Why is Diet Important?
Hardly any, perhaps none at all, insulin is produced by the body If you are a type 1 diabetic. The levels of blood sugar are controlled by insulin which assist sugar to go into the cells of the body. The blood sugar level becomes too high when there is insufficient insulin doing the job of getting sugar into the cells and this can result in coma as well as death.
Although injected insulin is used to treat type 1 diabetes, exercise and diet are also necessary to manage blood glucose so as to prevent complications. The aim of food management or diet is to ensure that your blood glucose level is as normal as possible the whole day which can be achieved by balancing the kinds and quantities of food consumed by you with the dosage of your insulin. You can create meal plans suitable for your lifestyle.
It is not possible for you to make use of the insulin from your own body well if you are a type 2 diabetic and this causes your levels of blood glucose to increase. Fortunately for some, they can have their blood glucose under control again with exercise and diet. For those who cannot, they may have to use insulin shots or oral medicine.
In every case, knowing the effects of the various kinds of foods on your blood glucose is a necessary part of good management of your condition.
Meal plans: the commonest types
Several ways are usually used to plan suitable meals to assist in the management of diabetes. Your doctor will assist you in planning meals to can help you. Since carbohydrates affect your levels of blood glucose the most, many of the plans focus on carbohydrate count.
The most commonly used meal plans are given below:
- Constant carbohydrate meal plan : The same quantity of carbohydrates are eaten every day to balance with the almost the same amount of insulin.
- Carbohydrate counting meal plan : The quantity of carbohydrates you consume is different every day. You have to know the amount of carbohydrates you eat at particular meals and change the dosage of your insulin to match it.
- Exchange meal plan : Foods are put into groups. Each group contains foods with almost the same amount of calories and carbohydrates. This meal plan is also known as the exchange diet as one food in a group can be exchanged with another in the same group since they have the same calories and carbohydrates content. With the assistance of your dietitian, a diet plan can be designed to have certain exchanges you can make and such exchanges made with foods from particular groups every day. However, this diet plan is not as popular now.
- Calorie-counting meal plan: Taking into consideration your age, weight, height, blood sugars, and activity level, your doctor will suggest the amount of calories suitable for you each day.You will be taught to consume carbs, good fats, and proteins; with special attention on eating carbohydrates that will not spike your blood glucose levels.
It is necessary to get a dietitian to design a plan which is suitable for your lifestyle , taste, and budget.
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What Are the Principles of Good Management?
Every meal plan has the principles given below:
- Well-balanced meals are important : A healthy, well-balanced diet consists of 10 - 20 percent of total calories derived from protein from nuts, seeds, egg white, fish, poultry, meat, yogurt, milk and cheese, 20 – 35 percent derived from fat with not more than 7 percent from saturated fats like red meats and butter, and the rest from carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Be consistent in daily calories : Your food and insulin will be fine if you consume almost similar calorie quantities with the groups of food balanced as given above. When you consume less food on a particular day, your insulin dose becomes too much and this leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar reaction). On the other hand, if you consume more, your insulin dose will be not enough and high levels of blood glucose results. So, consume the same quantity of carbohydrate, fat, and protein every day. The amount of insulin you need depends upon your carbohydrate consumption. So, consume a similar quantity of food at particular times every day. If the dosage of your insulin is the same throughout, the exchange food plan can and the constant carbohydrate food plan help to have each day’s quantity of carbohydrates the same. The amount of carbohydrate consumed can be changed if you follow the carbohydrate counting meal plan.
- Have a fixed daily schedule for every meal : Even if no food has been consumed, injected insulin will work to reduce blood glucose. So, no meals ought to be missed, eating daily at particular times to avoid low blood glucose. Take snacks along for times when there can be interruptions to your meal schedule.
- Avoid insulin reactions with snacks : Use snacks to counter low blood glucose. When insulin can convert blood glucose faster differs from one person to another. Only from your own experience can you determine when you should have a snack. It can be anytime. Most diabetics require a snack just before sleep. Do not miss your snacks. It is necessary to know the type of food consumed at certain times of the day because fruits will give sugar sufficient for only about one and a half hours. So, they are right as snacks in the afternoon or morning. Since proteins, like meat or cheese, are slower to change into glucose, fat, a protein, and starch snack is right just before retiring for the night.
- Manage your carbohydrates : Approximately 50 percent of the food consumed every day comes from carbohydrates. You need to know the amount and time you consume carbohydrates. When you consume carbohydrates, you must have sufficient insulin in your body to balance them. The kind of carbohydrates as well as the other types of foods eaten will determine the carbohydrate’s effect on your levels of blood glucose. Beans,whole grains, fruits and many vegetables which are complex carbohydrates slowerer to convert to glucose when compared with simple carbohydrates like cakes and candy. So, with complex carbohydrates, there is hardly any possibility of a spike in your blood glucose. It you check your blood glucose about one and a half hours after food, you will know the effect your food, individually or combined, has on your blood glucose.
Initially, having the right foods and checking on what is being consumed as well as the insulin dose can be a problem but these gradually become a habit.
- Eat less fat : It is necessary to be careful with the fats in your meals as diabetics are prone to heart disease. The two main fats in the bloodstream are triglyceride and cholesterol. Lots of food contain cholesterol and egg yorks, organ meats as well as big portions of fat-rich red meat like prime ribs contain high cholesterol. When levels of blood glucose are high, it is possible for cholesterol and triglyceride levels to be high too. It is advisable to check your blood cholesterol and triglyceride level a minimum once each year. You need the help of your dietitian to lower your high level of cholesterol and glycerides.
- Maintaining the right weight is important : Your dietitian can assist you to determine the calories you should have each day so that the right weight is maintained. Your dietitian ought to be able help you to lose weight gradually if being overweight is your problem. Reducing weight can enable you to control your blood glucose better.
- Fiber is necessary : Fiber from food can help to lower levels of blood glucose as it is not taken into the bloodstream. Although an similar sized apple contains the same amount of carbohydrates, two hours after eating such an apple will not raise your blood glucose to the same level as drinking just the apple juice. The best high-fiber foods are legumes, vegetables, raw fruits, oatmeal, dry fiber-rich cereals, and whole-meal breads.
- Avoid salty foods : Blood pressure can be increased with the consumption of plenty of salt. High blood pressure can be a risk factor for stroke and heart, kidney, and eye problems. So, try to reduce the consumption of salt to less than a teaspoon per day. Talk with your dietitian about it.
- Avoid eating too much protein if you have kidney problems : Diabetics who suffer from kidney problems should eat less protein. It is healthier to eat casseroles, spaghetti, and pasta containing less meat than either a steak or hamburger. However, in order not to have too low blood glucose at night, you ought to consume fat, protein and carbohydrates just before sleep. Ask your dietitian the amount of protein you need.
Should a diabetic drink alcohol?
If you are a diabetic, be careful with your alcohol consumption as too much can cause the levels of your blood glucose to go too low. Without consumption of food, even a small amount of alcohol can lower blood glucose too much. Since alcohol raises insulin or diabetes pill’s effect, the risk of having too low blood glucose levels is higher. Certain medicines, also diabetes medicine, can react with alcohol to cause dangerous situations. Find out from your doctor what drug interactions you probably face before consuming any alcohol.