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General overview of some general nutritional guidelines for adults with diabetes.
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Diabetic Diet Nutrition Guidelines

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Diabetic Diet Nutrition Guidelines for Adults:

Before we highlight what diabetic-friendly foods are, let’s first understand what diabetes is and some facts surrounding it. Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the blood sugar level increases beyond the normal range. The causes of diabetes are mostly unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and it can also be genetic. Diabetes can affect all group ages and the occurrence of diabetes is consistently on the rise; more than 380 cases of diabetes have been recorded by 2013 and according to World Health Organization, the number of people suffering from diabetes will be doubled by 2030. The challenges for diabetics are numerous and it is an irreversible disease.

Although it is very important to cut off sugars and fats for diabetics, it does not necessarily mean that you can never have sugary foods ever again. Eating healthy with diabetes and following a suitable physical activity regimen can modulate your blood sugar levels and help you live a healthy life. Most people with diabetes find it hard to make healthy food choices without depriving themselves of the nutritional requirements. If you are struggling with balancing your diabetes nutrition requirements, then keep the following diabetic food guidelines discussed below, as you go about creating your diabetic diet meal plans.

Challenges for Diabetics:

Apart from thirst and frequent urination, people suffering from diabetes have to face a lot of nutritional challenges on a daily basis. While being on diabetic medicine, it is very important that your blood sugar levels don’t fall below a certain point and therefore, you cannot completely cut off your entire sugar intake. The trick is to find a balance between your nutrition intake and blood sugar levels.

What’s the right blood sugar level for an adult with diabetes?

Following are the guidelines for adults over the age of 20:

  • Sugar level if fasting should be less than 100mg
  • Before meal it should be between 70-130mg
  • After a meal (1-2 hours) should be less than 180mg
  • Before exercise, if taking insulin, at least 100mg

Use the above as general guidelines but refer to your doctor for accurate information on proper sugar levels for you.

A healthy diet for diabetics consists of 40-60% carbohydrates, 20% proteins and 20-25% fats. However foods with high cholesterol and added artificial sugars must be avoided.  Eating healthy with diabetes is the first and foremost challenge for adults with diabetes, Diabetics always need to be careful about the food choices they make at grocery stores, while eating out or planning meals at home. If you are diabetic then in order for you to make healthy meal choices, you must educate yourself about nutritional values of different foods and try to discover various diabetic food ideas to incorporate in your meal plans.

Diabetes Nutrition Requirements:

The nutritional requirements of diabetics are no different than non-diabetics; however, people with diabetes have to be more careful in choosing the foods with right nutritional value. 

Nutrition ingredients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins are considered as macronutrients and a primary source of energy to your body. You should limit your intake of carbohydrates and fats and try to consume foods with complex carbohydrates such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, corn etc. Prefer unsaturated fat foods such as skimmed milk, low fat yogurts, nuts, grains and wheat crackers. For protein intake prefer lean meat and sea food.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals and are also a vital part of any diabetics’ nutrition plan. Fruits, cereals, pulses, legumes and nuts are an essential source of necessary vitamins and minerals and they must all be consumed in adequate servings.

Always remember that all patients with diabetes are different and one diet plan that works for some people may not work for you. You must try different foods and check your blood glucose levels regularly to find out what foods suit you the most. Consulting a nutrionist is also a great idea.

Diabetic-friendly food ideas:

For a healthy eating plan it is recommended to take 4-5 small meals in a day. This goes true for diabetics as well rather it is more important for people who are on diabetes medicine to eat every few hours so that the blood sugar level remains at a healthy level. Eating healthy at each meal is very important and planning in advance is the key to having healthier meal plans.

Go for grocery once in a week and choose your items wisely. Fat-free, low fat, skimmed, reduced and no added sugars are the keywords you should look for. Choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lentils and beans. Remember, you have to incorporate a balance of all nutrition constituents i.e. carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals into your diet. So stock up on health foods so you have access to the right type of food that can help you manage your diabetes better.

For fruits you can take fresh fruits as well as canned fruits but make sure that fruit is not canned in any kind of syrup. Consume fruits in moderation and always first review the nutrition facts of the fruits to ensure that they are not high in sugar and carbohydrates.  You can freeze your favorite fruits and make smoothies with low fat milk. However, avoid orange juice as it is high in sugar and the carbohydrates can quickly add up if you have the habit of drinking more than one glass. And, if you really must have juices then switch to more green and veggie juices.

Quick oats, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals are great breakfast ideas for diabetics. They are light and keep you fuller for longer periods. Eggs, omelets, low fat cheese and yogurt and skimmed milk are also good options for breakfast. To add a boost to your diabetic breakfast, add more veggies such as fresh tomatoes, onions and beans as a side serving with your omelet.

Lunch is also an important meal of the day and it re-energizes you for the rest of the day. Choose fresh vegetables such as carrots, cucumber and tomatoes, which are great snack options, as well. They can be eaten raw and you can also combine them with a mixture of beans and steamed chicken to make a quick vegetable salad. Spinach is a good source of iron and proteins make a spinach sandwich with a layer of low fat cheese and add a dressing of your choice such as mustard, hummus, lemon, olive oil. Roasted beef and chicken, hard boiled eggs and canned tuna are also great meal choices.  Avoid white rice completely and if you must have rice then always opt for brown rice.

Baked chicken and fish fillets, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, quinoa and whole grain pasta are some of the great diabetic food ideas for dinner. You can combine these with fresh and frozen vegetables and take fruits as a side serving.

And, when it comes to snacking, be wise about what you snack on. Food items such as almonds, celery, baby carrots, cucumber slices, blueberries, olives and avocado are great diabetic snack ideas. All these diabetic-friendly snack options are low in carbohydrates. Just be mindful of the servings and portion size of your diabetic snack.

Although, there may not be a complete cure for diabetes but with proper diet plans and physical activity you can reduce its affects on your daily life. Eating healthy with diabetes is of utmost importance. Arrange an appointment with your nutritionist and increase your knowledge about diabetes nutrition requirements. Join a diabetes health group and engage with people who are coping well with diabetes. Discuss and share diabetic food ideas and last but not the least follow a healthy physical activity plan and take full control of your meal plans.

Diabetic Diet In Summary:

  • Monitor the carbohydrates you intake with your meal, the lower the better
  • Choose whole grains
  • Watch out for added sugar in the foods you consume
  • Avoid white rice
  • Eat lots of veggies and fruits, just watch your portion sizes
  • Drink skim or low fat milk instead of regular milk
  • Switch to green tea and consume your green tea without milk
  • Avoid orange juice and have green and veggie juices instead
  • Exercise and drink lots of water
  • Walk a lot more than you normally do

The above mentioned are just general nutrition guidelines for adults with diabetes. Please consult your doctor for more accurate tips on how to manage your diabetes and meal plans.

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