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Healthy Meals for Diabetes

Ask your healthcare team to help you make a meal plan that fits your needs. Your meal plan tells you when to eat your meals and snacks, what kinds of foods to eat, and how much of each food to eat. You don’t have to give up all the foods you like. But you do need to follow some guidelines.

Eat Foods Rich in Fiber

Fiber is a carbohydrate that breaks down slowly and turns into sugar less quickly than other carbohydrates. Fiber is also healthy for your heart. Fiber-rich foods include:

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals

  • Bulgur wheat

  • Brown rice

  • Whole-wheat pasta

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Dry beans and peas

Choose Healthy Protein Foods

Eating protein that is low in fat can help you control your weight. It also helps keep your heart healthy. Low-fat protein foods include:

  • Fish

  • Nuts, seeds, tofu, hummus, and peanut butter

  • Lean meat with all visible fat removed

  • Poultry with the skin removed

  • Low-fat cheese, boiled or poached egg

  • Limit high-fat animal products, such as fatty meats and lunch meats

Choose Fresh Foods

Processed foods are high in salt, which can raise your blood pressure. When you have diabetes, it is important to control blood pressure to protect your kidneys and other organs from long-term damage. Choose fresh foods instead of processed foods, which have more salt and sugar:

  • Fresh meat instead of processed meat

  • Fresh fruit instead of canned fruit

  • Fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned

  • Nuts and seeds without salt

  • Whole grains that you cook instead of boxed cereal

Limit Sugar and Unhealthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are unhealthy for your heart. They raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. Fat is also high in calories, so it can make you gain weight. But you need some healthy fats, such as olive, canola, and peanut oils, as well as omega-3 fats in fish oils. Choose margarine with the words "No Trans Fats" on the packaging. Also, try to choose sugar-free beverages instead of high-sugar sodas, drink mixes, sports drinks, and fruit juices. Most beverages come in sugar-free or low-sugar varieties. To cut down on unhealthy fats and sugar, limit these foods:

  • Butter or stick margarine

  • Palm and palm kernel oils and coconut oil

  • Cream

  • Bacon

  • Hydrogenated fats

  • Ice cream

  • Sweet bakery goods such as pies, muffins, and donuts

  • Jams and jellies

  • Candy bars

  • Regular sodas

How Much to Eat: Be Consistent with Carbohydrates

The amount of food you eat affects your blood sugar. It also affects your weight. Carbohydrates increase your blood sugar more than proteins and fats. Carbohydrate foods include grains, starches, juices, and fruits. Some foods are high in both protein and carbohydrate. These include milk (dairy and soy), yogurt, beans, and peas. Choose lower fat sources of milk and yogurt. These foods should also be eaten in about the same amount each day.

Be sure to measure your carbohydrates and try to have the same amount even when the type of food changes. Eating a consistent amount of carbohydrate is the most important thing you can do for blood sugar control. Your healthcare team will tell you how much of each type of food you should eat.

  • Use measuring cups and spoons and a food scale to measure serving sizes.

  • Learn what a correct serving size looks like on your plate. This will help when you are away from home and can’t measure your servings.

  • Eat only the number of servings given on your meal plan for each food. Don’t take seconds.

When to Eat

Your meal plan will likely include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and some snacks.

  • Try to eat your meals and snacks at about the same times each day.

  • Eat all your meals and snacks. Skipping a meal or snack can make your blood sugar drop too low. It can also cause you to eat too much at the next meal or snack. Then your blood sugar could get too high.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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