A diabetic diet coupled with exercise is important for managing your blood glucose levels. However, finding a healthy diabetic diet plan and making this lifestyle change can seem like a huge undertaking. While you may assume you can no longer enjoy the foods you like, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, you can still eat many of your favorite foods in moderation. If you start out slow, you can achieve your targeted sugar levels and even receive other benefits as well.
Following a healthy lifestyle can help you slow down other health problems, maintain stress levels and even keep you fit and feeling good. Moreover, managing an appropriate diabetic meal plan and adding physical activity can balance your diabetic medications. By tracking food intake and calories, you can enjoy eating and even discover new meals along the way. Learn more about building the best diet plan for your diabetes below.
Keys to a Healthy Diabetic Meal Plan
Despite what you may think, diabetic meals are more than plates of bland food that do nothing for your taste buds. However, before you learn about the particular foods you can have, you must understand what a healthy diabetic meal plan consists of. The following list outlines some of the basic parts of your new diet:
- Low sugar: When you think about a low sugar diet, your mind may automatically picture vegetables and rice cakes. However, the most important factor is choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI), and reading food labels can help with this. Many foods are processed and include added sugars like corn sweeter, dextrose and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, seek out foods that are all natural, organic, or even prepared at home to avoid these added sugars and keep your glycemic index low.
- Low carbs: Carbohydrates break down into sugars. However, not all carbs are bad. Diabetics need to have carbs to maintain energy and keep their glucose levels from spiking. Meat, fruit and vegetables are all important in a low-carb diet. When added to meals, they make for a balanced diabetic diet.
- High fiber: Diets high in fiber can slow down the digestive process, which keeps you feeling full longer. This slower absorption rate also keeps blood sugars stable and even. Furthermore, a high fiber diabetic menu is low on the GI scale, meaning it has a low impact on sugars. Typically, fiber can be found in grain breads, quinoa, brown rice and rye, as well as most green leafy vegetables.
Portion Control on Diabetic Diets
Before you research the best meals for diabetics, consider learning more about the serving sizes appropriate for your body type. Your doctor or nutritionist can write out different methods to help with portion control. This includes:
- The Plate Method: This is a non-calorie counting method that shows how much of each food group you should consume. To start, separate a 9-inch plate into three parts. Non-starchy vegetables, like zucchini, should take up half. The remaining half is one-fourth starches and one-fourth protein.
- Carbohydrate counting: Since carbs turn into sugars, tracking your carb intake is important. When done right, you can keep your blood glucose level stable. Carb amounts are listed on all food labels, and the total daily consumption amount varies by person. As such, be sure to discuss all diabetic diet plans with your doctor.
Tasty, Low Sugar Diet Plans
Planning a tasty diabetic menu with low sugar does not necessarily mean boring meals. Instead, it means you need to seek out meals and recipes that treat your flavor palette right. By incorporating fresh, unprocessed foods with the right spices, your meals can shift from bland to grand. The CDC has a manual can be a great first stop, offering delicious recipes such as:
- Homemade pizza. Use a store bought refrigerated pizza crust and add mozzarella, garlic basil and any veggies you enjoy. This keeps your carbs low, and fiber high. For protein, add sliced chicken breast or cottage cheese.
- Avocado Tacos. This is a make-at-home classic. Combining avocados, tomatoes, onions, green pepper, cumin, garlic, cilantro and heat from a jalapeno, this flavorful dinner will make you full and happy. It’s like dining in a Mexican restaurant while maintaining a healthy diabetic diet.
- Tropical Fruit Fantasia. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth with a great healthy dessert. Combine sugar-free yogurt of any kind with strawberries, honeydew, cantaloupe, and mango to create the perfect sweet treat. Sugars may appear high, but these are natural sugars which break down organically and keep your glucose levels from spiking.
While there are several delicious diabetic recipes you can find online, remember to keep your carbs low, and proteins and fiber high. This will make for easy digestion, provide long-term energy and maintain your glucose levels.
Combining Exercise with a Diabetic Meal Plan
A Type 2 diabetes meal plan is only one part to successful maintenance for this disease. Combining a healthy diet with exercise not only assists with weight loss, it also helps your body to operate properly. Physical activity works to control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of future complications, such as heart disease or stroke. Some other benefits include:
- Healthy weight.
- Better sleep.
- Elevated mood.
- Improved concentration and memory.
- Decreases in bad cholesterol levels.
In addition to following a diabetic diet plan, the CDC recommends that you get 20 to 25 minutes of activity each day. This can be as easy as walking, mowing the lawn and doing housework. Make sure to choose an activity you enjoy, or that you must perform on a regular basis. This can help you to stick to this lifestyle change in the long term.