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Diet for Diabetes


Diabetes is a common medical condition that affects both children and adults alike. It is caused due to insufficiency of insulin in the body, which, in turn, leads to glucose accumulation in the blood stream. Diabetic symptoms manifest as s result of the excess sugar in the blood. There are two kinds of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. According to the American Association of Diabetes, 25.8 million adults and children suffer from diabetes in the United States; that is 8.3% of the country’s population.

Diet plays a vital role in the management of diabetes.

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Diet for diabetes is decided based on the age, sex, height, weight, physical activity, and nature of diabetes. A dietician must also factor in conditions like high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure when planning a diet for diabetes.

A diabetes diet is low in fats, high in nutrients, and moderate in calorific value. The only thing one needs to pay extra attention to is one’s carbohydrate intake. Why carbohydrates? Well, glucose is produced by carbohydrates, so limiting your consumption of carbohydrates helps to regulate your blood sugar.

Exchange meal programs are designed to facilitate variation in diet containing fats, proteins, carbohydrates. Using these food exchanges, a patient can make their diet flexible and suited to their needs. Each food stands for a serving value, and a portion of food is known as an exchange. Portion sizes are decided by a dietician after looking at your weight and height.

Glycemic index (GI) helps you know which carbohydrates lead to changes in sugar and insulin levels. To avoid unstable sugar levels in the blood, look at including foods with a low-glycemic index (GI) into your food plan.

Many diabetic patients find that a low carb diet is helpful in keeping blood sugar levels down. Other diabetic patients may opt for a high protein diet where the consumption of protein is 30% to 40% of the recommended daily calorie intake. High fiber diets are also recommended for diabetic patients. Cucumbers are a good source of fiber and do not contain carbohydrates.

Foods to include


Foods to include for diabetic patients are fruits and vegetables with a low GI, nuts and certain dairy products.
  • Fruits and vegetables are recommended with a GI rating under 50; they can be eaten alone or added to a salad. Healthy fruit options are apples, cherries, coconuts, dried apricots, grapes, grapefruit, kiwis, oranges, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, and strawberries. Vegetables that are good include, boiled carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chilies, eggplant, frozen sweet corn and peas, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, red peppers and tomatoes.
  • Nuts that have GI ratings under 20 are walnuts and peanuts; they are a good option for your snack time. Don’t over eat them though, as you will tend to put on weight.
  • Dairy products like artificially sweetened yogurt, chocolate milk, custard, skim milk, and soy milk are healthy foods for diabetics as they are high in protein and have a GI. 

Foods to avoid

There are certain foods that can increase the glucose levels in your blood stream. Foods to avoid for a diabetic patient include:

  • Food with high fat content
  • Oily and fried food
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Whole milk products
  • Red meat
  • Starchy foods
  • Coffee and tea
  • Foods with high glycemic index like bananas, breads, carrots, potatoes and white rice

Diet chart for diabetic patient

  • Breakfast options could include oatmeal, a toasted slice of whole wheat bread with margarine, skimmed milk, and a small fruit.
  • Lunch could be a sandwich with white meat, vegetable soup, and an apple.
  • Dinner options include broiled or grilled chicken with brown rice, salads and whole grain bread or dinner rolls other options. 
  • Good snack foods are crackers, nuts and fat free tortilla chips.

Health tips

  • Walk for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals
  • Chew your food properly and eat slowly
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Follow your meal plan
  • Take your prescribed medication on time
  • Test your blood glucose levels regularly


References:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabeticdiet.html
http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/eating_ez/

Submitted on January 16, 2014
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