Meal Plan for Diabetes Prevention
With March being celebrated as National Nutrition Month and March 22 as American Diabetes Alert Day, we can examine why the eating plan for diabetes is the best eating plan for everyone! Working as a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health and wellness coach, I often hear clients with diabetes or pre-diabetes mention the challenges of meal planning as it relates to the whole family. So, let’s reflect on why the meal plan for diabetes prevention and control is appropriate for the whole family and put our “Best Fork Forward®”!
Eat smaller meals
In the 1960’s, the average dinner plate was 9 inches in diameter and has grown to a current size of 12 inches or greater! Let’s go back to the 9-inch plate and fill ½ with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, ¼ with whole grains and ¼ with lean proteins. The nutrition facts label identifies nutrition analysis for a set serving size but a portion is the amount of food one chooses to eat. The larger the meal, the more glucose (energy from the food eaten) levels rise which causes the pancreas to release insulin to use the glucose. Eating smaller portions keeps glucose and insulin levels stable which is important for diabetes prevention and control. A typical restaurant meal contains between 1200 and 1500 calories. For the average women, a 400-500 calorie meal is adequate and men 500-600. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can aid in hunger control and weight loss too.
Consume fiber-rich foods
According to recent studies, the average male consumes 18 grams of daily fiber and females consume 16 grams compared to the recommended 38 and 25. The health benefits of fiber are far reaching and include maintaining bowel health, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugars and achieving a healthy weight. Obtaining dietary fiber through fruits, vegetables, whole grams, legumes and beans is ideal. Some good sources of fiber are split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, raspberries, blackberries, pears, avocado, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. And notice they all have color! The higher the fiber content the slower the food turns to glucose which keeps blood sugar levels steady.
Choose the right carbohydrates
The main function of carbohydrates is to supply energy to the body, especially the brain. Protein and fat work too, but carbs are the number one source. Yes, there are bad carbs, those that contain little or no fiber and lots of added sugar. Go for complex carbs, like the ones mentioned above that contain fiber! When reading a nutrition facts label, look for a serving size that has 3 or more grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar.
Choose the right fats
Good fats are called mono-saturated and include avocado, canola oil, almonds, olive oil and olives, sesame seeds. Despite its potential benefits, coconut oil contains saturated fat which can raise cholesterol levels. People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease so portion control of fats is extremely important. There are 17 health benefits of omega-3 fats supported by science. Some of these include fighting depression and anxiety, improving eye health, promoting brain health and improving heart disease risk factors.
We can live without food for a few weeks, but we can’t live without water. Water serves as the body’s transport system and circulates nutrients in the body. Since the body is about 60% water, the 8 x 8 rule applies to most people: eight 8-ounce glasses or half a gallon per day. There are other factors that affect how much we need, so it’s important to know your individual needs.
Drink alcohol in moderation
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.
Eat the colors of the rainbow
Red fruits and veggies help keep your heart strong.
Orange fruits and veggies help keep your eyes healthy.
Yellow fruits and veggies help keep you from getting sick.
Green fruits and veggies help make your bones and teeth strong.
Blue and purple fruits and veggies help your memory.
– Sherree Telford, RDN, LDN, CDE, CHWC
Director of Specialized Solutions