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Understanding the Diabetic Diet

Posted on January 25, 2019 | No Comments on Understanding the Diabetic Diet

You’ve heard it all before. Eat more veggies. Eat more fiber. Eat more fish. Put down the saltshaker. Limit the fat. Be active. Don’tmoke. And don’t drink too much alcohol. What’s the deal? If you follow these advice, will it really make a difference in how well and how long you live? In a word, YES. You can bet your life on it. If you could grow old in good health without having a heart attack or getting diabetes and its complications, wouldn’t you be willing to do just about anything — including improving your diet and activity habits? Of course, you would. And you can start today.

These days, diabetes experts no longer recommend a single meal plan for all people with diabetes. Instead, they recommend meal plans that are flexible and take to account a person’s lifestyle and particular needs. It is suggested that the easiest and most effective way to achieve blood sugar control is to keep tabs on your carbohydrate allowance. You must not eat more than a certain number of grams of carbohydrates at every meal.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that approximately 50 percent to 60 percent of total daily calorie intake should be in the form of carbohydrates. To be more specific, an allowance of 225 grams of carbohydrates on a daily diet is recommended. Some people may find this range work for them, but others will find that consuming that amount hampers their diabetes control. Working with your diabetes care team to discover how different foods and carb levels impact your control is the best way to determine your optimal daily carb intake level.

Why Concentrate on Carbohydrates?
It is essential for our diet to know the number of grams of carbohydrates in each food. That’s because we must know how much of that food will enter the bloodstream in the form of sugar, and how quickly it will be absorbed. A diabetic can safely handle only a certain amount of sugar at one time. Too much too fast will raise a diabetic’s blood sugar to high too quickly. Ultimately, the total grams of carbohydrates — rather than what the source of the sugar is — is what needs to be accounted for in the nutritional management of the person with diabetes.

The complex carbohydrates are much better source of energy than fatty foods because they have less than half the calories of fat and the same amount of protein, and often contain more nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Besides, they can make you feel full and more satisfied. Examples of complex carbohydrates are grains, starches, some vegetables and legumes.

Diabetes and Glycemic Index
For years, researchers have tried to determine what causes blood sugar levels after meals to soar too high in those with diabetes. Potential culprits have included sugar, carbohydrates, and starches, among other foods. The glycemic index is a ranking that attempts to measure the influence that each particular food has on blood sugar levels. It takes into account the type of carbohydrate in a meal and its effect on blood sugars.

Foods that are low on the glycemic index appear to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels after meals. According to the American Diabetes Association, food items below have low glycemic index and provide key nutrients that are lacking in most diabetic diets:

  • Beans– they are high in fiber, giving you about 1/3 of your daily requirement with just 1/2 a cup. They are also good sources of magnesium and potassium.
  • Dark green and leafy vegetables– these powerhouse foods are so low in calories and carbohydrates, you can’t eat too much.
  • Citrus Fruits– oranges, ponkan, grapefruit, kalamansi, lemon and limes: pick your favorites and get a part of your daily dose of soluble fiber and vitamin C.
  • Sweet Potatoes (Camote)– this starchy vegetable is packed full of vitamin A and fiber. Try in place of regular potatoes for a lower GI alternative.
  • Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids– Salmon is a favorite in this category. Stay away from the breaded and deep fat fried variety… they don’t count in your goal of 6-9 ounces of fish per week.
  • Whole Grains – It contains all the nutrients a grain product has to offer. When you purchase processed grains like bread made from enriched wheat flour, you don’t get these. A few more of the nutrients these foods offer are magnesium, chromium, omega 3 fatty acids and folate.
  • Nuts – An ounce of nuts can go a big way in providing key healthy fats along with hunger management. Other benefits are a dose of magnesium and fiber.
  • Fat-free Milk and Yogurt– Dairy can help build strong bones and teeth. In addition to calcium, many fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health.

Some of the items above can be tough on the budget depending on the season and where you live. Look for lower cost options such as fruit and vegetables in season or frozen or canned fish.

The Sweet Truth
You might have heard that, as a person with diabetes, you shouldn’t have any table sugar. While some health care providers continue to promote this, many — realizing that the average person lives in the real world and will probably indulge in a bit of sugar every now and then — have adopted a more forgiving view. Most experts now say that small amounts of sugar are fine, as long as they are part of an overall healthy meal plan. Table sugars do not raise your blood sugar any more than similar amounts of calories from starches, which is found in many foods that we consume. It is important to remember that sugar is just one type of carbohydrate.

When eating sugar, keep these tips in mind: Read food labels. Learn how to determine how much sugar or carbohydrates are in the foods that you eat. Substitute, don’t add. When you eat a sugary food, such as cookies, cakes, or candies, substitute them for another carbohydrate or starch (for example, potatoes) that you would have eaten that day. Make sure that you account for this in your carbohydrate budget for the day. If it is added to your meal for the day, then remember to adjust your insulin dose for the added carbohydrates so you can continue to maintain glucose control as much as possible.

Caution on Saturated Fats
People with diabetes have higher than normal risk for heart disease, stroke, and disease of the small blood vessels in the body. Controlling blood pressure and limiting the amount of fats in the diet will help reduce the risk of these complications. Total fat consumption should be 25% 35% or less of total calories eaten per day while Saturated fats should be less than 7% of total calories eaten in a day. Limiting the amounts of saturated fats (such as coconut oil, bacon, butter, “chicharon”, whip cream), increasing the amount of regular exercise, and receiving medical treatment can lower bad LDL cholesterol. This has been repeatedly shown in medical studies to help people with d i a betes reduce their risk of heart disease and reduce the risk of death if a heart attack does occur in a diabetic person.

Alcohol and Diabetes
Use discretion when drinking alcohol on a diabetes diet. Alcohol is processed in the body very similarly to the way fat is processed, and alcohol provides almost as many calories as fat. If you choose to drink alcohol, only drink it occasionally and when your blood sugar level is well-controlled. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure drinking alcohol is acceptable for you.

Other Helpful Hints
Based on the findings of lifestyle prevention studies, the International Diabetes Federation recommends that everyone is encouraged to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderately intense (e.g. brisk walking) most days of the week. Also, children as well as adults are enjoined to maintain a healthy weight for their height. Remember that diabetes is a disorder whose effects on your lifestyle depend to a remarkable degree on how much you know, and how much effort and time you are willing to spend paying attention to it.

You can minimize the impact Diabetes has on your daily life as well as your future health by simply learning about it and then living with a few rules that actually would make everyone in the world healthier if they, too, abided by them.

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