People suffering from Diabetes Mellitus are advised to follow a certain diet to be able to manage their condition properly. This includes controlling their weight by counting calories, no eating of saturated fat, and customizing guidelines for the intake of carbohydrates based on the type of diabetes and the levels of blood glucose. To be able to be effective in managing diabetes mellitus, the patient has to drastically change his lifestyle into a healthy one with a well balanced diet, exercise and weight control. This does not mean that a diabetic cannot indulge his sweet tooth. It just means that you can have a treat for that sweet tooth not that often anymore.
First step in dieting is to be able to have the control of your blood glucose levels. This can benefit both patients of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. For every percent reduction in blood glucose tests, it decreases the risk of having diabetic complications for about forty percent. A healthy diet with the right combination of carbohydrates and lipids plus regular exercise may effectively lower down glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood.
When planning for your diet, there are several points to be considered to make it successful in lowering down blood glucose levels. The type of food you eat, the time you eat, and the amount of food you eat significantly affects the level of glucose in the blood. To keep it within normal limits, the amount of food that is eaten should be within the recommended amount of calories for the day; if you eat lunch at exactly noon, you should try to make it a habit to eat lunch at noon everyday.
The reason for eating always at the same time is to let blood glucose levels stabilize due to the uniformity of time that it increases and decreases. And this goes for the time of taking medications, which should also be at the same time daily, and the time and amount of exercise done. A rigid schedule of eating, medications and exercise should be followed to be able to maintain blood sugar at normal levels. The daily diet should be composed of starches, fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and yogurt, depending on your daily calorie requirement. Fats and sweets should be limited to at most one each day. But, it is very important not to skip meals or not to eat any carbohydrates as this will cause your blood sugar to drop down to dangerous levels.
The normal blood glucose level before eating is 90 to 130 mg/dl. An hour or two after a meal or regular amount, it should be at least less than 180. This number varies especially if you take a carbohydrate rich meal. But this is to be avoided in diabetic patients. Consult your health provider as to the frequency of checking of your blood glucose levels. He may suggest purchasing a home glucose testing device especially if you have to monitor your blood glucose more than twice a day. The frequency of testing will depend on the effectiveness of the diabetic diet plan that you are doing. If the diet keeps your blood glucose levels into normal, then he might suggest decreasing the frequency of testing to once a week. But if no improvement was seen, or the blood glucose levels even increased, then he might suggest another diet with insulin injections.
Dietary fat, especially saturated fat and trans-unsaturated fat should be reduced to only 7-10% of your daily calorie requirement. These are the lipids that boost the amount of low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. That amounts to about 200-300 mg of fat daily. A lowered fat intake can help lose weight that contributes much to the diabetic condition.
Protein is limited to 15-20% of the total calorie requirement of the body. You can get your protein in lean meats, fish, skinless fowls and poultry, beans, and non-fat dairy products. Intake of protein is about six ounces per day, roughly like two full decks of playing cards.
Carbohydrate is the biggest bulk of the total calorie requirement of the body, roughly about 45%. Healthy choices for carbohydrates are beans, brown rice, cereals, fruits, vegetables and whole grains breads. Dietary fiber from the fruits and vegetables is also good not only for diabetics but for the health of everybody. Blood sugar control is determined by the serving sizes and type of carbohydrates taken in the diet. Most product labels mention the number of calories for the total carbohydrates it contains. Limit, if not totally avoid carbohydrates that give high calories but is not nutritious. Examples of this are pastries and sweets like candies and molasses. In planning your diet, do not just substitute food according to the number of calories it gives but more of its nutritional value and effect on blood sugar. It is always advisable to consult your nutritionist and health provider as to how to balance the carbohydrates, protein and fat in the diet.
To determine how much calories you need daily, here is a guide to determine your diabetic diet and to plan the food accordingly.
A diabetic diet plan that has 1200 – 1600 calories is recommended for a small woman who has a regular exercise schedule, a small or medium sized woman who aims to lose weight, or a medium sized woman with a sedentary lifestyle. This diet is composed of 6 servings of starches, 2 servings of milk and yogurt, 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of meat or meat substitute, 2 servings of fruit and up to 3 servings of fat.
A diabetic diet plan that has 2000 – 2400 calories is recommended for a medium to large sized man who has a regular exercise schedule, a large sized man with a healthy weight, or a large sized woman with a very active lifestyle. This diet is composed of 11 servings of starches, 2 servings of milk and yogurt, 4 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of meat or meat substitute, 3 servings of fruit and up to 5 servings of fat.