Meal planning. Options to help you manage your diabetes.
Some diabetes meal planning options can be used. For a type 1 diabetic to eat proper food, the food has to be nutritious in the right portion sizes and having it timed correctly with the insulin. There are various ways to plan your meals. Below are four of the most common:
Diabetes Food Pyramid
The Diabetes Food Pyramid is similar to the USDA Food Pyramid in its arrangement of its food groups; the difference seen only in its serving sizes. Every serving of any food, no matter what category, has approximately the same amount of carbohydrates. The Diabetes Food Pyramid is a guide which shows how you can pick carbohydrates from the six main food groups given in the four levels given below:
- Grains, breads as well as other starches.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Meat/meat substitutes and milk.
- Sweets, oils and fats.
The aim is to encourage you to eat more carbohydrates from foods placed in the pyramid’s lower half and relatively less of the carbohydrates from those foods placed in the pyramid’s upper half.
The Plate Method
Many diabetics, especially those eating outside the home, find the plate method useful in calculating the amount of food they put onto their plates and a guide to the various kinds of food that should be eaten, although its accuracy is not a good as carbohydrate counting.
The plate method is easy to use. Using the usual-sized dinner plate, place non-carbohydrate vegetables like carrots, lettuce and broccoli on half the plate. In the remaining unfilled half or two quarters of the plate, use a quarter for protein foods like fish, chicken or lean meat. Use the remaining quarter for carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, beans or rice. When using the plate method, be aware that the amount of carbohydrates can be so different even when the quantity is the same. For instance, a slice of bread can be from 8 to 25 grams of carbohydrates, as a slice of whole-meal bread will certainly have less carbohydrates than a slice of white bread.
How do diet and exercise affect your blood sugar levels? -Video Guide
Carbohydrate counting is the diabetics’ most popular way to plan their meals. It is comparatively simple as it is carried out by calculating the amount of carbohydrates in foods. Then you total up all the carbohydrates in the meal that you are going to eat. You dietitian helps you to decide the amount of carbohydrate you need at each meal.
There are people who find this method troublesome initially as they need to find out the amount of carbohydrates in each of the foods eaten. However, once the number or amount of the foods are known, it will be easier. Since diabetics who use this method can replace one food with another of the same amount of carbohydrate, carbohydrate counting is worth the initial effort.
There are six groups comprising of the basic types of foods in the exchange system as given below:
The aim of the exchange list is to get the right balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates for the whole day with the individual’s own nutritional requirements fulfilled. During one whole day, most of the foods you eat have carbohydrate content, such as root vegetables, fruits and starches, as it is your major energy source. The exchange system encourages the consumption of ‘free’ foods, which contains insignificant calories, with less than 20 calories in each serving, can eat any amount without any significant increase in blood glucose.
With the exchange system, you can get your dietitian to help you get a meal plan for each day which can have you know several exchanges from each category of foods at any of the meals in a day. Should you choose to have a bigger amount of one food, you just exchange a food in one category and replace the food with another, so long as the amount of carbohydrates in the two foods are almost the same. For instance, if you wish to eat double the amount of potato chips, you just use a bun from your hot dog to exchange it for the extra potato chips.
Balanced nutrition and the opportunity to include or change to favorite foods are encouraged in the exchanged system. It was once very popular but the dietitians today encourages the use of carbohydrates counting for its accuracy in meal planning as well as the flexibility it gives.