Content Hub: Health
By Ana Reisdorf | Aug 02, 2021
Diet for Diabetes Management
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 10.5 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and this number is only expected to grow.1 Diabetes mellitus is an illness related to an inability to properly utilize sugar from food. This results in chronically elevated blood sugar, which can cause long-term damage to the body’s organs.
There are different types and underlying causes of diabetes, but the symptoms and complications can all be improved with diet and lifestyle changes.
What is a Diabetic Diet?
A diet for diabetes management is not all that different from an overall healthy diet. The goal of this diet is to help normalize blood sugar. A true diabetic diet must be personalized and tailored to the individual. It is always best to work with a professional who can create a plan that takes into account your health history and lifestyle.2
Overall, a diabetic diet is a low fat, moderate carbohydrate diet. It should include a wide variety of whole foods, with a particular focus on lean protein and vegetables. Heart healthy fats, low fat dairy products, fruit, and high fiber whole grains can be eaten as well, but in moderation.
Diabetes is strongly correlated with high levels of inflammation. Therefore, an emphasis should be placed on anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3 fats, inflammation-reducing seasonings, and high antioxidant vegetables. Foods that trigger inflammation, particularly those high in saturated fat or sugar, should be limited.3
Meal timing also matters for people with diabetes and may be dependent upon medication or insulin schedule. A general rule of thumb is to try to eat a balanced meal that includes protein, a healthy fat, a vegetable, and a carbohydrate source.
Tips for Success
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the best thing you can do is start learning as much as you can. Turn to credible sources like the American Diabetes Association to get started.
Second, begin monitoring your blood sugar. Foods impact people differently, therefore you will need to develop an understanding of how foods affect you personally. Working with a registered dietitian is the best way to learn to evaluate your blood sugars and determine how to change your diet appropriately.
For meal planning, the American Diabetes Association recommends following the “plate” method to get started with the diabetic diet. It involves filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ with lean protein, and ¼ with a high fiber carbohydrate. Using the plate method is a simple way to balance your meals for better blood sugar control.
Finally, diet isn’t the only thing that can help control blood sugar. Exercise, weight management, sleep, and stress can all play a role as well. With a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can keep your blood sugar well-controlled.
- American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes
- CDC. Diabetes Meal Planning. Published August 3, 2020. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/meal-plan-method.html
- Garcia C, Feve B, Ferré P, et al. Diabetes and inflammation: fundamental aspects and clinical implications. Diabetes Metab. 2010;36(5):327-338.
- American Diabetes Association. Nutrition Overview. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition
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