Planning what you eat throughout the day is an important part of managing your blood glucose levels. Choosing healthy foods will prevent your sugar levels from being too low or high, will keep your weight at the optimum level, and will lower the risk of developing complications. When formulating your meal plan you need to select the right foods, how much to consume, and the most convenient time based on your lifestyle and daily activities. What works for you may be quite different to another person with diabetes so you must first set yourself some healthy meal plan goals.
If your primary goal is to manage your weight, you will need to create low calorie meal plans and monitor portion sizes. There may be other health conditions which require lower salt or cholesterol food choices to be made. Healthy eating tips include:
When creating your meal plan, ideally you want to be eating from a variety of food groups so your body obtains the right amounts of vitamins and nutrients. The more proactive and conscientious you are at keeping close to your optimal ranges, the better your diabetes management will be and will lower your risk at developing complications. Keep a weekly diary of what you eat and take it to your next appointment.
Carbohydrates can be found in many foods providing the brain and body with energy. As a diabetic it is important to include high fibre carbohydrates as part of your meal plan. The amount of carbohydrates eaten has been proven to heavily influence blood glucose levels. However since carbs are digested in the body at varied rates, you can use the glycaemic index (GI) to pick and choose healthy, low GI food. These lower ranked foods mean absorption will be slower, cravings for food will be reduced helping to manage weight goals and moderate daily intake will ensure consistent blood sugar levels. Some healthy sources include:
How much food you eat impacts your blood sugar levels. Consuming small serves of each food balancing the types that you eat. A tip is to part your healthy plate into three sections (based on your size and activity levels) – 50% should include fruits and vegetables, 25% should be grain or carbohydrate products and the last 25% meat or other protein.
The time you choose to eat also affects how much sugar level is in your blood. Waiting long periods of time to eat your meals may cause your blood glucose levels to become low. Consuming many meals close together or heavy snacking can inflate your sugar levels. DO NOT SKIP MEALS – eat after taking your insulin therapy or oral medications to ensure levels do not drop and you are in control.