When you have type 2 diabetes taking the time to plan your meals goes a long way toward managing your blood sugar and weight.
Your main goal is to keep your blood sugar (glucose) level within an expected range. To help control; your blood sugar level follow a meal plan that has:
- Food of all groups
- Fewer calories
- About the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack
- Healthy fats
Along with healthy eating, you can help keep your blood sugar in the expected range at a healthy weight. People with type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese. Losing even 10 pounds (about 4.5 kilograms) can help you better control your diabetes. Eating healthy and staying active (for example, a full 60 minutes of walking or other activity per day) can help you reach and maintain your weight loss goal.
HOW CARBOHYDRATES AFFECT SUGAR IN BLOOD
The carbohydrates in food provide energy for the body. You have to consume carbohydrates to maintain your energy. However, carbohydrates also raise your blood sugar higher and faster than other types of food.
The main types of carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fiber. Learn which foods have carbohydrates. This will help you with meal planning so that you can keep your blood sugar in the expected range. The body cannot break down and absorb all carbohydrates. Meals with undigested carbohydrates or fiber are less likely to raise your blood sugar level above the level you want to maintain. These foods include beans and whole grains.
MEAL PLANNING FOR CHILDREN WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES
Meal plans should consider how many calories children need to grow. In general, three small meals and three snacks a day can help meet calorie needs. Many children with type 2 diabetes are overweight. The goal should be to reach a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and doing more activity (60 minutes every day).
Collaborate with a certified nutritionist to design a meal plan for your child. A certified nutritionist is an expert in food and nutrition.
The following tips can help keep your child on track:
- No food is prohibited. Knowing how different foods affect your child’s blood sugar helps you and him keep his blood sugar level in the expected range.
- Help your child learn how much food is a healthy amount. This is called portion control.
- Make sure your family gradually changes from drinking soda and other sugary drinks, such as sports drinks and juices, to drinking water or low-fat milk.
Everyone has individual needs. Work with your doctor, certified nutritionist, or diabetes educator to develop a meal plan that works for you.
When shopping, read food labels to make better choices.
A good way to make sure you get all the nutrients you need during meals is to use the plate method. This is a visual food guide to help you choose the best types and amounts of food you eat. Encourage the consumption of large portions of non-starchy vegetables (half the plate) and moderate portions of protein (one-quarter of the plate) and starch (one-quarter of the plate).
EAT A VARIETY OF FOOD
Eating a wide variety of foods helps you stay healthy. Try to include foods from all the food groups at each meal.
VEGETABLES (2½ to 3 cups or 450 to 550 grams per day)
Choose fresh or frozen vegetables with no added sauce, fat, or salt. Non-starchy vegetables include dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as cucumber, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bell peppers. Starchy vegetables include corn, peas, beans, carrots, yams, and taro. Please note that potatoes should be considered as pure starch, such as white bread and white rice, rather than as a vegetable.
FRUITS (1½ to 2 cups or 240 to 320 grams a day)
Choose fresh, frozen, canned fruit (no added sugar or syrup) or unsweetened nuts. Try apples, bananas, berries, cherries, fruit cocktail, grapes, cantaloupe, oranges, peaches, pears, papaya, pineapple, and raisins. Drink juices that are 100% fruit with no added sweeteners or syrups.
GRAINS (3 to 4 ounces or 85 to 115 grams a day)
There are 2 types of grains:
- Whole grains that are unprocessed and have whole grain seeds. Examples are whole wheat flour, oats, whole corn flour, amaranth, barley, brown rice and wild rice, black wheat, and quinoa.
- Refined grains that have been processed (ground) to remove the bran and germ. Examples are degerminated cornmeal, white flour, white bread, and white rice.
Grains have starch, a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar level. For healthy eating, make sure that half of the grains you eat each day are whole grains, which are high in fiber. Fiber in the diet prevents the blood sugar level from rising too fast.
PROTEIN FOODS (5 to 6½ ounces or 140 to 184 grams per day)
Protein foods include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, and processed soy foods. Eat fish and poultry more frequently. Remove chicken skin and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild animals. Trim all visible fat from the meat. Bake, broil, grill, boil instead of frying. When frying protein, use healthy oils like olive oil.
DAIRY PRODUCTS (3 cups or 245 grams per day)
Choose low-fat dairy products. Keep in mind that milk, yogurt, and other dairy products have natural sugar even when they do not contain added sugar. Keep this in mind when planning meals to stay in your desired blood sugar range. Some nonfat dairy products have a lot of added sugar. Be sure to read the label.
OILS / FATS (no more than 7 teaspoons or 35 milliliters a day)
Oils are not considered a food group, but they do have nutrients that help the body stay healthy. Oils are different from fats, since fats remain liquid at room temperature. The fats remain solid at room temperature.
Cut back on fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat, such as hamburgers, fried foods, bacon, and butter.
Instead, choose foods that are high in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. These include fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Oils can raise blood sugar, but not as fast as starch. The oils are also high in calories. Try not to use more than the recommended daily limit of 7 teaspoons (35 milliliters).
WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL AND SWEETS?
If you decide to drink alcohol, reduce the amount, and do it with food. Talk to your healthcare provider about how alcohol will affect your blood sugar and determine a safe amount for you.
Sweets are rich in fat and sugar. Keep portion sizes small.
Here are tips to help you avoid eating too much candy:
- Order extra forks and spoons and divide the dessert with the others.
- Eat sweets that are sugar-free.
- Always ask for the smallest serving size or a child-size portion.
YOUR DIABETES CARE TEAM IS HERE TO HELP YOU
In the beginning, meal planning can be overwhelming. But, over time it will become easier and easier to learn about food and its effect on your blood sugar level. If you have trouble planning your meals, check with your diabetes care team. They are there to help you.