diabetic diet

Have you found that you’ve been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? Or are you living with a family member who has diabetes? Making sure that blood sugar levels stay within normal limits can be challenging, but we have some ideas that will help meal planning go smoothly. What’s the secret? It’s all in the balance.

There are three main groups to look out for when planning meals for a diabetic and they are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Carbohydrates

This group is broken down into five separate subgroups:

  • Breads and starches
  • Fruit
  • Milk and dairy
  • Sugars and sweets
  • Vegetables

Complex carbohydrates will be better for your diabetic family member then simple carbohydrates. You can find complex carbs in whole grain breads, pasta and brown rice.

Proteins

This group is divided into very low fat protein, low fat protein, medium fat protein and high fat protein.  Make sure to choose lean meat like boneless, skinless chicken breast and fish more often than fatty cuts of meat. Also, instead of frying your protein, try to bake, broil, grill or roast.

Fats

The fats group is divided into saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Many diabetic cookbooks and recipe collections provide something called “food exchanges” that will help you figure out how to change recipes and make them more diabetic friendly.

Make Veggies Your Friend

Using plenty of fresh vegetables cooked without any fats or oils will help in diabetic meal planning.  Have these vegetables make up 50% of the meal with the other 50% being split between protein and carbohydrate. Veggies don’t have to be bland. You can use fat-free, low sodium broth as well as fresh herbs to flavor dishes. Limit salt and fat on a diabetic diet. Instead, use lemon juice and spices to add a punch to your meals.

Nonfat or Reduced Fat is Best

That subhead almost sounds like you’re eating a heart healthy diet, doesn’t it? Well, diabetic diets are very similar in their need for restrictions. Having nonfat or reduced fat dairy and salad dressings will help everyone in your family including your diabetic loved one.

What can you do with recipes that call for oil or margarine? Try decreasing the amount called for by at least ¼ to ½ in each recipe. If you’re baking, you can use a substitute like applesauce for butter, oil and sugar.

Sweeteners

When cooking for a diabetic, you can go two ways. You can either reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by ¼ to 1/3 or use an artificial sweetener in place of sugar. When deciding to use an artificial sweetener, only use it in a recipe that does not rely on the sugar for texture or moistness.

Fresh is Best

Fresh fruit is always a great option for dessert instead of a high carb, high calorie sugary dessert. You can also use fat free, sugar-free gelatin or pudding.

Adjusting your meal planning for a diabetic lifestyle has everything to do with balance and choices.  Even your non-diabetic loved ones will benefit.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

Do you or someone in your home follow a diabetic diet?