Diabetes Diet

Diabetes diet is a fundamental element of effective diabetes management. Ideally, each patient should have a personalized diabetes meal plan, prepared by a registered dietitian.

There are however, some general dietary guidelines that can help to effectively regulate blood glucose levels and improve patients' health.

Healthy eating has long been proven to provide enormous health benefits to diabetic patients, especially when combined with regular physical activities.

A diabetes diet alone is not enough to effectively control diabetes. While it is a key requirement, it has to be combined with other elements in order to derive the greatest benefits.

In addition to a personalized diabetes meal plan, effective diabetes management should also include the following:

  • Regular physical activities are important. Consistent, regular exercise (three to four times per week) helps with metabolism and circulation, among other things.

    Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Start slowly then increase intensity as your conditioning begins to improve, over time.

  • Maintain a desirable body weight. Your weight should be based on your height and body mass index (BMI). Diet and exercise play a vital role is maintaining ideal body weight.

  • Visit your doctor regularly. Regular consultations with your doctor can help to keep you on course and may help to detect any early signs or threat of pending problems.

  • Finally, test your blood glucose level regularly. There are many devices available to facilitate this.

The best diabetes diet is one that is individually tailored, by a registered dietitian, to meet the specific nutritional needs of each diabetic patient. Notwithstanding this however, there are general guidelines that suggest certain category of foods for diabetes control and management.

It should be noted that the best foods for controlling diabetes are also very good sources of essential nutrients, needed for maintaining general good health. So, even if you are not diabetic, you are likely to derive some health benefits by following the guideline diet for diabetes control and management.

Foods For Diabetes Control and Management

Foods that help to control blood sugar levels should form part of the diet for diabetes patients. The following are some suggested foods, which should be considered when formulating a diabetes diet. Some foods should be avoided or consumed in very small quantities, while there are others that should form a substantial part of an effective diabetes meal plan.

  1. Consume less sugar - Reduce the consumption of refined sugar and products made with refined sugar, such as cakes, cookies and candy. Find a good sugar substitute or better yet, ask your dietitian to recommend one.

  2. Use less salt - Minimize the use of table salt or avoid it altogether. Some snacks and processed foods tend to have high salt content, so avoid them. It is important to read food labels and avoid those with high sodium content. Some examples are chips, hot dogs, bacon, sausages etc. When cooking, use spices and herbs to season foods instead of salt.

  3. Consume less fat - Animal fat, in particular, should only be consumed in conservative amounts. Foods such as cheese, eggs, whole milk and fatty red meats should be used sparingly. Instead, try using fish, lean meats, soy products, low-fat and skim dairy products, and vegetarian dishes. When using chicken and/ or turkey it is better to remove the skin, since it stores a lot of fat.

  4. Increase consumption of vegetable protein and reduce animal protein. Vegetable protein is less toxic to the kidneys than animal protein. It is advisable to cut back on dairy products and meats (especially red meats), and use more soy and other plant-based sources of protein.

  5. Increase fiber intake - Foods high in fiber provides enormous health benefits. Lack of fiber can contribute to obesity, kidney stones, gallstones and non-insulin dependent diabetes, among other illnesses. An effective diabetes diet should contain foods rich in fiber. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, oat bran and wheat bran are excellent sources of fiber.

These are very broad guidelines but can be very effective in managing diabetes, when used in the right quantities. By avoiding unhealthy foods and using more nutritious, pant-based foods, diabetic (and non-diabetic) patients are likely to experience some improvement to their health.

Ideally, a personalized diabetes diet should be developed by a registered dietitian. This is not a "one size fits all" diabetes meal plan. It is important for diabetic patients to have their diet specifically tailored to suit their unique health status and nutritional needs.

It is also worth repeating, that effective diabetes management and control is unlikely to be achieved by diet only.

For maximum benefit, a personalized diabetes diet plan must be combined with a program of regular exercises and physical activities. Additionally, patients should check with their health care provider regularly, take the prescribed medications, and regularly monitor blood glucose levels. Patients who follow a healthy diabetes diet and exercise regularly are less likely to be as reliant on prescription medication as patients who are inactive and whose diets are less healthy.