Diabetes Diet The
proper diet is critical to diabetes treatment. It can help someone with
- Achieve and maintain desirable weight. Many people with diabetes
can control their blood glucose by losing weight and keeping it off.
- Maintain normal blood glucose levels.
- Prevent heart and blood vessel diseases, conditions that tend to
occur in people with diabetes.
A doctor will usually prescribe diet as part of diabetes treatment.
A dietitian or nutritionist can recommend a diet that is healthy, but
also interesting and easy to follow. No one has to be limited to a
preprinted, standard diet. Someone with diabetes can get assistance in
the following ways:
- A doctor can recommend a local nutritionist or dietitian.
- The local American Diabetes Association, American Heart
Association, and American Dietetic Association can provide names of
qualified dietitians or nutritionists and information about diet
- Local diabetes centers at large medical clinics, hospitals, or
medical universities usually have dietitians and nutritionists on
The guidelines for diabetes diet planning include the following:
example, meats and dairy products are major sources of saturated fats,
which should be avoided; most vegetable oils are high in unsaturated
fats, which are fine in limited amounts; and olive oil is a good source
of monounsaturated fat, the healthiest type of fat. Liver and other
organ meats and egg yolks are particularly high in cholesterol. A doctor
or nutritionist can advise someone on this aspect of diet.
- Many experts, including the American Diabetes Association,
recommend that 50 to 60 percent of daily calories come from
carbohydrates, 12 to 20 percent from protein, and no more than 30
percent from fat.
- Spacing meals throughout the day, instead of eating heavy meals
once or twice a day, can help a person avoid extremely high or low
blood glucose levels.
- With few exceptions, the best way to lose weight is gradually:
one or two pounds a week. Strict diets must never be
undertaken without the supervision of a doctor.
- People with diabetes have twice the risk of developing heart
disease as those without diabetes, and high blood cholesterol levels
raise the risk of heart disease. Losing weight and reducing intake
of saturated fats and cholesterol, in favor of unsaturated and
monounsaturated fats, can help lower blood cholesterol.
- Studies show that foods with fiber, such as fruits, vegetables,
peas, beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals may help lower blood
glucose. However, it seems that a person must eat much more fiber
than the average American now consumes to get this benefit. A doctor
or nutritionist can advise someone about adding fiber to a diet.
|Points to Remember
- A diabetes diet should do three things; achieve ideal weight,
maintain normal blood glucose levels, and limit foods that
contribute to hear disease.
- A nutritionist or dietitian can help plan a diabetes diet.
Continuing research may lead to new approaches to diabetes diets.
Because one goal of a diabetes diet is to maintain normal blood glucose
levels, it would be helpful to have reliable information on the effects
of foods on blood glucose. For example, foods that are rich in
carbohydrates, like breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables break down
into glucose during digestion, causing blood glucose to rise. However,
scientists don't know how each of these carbohydrates affect blood
glucose levels. Research is also under way to learn whether foods with
sugar raise blood glucose higher than foods with starch. Experts do know
that cooked foods raise blood glucose higher than raw, unpeeled foods. A
person with diabetes can ask a doctor or nutritionist about using this
kind of information in diet planning.
- Exchange lists are useful in planning a diabetes diet. They place
foods with similar nutrients and calories into groups. With the help
of a nutritionist, the person plans the number of servings from each
exchange list that he or she should eat throughout the day. Diets
that use exchange lists offer more choices than preprinted diets.
More information on exchange lists is available from nutritionists
and from the American Diabetes Association.