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Are you also paying attention to how and what you eat?

Good nutrition is very important in managing existing diabetes and reducing the risk of diabetes complications. A healthy diet is one that is high in nutrients with a moderate number of calories per serving. Many patients eat diets that exceed the recommended number of calories per day and lack a number of nutrients. A few simple facts can start to increase your Nutrition Know-How—and help create a meal plan that will lead to a healthier you!

What is a Diabetes Meal Plan?

A diabetes meal plan tells you how much and what kinds of food and drinks you can choose and how much to have at meals and snacks. A good meal plan should fit in with your schedule and eating habits. The right plan will help you improve your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers. It will also help you keep track of your weight. A balanced eating plan is filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a controlled amount of lean meats and poultry. Try to eat fish at least twice a week.

Also, cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. Pay attention to how much you eat—even with healthful foods, you can have too much of a good thing! Carbohydrates are 1 of 3 sources of calories or energy that we need in our diets (the other 2 are protein and fat). Carbohydrates provide most of the energy needed in our daily lives and tend to have the greatest effect on blood sugar. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy foods, and breads—as well as mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.

Protein comes from meat, chicken, fish, dairy products (such as cheese, milk, and yogurt), beans, and some vegetables. In following a nutritious diet, try to eat more chicken and fish than red meat, and trim extra fat off all meat. Also choose nonfat or reduced-fat dairy products.

Fat is contained in butter, margarine, oils, and many meat and dairy products. Your meals will be more nutritious if you eat less fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats. Saturated fat is found in meat, chicken skin, butter, 2% or whole milk, ice cream, and cheese. Trans fat is produced when liquid oils are turned into solids. Rather than use butter or stick margarine, choose soft margarine in a tub that lists a liquid oil, such as soybean or canola oil, as an ingredient.

Count Those Carbs

“Carbohydrate counting” is another way to manage the food you eat to help keep your blood sugar levels as normal as possible. For some people with diabetes, counting carbs can help them strike the right balance between what they eat and the Hormones required to handle the rise in their blood sugar after eating. In carb counting, your health care provider or diet planner can help you determine how many carbs you need each day—and how to spread that amount over all your meals and snacks, so your blood glucose levels do not get too high or low. If you choose to count carbs, then you’ll need to learn how many carbs are in different kinds of food and drinks, and how much Hormones your body will need to “cover” the total grams of carbs that you have eaten. Add up all the grams of carbs in the food and drinks in a meal you plan to eat. If a food has 5 grams or more of fiber in a serving, subtract half the fiber grams from the total grams of carbs for a more accurate estimate of the food’s carb content. By counting carbs, you can know when your blood sugar levels may rise due to eating, and can follow your treatment plan to keep your blood sugar under control.