Diabetes Food Pyramid: Perfect Diabetic Meal Plan to Manage High Blood Sugar

Following a proper diet plan during diabetes not only helps you to keep yourself healthy but increases the chances of diabetes reversal. So if you are seeking freedom and full control over diabetes, follow the best diabetic meal plan. Read this blog to know about the diabetes food pyramid.

A diabetic meal plan comprises a balanced diet plan such that there are the right amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, fibres, and minerals. The diabetes pyramid gives full information on the diabetic diet plan that helps you in getting the proper amount of energy and helps you to control your diabetes properly.

Diabetes and Diet Role

Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the blood glucose levels fluctuate and are above the normal blood sugar levels. This happens when the body is unable to utilize glucose efficiently.

The diet which we eat is broken down into glucose. This glucose now enters the bloodstream.  From the bloodstream, it is absorbed by the cells for metabolic activities. The glucose absorption and its regulation are done by the hormone insulin.

When the body insulin production decreases or when the body cells become insulin resistant, the glucose levels go high. This condition is diabetes mellitus.

A food product that releases glucose fast into the bloodstream (high glycaemic index foods) results in a rapid increase in blood glucose levels. Thus, avoid such food products. On the other hand, food products that are known to release glucose slowly (low glycaemic index food) or in less quantity are good to eat.

Therefore for diabetic patients, a good diabetic choice would be to consume a balanced diet of low glycaemic index foods with proper fruits, vegetables, and fibres.

Summary

Proper diet is the key to diabetes management. A low glycaemic index food along with a balanced diet is the best choice.

Diabetes Food Pyramid

The key to effective diabetes management is to consume the right diet in the right amounts. Here is the diabetes food pyramid.

The objective of the diabetic diet pyramid is to guide you in making a perfect diet plan that helps in controlling your blood sugar levels. The diabetes food pyramid gives you the needed information on what to eat and in what amounts. Here is the summary of the key points of the diabetes pyramid:

  • Carbohydrates: The lower layer of the pyramid has a carbohydrates diet. Its intake is limited to 6 to 8 servings per day. This is a high-calorie diet. It is needed for your body’s energy needs. Non-starchy carbohydrates should be consumed more than starchy ones. Starchy carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels immediately.  Thus, a diabetic person should use foods that are low in carbs.
  • Vegetables: The next level of the diabetes food pyramid is vegetables and fruits. Your diet should consist of more non-starchy vegetables. 3 to 4 serving of vegetables is good to control your blood sugar levels.
  • Fruits: Consumption of fruits is essential for boosting immunity and maintaining the body metabolism. 2 to 4 servings of fruits per day should be consumed by a diabetic person.
  • Meat and Non-Veg foods: These foods give necessary protein for the body. These are high-energy foods and thus their amounts are to be under control. 2 to 3 serving of non-veg foods and 250 ml of milk is good for high blood sugar level control.
  • Fats: Diabetic person should avoid a high quantity of fats; You can consume only 15 grams of saturated fats.
  • Sweets and juices. These tend to increase high blood sugar levels immediately. Thus, avoid eating these categories of foods.

Good Diabetes Food Pyramid Recommendations:

Some of the best options are as follows:

Good food category List and amount
Vegetables
  • Consume a minimum of 3 to 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables [3].
  • 1 serving of vegetables is ½ cup of cooked vegetables, 1 cup of raw vegetables
  • Example: Green leafy, Green Beans, Carrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Ladyfingers, Cucumber, Spinach, Bitter gourd Tomatoes, etc.
Fruits
  • Eat 2 to four servings of fruits every day.

For example, 1 serving of good fruits are :

A small Apple, Small-sized banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 small cup black Jamun, 1 medium sized orange, 2 small kiwis, 1 cup watermelon.

Juices/ drinks Cucumber and lemon juice, Green leafy vegetables and kale juice, a small glass of tomato juice.
Non-veg & others Fatty Fish, Greek Yoghurt, boiled eggs, lean meat, 1 cup or 250 ml of Milk

You can eat 85 grams or 3 ounces of meat or

120 gram of fish

or 100 grams of chicken while diabetic.

Summary

The diabetes food pyramid gives information on the proper diet that helps in diabetes management.

A Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Your intake of food should be as per your calorie need. Due to this, you get a proper energy diet. If your diet plan recommends 1600 calories a day, then total food intake should be balanced with all the foods in the diabetes pyramid.

For example for a 1600 calorie diet:

  • about 700 to 800 calories should come from carbs. Considering 4 calories per gram, it shall be 200 to 300 gm. of carbs per day. For breakfast, one can have 60 gm. of crabs, for lunch 60 gm., for snacks 20 gm., for dinner 60 gm.
  • 60 grams of proteins, 25 grams of good fat, and the rest should come from vitamins and minerals.

1600 Calories/Day breakup

A sample Indian food diet plan is given below. The diet plan shall change as per the presence of any co-morbidity. It is therefore good to consult your dietician and diabetologist for a diabetes diet plan.

Early Morning 

Getting early in the morning is highly beneficial for health. Your morning should begin with a positive attitude towards life.

  • Start your day with a glass of water.
  • Diet: Have 5 almonds or 2 halves of the walnut [1].
  • Drink: 1 cup of tea or coffee or green tea or lemon water or coconut water (200ml)
  • Activity: 30 minutes of walk or swimming or 25 minutes of jogging or 30 minutes of yoga and meditation

You should be hydrated before and after exercise.

Breakfast

A fresh and healthy breakfast is very important to gain a healthy body. Breakfast gives the right energy for your whole day’s work. Diabetic patients should eat the right amount of caloric diet of nearly 125 grams during breakfast. This keeps the blood sugar levels in the right levels.

Here are the healthy breakfast tips for diabetic patients:

  • Keep hydrated:  Before starting your breakfast drink some water. Regular intake of water is very essential to keep you hydrated. This is essential to reduce the chances of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar during a heavy working day.
  • Diet: A healthful breakfast diet for a diabetic person can include
  • ½ Katori (small bowl) wheat flakes or Oats or Dalia. If you prefer other things then a person can take one chapatti or 1 dosa or 2 small idilies as a substitute for the above things.

AND

  • 30 grams of Paneer or 1 scrambled/poached or boiled egg or 1 small bowl of dal.
  • Drinks: 150 ml of low-fat milk or curd [1].
  • Activity: Try to walk to keep proper blood circulation. Take a walk at regular intervals either at the office or at home.

Remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water regularly.  It shall also help you to control blood pressure issues.

Mid-morning Snacks 

The key in diabetes management is to eat at regular intervals in small quantities so that your sugar levels are under control. Thus, diabetic patients should include mid-morning snacks in their diabetes meal plan.

  • Diet: take 100 grams of healthy fruits which are good for your health [3]. Consume fruits that have low glycemic index values.
  •  If you don’t like fruits then you can also take half Katori corn on the cob with 1 cup of green tea or coffee (without sugar).
  • Activity: Take small breaks while working. In between your work take small walks of 5 minutes each.
  • Avoid aerated beverages [3]. Prefer lemon or coconut water. This shall help in keeping you hydrated and maintain your body salts levels.

Lunch

A diabetes diet should comprise of proteins, vitamins, fibres, and low carbs. Lunch should fulfil all the needs of vitamins and protein which a body needs. Avoid heavy lunch intake.

  • Diet options:
  • Rice & chapatti: take half Katori rice with one multigrain chapatti or 2 chapatis with 1 cup of salad
  • Gravy: 30 grams paneer gravy or 1 Katori pulses or lentils.
  • Vegetables: 1 Katori seasonal non-starchy vegetable.
  • Drinks: 1 glass of buttermilk with no sugar or 100 grams of curd [1].
  • Activity: use stairs as much as possible. Take some rest and take a walk for at least 10 to 15 min.
  • Water: Sliced oranges with infusing water is very good for your health. It helps to keep you hydrated.

Evening snacks

Like mid-morning snacks evening snacks are also very important for diabetic patients. And the diet and activity in evening snacks are the same as mid-morning snacks.

  • Diet: If you prefer to eat something then 1 small Katori (bowl) roasted chana or 1 Katori poha, or 3 non- sugar biscuits or 1 bowl of fruit salad can be taken.
  • Drink: 1 cup of sugar-free tea or coffee or 1 glass of lime water.
  • Activity: Don’t lay down go for dance or Zumba. If you are not interested in dancing then go for a long walk.
  • Water: Drink coconut water, lime juice, or Jalzeera. It keeps you hydrated after walk or exercise [1].

