Stroke
- Cholesterol 101 for Seniors