Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy your favorite foods. With some basic information and a little bit of planning, you can manage diabetes without too much interruption to your daily life.
A general rule is to fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with carbohydrate foods, and a quarter with protein foods. Add water or a low-calorie drink. The amount of food you need from each food group depends on factors such as your age and the amount of physical activity you get. Work with your health care provider to identify
a plan that works for you.
Carbohydrates, or carbs, provide energy to fuel your brain and your body. Compared to fat and protein, carbs impact your blood glucose (sugar) the most. When people eat a food containing carbs, the digestive system breaks down the digestible carbs into sugar and releases it into the bloodstream. This can lead to a faster rise in blood sugar than other foods. So, it’s important to carefully monitor the types of carbs and the portion sizes you consume.
Foods made with refined flours (breads, pastas, cereals) or with added sugars (muffins, cakes, cookies, soda, fruit juice) can cause blood sugar to spike. Chips, white potatoes, and white rice also can cause blood sugar spikes.
Nonstarchy, fiber-rich vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, and whole fruits are less likely to cause your blood sugar to spike. Foods made with whole grains (whole grain or 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta) also are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes.
Think about planning ahead and timing your meals appropriately with your medications and blood sugar testing. Portion control and limiting snacks are important factors. Start your day off right by eating breakfast. Healthy snacks between meals can help keep blood sugar at a normal level, but don’t overdo it. Never skip meals!
Portion size and serving size are not always the same thing. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at one time, while a serving is the specific amount of food listed on a food label that is used to help describe nutrition information. Studies show that people tend to eat more when they are served large portions at a meal. Getting a good grasp of portion sizes helps you choose how much you want to eat, which will in turn impact your blood sugar. For help determining your nutrition needs, ask your health care provider and use serving sizes on food labels to help you decide what portions are appropriate for you. For help measuring and tracking portions, try an app with features for portion estimation.