Dinner

Try to take your dinner on time because early dinner is beneficial for your health. It can help in better sleeping and also improves digestive health.

  • Diet options:
  • Chapati option: Take one Katori salad with 2 chapati’s or Rice option: one Katori brown rice
  • Vegetable: with one Katori nonstarchy vegetable
  • Non-veg options: 80 grams of Meat or 100 grams of chicken or 120 grams of Fish or Egg curry 1 piece
  • Drinks: 100 grams of Curd or buttermilk [1]
  • Activity: after dinner don’t go to bed for sleeping immediately. Take a small walk around.
  • Finally before going to bed take one glass of water to keep you hydrated.
  • Remember to monitor your blood sugar levels after every meal.
  • Try to take 7 hours of sound sleep.

Key Diabetes Meal Plan Advice

Some key pieces of advice for diabetic patients regarding their diet are as follows:

  1. Take all the meals on time. It gives the required energy to your body for a whole day’s work.
  2. Missing meals during diabetes can be problematic. It can cause blood sugar spikes. Such spikes are dangerous and can lead to issues like hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
  3. Monitoring your calorie count during diabetes management is highly essential [2].
  4. Drink water or lemon water regularly so your body becomes hydrated. Keeping yourself hydrated regulates body metabolism and regulates blood pressure [1].
  5. The amount of cooking oil per day should be 3 tablespoons. Cooking oil can be an extract of Sunflower oil, Corn oil, Olive, Mustard, Groundnut, or Rice barn [1].
  6. If your blood sugar levels are low and below 70mg/dL then take 3 teaspoons of sugar or honey or 1 small cup of fruit juice. Measure the blood sugar level again. Repeat this till the blood sugar level is normal [3].
  7. Use multigrain Atta for chapattis. The multigrain atta contains low calories perfect for a diabetic diet.
  8. Always prefer pressure cooking, roasting, and steaming as the cooking method. Avoid deep-frying, oily foods as they may cause weight gain issues, affect your cholesterol levels and pose risk for heart disorders.
  9. Avoid fruit juices. Fruit juices are a high source of blood sugar. Consuming fruit juice increases blood sugar levels directly. Thus, eat fresh fruits rather than juices.
  10. Check your body glucose levels on regular basis especially after every meal and after any heavy physical activity. If you face any issues consult your doctor immediately.

Bottom Line:

Diabetic food varies from person to person condition and with the presence of co-morbidities. But with a properly balanced diabetes meal plan, it is possible to manage diabetes effectively. The diabetes food pyramid guides you in consuming a proper diet. It is through a good lifestyle, diet, and right treatment you can get freedom from diabetes.

FAQs:

How often a diabetic person should eat in a day?

Diabetic person should either eat four to five times a day. You should eat at the correct time and in the right amounts daily. You should have breakfast within 1 to 1.5 hours after you wake up in the morning. The gap between any two meals of a day should not be more than 4 to 5 hours.

Which type of meat should I prefer while diabetic?

Avoid eating red meat. Lean chicken, steaks, and seafood are the best option. Moreover, avoid deep frying these foods. Prefer eating roasted, grilled, or steam cooking.

If I have diabetes will I never get to eat sweets?

Eating sweets is restricted while you are diabetic as they tend to increase blood sugar levels immediately. You cannot eat sweets with your normal diabetic meal. But if you want to eat sweets you can have very little. But you should replace your sweets with other carbohydrate foods. Though replacing your normal diet with sweets will deprive you of other nutrients.

References:

  1. https://www.beatoapp.com/wp-content/uploads/non-veg-indian-diet-plan-diabetes-and-healthy-lifetsyle.pdf
  2. Gray, A., & Threlkeld, R. J. (2015). Nutritional recommendations for individuals with diabetes. Retrieved from: https://europepmc.org/article/nbk/nbk279012
  3. Raidl, M., Spain, K., Hartman-Cunningham, M., Lanting, R., Lockard, M., Johnson, S., … & Liddil, A. (2007). Peer-Reviewed: The Healthy Diabetes Plate. Preventing chronic disease, 4(1). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1832142/

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