Diet plan for diabetes patients

The foods you consume affect the blood glucose levels directly. In order to control and manage diabetes, you should prepare a healthy diet plan and have a clear-cut idea of what to eat and how much to eat.  

Diet plan for diabetes patients

Why is keeping a track of your carbs important?

Carbohydrate in the food you eat gets converted into glucose in your body. Therefore, it affects the blood sugar level way more than any other nutrient. Keeping a track of your carbs or carbohydrate counting helps in managing  diabetes by

  • Preventing complications (because of too much blood sugar)
  • Regulating the glucose content in your body
  • Giving an idea of insulin needed by a diabetes patient

What is a glycemic index?

Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet. The Glycemic index is a measure of the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. 

Food with a low glycemic index is preferred for diabetic patients as they cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels. A daily average GI of 45 or less should be the aim if you wish to manage diabetes.

Which type of carbohydrates should be included in your diet?

Which type of carbohydrates should be included in your diet?
Food rich in carbohydrates, top view

Carbohydrates are classified into two types: 

  1. Complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index foods)
  2. Simple sugars (high glycemic index foods)

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates not only have a low glycemic index but they also contain additional useful nutrients like fiber, vitamins, etc. These nutrients decelerate the absorption of glucose and thereby, helps to maintain stability in blood sugar levels.

Examples of complex carbohydrates are:

  • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oatmeal
  • Starchy vegetables (in moderation) like potatoes, corn, root vegetables
  • Non-starchy vegetables such as green vegetables.

Simple sugars 

Simple sugars should be avoided as they have a high glycemic index and don’t contain other useful nutrients. These foods cause an uncontrollable rise in blood sugar levels and thus, are very harmful.

Examples of simple carbohydrates are white bread, soft drinks, flour, white pasta, cereals, etc.

Diabetic diet food list

Consumption of certain food items helps to control diabetes and lower the risk of serious diabetes complications like heart and eye diseases. Here are 5 healthy food items which might help in diabetes management:

Diabetic diet food list
  1. Leafy greens – Leafy green vegetable is a diabetic-friendly food that is low in calories and digestible carbs. It contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from disease. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, etc are rich in vitamin C.
  2. Fatty fish – Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel are considered as one of the healthiest foods. It contains omega-3 fats which lower the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and stroke.
  3. Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt is a diabetic-friendly dairy choice as it helps in weight management and enhances body composition in people with type 2 diabetes. It contains probiotics which promote blood sugar control and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Eggs – Egg is a highly nutritious food as it enhances the body’s sensitivity to insulin, lowers heart disease risk, and eye disease risk (contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin). It is a high-protein diet which helps to maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body.
  5. Chia seeds – Chia seeds are highly rich in fiber and low in digestible carbs. The viscous fiber in these seeds helps to control blood sugar by slowing down the rate of absorption of glucose. Chia seeds reduce hunger, blood pressure, and inflammation and thus, is really beneficial in diabetes.

1200 calorie diabetic diet chart

A 1200 calorie diabetic diet means consuming no more than 1200 calories of food daily. This diet formula will help control your blood sugar as well as lose weight. Here is a 1200 calorie diabetic diet chart. You can plan your meals accordingly to bring diabetes under control.

6:30 AM – 2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds soaked 1 glass of water

 8:30 AM – (Breakfast)1 bread, 1 glass buttermilk, and 1 apple

1:30 PM – 2 multigrain chapati, 1 cup mixed vegetable salad, 1 bowl dal, and 1 bowl vegetable

4:30 PM – 1 cup green tea without sugar 

7:30 PM – 1 bowl sprout salad

8:30 PM – 1 chapati and 1 bowl vegetable

10:00 PM – ½ cup milk without sugar

Plate method 

The diabetic plate method is a formula to plan a healthy meal which includes sufficient non- starchy vegetables, lean proteins. This strategy even helps to restrict the quantity of high-carb food which causes a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels.

Plate method

Take a dinner plate (9-inch)

  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and salad.
  • Fill one quarter with whole grains or starchy foods such as potatoes, cereals, rice.
  • Fill the remaining quarter with lean protein foods such as plain Greek yogurt, beans, low-fat milk.

You may also include fruits and low-fat dairy products in your meal plan as per calorie requirements.

Visualizing food portion size

With no portion control, people eat more even though they are not hungry. Therefore, plan your meal using the following portion size guide to manage your diabetes in a better way. The hands are really helpful in estimating portion size

Vegetables – Take as much as you can hold in both hands.

Milk – Drink about 1 cup or 250 ml of low-fat milk.

Grains & starch – Choose a quantity up to the size of your fist.

Meat, fish, or poultry – Go for an amount equivalent to the size of your palm and thickness of a little finger.

Fruit – Consume a fruit of the size of your fist.  

Results of the diabetes diet

To control diabetes, you need to acquire healthy eating habits, starting from carbohydrate counting to following the plate method. You need to stick to your diabetes diet plan to reach your health goals. 

Do consult your doctor and dietitian to prepare a meal plan that suits your health. Don’t stray from the prescribed diet formula if you wish to protect yourself from serious diabetes complications. 

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