While diet alone will not control Type I Diabetes, proper nutrition and a diabetes meal plan will help, accompanied by insulin injections in your body. Type II and Gestational diabetics, on the other hand, may be able to eliminate the need for any medication with proper diet and exercise.
Diabetes patients must make lifestyle changes that include proper diet through following a diabetes meal plan and exercise. As mentioned above, in some Type II patients the need for medication can sometimes be completely eliminated. Caloric intake is the primary consideration for a proper diet. The energy required to sustain life is measured in calories. The amount of required caloric intake is affected by a person's age, weight, activity level and metabolism. For example, a larger person requires more calories than a small person and an active person will burn more calories than an inactive person. Additionally, a person with a high metabolism will burn calories more quickly than a person with a slow metabolism. These should also be taken into consideration when creating a diabetes meal plan.
By following the guidelines of the Food Pyramid, the diabetic can easily create a diabetes meal plan that will assist with the daily control of the disease. The color-coded guide, created by the Department of Agriculture, simplifies the process of planning a healthy menu. You can remember easily:
Grains (orange) - at least 3 ounces a day (50-60% of calories)
Vegetables (green) - unlimited quantities, but at least 1 serving a day
Fruits (red) - unlimited quantities, but at least 2 servings a day (100% fruit juices count as a fruit)
Oils (yellow) - very limited quantities of less than 30% of total calories (make your oil sources from fish, nuts and vegetables)
Milk (blue) – it represents calcium intake, so choose low or non-fat milk (if you cannot consume even lactose-free, you must find another calcium source)
Proteins (purple) - one of the smallest requirements (10-20% of calories); you can get it from meat, fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
All of the above should be included in your diabetes meal plan.
Your physician will recommend your caloric intake requirements. Using this parameter in unison with the Food Pyramid recommended daily intake, you can formulate a diabetes meal plan quite easily. A little practice combining the requirements with standard calorie tables will ease the pain of proper meal planning. Accessing information on pharmaceutical company websites is an excellent tool for meal strategies. According to the Diabetes Association of America, "There is no one perfect food, so including a variety of different foods and watching portion sizes is key to a healthy diet". With this in mind, there are thousands of combinations of food that will make a balanced meal.
Sample Meal Plan
A perfect breakfast might include 1 slice of toast (whole wheat with 1 Tbs. margarine), 1/4 cup cottage cheese (or egg substitute), 1/2 small banana, 1/2 cup of hot cereal (oatmeal), and 1/2 cup skim milk.
For lunch, a balanced menu could include 1-cup soup (chicken or vegetable) with 4 crackers and a sandwich (1-ounce chicken with 2 pieces whole grain bread, 1 slice of low-fat cheese, 1 tsp. mayonnaise).
For dinner, plan to have: 4 oz. broiled chicken breast, 2/3 cup brown rice (cooked), 1/2 cup cooked carrots, 1 whole grain dinner roll (1 tsp. margarine), tossed salad (2 Tbsp. low-fat dressing), and 1 small slice angel food cake.
You may also consume up to 2 snacks per day. Snacks could include 3 cups light popcorn, 1/2 cup of artificially sweetened pudding, 1 piece of fresh fruit and 1 oz. string cheese.
After deciding your diabetes meal plan for each day, you can easily make a shopping list. Go through each meal plan and determine which items are required to assemble each meal.