How Do I Choose the Best Meal Plan for Diabetes?

Sheri Cyprus

When choosing the best meal plan for diabetes, look for a balanced, nutritious option that doesn't involve an excess of carbohydrates. Choosing a plan with exchanges you can choose from daily can make your diabetes diet personalized as well as varied. Additionally, if you have any complications from diabetes such as kidney problems, it's important that you find a diet plan that fits in with the instructions of your doctor or dietician. Healthy snacks and/or smaller meals eaten more frequently are crucial features of an effective plan for diabetes management.

Eating small, healthy meals throughout the day can keep blood sugar levels steady.
Eating small, healthy meals throughout the day can keep blood sugar levels steady.

Most diabetes health care professionals advise eating every four hours or so, whether this is a small meal or a nutritious snack, to avoid causing spikes or drops in blood sugar levels. Eating smaller amounts of food more frequently can not only help regulate blood sugar, but can also help you avoid eating too many carbohydrates at once. Paying special attention to carbohydrates in your meal plan for diabetes means not only avoiding sugary refined foods, but also eating proper portions of breads and fruits.

Healthy whole grain breads and fresh fruits rather than juice are usually the best carbohydrate choices for diabetics. White bread products provide only empty carbohydrates and calories rather than the fiber-rich nutrients found in whole grain sources. Use caution though when choosing any ready-to-eat cereals, as oftentimes these contain added sugar. Since they're eaten with milk, which is high in the natural sugar lactose, cereal can be a high-carbohydrate food choice. Eating a small amount of low sugar cereal sprinkled on plain yogurt may be a better, regular option in your meal plan for diabetes.

Even natural juices without added sugar should be avoided or consumed in limited quantities since juice is high in sugar. Some diabetics avoid juice completely, while others water it down considerably to reduce the amount of natural sugar per glass. Whatever type and amount of carbohydrate you decide to have in your meal plan for diabetes, it's smart to always eat a protein source along with it, as this is thought to minimize the speed and impact of increasing blood sugar levels.

Using a carbohydrate counter and monitoring your blood sugar after eating different foods can help you choose the best food and serving amounts for your diet plan. Not all diabetics react the same to different carbohydrate types or amounts, so understanding your blood sugar reactions can help you select the best dietary plan. If you choose a meal plan for diabetics that includes counts for carbohydrates, calories, fat and other nutrients such as one with a food exchange list, you can vary your foods while still keeping within the guidelines that best suits your health needs.

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